Engaging Children and Youth Over the Summer
When it comes to engaging children this summer it all comes back to reflecting on your parenting style and responding to your child’s needs. This summer is different from previous summers, but that is not a bad thing as it allows for reflection and improvement. The latest webinar from Community Education Service is hosted by Danielle Mayer, BA, BCYC, CYCAA, Dipl. ELCC Family specialist, Health and Wellness Worker, and Fiza Javed, HBsc. Health and Wellness Worker, was all about how you can keep your child engaged this summer and it all comes back to reflecting on being mindful of your parenting style and how your child is responding.
With all the extra time we are spending at home with our kids it is important to remember that there is no such thing as the perfect parent, we can only strive to be the best for our kids. A model that supports this is the “Serve and Return” model. A child “serves” by showing interest in something and the parent “returns” by responding and fostering that interest to build a stronger relationship. The “Serve and Return” model is very simple and is something all parents can implement in their everyday interactions with their children to build stronger bonds and a better understanding of their child. It is all about being attentive!
Throughout the webinar, the hosts conducted multiple polls with parents. For example,” how many individuals here know what their parenting styles are?” Most parents responded that they have an idea, but do not know the name.
The four parenting styles are:
The optimal parenting style is authoritative, where the parent sets rules and the rationale behind those rules and sets consequences while also taking the child’s feelings into account. The other parenting styles, authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved, are as they sound. Parents are either focused on discipline without considering the child’s feelings, not enforcing any rules at all and allowing children to run the show, or just not showing any interest or involvement in their lives, respectively. This once again demonstrates that optimal parenting is one where the parent is responsive to their child, sets rules, but maintains open communication with their child.
With the Covid-19 pandemic, parents are spending more time at home with their kids this summer and it may seem that they’re together 24/7, however, are you actually spending time with your kids or just in each other’s company? It all goes back to the infamous saying, quality over quantity. When you are with your child make sure the time you are spending with them is engaging and productive. Spending 30 minutes doing an activity together is way more beneficial than sitting in the living room together for three hours while they are watching TV and you are using your phone. A great tip from the webinar was to take time to sit with your child to plan an activity and set a time for it as it creates awareness and a greater bond.
To keep your children engaged this summer, try to implement activities that support physical and cognitive development, imagination, and creative expression. Another fun tip from the webinar was to do an activity with them where you do something for someone else. This can help with the child’s mental health later on in life because it allows them to consider others when they are feeling down.
Parenting takes self-awareness, reflection, and insight. To be more in tune with your parenting style you can always track your progress just as you would with anything else you are working on. It is all about recognizing how the child is doing and how to move forward together.