How to Avoid Post-Holiday Syndrome in Children
The end of vacation means that people have to resume their daily routines. After enjoying time without school, fixed schedules, or responsibilities, children may find it hard to adapt to this change. Although post-holiday syndrome affects a small percentage of children, it may require some attention.
Adaptation to change
Returning home after the holidays may be hard for all family members. Schedules, food, and activities change. During the summer, people have more flexible schedules and lifestyles. That’s why it’s hard for some children to resume their school routine.
Given this need to adapt to new routines, some physical and emotional symptoms that constitute the so-called “post-holiday syndrome” may manifest. Although it’s more common in adults, some children also suffer from it as well.
Post-holiday syndrome in children
Post-holiday syndrome in children manifests with physical symptoms such as fatigue, poor appetite, stomach discomfort with vomiting or diarrhea, and sleep disturbances or insomnia. It also produces emotional symptoms such as irritability, crying, sadness, or anxiety episodes.
Due to all of this, the child may manifest behavioral changes such as rejecting school or lack of concentration in class. The effects of post-holiday syndrome usually last a few days and disappear gradually as children adapt once again to their school routine.
If the symptoms persist for more than two or three weeks, we recommend consulting a specialist to determine what’s going on. It will be necessary to rule out an adjustment disorder that can be caused by more serious situations such as bullying or social or academic difficulties.
Keys to avoiding post-holiday syndrome in children
Although post-holiday syndrome is common and disappears within a few days of starting school, you can follow some guidelines to help motivate children to face going back to school with optimism. You should definitely intervene if your child is very young or if you know they have a hard time dealing with change.
To make the transition easier, it’s advisable to spend some time gradually rearranging their schedules. We don’t recommend coming back from vacation just before school starts. It’s preferable to gradually modify their routines a week in advance to help children re-adapt to school hours.
Start making meals and ordering your children to take a bath at fixed hours. And, above all, start regulating their sleep schedule. Making them go to bed ten minutes earlier each day will help make things easier for them when school starts.
Also, it’s advisable to review the things they learned during the last school year during the summer winter vacation. If your children have any homework, it’s preferable for them to do a bit of it each day, rather than completing it all at the beginning of vacation.
If not, you can assign them some exercises or buy some booklets. This way, they won’t lose their rhythm and avoid insecurities regarding going back to school.
A positive attitude
The attitude that adults adopt regarding the end of vacation is really important. If you transmit negativity and stress to your children, they’ll feel the same way. Thus, it’s preferable to convey the hope of returning home to their own bed and toys.
You must highlight the good things about going back to school, such as reuniting with their friends to share their summer adventures with each other or taking back up the extracurricular activity they love.
Buying and preparing school supplies together can also help ease them back into their routine. Thus, buying a backpack, pencil case, and notebooks with your children could also help them become excited about the idea of going back to school.
Make yourself available
If your children still seem reluctant or refuse to go back to school, try to talk to them. Listen to their reasons without judging them nor downplaying their feelings.
Try to discover if they feel anxious about the difficulty of a new school year or because a schoolmate or teacher is giving them a hard time. If so, offer your child your help.
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- Caballero, M. J. C., & Ochoa, G. M. (2001). Autoestima y percepción del clima escolar en niños con problemas de integración social en el aula. Revista de psicología general y aplicada: Revista de la Federación Española de Asociaciones de Psicología, 54(2), 297-311.
- Convertini, G., Krupitzky, S., Tripodi, M. R., & Carusso, L. (2003). Trastornos del sueño en niños sanos. Arch argent pediatr, 101(2), 99-105.