Kanner-Jugendtelefon Part VII

Finding the right balance during school holidays

Illustration: Simon Taylor-Kielty

The seventh part of the 'Kanner-Jugendtelefon' comic series about "Bod", looks at how breaking up for summer holidays can affect children and how to balance activities with boredom.

Wort/EN publishes a new English comic strip and scientific article provided by KJT every month.

The comic strips can be found and collected as postcards in different schools, as well as places where children and youngsters frequently visit.

Every comic strip features a hidden letter. At the end, all collected letters can be used to form a particular word, based on which children and youngsters can write a story and win prizes.

See below the article provided by Kanner-Jugendtelefon

Leaving school

Yippee, school's out for summer! No doubt most children are looking forward to the long break with vacation plans to go away, sports or other activity camps or time to just time hang out at home. 

But this can be a potentially ambivalent or even stressful time for families particularly parents. 

Juggling eight weeks of work and childcare, balancing everyone’s activities and expectations and visiting family or friends can all add up to a lot of tension at a time when we’re supposed to be relaxing.

This, coupled with missing or losing friends, lots of change and little or no daily routine can actually make "school's out" a bit of an ordeal.

The truth is children and most adults actually enjoy some routine in their life as much as just some time with nothing planned at all.

As parents we can often feel the need to fill up the holidays with things to do for the children rather than letting them be, which was the reality for most of us in our childhood. 

Getting bored leads to thinking for yourself and getting creative. This does not mean just letting them do whatever they want for eight hours a day on the computer or other digital devices.

It means creating a bit of routine like school days -- getting up, having breakfast, possibly reading or studying a bit (for older kids) and then having the rest of the day to do whatever you want. 

Within this free time you might want to schedule a play date or an activity with your child, and you might want to negotiate some time for kids to play computer games or catch up on social media.

Missing friends can be hard

It is also important to plan some time without any activity, which may sound strange, but in this age of busyness it is imperative. Making time for downtime with long forgotten toys, a paperback book, play dough or paint -- is as important for children as it is for teenagers and adults.

Missing friends can also be hard for children during the long summer break. In a highly mobile country like Luxembourg lots of people move away during the summer and go away for long periods of time. This can make kids anxious about their friendships and the next school year. 

It is a good idea to encourage children to keep in touch where possible but also to normalise these fears.

As adults we can forget the strong attachments from childhood especially during teenage years and dismiss their concerns. After all, eight weeks can be an eternity for a young person.

You might suggest that instead of an instagram or snapchat that they send a letter or postcard, it might not be instant but possibly a bit different and more personal.

Planning your summer

If you take the time to agree in advance what your rules or guiding principles are for the summer holidays it will be easier to make it happen. This process is always better if you include all the family. 

Ask everyone to contribute to the plan and ask them what they want to do, where they want to go, who they want to see and decide when you are going to schedule screen time, outside activities or free time.

You might want to throw in some suggestions for younger children. If everyone takes turns and is listened to, it is easier for everyone to be invested in the outcome. You may have already booked your activities or time away with family or friends but this process is even good for sharing what you are already going to do, and planning their expectations during this time. 

Long summer days of sleeping in and late nights might seem idyllic and for most teenagers a norm but younger children will often get disorientated and exhausted if all their normal routines are forgotten.

But days crammed full of activities leave little space for imagination. So a little planning might go a long way to keeping peace and tranquillity in the family this Summer.

If you have any questions or concerns about you child or teenager you can contact KJT Parents Online Help anonymously and confidentially at www.kjt.lu

Let your child know about the Online Help service for children or youths. They can answer any question big or small over the holidays. Watch out for the new Bod Holiday themed postcard – a great way to stay in touch this summer.

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