Right about now, the idea of summer vacation sounds pretty sweet for most parents. No more getting up before dawn, packing lunches, stressing over grades or repetitively nagging, “Did you do your homework? Do you have your binder? Did you lay out your clothes for tomorrow? Is your gym bag packed? Are you ready for exams? Who’s driving car pool?” No wonder so many of us are dreaming about a family vacation, trips to the pool and leisurely mornings without alarm clocks.
However, it doesn’t take long for the change of routine to become exasperating. If your teenager sleeps until the afternoon, then eats you out of house and home while leaving his dishes stacked to the ceiling, all while his primary goal is to beat the next level on his video game, it can wear you down pretty quickly. Sometimes it seems that we can actually see brain cells stagnating when children don’t want to do their summer reading, or practice math, or anything that seems remotely educational. Couple all that with the usual whining, (“I’m bored,” “It’s too hot,” “There’s nothing to do,” “Are we there yet?”) and many parents start longing for the school year to begin.
Children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or weaknesses in their executive functioning skills provide even greater summertime challenges. These kids become bored more quickly, but seem less able to develop and execute their own plans for entertaining themselves. Additionally, with nothing to do, these sensation-seeking, impulsive, creative bundles of energy are likely to get into trouble: cutting down the neighbor’s tree to see what’s inside, baking cookies but then forgetting them in the hot oven or gluing fake eyelashes on the cat are just a few of the reported results of too much time and too little structure.
So how to avoid these summertime blues? The wise parent develops a plan to keep children active, engaged and educated, while still making it feel like vacation.
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