The Blog

As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

Bring Back the Lazy Hazy Days of Summer

The lazy, hazy days of summer are here–or are they?

Somehow we even have managed to make summer an anxious time for

ourselves and for our children. In former times, before air

conditioning that is, high humidity left us with no other choice

but to just loll around, dreaming the summer away. Now, we can

keep just as active in the summer as we are every other season of

the year. While we may survive the anxiety connected with over-

programming, our children do not fare so well. They are becoming

more and more anxious.

 

During the school year children become anxious about many

things. The following is just a short list. Will they miss the

bus and be so late that they fail the test? Will their parents

reject them if they fail the test? Will they have time to get

all of their homework done and still be able to play soccer?

Will the other kids hate them if they do not have time to

practice and they miss the winning goal? Will their parents

still love them if they are not accepted by the most important

peer group in the school? Will their siblings do so much better

in school and sports that their efforts are disregarded? Will

they ever get into the gifted and talented program that all of

their relatives are in? Will their parents get a divorce if they

are failures in school? Will they ever learn to play the piano

well enough to make their parents proud of them? The list goes

on and on.



Many of these concerns are legitimate and can cause anxiety

in children. Some children manage to keep these anxieties in

perspective and are able to function in spite of them. Other

children, because of their unique personalities and temperaments,

become over-anxious and are unable to function well or give up

and cease to function at all. These children need support and

summertime is a good time for parents to start helping them.



The first thing to do is to bring back the lazy, hazy, loll-

around days of summer. Summer does not need to be programmed.

It is okay to sleep until ten and maybe take another nap at

three. This advice holds true for adults as well as children.

When children observe that adults know how to relax, they can

give themselves permission to do the same. Of course, those

adults who cannot function without their laptops and cellular

phones will never be able to model how to relax for their

children. Their children are going to continue to be just as

anxious as they are. For all of their children’s sake but

especially for their over-anxious child’s sake, these adults

need to remove their laptops and cellular phones from the house

this summer. They might be surprised to learn that the world

continues to function in spite of their inability to be in

constant touch.  

During this lazy summer, parents will have more time

available just to be with their children. This time does not

have to be programmed with trips to festivals, camps, or

amusement parks. The time can be spent by the whole family

taking one maybe two hours instead of fifteen minutes to prepare

and to eat a meal. It can be spent just walking in the cool

woods and talking about “stuff”. Some parents need to reminded

that this time will never come again. Grab it while you can.

Over-anxious children are rarely helped by being told that

they should not be anxious. In many cases their fears are not

rational but they are real to the children. One solution,

especially for those parents who feel lost without some formal

programming for their children, might be to sign them up for a

course in relaxation techniques. Perhaps the whole family could

take a course in meditation and yoga this summer. Why not? It

will be more relaxing than taking that hot car trip to Disneyland

or wherever and the benefits will remain long after the summer is

over.

 

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