6 Ways to Support Your Child Through Summer's Social Challenges

Summer is a time of excitement and freedom for children, but it can also bring unique social challenges that can impact their mental and emotional wellbeing. From the fear of missing out (FOMO) or being left out, to the pressure of comparing their holiday experiences to others on social media, children may face a range of emotions during the summer break. As a parent, it's important to recognise and address these challenges so that you can offer support and perspective during these learning curves. In this article, we share 6 top tips on how you can support your child's mental wellbeing and confidence over the summer holidays.

  1. Acknowledge and Validate Feelings

Create a safe space for your child to express their emotions without judgment (or nonchalance). Let them know it's okay to feel a sense of missing out, loneliness or disconnect during the summer break. By acknowledging and validating their feelings, you’ll help them to feel understood and supported, which is crucial for their emotional wellbeing.

  1. Encourage Meaningful Connections

Encourage your child to stay connected with their friends over the summer break where possible. If they’re experiencing a spot of boredom, suggest they text one of their mates to check in on how their holiday’s going? After all, it might just be the message they too needed to feel connected, and better yet, perhaps they’re free to do something! Schedule playdates (or encourage hangouts for teens), outings and activities to maintain those bonds. Remind them that friendships can thrive even when school is out and reassure them that they're not alone in feeling ‘cut off’ from this social part of their life. Facilitating opportunities for social interaction can provide a sense of belonging and alleviate feelings of isolation.

  1. Limit Social Media Exposure

While social media can be a valuable tool for staying connected, it can also exacerbate feelings of loneliness, inadequacy and comparison. With all this extra time on your child’s hands, it’s likely that their phone will be their number one go-to for passing the time, flipping from one social media platform to the next (and back). It’s important to set boundaries around screen time and encourage your child to engage in offline activities that bring them joy and fulfilment. Don’t forget to emphasise the importance of authenticity over curated perfection and remind them that what they see on social media isn't always a true reflection of reality.

  1. Cultivate Gratitude and Perspective

Help your child to appreciate the positives in their own lives by practising gratitude together. Encourage them to reflect on happy experiences, small victories, and cherished moments from their own summer adventures. Remind them that everyone's journey is unique, and happiness doesn't always look the same on social media. By focusing on the positives, you can help shift their perspective and foster a greater sense of introspection and contentment.

  1. Encourage Independence and Self-Discovery

Why not use the summer holidays as an opportunity for your child to explore their interests and strengths? Encourage them to pursue hobbies, learn new skills, complete a book challenge, or embark on mini adventures that ignite their curiosity. Nurture a sense of independence and self-confidence by allowing them to make decisions and navigate challenges on their own. Encouraging autonomy can boost their self-esteem and resilience, helping them thrive in social situations.

  1. Model Healthy Coping Strategies

Lead by example and demonstrate healthy ways to cope with stress and negative emotions. You can do this by practising self-care routines together, such as mindfulness exercises, outdoor activities, or creative outlets. Show your child that it's okay to seek support from trusted adults or mental health professionals when needed. By modelling healthy coping strategies, you equip your child with valuable tools for managing their emotions and navigating social challenges effectively.

Navigating the social landscape of summer can be a rollercoaster of emotions for children, but with your guidance and support, they can emerge from the school break with greater resilience and self-awareness. By acknowledging their feelings, nurturing meaningful connections, and promoting gratitude and perspective, you can help them navigate the pitfalls of FOMO and comparison with confidence and maturity. By supporting your child and prioritising their mental wellbeing, you can help them have a summer filled with joy, growth, and self-discovery.