Using Summer Routines to Address Behavior IssuesJul 13, 2023
Are you sick of all the schedules and routines by the end of the school year, and looking forward to more carefree summer days? I remember being excited when the school year finally ended. I was so happy not having to get up and pack lunches and snacks every morning, or run around after school to activities and sports. But as the summer continued, the lack of routine would start to drive me crazy — because my kids behaved better when they had routines.
Most children are calmer and behave better when they have routines because routines make their everyday life more predictable. Predictability means safety to a child’s central nervous system because they know what to expect. Predictability helps to keep kids calm and emotionally regulated.
When life isn’t predictable to kids, it’s likely they will look to fill their need for predictability in unhealthy ways resulting in behavior issues and challenges.
I coached on this recently when I had a set of parents tell me their 7 year old son had become particularly obstinate. He was saying “no” to everything, often trying to control his mother and tell her what she should be doing.
We talked about how a lack of routine and predictability in the summertime was affecting him, and how his saying no and being obstinate was his way of filling his “control” bucket. Even though his behavior was consistently resulting in consequences, it was creating a predictable outcome for him.
So we talked about creating a daily summer routine to provide more predictability. Please note, this doesn’t have to be strict or complicated, it just involves some planning ahead.
Here are some ideas of what you might schedule and how you can plan blocks of time:
- Time to play outside or go to the park or pool.
- Play time with friends or schedule playdates.
- Summer reading time or a trip to the library.
- Time for drawing, painting, building or other crafts.
- Quiet time where Mom or Dad can get stuff done and the child is resting or playing independently.
- Time to watch a show or play a video game.
- Time to help pick up or get other chores done.
You can have a family meeting at the beginning of the week to map out some of the week’s activities. I highly recommend that you ask your child for ideas and give them options on how they want to schedule out the week and days. Within each day, you can also give your child options over what they want to do next.
When you involve your child in building out the summer routine and give them options, you help to fill their control and predictability bucket in healthy ways.
I invite you to consider using summer routines to provide the same predictability in the summertime that you have during the school year. It can be relatively easy, it just involves planning ahead.
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