Child Sense: Try to give your child some control when their routine is disrupted in the summer

Priscilla J. Dunstan

Summer break is upon us, bringing the inevitable mix of travel, visitors and changing sleeping arrangements. Children’s bedrooms turn into guest rooms for friends and relatives, suitcases replace closets as families travel, and children go off to camp. Though exciting, this can also be very stressful to children, who lose not only the routine of school, but also their familiar surroundings.

Taste and smell children will tend to become clingy during these types of disruptions. They feel torn between two equally challenging feelings: the desire to please everyone, and their own anxiety over unmet needs. Being children, they will find it hard to express this conflict _ resulting in emotional eruptions, over-sensitive, or even “spoilt” behavior. This is just a sign that they are feeling overwhelmed. Find some quiet time with your child, or arrange special one-on-one with a loved one, to help to discover and alleviate their concerns.

Tactile children tend to be particular about the rules, and don’t always understand that rules can change – while on vacation, when others are visiting, in other people’s homes, etc. Acting as the caring overseer, they will try enforce order: rules are rules! Their first impulse will be physical: breaking up and putting away one child’s Lego creation, or dragging another child to their seat for dinner. This is a perfect opportunity for parents to teach their tactile child alternative forms of expression. The tactile child can learn to show or model a behavior, rather than forcing others.

Visual children are a little particular, and need to learn that others’ visual tastes differ from theirs. In new situations, the visual child’s honesty can seem rude. They will comment on their aunt’s ugly floral couch, or refuse to even try the food, saying it looks funny. This is a control issue: and the less control the child feels he has, the more rude and controlling about other things he will become. Resolve this by giving the child free rein on certain, simple things – picking out her clothes, picking flowers for the table, or arranging the clothes in the suitcase, if you’re traveling. Be sure to thank them for their help on these tasks.

Auditory children can be unsettled by any disruption to the day’s routine sounds. Sleeping away from familiar sounds, either a noisy train or a quiet bedroom, will compromise their sleep for the few days it takes to adjust. During this adjustment, you will have a tired child who will most likely whine and complain. Auditory children thrive on routine, and having their sleep and eating patterns change will it extra hard to handle the new noises and sounds they have to deal with. Keep to as normal a routine as possible, and try extra hard to replicated bedtime sounds, to ease that transition. Don’t forget to bring the iPod for your child, to give them some auditory control.

By being prepared for the emotional expressions of your child, you will be able to show them patience and help to elevate their anxiety over the summer break. This will head off bad behavior and the inevitable fights and disappointment that come along with it, leaving you and your child to have more fun and to build lasting summer memories.