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Fighting off Spring Fever

March 6, 2012

by Aurelia Williams
Contributed by Mary Kay Hafer, School Psychologist

March winds bring in a lot more than April showers they bring a feeling of being trapped to children. Trapped inside studying, trapped by the system that is keeping them from running around carefree in the beautiful sunshine and mild weather. You’ll notice that children start seeming absent minded, lazy, or hyperactive.

Those symptoms do not seem to correlate, but they do. Children may be hyper during a study session because they want to get outside. Conversely, they might seem lazy because the days are getting longer and due to the extra sunlight, it is harder to fall to sleep at night. If you have older children, they may even be experiencing anxiety due to the change to come. The end of a school year signifies the beginning of a new time in their lives, and the pressures that go with that can be overwhelming sometimes.

Whichever symptoms your children have, there are some things you can do to lessen the effects this has on your children by keeping your eyes open for changes in your child’s behavior, by having an open door policy with your children to discuss the worries of the day with, and by circumventing the obvious issues. Obvious issues are issues that have to do only with the changing weather and the need created by nature to get out of doors and soak up sunshine. This will manifest as restlessness and even “laziness” while children focus their sights out the window instead of what is going on in class or at home. Emotional outbursts and rudeness can signify a more serious issue, such as feeling over pressured to perform.

When it comes to the need to get outside, you can help by eating dinner outside on nights where it’s light enough and warm enough to grill out; by encouraging physical activity; and with proper nutrition and hydration. To deal with more serious behavioral issues, being open to talk to your children about how they are feeling can help. This is not to say you need allow your children to be rude, but it is good to probe further with children to find out the underlying cause of behavioral issues when it is not the norm for your child.

Rewarding good behavior, providing a structured schedule, and avoiding crises situations can do wonders to alleviating spring fever issues. You’re not going to cure spring fever, but you can lessen the impact by being aware and by not overreacting and adding to problems. As parents, we want the best for our children, so it’s easy to overreact, but it’s more important to listen to your children and react with thought and care.

When you understand that much of the spring fever associated behavior that shows up this time of the year is physiological, it will be easier to be prepared. It is surprising how taking fifteen minutes out of a busy schedule to simply enjoy the sunshine can change everything for a child struggling with spring fever, regardless of his/her age group. In addition, being open to communication from your children can go far in your own awareness of your child’s particular situation so that you can stay ahead of more serious issues such as depression.

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