Staying in Touch over the Summer

Well, it’s the first week in June and for most kids the final bell has rung. The school year is over and summer vacation is opening up with endless possibilities. What does your family have planned for the next several months?

Whatever your plans, if you are like most families, your schedule will take on a more relaxed pace. The rush to get out the door in time for the school bus might be replaced with a walk to the neighborhood park to meet the Fun-Mobile bus.

Or time spent on school lessons might be traded for the shivery fun of swim lessons on a cool breezy morning. Loading up the backpack for a busy school day can easily be exchanged for loading up the car for a weekend family getaway.

However, some families don’t actually have a slower pace due to a variety of circumstances. So summer time for them might be almost a mirror image of the school year, differing only in the commitments and activities whirling them along.

But whether your summer time pace is hectic or slow and whether your kids are in daycare, stay at home or are enrolled in summer activities, the importance of, and the desire to be with friends, is constant.

Friends come in many varieties and from many facets of our children’s lives and each one plays an important role in our children’s social development. Our children learn to communicate, interact, share and solve problems when they are with friends.

In addition, friends help children develop emotionally and morally. Playing with and interacting with friends helps a child recognize his own feelings and the feelings of those he’s playing with. Once a child recognizes his emotions, he’s one step closer to being able to control them.

As his emotional intelligence grows and he learns to express strong emotions in appropriate ways, his self-confidence will blossom- as will his circle of friends.

In order for their social, emotional and moral intelligence to develop, it’s important for kids to interact with their friends on a regular basis. A University of Florida Extension article by Millie Ferrer-Chancy and Anne Fugate proposes that friends are vital to children’s healthy development. And according to their article, research shows that kids who don’t have friends can suffer from emotional and mental difficulties as they grow older.

So, back to the upcoming summer break for your family. What can you do to fill your child’s need and desire to be with friends? Here are a few suggestions on how to give your child opportunities to be with other kids.

  • Invite other kids over to play (pull out last year’s classroom phone book for contact info)
  • Arrange to meet other families at a park, library, museum or other point of interest in your city
  • Encourage your child to participate in clubs, classes or special summer kid activities
  • Let your child enjoy summer church camp with friends
  • Help your child learn new games or sports and then help him find a place to use his new skills
  • Let your child plan a sleepover in the backyard
  • Let your child have a lemonade stand with a friend

Of course, there are many other ideas to explore. If you can’t think of any- just ask your child! They are usually an endless source of ideas for fun with friends.

In closing, there is one really important thing for you to remember: Don’t worry if your child doesn’t have a large group of friends. Your child may prefer having one or two close friends rather than a wide circle to turn to.

What matters most is that your child is happy and comfortable with his friendships. The confidence that grows from good friendships is something we’d all like to see for our kids, so please do your part this summer by making it easy for your child’s friends to participate in activities with him. You’ll be happy you did.

Have a wonderful day and don’t forget to pay some attention to your BFF this week. After all, friends are important to all of us!

Cathie

P.S. Just for fun, here are some other words for friend:

  • Chum
  • Pal
  • Buddy
  • Playmate
  • Amigo
  • Bestie
  • Crony
  • Mate
  • Cohort

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