Last summer my daughter spent most of her summer sleeping in until noon, then spending the rest of her days watching TV or on social media. I was always willing to drive her to her friends’ houses or the mall but she always said she was too tired or not interested in being social. I’m really worried about her this summer because she already has seemed down the last few months. How can I motivate my child to get out of bed and not isolate this summer?
You’re absolutely right to be worried about your daughter isolating herself this summer. It sounds like she already has a down mood and a disinterest in being social, and isolation could spiral her further into a depression.
Here are a few strategies you can try:
Plan with your daughter a routine for the summer schedule. Let her know you’ve noticed her down mood, and tendency to isolate, and that you’re worried about her. Discuss with her the importance of having a routine and how that it can help her to feel better.
Limit her access to social media and TV watching. When your child is interacting with a screen she’s not interacting with humans face to face, which is essential to feeling engaged and interactive in the world. While it may seem to her she’s being social when on social media, this isn’t the type of interaction that will boost her mood.
Enroll her in a summer camp or class. There are plenty of programs in the summer for tween and teens with a variety of activities to engage your child’s interests.
Encourage her to volunteer or if she is of age, get a job. Doing something for others, whether it’s getting paid or not, can significantly boost your child’s mood, self-esteem, and engagement with the world. Depending on her age and job opportunities out there, either one of these could be a good option.
Make sure she doesn’t oversleep which already can trigger her brain to feel tired and unmotivated. It’s an unfair cycle that the more sleep we get the more tired we feel, and the more tired we feel the more we want to sleep. Sleep hygiene is essential for your growing tween and teen and engaging her in a good sleep plan can help with more energy during the day.
Praise all her efforts and successes. Whether she acknowledges it or not, your teen craves compliments and your attention. When you see the smallest successes make sure you point them out so she knows you’re watching and that you care.
Check in with a pediatrician. Whenever there’s irregularities in sleep schedule, or increased lethargy, I recommend a check-in with a pediatrician to rule out anything medical that might be missed and can be treated by a doctor.
Check in with a mental health counselor. If your daughter has been on a downward trend for awhile, her symptoms may indicate an assessment by a counselor. If you daughter starts expressing thoughts of not wanting to live, overwhelming thoughts of depression, down mood and tearfulness more often than not, these symptoms warrant an immediate assessment.
Please comment below: Do you have a child who tends to isolate when not in school? What success have you had in getting him or her up out of bed and interacting with the world?
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health. Her proudest accomplishment is following her dream of opening up a practice that is designed to focus on the whole family. She currently serves families in Southern California.