Summer is right around the corner and provides a great opportunity to start new habits before the next school year. In my practice, parents often feel overwhelmed throughout the school year and find it difficult to put new routines into place. With less demanding schedules, summer provides an excellent opportunity to improve your child's mental health which can carry over to the school year and to feel like a part of their every day routine. Here are a few you can try this year:
1. Be mindful of how much outdoor unstructured play time your child has. Kids need to explore and engage with nature. Let them go outside and climb and play in the dirt and make up games. Sit back and watch: you don't need to constantly engage while they play. Let them find things to do if they are bored. Let them problem solve, even if that means they fail and have to try again.
Make sure they have time everyday to run around outside and try and continue it during the school year.
2. Start making some changes in the kitchen. Take it one meal at a time and look to see if it is truly a nutritious meal or if it it more just empty calories. Experiment with switching items out and adding new items in. Look in your pantry and start reading labels. Leave fruit on the kitchen table and let the kids grab when they want it. You can also experiment with different nuts and leave them out in a bowl.
3. Establish a night time routine. Kids need to be able to relax their mind and body before bed. Start getting them involved with meditation on a nightly basis. While they are meditating they can focus on their breathing. Many parents are not aware of the massive benefits of breathing and meditation for children. When done consistently they can help children control their emotions and ease stress along with reducing impulsiveness.
Enjoy the summer, and let the kids be kids and try to make some positive changes!
About the Author
Keri Cooper, LCSW NBCCH, is a local mom of 4 and a professional holistic psychotherapist that specializes with children. Her private practice is Mind and Body by Nature located in Ramsey, NJ. Call (201) 256-4141 or visit www.mindandbodybynature.com for more information about how Keri can help you and your children live a balanced, healthy life.
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Disclosure: Keri Cooper is a sponsor of Macaroni Kid Northeast Bergen.