May is the month when most schools in the Atlanta area release children to the summer. Summer…that blissful time for children when they feel free from the structure of the classroom and the accompanying homework…. That time for parents when many of us are scrambling to find camps and activities to keep them occupied. The best, most exciting thing you can do with your child this summer is give the gift of time and attention. Even if you are crazy busy, here are some suggestions that can fit into a hectic schedule and will make you all happier and will likely reduce acting out behavior. We all like to feel seen, heard, and valued. Your child is no exception. 1) Slow down. Look at your child when you speak to her. 2) Do something wild and crazy like put down the work you are doing to sit in the floor and play…… A lot of love can happen in 10-15 minutes. 3) Engage in conversation with your child about his interests for 5-10 minutes. Be sure you don’t start drilling him with questions. You’ll know you are connecting when he starts volunteering information. Never mind if you are interested in the topic. You are interested in your child and he can see it in your eyes and body language. 4) Spend “Special Time” with each child. This can be as simple as a 10 minute story or an activity out in the community. The important thing is that your child gets you to herself. Do this at least once a week. 5) Make a game of leaving love notes for each other and other family members. Even if your child doesn’t read, pictures work too! There are bunches of arts and sports activities in which your child can participate. There are numerous camps of all sorts in the Atlanta area. There are vacations at the beach and mountains and theme parks. What your child will likely remember most about his summer, however, is feeling seen, heard, and valued by the people he loves. Even if you are busy beyond belief, the few minutes you make to really be connected with your child can make a very big difference. They grow up so quickly and there is no time like the present to be fully present.
Written by: Laurie Patrice, LPC, BCPC, CPCS