Breaking kids’ bad summer habits before school starts

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — Summer camps and family vacations are highlights of the school break, but summer is also when kids pick up bad habits. Among them, staying up late and sleeping in.

Grace Graham is headed to the seventh grade. This summer, she’s been staying up late on her electronic devices. Her concerned dad took her to Tampa’s Rice Psychology Group when he realized he needed help breaking her bad habit. “I’m eating lunch and Grace is getting out of bed looking all disheveled,” said her father, Morris Graham.

Child psychologist Dr. Wendy Rice suggests parents help kids cut back on their bad habits little by little. “I’m just not a cold-turkey kind of person,” said Dr. Rice, “I don’t think it works as well.”

That includes cutting back on unlimited play time. For Seffner high school student Montreil Shepherd, that means playing sports. “Playing football,” said Shepherd, “about four, five (hours).”

Grace Graham is now going to bed an hour earlier every night as she gets ready for the school year. A bouncing alarm clock gets her up an hour earlier each day. She’s also looking into picking out a book to read before school starts, a suggestion made by Dr. Rice to start retraining her brain for studies that require concentrated thinking. If children put up a fight, Dr. RIce says it’s okay to give them incentives. “Non-tangible rewards like seeing friends,” explains Dr. Rice.

Now is the time to remind children about seeing their friends, favorite teachers and all the things they like about going to school, but the psychologist suggests seeking professional help if your child shows warning signs including anxious behavior, nightmares, trouble eating or crying.

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