Supporting young people through the summer holidays
For some young people, the summer holidays are a longed-for break from school where they are free to choose what they do, where they go and who they see. For others, the lack of routine, normal social contact and other changes can cause anxiety and a sense of not knowing what to do with themselves. I have outlined some of the changes that many young people may struggle with during the summer holidays and some suggestions on ways of helping your young person to manage this period.
What changes happen during the summer holidays?
Lack of routine:
During the summer holidays, children and young people experience a prolonged period of time without a sense of their usual structure and routine. Routine provides boundaries and helps people to feel safe. For some, the changes to routine can also mean things like their sleeping and eating patterns are altered.
Due to the covid-19 related changes over the last year, many young people have already had to adapt to new ways of socializing. During the summer holidays, many children and young people will not see their ‘new normal’ social bubble or have regular contact with their peers. For some, this can lead to fear of missing out or feelings of isolation.
For some children and young people that go away on holiday, this can create even more changes to adapt to. Whilst holidays can be really exciting, home is often a young persons ‘safe place’ and some may need reassurance to help them manage new environments, dialects, people and routines.
Breaks in therapy:
Most children and young people will have a break from therapy at some point during the summer holidays. For some young people, the break can be helpful and allow chance to see how they feel without the regular support of the therapist. For others, the break may be difficult to manage as their regular sessions may feel like an opportunity to have some space, just for them to express themselves.
How can I help my young person to manage the school holidays?
Although your young person’s normal school routine will have changed for 6-8 weeks, any sense of normal routine that you feel is helpful for the can be maintained. This may include.
- Sleeping patterns
- Bath time
Keeping some elements of your young persons routine can provide a sense of structure an make the long period of time less daunting.
If you are going on holiday during the summer holidays, it can be helpful for some young people to take important objects or things that make them feel good. This may include a favourite toy or teddy or a photograph. Encouraging your young person to think about what helps them to feel safe may allow them to come up with ideas for what they may wish to take.
If your young person is taking a break from therapy, it is important to prepare for the break wherever possible. Remind your child of the next time they will have a session and perhaps allow them to use a tool such as a worry monster or a positivity jar to write down their thoughts and feelings in the meantime.
There may be positive things that can be introduced during the holidays such as movie night, staying at a relative’s house or going to the park; things your young person wouldn’t get chance to do if they were at school. Again, having things to look forward to can make the 6 weeks seem to go much faster!