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Don’t Lose Touch With Your Child This Summer

With the additional free time most children have in the summer, they can become more focused on screen-based activities such as social media, smartphones and electronic games. It’s easy for children to withdraw to their rooms for long periods of screen time, which isn’t healthy for them physically or emotionally.

Encourage kids to put electronics aside and get outside with you for recreation opportunities such as swimming and hiking. Summer is a great time for parents to connect with their children in fun, relaxing activities. Quality time together strengthens the parent-child bond and gives children the emotional security they need.

Learn about Tennessee’s Healthy Parks, Healthy Person program, which encourages families to connect with nature by offering rewards for getting outside and being active.

Here are some other ideas on how parents can stay connected with children during summer months:

1. Take bike rides together. If you don’t have a lot of time, ride around your neighborhood. If you have more time, transport your bikes to a biking trail and enjoy a lengthier ride.

2. Have family meals. Focus on the meal and each other. Turn off distractions. Choose healthy recipes and cook together. Plan these family meal times.

3. Play backyard games. Simple play time in the backyard can be rewarding for parent and child. Play a game of Wiffle ball or badminton. Put a note on your calendar every day to remind yourself to spend this special time with your child.

4. Read Together. The First Lady’s Read20 Family Book Club has some great suggestions. Visit the library with your child and talk about topics that interest both of you, then pick out some books to take home. Or, choose a book or game from the Tennessee Electronic Library to enjoy together. Learn the benefits of reading to children and watch this video for the 4E’s of Excellent Reading.

5. Make use of nearby parks. Go to your local parks website, print the schedule of activities and tape it to the refrigerator.

6. Reconnect during car rides. Ask your kids questions when you’re driving them someplace. It’s important to engage them and find out what’s on their mind.

7. Take a hike. Choose a trail near your house or drive to a state park for a longer hiking experience. It’s a great opportunity to talk about what’s going on in your child’s life and find out more about their hopes, dreams and any worries or concerns they may have about school or other things.

8. Take a road trip to a nearby city. If you have time, stay overnight. Otherwise, make it a day trip. Exploring new places together can be a bonding experience.

9. Make special plans in your community all summer. Visit the zoo, a museum, an amusement park, a water park.

10. Try a new exercise. Learn how to do Zumba, practice yoga or try karate. Sign up for classes with your kids to build common interests and great memories while keeping your family active.

Talking and spending time with children and letting them know that they are loved and protected are the most important things parents and caregivers can do to stay connected with children and adolescents during all seasons. Get more ways to strengthen family bonds.

Resources on Emotional Wellness

If you have concerns about your child’s emotional or mental well-being, talk to your child’s primary care provider. There are also numerous resources you can turn to.

Learn more about helping children establish a solid foundation for a lifetime of positive mental health.

See mental health warning signs in children and adolescents.

Watch our video to hear from young adults who have overcome mental health disorders, and learn ways to talk to children and teens about potential mental health problems.

Get information on children’s mental health, including symptoms, treatment and what can be done to prevent disorders.