Friday marked the busiest day of the year on our UK roads. (I hope you managed to avoid them).
Why? Well, it was the last day of term for many UK schools. In fact, The Mirror newspaper, referred to it as ‘Frantic Friday’. Millions of motorists hit the roads and airports. Summer holidays began.
As a child, the typical '6 weeks summer holiday' literally went on forever - and it was ALWAYS hot and sunny!☀️ 🌞 🍦 😎 (Do you remember that one?
But, bearing in mind rose tinted spectacles 👓 🌹, and moving into present times, what do the long holidays really mean for children?
For many, the following would apply:
- A period of great relief – especially if exams are over
- No more early morning starts
- A break from schoolwork
- A break from homework
- Freedom to do your own thing
- Time to chill and hang out with friends
- Fun family holidays
But what if you (or your child) are not experiencing these positive feelings?
It could simply be that your child misses school, the work and the structure. Some children do like to have their time very organised and enjoy the academic challenge of school work.
Or perhaps it is the social scene they miss; being at home for a long break is a big change that might need adjusting to.
As a parent, we can feel worried if we notice changes in our children. But what kinds of changes should we be alert to?
If you have concerns about yourself or your child, what can you do?
Asking kids if they are ok, or ‘what’s wrong’, rarely yields results.
Here are some suggestions:
- Be observant, but don’t comment: keeping out a watchful eye will tell you quite a lot, and help you to build up a picture.
- It is important not to comment, as when a child feels judged, they are more likely to pull back from you.
- Try to be more tolerant of behaviour changes: Anger outbursts can often mean the child is finding it difficult to cope.
- Don’t give up trying to include your child in family activities, but respect their wishes if they decline.
- Try not to fuss. Children pick up on parental anxiety and your attempts to cheer them up are probably not helpful.
- Remember, we are all emotional beings and a child has a right to their sadness.
Signs of Anxiety to look out for:
- nail biting
- nervous ticks
- temper outbursts
- hair pulling
- changes in toilet training habits in younger children
- not sleeping well
- having nightmares
- worrying and being over-concerned
Signs of Depression to look out for:
- withdrawing more than normal; just be aware of changed patterns, but keep in mind withdrawing can also be normal adolescent behaviour. Please see my previous post: Parenting Teens
- losing interest in things they used to enjoy, and especially losing contact with friends
- Changes in eating habits – overeating or under eating
- Being more moody/angry than normal
As a parent, these signs can be very worrying, but we can best help our children by not burdening them with our concerns.
Keep interested in what they are doing, using opportunities to connect where you can, but respect their need to not have you there, without burdening them with any rejection you feel.
Use empathy a lot. If your child feels understood they will be far more likely to trust you and share things with you.
Don’t force an anxious child to do anything they feel uncomfortable with, it will not help.
What can I do?
If you have concerns for yourself, or your chid, please remember talking to a trained therapist can really help.
Children can benefit greatly from age appropriate intervention, and it can make all the difference.
Parents too, can be helped by sharing their concerns, in a safe and non-judgemental environment, and learn ways to make positive family changes.
If you would like to find out more about how I can help you, please click on the link below and we can arrange for a chat, or make an appointment. Summer Holidays are meant to be enjoyed.