By Lexi Walters Wright
When school is out, tweens and teens may have to adjust to new experiences and expectations. Parenting Coach has tips for helping with social, emotional and behavioral challenges. Check out these strategies for common summertime trouble spots.
Problem: Since school let out, your child is never without his phone in his hand! He’s endlessly texting or watching videos, and just can’t tear himself away from it.
What you can do: Be a technology role model. At the pool, let your child see you reading a book. On vacation, encourage him to help you put together a thousand-piece puzzle. If you need to, consider creating a social media “bank” to help manage the amount of time he spends online. Summer is also a good time to remind your child to do some social media pruning.
Problem: Your child’s closest friend is gone for the summer, and he has trouble making new friends.
What you can do: Use hobbies to find kids who share your child’s interests. Role-play how he might start a conversation, and consider looking up which summer movies are coming out soon and other pop-culture news that could help him take part in group discussions. It may also help to talk about fears of social rejection. But aim for empathy—share stories about how you’ve dealt with your own fears about this.
Problem: Your child’s summer job is harder than he expected—and doesn’t leave much time for having fun.
What you can do: Brainstorm ways to make the job situation better. Use role-play to prepare to talk with his supervisor and coworkers. Work together on time management. Look for ways to help your child prioritize. Suggest making a list of all the things he needs to do and in which order they need to be done. Then help him come up with a schedule to stay on track so he can also get done the things he wants to do.
Problem: Your child complains constantly that his friends get to stay out later than he does. He seems to find all the house rules “unfair” and can’t let the subject drop.
What you can do: Let your child help set his curfew. Negotiate—and compromise! Kids with learning and attention issues who get to weigh in on rules are more likely to follow them. Helping make these kinds of decisions can also have a positive impact on your child’s self-esteem. Be clear about the rules and consequences for breaking them. Write them down so your child can review them.
Problem: Your child is anxious about fitting in at sleepaway camp. But when you ask why, he replies, “I don’t know. I just am.”
What you can do: Give your child the lay of the land. Go over schedules and maps. Talk through what he’ll experience in as much detail as you can. Also, if your child is allowed to take a cell phone to camp, set specific days and times to talk. As you’re setting these limits, remind him that everyone feels nervous in the beginning and that calling home sometimes makes kids feel even more homesick.
Problem: Your child has started hanging around kids you don’t know very well. A parent in the neighborhood has warned you they’ve been caught drinking before.
What you can do: Talk openly with your child about risky behavior. Instead of setting ultimatums or using scare tactics, try to connect what he does now to how it might affect his future. This can help him feel more accountable for his decisions. Help him set reasonable limits, work together on predicting what might happen in social situations, and use role-play to come up with ways to deal with peer pressure.
Many families struggle to get everyone to school and work on time. This can be particularly tricky if learning and attention issues make it hard for your child to transition from task to task or keep track of time. The following tips can enhance—and ease—your daily routines.
School’s out, but summer isn’t always stress-free for young kids with learning and attention issues. Parenting Coach has tips for helping with social, emotional and behavioral challenges. Check out these strategies for common summertime trouble spots.
Lexi Walters Wright is a veteran writer and editor who helps parents make more informed choices for their children and for themselves.
Mark Griffin, Ph.D., was the founding headmaster of Eagle Hill School, a school for children with specific learning disabilities.
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