What suddenly changed about my child? A few weeks ago he was fun, cooperative, well-behaved, and generally got along with his other brothers; why is he now uncontrollable and aggressive? Welcome to the summer holiday!
Many mothers will be puzzled with the sudden change of behavior in their kids, especially mothers who have a young child in the first years of school who didn’t have old enough siblings the previous years. I am definitely going through it this year, times 3!
Now that school is out, most probably the schedule your children followed has given way to staying up late, unstructured mornings, and random play dates that you say yes to in desperate need. This creates unpredictability, which eventually leads to meltdowns in young kids, or aggressive behavior in older ones, all the same to you when you are trying to drive and you glimpse the fist fights in your rear view mirror. So what can you do to help the situation?
Have a structured morning, this doesn’t mean timing all activities, but have your kids do something where they burn energy. Create an obstacle course using sofa pillows and let them run around, buy a mini trampoline and let them take turns jumping on it (that’s good for draining their lymphatic system too), if you have a small yard area get a small pool and let them swim around in it. It’s very important to make the activity physical, as they are full of energy when they wake up.
Towards the afternoon, you can let them paint, bake (with your supervision), solve a puzzle, or read. These activities work better when you give your child a goal, something like “Draw and count the vegetables you know”, or “Who is the good boy in the book?” having a “reason” to do the tasks makes children stick to it. Younger kids like to imitate their older brothers, so make sure you have supplies for both, or you’ll have a major fight!
I found that applying the above to play dates minimizes fights significantly, so if you host one or take your child to one, coordinate with other mothers what the kids would do together; it has to be something they all enjoy.
One thing I did enjoy with my kids was scheduling a time to give; my 2 older sons and I set aside 2 hours to go through their toys and decide which ones we wanted to give to less privileged children. They understood that we were very lucky to have a home and food to eat, but that they were also lucky to have toys to play with, something many children didn’t have. So they were happy to box the toys they no longer played with, or which they grew out of.
With Ramadan coming around, many of us are pushing sleep time to accommodate the “lifestyle” we adopt for a month. Although I agree with changing sleep time, it shouldn’t be something dramatic, 10 pm being the latest. Adults are much more adaptable to sleep time changes, and still we suffer with some side-effects to that, kids have a worse time if you keep them up until 1 am. It does make life easier to take the kids out with you and return together late, but it doesn’t benefit your child’s health. Try to stick to a bedtime of no later than 10 pm, then go enjoy your night without the hassle of cranky, sleep deprived kids.