School’s out for summer! And now your kid is home…all the time. Yes, you love having them around more, but it’s OK to admit that it’s also a challenge. You’re noticing more family conflicts. They’re spending more time on their phones or with their video games rather than interacting with friends—just when you thought they were doing better.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Raising a child with complex psychiatric, emotional, and behavioral health issues is hard, no matter what age they are. And summer’s lack of routine and structure can make it more difficult for them—and for you—to cope. But you can all get through it together.
As parents, we want you to feel empowered to lean into your leadership roles and make decisions that benefit your families. Here, we’re sharing four common challenges parents face and how you can manage them. Consider it your summer mental health check-in.
The Problem: Phone addiction. Video game addiction. Excessive screen time. However you word it, your child is hooked on technology. They’re irritable when away from their phones, avoiding real world interactions, and not sleeping enough.
What To Do: First of all: You’re not alone. Back in 2016, a report found that half of teenagers “feel addicted” to their smartphones and other devices. You can help them get back to a healthier balance, though. Rather than lecturing, start a conversation about the pros and cons of screen time; let them discover how it’s impacting their daily lives and their well-being. Discuss what healthy boundaries might look like and how you can evaluate whether they’re sticking to them. Perhaps everyone leaves their phones in another room during dinner, for example. Another option: Have your teen “check-in” their electronics at night to foster better
sleeping habits. Just be sure and model the same behavior with your own technology use, too. If none of this is helping, you may want to consider young adult counseling; therapeutic environments like Equinox’s can be beneficial.
The Problem: They’re socially isolated, either because of a lack of friends or because they’re having trouble connecting with their friends outside of a school environment. You’re worried it’s going to exacerbate other issues, such as depression.
What To Do: Youth and young adults need social interaction for their brain health and emotional development. First, try to identify the root cause of their self-isolation. Was there an argument or incident with a friend? Do they feel left out or bullied? Then, try to get them to reintegrate slowly. Plan a family activity or outing. Get them outside for a walk or a hike; nature is a mood-booster. Encourage them to sign up for a one-time workshop. Look into summer programs for troubled youth. Don’t force them to participate but continue to communicate and reassure them.
The Problem: Summer’s lack of structure is causing your young adult to act out, with reduced functioning.
What To Do: Young adults need structure and clear expectations, particularly when they are dealing with complex mental health issues and lack meaning and purpose in their lives. If they’re living with you: Set some boundaries, whether it’s handing over the phone at a certain time so they get more sleep or agreeing to a curfew if they are going out. You’ll also want to decide on appropriate consequences if they don’t follow through. Even if your kid is over 18, you need to step into your leadership role as a parent; just because they’re adults, too, doesn’t mean you can’t set expectations or hold boundaries with them.
The Problem: You’ve booked a family vacation but are worried that it’s going to be more stressful than relaxing.
What To Do: Yes, more family time (likely in a smaller space) means more potential conflicts. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid spending time together in a new setting. The key is planning ahead. Don’t pack too many activities into one day and give yourself extra time to get from one place or activity to another. Let your child contribute to the itinerary so they feel a sense of ownership over the vacation. If they thrive with routine, go over the schedule a few times so they don’t worry as much about the unknown. Pack creative distractions, like books or crafts, or download podcasts; you want to avoid unstructured downtime and also have something to fall back on when you hit a travel snafu.
Questions? Need help addressing some of your young adult’s needs? We’re here. Our young adult development program could be beneficial for youth in need of extra support. Give us a call at 303.861.1916 or fill out this short form to set up a consultation.