How do you get children to do their summer reading?

  • Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My apologies to our tourists for one of two record high temperature Julys on record. (July is statistically the hottest month of the year.) As we "locals" know, that's why we slow the pace, either stay in A/C or underwater and sip a mint julep on our front porches, fanning ourselves. (Actually, alcohol is the worst thing to drink - increasing the likelihood of dehydration - as do drinks with caffeine.) As I've written before, stay hydrated. Dehydration affects heart function, brain function and can be deadly. Gently pinch the skin on your hand above the thumb - if it doesn't go back down immediately - you need to drink water immediately and eat a banana for the Potassium while you are at it. The heat also means we need to curb our tempers - take time outs, cool down, relax. Stress is magnified in the heat. So, please be good to yourselves and one another. Stay in and enjoy the Olympics. Go Team USA!
Dear Liz,
How on Earth do you get your beach bum teenagers to do their summer reading? I have rising freshman and sophomore and time is running out.
-Frustrated mom
Dear "Frustrated."
You are a good parent to be concerned and on top of things. But, also remember whose work and responsibility that work is - your teens'. Part of school is learning work ethic, time management, being accountable for choices and owning (and valuing) one's education. After you've acquired the books, and given a reminder - then it is up to them. You can help by trying to add some structure to their day, such as requiring a set reading time before fun activities each day. Encourage them to read at the beach as well. I believe in having a talk with your children about their school responsibilities - and privileges. Education, like faith, is one of those things that we earn, develop and no one can take away. We have to work for it, strengthen it. Let them know school is their job - and that if they choose to mess around and not pass a course, then they should pay for summer school.
We have a tendency to rescue our kids too much. Once a child knows that, they may become too slack. Children with bona-fide learning or attention issues may need more help. But any time you do for a child what they can and should do for themselves, we actually hurt esteem and make him or her more weak.

Dear Liz,
Thank you for your column covering sexual abuse. As a result, we were able to discover that our granddaughter had been affected by a coach when she lived in another state - and we've been able to take action accordingly. We've told her she is a hero for speaking up - so she can be helped to feel better and that she probably saved many others from being hurt too. She liked that. We have received great help from Lowcountry Childrens' Center. And have learned a great deal as a family from the organization, Darkness to Light.
-Grateful
Dear Grateful,
Well done. So sorry your granddaughter and you all have had to face this sadly common issue. Your family's appropriate action will have far reaching positive results.
(Thank you for your questions and comments. Contact Liz via asksharpliz@gmail.com. Liz Brisacher Sharp is a Master degree level Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice with 35 years experience in mental health including serving as a school counselor, consultant and mediator. Liz is known for her many years as a TV News and Weather Broadcaster, and as a long time columnist for the monthly Lowcountry Sun.).

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