June 2017 Magazines - Page 61

• Encourage kids to try something new. An emerging insight that developmental experts are beginning to talk more about lately is the fact that the traditional school set- ting often doesn’t give kids a lot of leeway for self-guided experimentation – and the occasional failure. Luckily, summertime is the perfect antidote to this! Have your kids come up with something new they’d like to try or a skill they’d like to learn over the summer. If they happen to scorch their chocolate chip cookies or create a baking soda volcano that fizzles out, it’s a great opportunity to emphasize that a lot of things in life don’t go right the first time, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. • Sneak some structure into unstructured time. Although child psychologists and developmental experts extol the benefits of allowing children some free time to do their own thing, it can be tough for some kids to get the hang of it, particularly if they’re naturally high- strung, have a low tolerance for boredom, or are accus- tomed to having an activity-packed schedule. If this applies to your family, ease your kids into appreciating the joys of free time by establishing 30-minute blocks for activities you know they enjoy, like playing dress-up or building with Legos. Then, as the summer progresses, you can gradually grant them more latitude to develop their own interests. • Focus on making memories. In today’s hypercompeti- tive, social-media-driven world, it can be tempting to focus on cute, tidy, Instagram-worthy activities and let the messy, not-so-photogenic stuff fall by the wayside. But it’s far more likely that your little one will cherish the memory of making mud pies together in the backyard long after the temporary boost of getting a few Facebook “likes” has faded. Let kids be kids – and let them do it away from the glare of the social-media spotlight, at least some of the time. Summer doesn’t have to lead to strife, boredom and sim- mering tension. Set aside enough time to make a realistic plan that works with your other commitments and com- bines fun activities with unstructured free time and daily responsibilities. As every parent is all too aware, frustrations and meltdowns are pretty much inevitable, and it may take more time than you would like for everyone to switch gears and ease into their summer groove. Just try to remain observant, open-minded, and flexible -- you can always pin- point what’s not working and enact the changes necessary to make this your family’s best summer ever. ◆