Positive parenting: How to keep parenting positive over summer break

positive parenting

With week one of the school holidays now done, how are things going on the parenting front? Perhaps you could use a little rejig to help get through things more positively over the remainder of the weeks? I recently read an amazing book called The Strength Switch by Prof Lea Waters which has really changed my way of parenting – in a nutshell it encourages us to parent by our children’s strengths and not their weakness. I’m delighted to have had the opportunity to interview Lea on how exactly we can not only get through, but keep things more positive for the remainder of the summer holidays using strength based parenting so here goes:

Why do you think the summer holidays present a particular challenge for parents?

Summer holidays can be a wonder or a wreck! The treats of being on holidays can also cause tension – being out of routine, hanging out with each other for long stretches of family time, having abundant downtime can all throw a family off centre. On top of that, parents have to juggle work commitments and kids miss their friends.

How can we put a more positive spin on things during these 6 weeks ahead?

I’d suggest using the 6 weeks to embark on a strength-based family journey. Start the holidays by exploring each other strengths. There are free surveys and a free strength library on my website (www.strengthswitch.com) that can help families explore and identify their strengths. Once you are clearer about the strengths of your kids, you can have them join you to choose a range of holiday activities you can do over the 6 weeks to help them build and amplify their strengths.

Kids who have analytical and problem solving strengths might collect up on a range of puzzles and quizzes to do in their downtime. For those kids with creative strengths ensure they have the equipment needed to be creative and plan some visits to Galleries. For those kids with social strengths, ensure they get to see their friends and maybe get them connected to a social improvement project in your local area that will meet their social needs.

How can we use the summer holidays as an opportunity to encourage creativity and develop our children’s self esteem?

By doing the above and tapping into your childrens’ strengths you are giving them a chance to regularly build their well-being because their strengths are the qualities in them that bring out their best and make them feel confident. What’s more, strengths are energizing and self-motivating so your kids won’t be bored.

What are your top tips on interacting and getting the best out of our children over the summer holidays?

Aside from the suggestions above (identifying strengths and planning activities that help kids build their strengths) you can also play strengths bingo and whenever you see your kids using a strengths, mark it up on a poster or the fridge. Create a friendly competition for who is the best strengths spotter in your household; set a family goal for a strength that as a family, you’d all like to improve, establish mini-goals along the way and reward your family with a nice dinner or movies for working towards the goal.

And what about dealing with arguments and problem behaviours?

First, try to change your vantage point and view misbehaviour as a potential overuse of strengths rather than deliberative badness.  The child who is overly curious might be misinterpreted as being nosy, the child who has natural leadership might go to far with it and be bossy. Instead of criticizing your child for their noisiness or bossiness, educate them about the valuable strength they have and show them how that strength works best when used for the right reasons in the right situation. Talk to them about the downsides of over using a strength.

Second, when there are arguments of problem behaviour ask yourself and the parent “What would I rather see instead of this?” Think about what the positive opposite is that you want and call that forward. This changes the way you react from ‘Stop Fighting!” to “How about we co-operate here?”  or “Let’s our kindness to fix this”

Third, use your own strengths to re-direct the behaviour. Your strength of humour can be really useful in the heat of the moment as to your strengths of perspective, kindness, fairness and/or patience.

How can parents steer their children away from the “e” of gaming, sitting and eating to something more beneficial?

Find out their strengths and plan a range of different activities that help them build their strengths. You can also set stretch goals for your kids, longer term projects that will take 6 weeks (on and off) to complete and that tap into their strengths. Maybe it is getting fit, learning to cook, completing a model aeroplane, redecorating their room etc.. When you feel they have been gaming, eating or sitting for too long invite them to keep working on their project.

What are your five top tips for making that Strength Switch in the heat of the moment?

  1. Pause and recognise your own emotions before you react.
  2. Think about the moment as an opportunity for learning
  3. Think about the positive opposite that you want, this way you’re not just telling your kids what not to do, you are showing what to do instead and this provides a positive pathway forward.
  4. Look for a strength that you child has that can be used to resolve the situation
  5. Teach the importance of forgiveness in a family

Positive parenting: How to keep parenting positive over summer break #parenting

So has that helped your frame parenting over the summer holidays in a way? Do you think strength-based parenting could help you be more positive in your parenting for the remainder of the school holidays and beyond? Do leave a comment and share.

The Strength Switch is published by Scribe (£14.99).

Picture credit: Designed by Freepik


  1. I love the summer holidays but they can be a bit daunting. Why not treat the kids to a kids subscription box? Fred’s Box is a mystery subscription box for kids aged between 3 and 12 years old and can be purchased as a one off gift. http://fredsbox.co.uk

  2. I totally agree about planning, and really thinking about your child’s strengths, both are important for a stress free summer.

  3. Fantastic tips – my daughter’s aren’t at school yet, but I remember the long summer’s as a child. My parents would ensure we had an activity to do each day in a bid to keep us entertained!

  4. Second week in we are doing ok even managed to find a Zoo that’s only going to cost us £20 to get in and we are a family of 4. I stocked up crafty stuff for rainy days and making sure even computer time is a family thing by setting up the camera so girls are still be active.

  5. I remember getting bored half way through the holidays. Now 7 weeks off work sounds the dream and I could catch up on so much stuff!

  6. I remember my summer holidays being full of activities like painting, holidays and visiting places, but I never realised the effort of my parents to keep us busy over those 6 weeks! I really like that your tips are tailored to different strengths and dealing with behaviours.

  7. What a wonderful article, really effective and practical tips to create harmony in a family by using unpleasant and conflict situations as opportunities to identify strengths and weaknesses and act with calm and wisdom. Many thanks for sharing this!

  8. Lots of useful points here, I think lack of routine which I do love during the holidays, does mean that the kids struggle without it. I am going to get my kids focusing on achieving something through the holidays

  9. Wow – I really like these suggestions. We have set the eldest a 6 week project of writing short stories based on Beatrix Potter – he loved doing it at the end of term at school so we have carried on as he loves books and creative writing. It is such a battle to keep him away from screens so this is one way! Love the top tip of pausing before responding -very mindful! xx

  10. Thanks for the information. May be worth a try. It can be beneficial to be Positive. Difficulties can arise when there is tiredness, so always worthwhile considering if someone is “grumpy” :- Maybe in need of some rest or sleep. Also worthwhile ensuring that everyone has had enough fluids :- As the warmer weather (Summer), being more active, etc. There may be a greater need for fluids than usual / normal.

    Some parents have to work (paid employment) over school summer holidays. So important that whoever is providing childcare is /are communicating effectively with parents (parental responsibility). As well as respecting parenting style, and prioritising child /ren’s welfare and wellbeing.

    Children often like to be active. Maybe coming up with planned (include the children in talks regarding options, etc) activities, projects, etc :- May help to keep the children occupied with meaningful, fun activities

    Hopefully the summer holidays will be enjoyed by all generations of the family.

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