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Summer Tips for Children

by Tom Seman MD FAAP May 23rd, 2013 | Pediatrician on Call
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sunHow can I make summer more enjoyable for my child?

June is almost here, a time of endings and new beginnings, where children are  finishing their school year and entering vacation. The many complaints of waking up early and getting ready for the bus or carpool are gone, thankfully. Days filled with schedules and routines have ended, and the children should be happy and ready to have fun. But wait, they are now complaining about nothing to do. Some seem restless, maybe even a  little irritable or anxious. Why?

Well, there are a few reasons for this. The first is that transitions can be difficult for everybody, and children are no exception. June is a month  of transitions. Children are finishing school and getting ready for summer. Some children are finishing their respective schools and going on to a new one in the fall. This whole idea can be very stressful. Look at the older children that may be graduating from eighth grade getting ready for high school or high schoolers graduating and getting ready for college, or even more stressful, college student graduating and getting ready for the real world.

Although separated by many years, the children have similar developmental aspects. You may think that the three months before they have to think about all these changes is far away enough for them to enjoy their time off. The fact is that most children are thinking about the next step even before they finish the present one. As it is frequently said, sometimes the anticipation is worse than the reality. Despite the frequent complaining, the schedules and routines are comforting to a child. For a child, routine provides a road map of the day. Especially for the younger children who cannot or have difficulty reading a clock, the routines give them a sense of where they are in the day, thus allowing them to predict what comes next.

On the other hand, most vacations are more free flowing, less structured. Although fun,this free time can in general be somewhat difficult, at least initially. Any portion of the day that can be structured should help, even when somewhat vague. For example, letting a child know that after breakfast he will play outside and after lunch he will have a quiet time helps break up the day.

So, go out and enjoy the summer with your children. Give  them an idea of what is in store for the day and/or week. Just a short reminder: If you are going outside protect your child from the sun, those pesky biting insects and heat exhaustion. Try to keep small  children in the shade or inside where it is cool between the hottest hours of the day between 2 AM-3PM. Apply sunscreen making sure to reapply after four hours or so. Make sure they drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.