The school holidays can seem to last an awfully long time when you've got restless or squabbling children at home. Here are our top tips for keeping your children and teens happily occupied over the summer break:
1. Don't drop your routines
Often parents feel that the school routine is hard on children and that they need freedom during the summer. Even in the holidays children still need structure, routine, rules and rewards.
2. Limit screen time
Television and computers can eat up a lot of your children's time during the holidays. Screen time should happen only after children have tidied their rooms, fed their pets, exercised, helped around the house and garden and completed some academic work (see Tip 6). Screen time should be a reward that they can earn. My latest book, Calmer, Easier, Happier Screen Time can help.
3. Keep food treats to a minimum
Children often feel that they should have an ice cream each time the ice cream van comes round, and that when you're out doing fun things, they need to have fun food too. Not only are food treats expensive, they're not good for kids' behaviour, either. A maximum of three non-nutritious treats a week is a good rule of thumb.
4. Make sure siblings have time away from each other
One way to stop siblings driving each other mad is to have each child play quietly in a separate room (not in front of a screen) for half an hour a day. This will help them to enjoy each other’s company more when they are together. To reinforce good behaviour, praise siblings whenever they are not squabbling.
5. Make a plan for each day
To keep children from spending too much time in front of a screen, or whingeing about being bored, parents need to arrange regular activities that are purposeful and challenging as well as fun. The long summer holiday is a great opportunity for children to do activities they don't normally have time for during the school term.
6. Have children and teens do half an hour's academic work each day
Help each child start a project on something that interests them, such as dinosaurs, football or art. Work on it together daily. Praise sensible work habits, and be enthusiastic (even if you don’t feel like it!).