Summer provides parents a great opportunity to move kids towards understanding themselves and the responsibility needed to help them mature and succeed.
As parents we can make summer a season of development with our kids because they have more free time and are not consumed with school, activities and sports. To accomplish this we need to view our kids and our role differently.
|We can Make Summer a Season of Development and Responsibility|
For some parents, like Deedee and me with our oldest at age nine, it may mean you need to do some things to reconnect with your kids at a deeper level. This was a level that was missing with our kids. Even though they knew we cared deeply for them, they saw that our focus was on their performance and behavior. This caused our oldest daughter to avoid us, hide things and give one word answers rather than entering into conversations with us. Our focus on performance caused our kids to retreat from responsibility because they knew we would harp on how they under-performed rather than encourage them in their effort and learning.
If this is where you find yourself, I highly encourage you watch our free webinar and sign up for our online class right away. Each video driven class is just 12 to 15 minutes in length and covers vital concepts that make a difference in our relationships with our kids and lead to their adopting responsibility for their lives and more meaningful conversations.
In my research I found that kids of single parents often took on more responsibility, helping with the house and even preparing meals depending on their parent’s work schedule. They also learned to manage their time because mom or dad was not home when they got home. When these kids processed the divorce well and their relationship was good with their single parent, they developed a sense of responsibility and level of maturity beyond their peers. Revive Family’s Influential Parenting provides parents a way to move in this direction with their kids by providing non traditional answers that help develop healthy, responsible kids who are internally motivated to achieve.
|We Developed a Plan for Summer Together|
Last summer with our boys, ages 9 and 14, we developed a plan for summer together. First we discussed the things they are normally involved in like Cub Scout camp, where our older son is a leader, and Boy Scout camp. We also had them consider other options like lego robotics at the science center.
Then we talked about what they want out of summer and had questions ready to ask to help get them thinking. Then they needed time to think about the questions we used to start our conversation. After they had a day or two, we came back together to discuss summer and what they wanted to get out of it. Here are some of the key questions we explored together:
- What do you feel you should do this summer to gain confidence or set yourself up to succeed in school year next year?
- What projects would you like to do for fun that would develop skills and leverage interests you have?
- What family activities and or trips do you want to do and why?
- What work needs to get done around the house?
- How much time do you think you should spend on games or media each day this summer?
- What time do you want to be up on weekdays versus weekends this summer?
This year I am adding a question
- What meals would you like to experiment with this summer?
I am adding the meal question so that my boys begin to broaden their tastes and develop some cooking skills as well as give mom more of a break.
Here are some of the things my boys have come up with for this summer after considering these things and talking them through with us.
- Backpacking twice, a two day and a four day.
- A car camping trip exploring new places.
- Take the dead trees down in the backyard.
- Work with Grandma on reading and writing skills for Paul. He is dyslexic and last summer their working together helped increase his reading level and confidence.
- Read together with me as a group
- Build a zip line
- 2 to 3 hours a day on media
- Work out three to five times a week to get in shape for backpacking
- Practice baseball pitching for Eric
- Work on our vehicle restoration project
- Paint their room and the revive family office
With each of these activities we will be working to develop adults; we will allow them to initiate, begin to track their time and determine the outcome of their summer. Summer is a great time to help them see that when they put in the effort, they get things done, gain a sense of accomplishment and confidence, but if they let them slide things do not happen and they end up with regrets. As they engage in these areas we will offer some guidance with planning, preparation and self-management skills, a topic of next week’s blog series for summer.
This summer my older son is planning to work with his grandma on his reading and writing skills. They started doing this last summer and it made a big difference in his confidence and grades so he has decided he wants to do it again.
Both my boys and daughter Jennifer want to backpack this summer. This is where it gets fun. We are having them plan possible locations; equipment needs and propose dates since we involved them in the planning of the last 5-day backpacking trip we went on two summers ago when my boys were just 8 and 13. These exercises help them stretch their understanding, planning and responsibility. They understand if the plan is not sound it could lead to very real issues on the trail.
|They Walk Away with a Greater Sense of Confidence and Motivation|
Empowering our kids with such responsibility is vital. It causes them to take themselves, responsibility and the project seriously. If this level of responsibility is new to them they may need some encouragement and positive coaching along the way. When they tackle challenges like these, kids walk away having learned and matured and with a greater sense of confidence believing that they can succeed in life. These are lacking in many of the kids I interact with because so many decisions are being made for them. They also indicate that many of the responsibilities and decisions given to them are insignificant; they require little in the way of skill, decision-making or confidence.
This is the reason I see summer as so strategic. It is a time when we can help our kids develop adult skills and focus on self management and the outcomes do not impact their ability to get into college.
The next blog will discuss leveraging summer to develop self-management skills. Here is the link to our website for the free webinar on Influential Parenting.