Spring has sprung and the changes are plentiful; the trees are awakening, flowers are blooming, the sun is shining longer and warmer. You may notice changes in your children as well this time of year. They may have increased energy, impulsiveness and restlessness. Teachers may catch them daydreaming more in school and fidgeting during class. While doctors do not consider this an official medical or psychological condition, this real phenomenon has a name—it’s called SPRING FEVER.
There is an abundance of research on how seasonal changes impact children’s moods and behaviors. The problem with spring fever is, when restlessness and impulsiveness rise, trouble tends to follow. It is common for young people to experience attitude changes and display acting-out behaviors, and unfortunately, teachers seem to get the brunt of it. Additionally, schools see a drop in attendance this time of year, as well as their students’ ability to focus and stay on task.
So how can we (as parents) help children finish out the school year strong, while keeping the attitudes and behaviors in check?
Fresh air and sunshine: Whether with friends or family, encourage them to get outside and get active; walks around the block, picnics at the park and pumping up the footballs and bike tires are some easy ways to combat spring fever. The more sunshine they can soak up and energy they can burn outside, the bigger the boost in positive attitudes and happy moods.
Mix up the routine: Just as it feels good to freshen up the house with spring cleaning, a routine refresh may be just what our children need. Have them ride bikes or walk to school if possible. Instead of doing homework right when they come home from school, have them get some outdoor exercise first, then get homework done following dinner or before school the next morning. Little changes like these can help make a big difference in them being able to buckle down and maintain focus on their schoolwork.
Get plenty of sleep: Increased activity and more time spent outdoors is likely to wipe them out, which is a good thing when it comes to sleep. It is important to make sure the right amount of quality sleep remains a priority.
Set goals and incentives: Talk to your kids about what they still need to accomplish in school and help them set goals. At the same time, figure out what incentives they could earn for achieving their goals. Maybe it’s their favorite home-cooked meal or dinner at their restaurant of choice. It is up to you and your child to get creative to keep them focused on their goals.
Declutter work/study spaces: Clearing out the clutter can go a long way toward your child feeling organized, renewed and ready to tackle the next homework assignment.
Summer is now on the horizon, which kicks spring fever into full gear. Keep in mind, this phenomenon does not discriminate and is known to affect even the most well-behaved youth (and adults). The key is to come up with positive ways to channel that extra energy while keeping the snarky attitudes at bay. You are encouraged to be present with your children, as much as possible, as they get out and get active and you too can reap the benefits the warmer weather and sunshine has to offer.