While many of us yearn to hear birds chirping, see green grass growing, and don lighter clothing, let us not forget about the physiological changes occurring in our children, adolescents, and ourselves this time of year. Though the research linking meteorological factors to mood is not 100% conclusive, there are certainly numerous well documented studies drawing the correlation to reported mood and energy shifts with seasonal changes.
Some child behaviors we may see surfacing may include: more than usual unproductive energy, a need to run around, complaints about boredom with routine things like homework and chores, resistance to following routines and structures that have been in place.
Some adolescent behaviors we may see may include “playing hookie”, an increase in high risk behaviors, a decrease in studying and homework. For adolescents who suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts, there may be an increase in suicide attempts as there energy level increases.
Often times parenting is a matter of anticipating and staying one step ahead. If we can anticipate a child or adolescent’s action or reaction, then we can plan for it. Planning for children for the Spring may include changing routines to allow for physical activity before homework, or changing how the chores get done. Are there different chores that can be given that might include outside time or more physical labor? How about picnic dinner at the park occasionally? Above all, lets not forget family time which can now include outside time. The particular activity doesn’t really matter. The time in does.
Spring is the perfect time for spontaneous road trips with adolescents. Take the long way home while playing their favorite songs and chat about the lyrics or their day or whatever comes to their mind. Many school districts make grades available online. This is a great time of year to check in with your student to talk about their strengths and challenges you can help with. For the depressed and suicidal adolescent, asking about depression and suicide is important. Professional help may be needed if concerns persist.
Spring is a beautiful time of year! Catch the fever!
Debbie Mann, LCSW