School vacation anxiety: Coping strategies for the unpredictability of school holidays

As the holidays approach, one worry that some families are experiencing is their child displaying signs of anxiety during the holidays.

Many children experience anxiety during the holidays, especially during the longer summer vacation. Yes, you heard that right. Many children feel withdrawn, anxious, and discombobulated during a time when we picture peacefully sleeping in and resting up, hanging out with friends, and enjoying a summer ice cream.
So, why is this the case? School and the associated after-school activities, on the other hand, provide a major source of structure. There is a clear strategy, a set of standards, and a timetable. There is predictability and precision.

During the school holidays, we substitute 'holiday vibes' for many of these structured events. We have irregular sleep patterns, dine out more frequently, attend more social events, travel for vacations or day visits, and so on. Parents work various hours, sports/art/music classes are cancelled, and daily routines have vanished. There have been so many adjustments!

Essentially, we often toss our routines up in the air and try to 'go with the flow'. Which is perfectly fine and even enjoyable for some individuals. It causes doubt and anxiety for others.

So, as parents, what can you do to help your more anxious kid or teen cope with the stress of holiday unpredictability?

1. Use a planner of some kind to keep track of important transitions. For example, if you're going to the beach home or if Mum is working on certain days, make a note of it in your planner.

2. Put any social activities, even play dates, on the calendar.

3. Use a color-coded system for activities to give children more options. Green activities, for example, may be events that the children can choose to attend or not. Orange activities may be ones you'd prefer they attend, but they can still opt out if necessary. The activities in red are those that they must attend.

4. Plan your vacation with your child whenever feasible. Allow them to have a say in how often you go out and how often they stay at home.

5. Consider home blocks versus excursions. For example, two to three outings per week, with the remaining days explicitly marked as home days. Alternatively, schedule one week of camping and one week at home.

6. Pay attention to your kid. Try to make it work if they are tired from the year and need to take the first week off from socialising entirely. Make it possible for them to unwind at home in a healthful manner.

7. During the holidays, gaming and screens are frequently discussed in households. And, in the end, the solution is equilibrium. Negotiate and settle on the rules as soon as possible, and be consistent wherever possible. Balance computer time and outdoor time.

8. Don't put too much emphasis on socialising. A lot of socialising during the summer break isn't necessary for all students if they have other ways to connect. When it comes to social requirements, everyone has distinct needs and nuances to consider.

9. Activities - Figure out summer camp activities that your kid might be interested in and sign up the kid for it. Have a discussion with the child on his or her interests and time commitment before signing up.

Best wishes, parents! I pray these Summer vacations are full of joy, laughter, and fun for you and your child. Remember that even if you are attempting to balance job and parenting, with a little forethought, it usually works out in the end.

Have a wonderful vacation!

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