Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Challenging Realities Of Spring Fever

Eating ice cream with chop sticks - one of the silly behaviors I attribute to Spring Fever

Even before Daylight Savings Time took effect this past Sunday, I noticed a change in the 8-year old and one of her friends. During a trip home from school, the girls could not stop giggling and they were speaking in cloying, annoying baby voices. It was almost as if they were, on some level, high. I immediately recognized what was going on: they had Spring Fever.

Spring Fever may not be a formally recognized ailment, but it's real and makes perfect sense: we've been cooped up all Winter without the benefits of sunshine and warm air. Spring brings a release of energy and more light after Daylight Savings does hit. We wake up feeling lively, renewed. We want to move NOW! And kids, of course, are tremendously affected by it. Like us, they want to shed their coats and rediscover an environment that's FINALLY devoid of ice and snow.

It goes beyond the psychological. In a wonderful article written for Psychology Today by Dr. John Sharp (read it here:, “neurotransmitter levels, trans membrane protein receptor densities, hormonal balance, and basal metabolic rate all make their seasonal shifts. There’s an increase in energy that cannot and should not be ignored.” Emotional discomfort may be experienced along with episodes of depression as we process feelings that are confusing. The giddy feeling that Spring Fever brings may tempt us to let down some of inhibitions and lead us to make poor choices.

Kids, especially may act up when they're hit with Spring Fever. Like my daughter and her friend, they may regress to a younger, sillier state as they process the sometimes-frightening, changing factors in their environment and respond to deviations in their also-affected classmates. They may have more trouble concentrating and adjusting to one hour less sleep as they become adjusted to Daylight Savings Time. So what's a parent to do?
  • Understand that there's some biological basis to your child acting up. They're not doing it to be difficult. Their bodies are in flux, more than usual, and they're adapting. Cut them a little slack.
  • At the same time, they need to continue to provide structure, especially if they're transitioning after Spring Break. Having structure gives them the security and predictability that they need to feel safe in the midst of Spring turmoil.
  • Give children as many outlets for physical activity as possible. You probably do this, of course, but now is the time to think outside the box. Depending on the age of your child, consider taking them to an indoor roller rink, batting cage, indoor ice skating, or looking into activities at your local gym or community center. In my house, we've done laps around the block using her scooter or bike, and take walks whenever we can. On still-cold days, I've had her do jumping jacks and and actively play with the cat (good for both parties involved).
Spring is a wonderful time, but it can be a challenge, especially for those of us with kids. For additional reading on Spring Fever, visit these websites:

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