Mental Health in Children: Coping Strategies for Summer Stressors

Mental Health in Children

Summer is often viewed as a season of relaxation and joy, making most children excited to bond with kids their age through recreational activities such as bike rides, sleepovers, picnics, camping, and conventions.

Yet the shift from structured school days to the somewhat spontaneous events of summertime may disrupt routines and amplify anxiety in some children. A child facing intense social pressures during summer camps, struggling to fit in and make friends, is a scene we’ve seen all too many times. And though we know TV shows and movies are anything but realistic, these sentiments come from a genuine place of youthful struggles. 

The truth is that many mental health challenges develop during childhood, and some start in the unlikeliest of seasons. These issues know no age, and neither should education, especially when it comes to effective coping strategies. Beyond identifying common stressors, we encourage you to read on, explore the causes of summer childhood stress, and learn coping strategies recommended by our infant mental health specialists at Children Medical Centers of Fresno. 

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Identifying Common Summer Stressors for Children

Young girl experiencing childhood stress.

  1. Routine Disruptions

During the school year, children thrive on routine. The school provides a predictable structure with set times for classes, meals, and activities. When summer arrives, this structure often vanishes, leaving children feeling aimless. 

A child who is used to waking up early, having breakfast, and heading off to school may feel overwhelmed by the sudden onset of free time and unclear plans. This shift can cause the child to feel lost, resulting in worries and insecurity. Without a daily schedule, managing time becomes challenging, contributing to stress as children struggle to find ways to fill their days meaningfully. 

     2. Social Pressures

Summer’s social landscape can feel like a minefield for many children. Increased social activities, such as summer camps, sports leagues, and neighborhood gatherings, can lead to stress. 

Moreover, children might feel immense pressure to fit in, make new friends, or keep up with peers who seem more socially adept. Social pressures may escalate if a child experiences exclusion or bullying, leading to intense feelings of loneliness, anxiety, and a diminished sense of self-worth. These experiences significantly impact their mental health, making social interactions a source of stress rather than joy. 

     3. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) 

FOMO can become particularly pronounced during the summer months. With the rise of social media and the constant sharing of experiences, children frequently see friends participating in exciting activities, going on vacations, or enjoying special events. The continuous comparison may lead to feelings of inadequacy and exclusion. 

The fear of missing out can heighten anxiety and stress, as children worry they aren’t having as much fun or creating as many memorable experiences as their peers. This stressor affects their mood and behavior, often leading to withdrawal and sadness. 


Recognizing the impact of routine disruptions, social pressures, and FOMO allows parents and caregivers to implement effective coping strategies that mitigate these stressors. Identify which stressor your child may be struggling with and teach them practical ways to cope. Our children’s mental health experts recommend effective strategies suited for any child struggling with mental health pressures.

Coping Strategies for Parents and Caregivers

  • Foster Open Communication

Effective stress management begins with open communication. Encourage your child to share their thoughts and emotions freely. Create a safe environment where they feel heard and valued. Listen attentively without judgment to build trust, allowing you to identify specific stress triggers early on.

  • Promote Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Healthy habits are fundamental in supporting your child’s mental well-being. Ensure they get enough sleep, have balanced meals, and exercise regularly. These routines enhance mood and energy levels and strengthen overall mental resilience. Simple activities like family walks or preparing meals foster connection and provide valuable bonding time. 

  • Establishing Structure and Routine

As summer brings a break from school schedules, maintaining a consistent routine helps maintain stability. Design a flexible daily plan that incorporates playtime, relaxation, and meals. Predictability in their day-to-day activities helps children feel secure and reduces their anxiety. Whether setting aside time for hobbies or ensuring regular bedtime, routines provide a comforting framework for their summer days. 

Engaging Children in Stress Management

Navigating stress can be challenging for anyone, especially children. As parents and caregivers, we must support them in learning how to handle their feelings and overcome difficulties. Explore practical ways to engage children in stress management, offering creative outlets, problem-solving strategies, and the importance of seeking supportive resources. Here are some tried and tested methods:

Creative Outlets for Stress Relief

Creative activities offer powerful ways for children to manage stress effectively. Encourage your child to engage in activities such as painting, playing a musical instrument, or writing in a journal. These outlets not only divert attention from stress but also provide a safe space for expressing emotions and fostering creativity. 

Teaching Practical Problem-Solving Skills

Equipping your child with practical problem-solving skills empowers them to navigate stressful situations confidently. Teach them to identify the issue, break it into smaller parts, and brainstorm solutions. Not only do problem-solving skills give them a headstart in navigating the complexities of life, they also foster wholesome leadership qualities and emotional intelligence.

Seeking and Providing Support 

When stress becomes overwhelming (even for you as a parent or caregiver), seek professional support. Don’t hesitate to contact an infant mental health specialist or counselor who can offer specialized guidance. Early intervention addresses both immediate and long-term concerns, ensuring your child receives the support they need to foster during this crucial time in their life. Encourage them to lean on supportive friends and family members for emotional reassurance and understanding during tough times. 

The Role of Behavioral Health Sciences

The Benefits of Early Detection

Identifying and addressing childhood mental health issues early helps avoid issues that may complicate later in life. Behavioral health services offer valuable resources and therapies to address psychological trauma causes and other common mental disorders in childhood. Early support helps children develop coping skills and resilience, improving their overall quality of life. 

Behavioral health sciences can also provide parents with guidance and tools to support their child’s mental health. Recognizing stress indicators and knowing the appropriate time to seek professional assistance is essential for safeguarding your child’s health and happiness.

Empowering Children for a Stress-Free Summer

Summer stressors can significantly impact children’s mental health, but with the right strategies, parents and caregivers can mitigate these effects and promote lasting mental wellness.

Establish open communication, healthy habits, and structured routines to create a supportive and predictable environment for your child to thrive. Additionally, engage children in creative and problem-solving activities to enhance their ability to cope with stress. Remember, when things get too overwhelming, call professional support to relieve your child’s mental health burdens with compassionate and personalized aid. 

Don’t let summer stress overshadow your child’s happiness. Our pediatricians at Children’s Medical Centers of Fresno go beyond physiological health to ensure your child receives holistic and profound care. Call (559) 455-1500 today to schedule a consultation. 

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