Summer provides kids and parents the opportunity to have fun, learn new skills, explore and best of all, spend time with each other. While summer may give parents and children a break from routines and the stress of juggling schedules, it is still good to provide activities that promote wellness, fun and safety for everyone.
1. Pack a lunch and picnic in the park. Parents can give kids choices in what they want to pack and then let them help prepare lunch. Planning ahead and letting them help pick out lunch items at the grocery store helps educate children on healthy options such as fruit, nuts, vegetables, and whole grain breads. After the picnic, kids and adults can explore the park, try geocaching or play on the play-ground. Parents can even turn this into a scavenger hunt. (Kids can hunt for different leaves, flowers, trees, birds and bugs.) Don’t forget sunscreen and bug repellent—and ointment and bandages just in case.
2. Play outside with the water hose. Turn on the hose and watch the fun begin! Get creative, use water guns or spray bottles. Make this even more fun by getting a cheap small baby pool, fill it up with water and add some bath toys. Parents can make memories by putting on a swimsuit and sitting in the pool, too. For even more cooling effect, add some ice. Remember—kids need constant supervision and sunscreen in or around water.
3. Go to an inside mall and walk around. For those really hot or rainy summer days, parents can take their children to the mall and walk around. For those tweens experimenting with fashion, have them go into stores and try on different styles to see what he/she likes.
4. Pizza and movie night. Make this extra special by buying a premade pizza crust—kids of all ages love to decorate pizza with toppings. Let them help choose the movie, too.
5. Rainy day inside activities. This is always a fun one, even if you are not that crafty. Scroll through ideas on Pinterest; create a vision board for what the kids want to be when they grow up by cutting out pictures from magazines; check out this site for all sorts of crafty ideas with household products.
All of these activities allow for parents and youth to connect and create a safe environment together. Some of these activities, such as water sports and walking around the park or mall, help children to calm down by doing something physical and repetitive. Crafts and picking out items for lunch and dinner involve using parts of the brain that when activated, keep the child in a thinking mode and less in a mode of fight, flight or freeze.
Need some additional tools for calming children, bonding or working through other issues? Check out ACH’s Real Help for Real Life counseling and skill-builders program.