Monday, June 6, 2011
Summer has such a nice ring to it. It conjures up wonderful thoughts of lazy days and relaxed fun -- unless you're working and your child is having friendship problems. The pain that bullying brings during the school year can spill over to vacation time and not only cause continued heartache but a practical problem, as well.
What do your kids do during the summer if they can't rely on friends to help fill up the time?
Summer can be difficult and if your child isn't having fun, there is nothing light hearted about the season for you, either. It's a constant reminder that off time isn't easy.
The upside is that it may be a good time to build your child's confidence and help them find another group of like-minded kids. It's worth the time to seek out programs -- free or otherwise -- that will give your child new skills or build on the ones they already have.
Sometimes they only need one other person who likes what they like.
In our area, there's a day camp for kids who like to hike. It's great for both girls and boys. Sometimes boys who don't like traditional sports are stigmatized but hiking can be a great alternative. Even guys who like arts and crafts are often given a hard time in school but in a program that uses sticks, leaves, and bugs as materials, the stigma is gone. And girls who don't fit it with certain cliques may actually click with others on the trail.
This is just one example. There are countless programs that may appeal to kids who's interests may be on the "fringe." All that being said, I KNOW what a hassle this can be. Getting a child to and from camps or activities during the summer while you're at work can be brutal...and if your child is having a problem with other kids, you can't rely on their parents to help you out, either. In other words, it's a lot of effort for parents, but doing your homework for summer can really pay off. It may be a time when your child's confidence can actually be the project which may lead to a more positive school year in the fall.
It's also a good time to help them with their social skills. Since they'll be meeting new people, remind them how to make and keep friends.
If you ARE working (and most people are), it's also a great opportunity to set ground rules and time limits on computer use. If your child is one of the over 7.5 million kids under the age of 13 on Facebook, consider taking them off for the summer. A lot can happen when you're not home and according to statistics, over half of the kids harassed online DON'T tell a parent. (They're probably afraid that as adults, we won't handle it right -- and they may be correct.)
The bottom line is that it's nearly impossible for a good parent to have a good summer themselves when their child is miserable. Do yourself a favor and organize a summer that will give both you and your child a vacation from the fallout of bullying. Life should be a beach.