Make the holidays count
These school holidays, develop your child’s creativity and self-knowledge with these activities from a psychologist.
The holidays can seem like a really long time for children. It's fun to visit their friends, but often those friends are away on holiday or maybe your own family is. Instead of allowing them to get up to mischief, how about some activities that will help them develop emotionally? At primary school age they are just starting to figure out who they are and they will probably enjoy activities that help them discover their dreams, figure out their personality or talents or simply help them pass the time constructively.

Here are a few ideas:

  1. Create a dream map or vision board. They can cut out pictures from magazines and newspapers and make a collage of what they want to do with their lives, including their goals and dreams for the next few years. This can be pasted on their bedroom wall to remind them about what they need to focus on.
  2. Encourage them to start a new hobby. Now that they have the time, they can learn something new. For example: how to play chess, learn to knit, take extra art classes, learn a new sport they don't offer at school (like golf), etc.
  3. Buy huge pieces of paper and join them together. Have your child lie down on the paper and draw an outline around their body. Now, have them colour themselves in, draw clothes on themselves, put an expression on their faces, etc.  hey can also write words around their body that describes what they think they look like.  This is particularly useful for those children with a low self-esteem or bad body image.  You can then pinpoint where their problems lie - for example, "I am fat."  Encourage them to also write about what they feel they are like on the inside.
  4. Suggest this: Write a letter to yourself to read on your 19th birthday. This letter should describe who you hope you have become and what you hope to have accomplished. Put it away until your 19th birthday and read it again on the big day to see if you managed to achieve what you wanted to.  (This is a subtle way of keeping your child accountable to what they set out to do).
Be a tourist in your own city
  1. When you next go to the mall, airport, sporting event or anything where there are a lot of people doing different things, encourage your child to take a camera along. Then, ask them to take photos of different jobs and activities.  When you get back home, ask them to describe what each job entails. For example, a pilot's job involves not only flying an aeroplane but also waking up really early some mornings. Children often think they want to do a certain type of job in life but only see the "glamorous side" - the point of this activity is to show the different aspects of various jobs and to discuss this later.  
  2. Creative thinking: Write down your 3 favourite hobbies. Now pick one element from each that you like the best. For example: If your favourite hobby is fishing, maybe you most enjoy the moment you catch the fish. Next, take the one thing you like most about each hobby and combine the three to create a new activity that has all three things you like best in it. For example, create an activity that combines catching fish with measuring geometric shapes (your favourite part of maths) and with winning (the best part of computer games).
  3. Ask your child to watch their favourite movie and select a particular character to observe. What are their strengths? How do they deal with relationships? How are they similar to the character? How are they different?

You're awesome

  1. Create affirmation cards. Your child can write out statements onto cards that will help build up their self-esteem. For example:  'I am beautiful', 'I am smart', 'I come up with great ideas', etc. The statements need to feel true to your child and must make them feel good. Help them come up with things they are really good at. Now, have them paste these cards on their mirror, on their bedroom walls, in the bathroom, on the fridge, etc. Every time they read them they will get a boost.
  2. Give them a "place of their own". Consider giving your child their own spot in the garden where they can plant anything they like, or perhaps their own spot in the lounge where they can do their crafts and reading. They need to be responsible for this place and use the time in the holidays to make it uniquely their own. They can even create their own secret hide-away at the bottom of the garden. They need to be kept responsible for keeping their spot clean, neat and tidy.
There are many more ideas out there. Brainstorm around different activities with your child and come up with a really fun holiday together!

Keep your preschooler busy

How will your children spend their extra hours these holidays?

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