School’s out, it’s summer vacation, and kids have a lot more time on their hands. How can parents keep their children occupied and mentally healthy over the next few months?
Help them find a purpose
Teaching kids responsibility and giving them a purpose is important to their mental health, especially over the summer when there is less for them to do. Create a list of daily and age-appropriate chores around the house. If they are old enough, consider a part time job. Encourage your kids to volunteer at a local nonprofit organization, school, church or workplace.
Incorporate some education Summer is a time for kids to unwind and have fun. It’s also important for them to stay mentally sharp and incorporate some educational activities into their routine. It doesn’t need to be boring. Consider age-appropriate books on topics your child will enjoy reading or maybe a weekly refresher class with some friends, so they don’t forget everything they learned this past school year.
Try something new
The days of summer can be long, and you don’t want your children getting bored, so use this time to introduce them to new things they wouldn’t otherwise get to experience. It can be cooking or baking, playing a new sport, playing chess or checkers, attending a lecture at a museum, playing a musical instrument, or whatever.
Set a flexible routine
Having structure and routine contributes to better mental health for your kids, but over the summer you can be a little lenient with it. Make sure your kids get enough sleep, eat three healthy meals and stay hydrated each day, and get plenty of physical activity. If things don’t go according to plan everyday over the summer, give yourself and your kids a break. It’s okay to stray once in a while over summer break.
Most kids love their electronic devices, and in moderation there’s nothing wrong with this. However, too much screen time can have a negative effect, disrupt your child’s mood and bring on stress and anxiety, interfere with sleep and take a toll on their eyes. Age five and under should be limited to one hour each day. Six years and up no more than two hours each day.
Just like adults, a change of scenery and a break from the everyday routine is important for your child’s mental health. Even small day trips can have the same positive effect. Whatever you do, family time builds memories and is good for your child’s mental well-being.
Courtesy of Dr. Stephanie Hancock, PsychDNP, CEO of Pool of Bethesda Psychiatric Health, a trauma care expert, and the bestselling author of
24 self-help books.
Protect Your Hearing from Fireworks
Families and friends will gather early next month to witness spectacular fireworks displays. While the sights and sounds of a fireworks display are thrilling, the volume from fireworks can reach up to 155 decibels. To put this into perspective, this is louder than a jackhammer or a jet plane taking off (150 decibels). The American Academy of Audiology cautions that exposure to fireworks can significantly impact hearing loss.
That said, the greatest risk is NOT the professional fireworks displays, but the backyard fireworks people use themselves to celebrate, says Brian J. Fligor, AuD. “Never hold a firework with the intention to throw it before it explodes.
Even if you do throw it in time (to avoid injury to your hands and face), if it is anywhere close to you when it explodes, your hearing can be immediately and permanently damaged.”
“Children are at particular risk for hearing loss from backyard fireworks displays because of their excitement and curiosity, wishing to be close to the activity,” warned Fligor.
School-aged children with hearing loss will sometimes exhibit poor school performance because they can’t understand the teacher or classroom interactions. If hearing loss has been present from a young age, they often don’t recognize the loss and can’t identify the problem.
The American Academy of Audiology recommends that anyone experiencing any symptoms in the list above to make an appointment with an audiologist.