From article by Michael G. Conner, Psy.D
Summer is no time to let children do whatever they want. Children need structure, routines, rules, consequence, rewards and the opportunity to discover and express their potential. Without these things, your child may get into trouble and they will most likely have a hard time returning and adjusting to school next year.
The best approach to summer is for parents to take a positive, responsible and active attitude. Summer break means just this to many kids;
No homework, No teachers, No reason to get up, No responsibility, No restrictions on television, No restrictions on the computer or video games, Doing whatever they want.
Fortunately, small children don’t want to stay out and run the streets all night. But young children still need structure and a routine during the summer. Teenagers on the other hand are the bigger challenge because they can easily spend their summer; Hanging with friends, Running around unsupervised, Racing around in cars with friends, Going to parties, "Hanging" with kids who use alcohol and drugs, Causing trouble for thrills, Experimenting with alcohol and drugs, Going to bed when they feel like it, Sleeping until some time past noon. This kind of behavior is hard to change once it becomes a daily experience.
Many teenagers will argue and bend the rules when their parents finally start to set limits. Most teens will say things like, "My friends don’t have to work or do chores.", "I won’t do anything bad.", "Why don’t you trust me?", and "Just because others do drugs doesn’t mean I will." It will be hard to stop this behavior if a parent gives in to these arguments.
You probably have an idea for a summer routine. Here are seven suggestions that I think are very useful.
1. Children should be up by 9 am and do something by no later than 10 am on weekdays. If they sleep past 11 am, then they probably need more exercise during the day, an earlier bed time and less stimulation at night before they go to bed.
2. Children need a schedule of daily activities, chores or a job opportunity. Children should earn money and not be given money before they earn it.
3. Teenagers should be home no later than 10 pm every night unless they ask parents for permission in advance. Teenagers may stay out later on weekends but not weekdays. Late night activities on week days should be planned and approved by parents at least 24 hours in advance.
4. Know where your children are, who they are with and where you can find them if you wanted to find them. It is important that you speak with and get to know the parents of children that your child associates with.
5. Look into a summer program for young children through your local parks and recreation department. Keep your child from continuous television. Know what your teenagers are doing and check on them periodically to be sure they are completely open and honest with you.
6. Make sure your children get plenty of exercise. Do not let your child watch TV, play video games or disappear into the internet for more than 2 hours a day.
7. Have your child read, write or do math for at least 5 hours a week. Give them an incentive or pay them for a book report or correct answers to math questions.
Go to www.CrisisCounseling.com if you want to know more about house rules, reality, rewards, incentive and punishment. There are free articles on parenting and discipline.