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
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