As we head into the summer holidays, most kids (and teachers) are desperately looking forward to some downtime. This abrupt release from a structured routine is a welcome relief to many, but for others, it is an open ended stress pit.

If we think of freedom and structure as two ends of a spectrum, imagine where your happy place is. Do you embrace not having a plan and going with the flow? Do you impose structure to feel productive and avoid a sense of aimlessness? A bit of both? How about your child?

structure - freedom spectrum

Think about how your child responds to summer vacation–do they manage to fill their own time, or drive you nuts asking for something to do? Have you always filled their time (camps) for them?

This is a great week to sit down with your child to draw out the spectrum above and see where they think they land. In my experience, particularly with my stress management groups, the majority of kids need a bit of structure to avoid feeling stressed. This doesn’t mean every minute of the day needs to be accounted for, or that as a parent you need to decide what they do and when. Intermediates are increasingly ready to take on more of this responsibility for themselves. They might just need you to point the way.

What you can do

  • See where they land on the spectrum
  • Prompt them to think of regular daily activities they could plan to provide the right amount of structure for them
    • Daily walk
    • Reading
    • Playdates
    • Working on a personal project
    • Free time (yes some people do need to schedule this)
  • You could ask if there is an activity they need to limit in order to feel good overall (gaming, screens, excessive school work)