Parents of anxious children know the value of routine which is why the summer holidays can be a challenging time for some families
Summer holidays for children are synonymous with fun, freedom, friends and getting to stay up way later than during the school year!
However, while that may sound like heaven for many, for some children and their parents, the thought of the long weeks without the safety net of the school regime can be daunting.
Many young people miss their daily schedule, their class friends who they may not live close to and therefore don’t see over the holidays, and the structure of the school day.
If you’re worried that your child is feeling anxious, lonely or just counting down the days until school starts, there are things you can do to make the most of the holidays.
ISPCC Clinical Lead Bree O’Neill has the following advice:
“Don’t judge yourself. Chances are your children will have more treats and screentime than usual, but it is the holidays and that is normal.”
Stick to a routine
Bree suggests trying to stick to some form of routine over the summer. This helps provide structure for children and parents, many of whom are trying to juggle work and childcare.
Be consistent with sleep
Bree concedes that while it’s good to have fun on holidays, it will be a nightmare trying to get children back on track three days before school starts. Instead, she recommends bringing bedtimes back about a fortnight before the return to school.
Take everyone into consideration
“It is a different dynamic over the summer and parents need to gear themselves up for that. Think of the family and consider what each person might need – the aim is to try to ensure everyone’s needs are met and everyone’s limits are accepted.”
Focus on mental and emotional health
Talk to them, do breathing exercises and make sure they get enough exercise and fresh air every day. “For those children who suffer from anxiety, the long summer holidays can exacerbate these feelings,” says Bree. “ISPCC and our volunteers on the Childline 24/7 listening service are always here to help.”
If you think it’s something that you or your child might benefit from, ISPCC offers three free online Digital Mental Health programmes designed for teenagers experiencing anxiety and for parents/carers of both teens and younger children.
These early intervention programmes are fully supported by volunteers, take one hour a week and can be completed at the user’s leisure within a 12-week timeframe.
For more information on ISPCC’s Digital Mental Health programmes, visit ispcc.ie/guided-digital-programmes.