Surviving Summer with Intense Children

Copyright © 2011 Tina Feigal, Parent Coach and Parenting Speaker

These kids sure appear to be having the time of their lives!

Here are some helpful hints for keeping the fun alive by reducing the potential for meltdowns, sibling arguments, and non-compliance this summer.

1. Plan ahead WITH your kids, so they know what to expect.  Intense kids do not respond well to surprises.  Put a calendar next to their beds, so they know what tomorrow brings.

2. Remember, there is no substitute for sleep.  If your child is cranky, lying down may be the only solution. Try to avoid sleep deprivation by keeping the kids on a sleep schedule, even when they are having fun.  The payoffs will be enormous.

3. Take time for yourself.  Do not let all the “pulls” of summer activities wear you down.  Take a relaxing bath, sit outside with no media and listen to nature, read a novel, enjoy the present moment.

4. Whenever your typically inflexible child weathers a change with no storm, give him or her heartfelt appreciation: “When you realized our plans had changed, and you stayed so calm, I was really impressed! It shows me you are able to help yourself go with the flow!” This could be right before you see her start to wind up.  Any opportunity to reward success will be golden!

5. Put the kids in charge of their sibling issues.  Say in advance, “I know you have disagreements sometimes, and I trust you to work them out in nice language.  If you really need help, I’m here, but mostly I think you can do this.”  When an issue arises, simply say, “How do you want to handle that with Christina?”

6. To kids, summer feels like the time for relaxation and NOT taking orders.  Be sure to acknowledge that your children need down time, and make a point to allow for it.  Say, “This is your own afternoon off, and you can do whatever you want to with it.”  When the need for self-direction gets met, the willingness to take direction from others can increase.

6. Taking a trip?  Give your intense child a job.  Count on him for something very important, such as photos, journaling, navigation or meal planning.  You’ll see excellent behavior if you make him the expert!

7. Re: the photo accompanying this article, get comfortable with dirt.  It’s summer, and dirt is a sure sign your kids are engaging with nature and enjoying themselves!

Need help with your intense child?  Call 651-453-0123 for professional parent coaching via phone, Skype or in person.  Click here for all the details on coaching.

Copyright Tina Feigal 2011

2 Responses to “Surviving Summer with Intense Children”

  • Sharon Ashley says:

    Tina, have you ever had a question about intense children and phone conversations? Whenever my daughter and I try to have a phone conversation and her intense child is present she will use that time to do something out of the ordinary to get her mom’s attention and we will many times have to end our conversation so she can deal with the issue. Please give us some pointers on ways to handle this.

    I liked your comments on bedtime routines.

  • tina_feigal says:

    Thanks for your feedback, Sharon. And yes, the phone issue comes up a lot. Here’s how to handle it. Have your daughter talk to your granddaughter when there’s no phone call happening. This allows them to step back and think about it without the stress of an actual call that needs to continue at the same time as conflict between parent and child. Your daughter can just describe what happens in a very non-judgmentatl way, and then ask her daughter for some solutions. If she suggests something workable, your daughter should thank her profusely for the great idea, and then rehearse the new response. Maybe she’ll have a specific activity or task while mom is on the phone, or she’ll (depending on her age) write down what she wants to discuss with mom when she’s off the phone. If daughter doesn’t come up with something for herself, mom can make some suggestions. Either way, they rehearse it so she can feel herself doing the right thing. Make the next few conversations short, and end on mom’s terms. Then she should give her daughter heartfelt appreciation for not interrupting the call. Repeat as needed until it’s second nature to the daughter to have mom on the phone and not cause a scene.

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