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To Your Health: Keeping your child mentally healthy over the summer

by University of Louisville Physicians last modified May 22, 2013 11:03 AM

It’s summertime, and many parents wonder how to keep their children physically active while keeping their minds stimulated at the same time.

They worry their children might forget what they learned during the school year as they fall out of the academic routine during the summer.

That lack of structure and social engagement can sometimes lead to increased behavioral problems, low self-esteem, fear, anger and sadness. Children tend to get into more “mischief” over the summer, and as a parent, you may find yourself frustrated and unsure about how best to manage these issues.

Our experts at the Bingham Clinic have some suggestions for keeping your children mentally engaged, happy and healthy over the summer:

Encourage your child to play outside, and limit TV viewing to less than an hour per day. Several studies have indicated that physically active children have better mental health than inactive children, with higher self-esteem and levels of alertness, a greater ability to learn and better moods overall.

Make weekly library visits. Check out a new book each week and engage your child in a fun activity related to what he or she has read. For example, read “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and then draw big paw prints on the sidewalk with chalk.

Set a bedtime. Children feel most comfortable with some structure. A clear bedtime ensures proper rest and reduces emotional bedtime battles.

Play mental games and exercises with your child, such as rhyming, letter sounds and color naming. Get a big map and ask questions about geography, play spelling games in the car and talk about science as you walk to the park.

Structure the days with activities, and plan the schedule ahead of time. Children do better when they know what to expect and are kept active. Engaging children in planned and safe recreational activities will reduce boredom, depression, impulsivity and accidents.

For more information or to make an appointment with a counselor or psychiatrist at the Bingham Clinic, please call 502-852-6941 or visit the clinic’s Web page at www.UofLphysicians.com/bingham-clinic.

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