To be fair to the Festive Season, this isn’t an issue that’s exclusive to December. The holidays in general can often be a tumultuous time. For children and young people, returning to school or college can come as quite a shock to the system.
This can be a difficult period on the calendar and, for those experiencing troubles, it’s important to stop for a moment to consider the underlying cause.
In the main, common problems hinge upon routine and its absence during the school holidays. The fortnight spent at home tends to be untimetabled – an unstructured chaos. Re-establishing the routines that the return to the classroom demands can often lead to friction.
Look at it from the child’s perspective some time: they’ve become used to staying up later, eating at different times, keeping irregular hours and – to a certain extent, at least – setting their own agenda. Young people and children like this, for obvious reasons, but all good things must come to an end. Routines are important for us all. For children, they’re essential.
Chaos can be fun (to a point), but children thrive on boundaries and structure. School days are built around this fundamental principle for a good reason. Routines are the building blocks for child development. It might be difficult to reintroduce routines following a break in the school calendar, but it must be done. Children might complain about bedtimes or having to switch the television off, but in the long run they’ll be happier and healthier for it. Sleep underpins everything and, to this, routine is all-important.
Get the routine right and children can sleep and eat, exercise and do their homework. It’s crucial for the body’s growth and development and for learning capabilities. Schools can do so much, but it all starts at home.
Establish regular (and sensible) meal times and get children used to sitting around a table with the family. This helps to develop table manners, basic social skills and healthier eating patterns. Give them routine at home and they’ll be better equipped to cope at school and in the workplace. The chances are that they’ll complain at first. But look at the bigger picture.
Yes it’s difficult. But it’s also important.
The holidays are great and a little downtime can be good for everyone.
But the chaos cannot continue indefinitely, and as tough as it might be for a child to accept, the time has come to get back to normal.
Christmas has gone. The holidays are over. It’s time for school.
Reality bites, but the hard work done now will all prove to be worthwhile.
* Is YOUR child finding the return to school difficult? Use our online form (http://www.childpsychiatryuk.com/contact/) to contact us.