Between school, sports, and other activities, the time between September and June can be overwhelming. Summer is almost here!!! Now is the time to slow down a bit, enjoy the weather and take some time off.
Summer is also a good time to keep in mind some simple skills to improve mental health and resiliency before the busyness of September arrives again. Here are 5 tips to maintain positive mental health in kids this summer:
- Engage in a variety of activities. Variety is the spice of life. Variety stimulates brain activity, creates a well-rounded individual, and encourages social and emotional development. If a child engages in a variety of activities on a regular basis, they have more of an opportunity to develop a wider range of interests. Having a wide range of interests is something that can make finding and keeping friends easier. It also is a great way to cure boredom. Choose an activity from each of the following categories:Cognitive: reading, math, mind exercises, trivia games, crossword puzzles, geography games, science experiments)Physical: exercise, sports, bike riding, skateboarding, walking, hiking, swimmingCreative: arts and crafts, imaginative play, dancing, acting, music, singing
Reflective: time spent in nature, spiritual, talking with others, goal setting, and planning, visiting a museum
- Promote balance. Creating a balance between school, leisure activities, sports, family, friends, chores and all the other areas of life can be challenging for a child and their parents. One of the biggest challenges parents have is helping their child engage in other activities besides their preferred activity. Video games and social media seem to be the most common preferred activities and the biggest source of conflict and disagreement. Balance helps us maintain good mental health as well as physical health. Teaching this skill early and modeling it consistently are two important ways to get kids to make it a part of their routine. Have children change activities at least every 2-3 hours; alternate between sedentary activity and movement activities. Also, alternate between solitary activities and those that involve engagement with other people.
- Maintain a healthy sleep schedule. Just because kids and teens CAN sleep in and stay up late because they don’t have to get up early for school doesn’t mean they SHOULD. Keeping a regular sleep schedule and maintaining good sleep hygiene will contribute to a more even mood pattern and lower the likelihood of tantrums/outbursts/meltdowns, as well as make the transition to a new school year easier.
- Learn a relaxation strategy. Learning to relax is a skill that benefits children, teenagers and adults. Deep breathing is a healthy way to reduce stress and anxiety. Begin by breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathe from your diaphragm. Count to 3 slowly as you breathe in. Count to 5 as you breathe out. Do at least 10 breaths each time you practice.
- Join a group or camp. Summer is a great time to practice social skills like taking turns in conversations, recognizing social cues, conflict resolution, and working with others. Summer is packed with opportunities to attend a camp or sign up for a group. Also, get a head start by joining a summer therapy group to gain skills and be ready for the new school year!
If you or someone you know could benefit from one of the many services offered by Perspectives, call 248-244-8644.