Term four is always over within a flash. This can make parents to feel out of control as they are faced with endless obstacles and commitments. While we know that it's coming, parents usually do little to prepare for it and children's behaviour can often become particularly challenging, right on top of everything else. The key to surviving the term four battle of never-ending end of year concerts, award nights, class parties, trivia nights, Christmas parties and carols is by being prepared.
As the term progresses, the morning struggle becomes more pronounced as children often feel exhausted and less motivated to get out of bed for school. As parents we need to build that into our planning and temper our expectations of what's achievable to suit.
Dr Anna Cohen, Sydney's leading Clinical Child Psychologist from Kids & Co. gives parents some tips to help the whole family feel more relaxed and motivated to get through the busy period of term four.
- Make weekends a time to recharge. While school sport, play dates and other commitments often take up most of the weekend, it is important to say no to that last event and set aside time to rest and rejuvenate for the next week. Try not to fill your weekend with too many organised activities and allow everyone some down time, not in front of devices or watching television to unwind and do mood-boosting activities. This could be playing with your pets, going for a walk, outside games or simply reading a book. Find a more relaxed pace over the weekend that will boost both you and your children's mindset.
- Get more sleep. Sleep is like a vacation for your body, giving us the downtime we need to be active and have energy to get through the next day. Developing a bedtime routine for the whole family that follows a daily pattern will help everyone get to sleep more easily. Sleep is especially important for children as it helps to maintain their emotional regulation. When children are feeling overtired they may struggle to manage their emotions and be more reactive and irritable.
- Routine. Children thrive off routine so finding consistency in a day will help your child feel safe and in control of their emotions. Children cope a lot better when they are prepared for what is happening over the week, so prepare for the next day the night before to ensure they don't feel anxious or unprepared. If your child is feeling particularly sluggish or unmotivated in the mornings, get them up earlier to give them more transition time to wake up and time to relax before school.
- Get organised. Avoid the chaos we know term four can bring by keeping a calendar somewhere in the house which everyone in the family can see so they know what is happening over the week. Feelings of stress come from feeling out of control, so having your whole family understand what they need to be organised and prepared for will take some pressure off.
While the final term can be the most challenging, it can also be the most fun for both parents and children and a time to celebrate the achievements and progress your child has made over the year. Remember to take some down-time and have fun celebrating with your whole family the end of another year.
For more information or professional advice contact Sydney's leading Child Clinical Psychologist, Dr Anna Cohen at Kids & Co. – www.kidsandco.com.au