Kids from hard places often struggle with transitional times (e.g., school to summer). Throw the sometimes unstructured feel of summer into the mix and it can be a recipe for meltdown mania. If you’re finding yourself in the throws of a tough summer, try these tips and tricks.
Try designating each day of the week for a different activity or theme. Schedules often are not flexible enough for the needs of our kids, but routines are great. Routines create an order in which you do each day (e.g., breakfast, chores, snack and hydration, activity, lunch, reading, snack and hydration, outside play, dinner, movie, bed). Visual cues for routines and daily transitions can be really helpful as well. Older kids may benefit from taking ownership of some of the planning.
Don’t forget the basics.
Sleep, hydration, and nutrition are the building blocks for stability in kids from hard places. They are more sensitive to deficits in each of these areas. Check out our snack list for ideas.
Summer can actually be a great time to practice empowering skills like giving voice. Take those water blaster toys for instance. They seem like a recipe for disaster until you decide to make a game of asking before squirting. Think along the lines of Mother, May I? The kids ask to squirt a person (faces are always out of play). The person responds “yes” or “no.” If it is a “no,” squirt the blaster back into the pool or bucket and try again. Encourage the kids to keep it fast moving with a good mix of “no’s” and “yesses” so that a “no” becomes part of the game and isn’t triggering and is usually followed by a quick, “yes.” Praising frequently for using “good words.”
Coordinate schedules with another family or utilize local VBS programs. Look for programs that cater to families with kids with special needs or for smaller programs that are less likely to have crowds, stage lights, and over stimulation that can be triggering to some kids. Your self-care could make or break your summer 🙂
Indoor Activity Ideas
- Local YMCA (or other gym) membership and classes (often has 2 hours of free child care)
- Library programs
- Long baths (try adding epsom salt and calming essential oils)
- Bounce houses
- Ice or roller skating
Outdoor Activity Ideas
- Playgrounds (try to see how many you can visit!)
- Pool and/or swim lessons
- Park and Rec activities
- Sidewalk Chalk
- Sprinkler play
- Backyard games
Lastly, remember to keep your expectations realistic. Anticipate potential challenges and have a plan ahead of time. This can help you stay calm which goes a long way in keeping your kiddos calm.
What your best summer survival tips?