Summer is here and in full swing! School’s out, the sun is shining, and the temps are rising. Every year it seems we want to help our children create memories and retain their academics. We’ve put together a few tips for you to help your kiddos gain the most this summer. It may be a bit different than usual, but we believe it’s every bit as important, maybe even more so! Summer is a great time to make a difference in children’s mental health.

Can we agree that the past year and a half has certainly been interesting, stressful for many, and even fearful for some? We see the daylight coming as life seems to be getting back to normal. For our kids, that’s crucial. They’ve been a bit topsy-turvy in their school lives with moms and dads working from home, masks everywhere, and maybe not seeing as much of their family and friends as they would like. This summer, use the time to help them plant their feet firmly beneath them as they find their joy again and gain restoration in their mental health. 

In chiropractic care, we often talk about the 3 T’s: toxins, trauma, and thoughts. As parents we often focus on toxins and trauma. However, that third T, thoughts, is so important to how our children will grow and succeed in life. Helping children with their thought life, or mental health, will help them to thrive. These tools will not just help them as they look forward to the next school year, but throughout all of life. When we talk about children, we’re not just talking about little ones. These tips and tools also help teens!

Mental Health in Children

A recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that since the pandemic started, mental health-related visits to hospital emergency rooms rose 24 percent for children ages 5-11, and 31 percent for children ages 12-17 compared with data from 2019.¹ 

As adults, we’ve felt the strains of society this past year and a half on some level. It’s only to be expected that our children are feeling it as well. The good news is that children are resilient. They often heal quicker when they are given the right tools. 

Take Advantage of the Small Wonders of Summer!

  1. Sunshine and fresh air! This is plentiful this time of year. Get outside and enjoy the warming rays of the sun. Let that life-giving vitamin D soak in and do wonders for mental health. Breathe deep and let that fresh air fill those lungs!
  2. Laughter! There is an ancient proverb that says, “Laughter is the best medicine.” Laughing releases endorphins and floods the body with chemicals that relieve stress. Join children for some silliness. It will be good for you as well!
  3. Play! When kids are allowed to play, their imaginations come alive. We aren’t talking about video games or electronics. We’re talking about good, old-fashioned play. Kids often find ways to work through their emotions when they are allowed to play in creative ways. Join them and learn what they are thinking so that you can help them work through it.
  4. Sleep. Often long summer days and nights lead to late bedtime. In addition to all the fun and games, we need to make room for restorative sleep as well. Have you ever noticed how you may feel more anxious as you get more tired? We know that often kids will put off sleep as long as they can. Help them to settle into a bedtime routine whether that’s a bath, a story, or some calming music to lead them off to dreamland.
  5. Good, nourishing, organic food. With warm summer days, there is a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables available. Why not try some new ones as you eat the rainbow? Or go to the local farmer’s market together to pick some out? Maybe pop some fruit into the freezer for a cold, refreshing treat when the temperature rises. Nourishing and healthy foods do the body good to stay fueled for all the fun you’ll be having together!
  6. See family and friends. This past year of social distancing and masks has made it difficult for some of the most precious relationships. These relationships help children understand who they are in the world. Take advantage of the sunny days and meet up at parks or other places to build memories!
  7. Let them talk, and listen. Be available to hear what they are thinking. Shut off the electronics and enjoy the time together whether it’s on a car ride or making dinner. When children feel heard, they’ll talk. When they talk, we can help them work through their emotions and guide them into healthy thought patterns. Remember to put your phone down, too!

Start Somewhere!

With so much going on in our world, it will do both children and parents good to slow down and connect. Building simple habits and memories during the summer months will help set children up for a lifetime of success. And one day, when they’re not so little, you’ll be glad to savor those memories, too!

References:

¹https://www.uth.edu/news/covid-19/here-for-houston/story-full.htm?id=8a2fa871-8e42-4eeb-bd0c-cc75dedcb42b