Embracing Summer: Balancing the Joys and Challenges

Posted by Katie H. on 6/4/24 6:30 AM



Summer is here, and with it comes the chance to shed the boundaries of school schedules and embrace the outdoors. It’s a time filled with excitement, family vacations, and the simple joys of playing in the backyard. But for many children, especially those who’ve experienced trauma, this transition can be more challenging than expected.


Understanding the Struggle

Children from hard places often experience transitions differently. While summer is usually a time for relaxation and fun, it can bring anxiety for kids who thrive on routine and predictability. The sudden change can feel like a rug being pulled out from under them, leading to behaviors and emotions that might seem out of place for such a joyful season.

Trauma can make children hypervigilant to changes in their environment. The end of the school year means saying goodbye to familiar faces, routines, and supports. It can be disorienting, triggering feelings of insecurity and fear. As caregivers and parents, our job is to provide a consistent presence that reassures and stabilizes.


Compassionate Support

Start with empathy and compassion to help kids navigate this transition. We need to sincerely meet them where they are. Instead of expecting them to jump and embrace the freedom of summer, we should guide them gently through the change. Here are some tried and true, trauma-informed strategies to consider:

  • Maintain a Routine: Even though the school year is over, creating a predictable daily schedule can provide a sense of security. Simple routines like morning wake-ups, meal times, and evening wind-downs can anchor their days.
  • Open Communication: Keep the lines of communication open. Talk about the upcoming changes, acknowledge their feelings, and reassure them that it's okay to feel a mix of emotions.
  • Offer Choices: Empowering children with choices can help them feel more in control. Whether it's choosing a daily activity or deciding what to have for lunch, these small decisions can make a big difference.
  • Visuals: Visual schedules of upcoming changes in routine often help calm kids by giving them time to adjust and reassurance that they will be safe. 

Grounding with Nature

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One of the best ways to help children of all ages feel grounded and connected is by spending time outside. There’s something incredibly soothing about being in nature, feeling the earth beneath our feet, and connecting with the natural world.


Young Children:

  • Water Play: Simple and soothing, water play can be incredibly calming. Set up a splash pad, a small pool, or even a bucket of water with some toys.
  • Nature Walks: Exploring the outdoors can provide a sensory-rich experience. Let them feel different textures, listen to the sounds of nature, and smell the fresh air.
  • Gardening: Involve them in simple gardening tasks like watering plants, digging small holes, and feeling the different textures of soil and leaves.

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School-Aged Kids:

  • Art Projects: Drawing, painting, and crafting can be wonderful outlets for creativity and expression. Provide various materials and let their imaginations run wild.
  • Gardening: Assign them their own small section of the garden to tend. They can plant seeds, pull weeds, and learn about the different stages of plant growth.



  • Cooking and Baking: Involve them in the kitchen. The process of measuring, mixing, and tasting can be very grounding, and they get to enjoy a delicious outcome.
  • Music and Movement:
    Encourage them to create playlists of their favorite songs or learn a new dance. Physical activity combined with music can be a magical stress reliever. Join them and learn all about their favorite musicians!

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  • Gardening: Give them more responsibility, such as designing a part of the garden, choosing what to plant, and taking care of the more complex tasks like pruning and composting.

The Power of Grounding

Have you ever just stepped outside for a deep breath, or wondered why porch swings are so relaxing? If so, you have probably experienced the magic of grounding with nature. 

There’s something distinctly magical about feeling the earth beneath our feet. This simple act, often referred to as grounding, can have profound effects on our well-being. When we connect with the ground, we’re not just physically anchored; we’re also tapping into a deeper sense of stability and calm. 

Encourage your kids to be outside, let them feel the textures, the coolness, and the warmth of nature. This simple act of connecting with nature can bring a sense of calm and joy.


A Season of Growth

 As we move into summer, let’s remember that this season, like all others, is a time of growth. By understanding the unique challenges our children might face and meeting them with empathy and support, we can help them not only cope but also thrive.  Let’s build a summer that nurtures and celebrates our children's resilience and individuality.

Here’s to a summer filled with joy, understanding, and moments of connection. Together, we can create a space where every child feels safe, loved, and ready to embrace the beauty of this season.

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