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Article posted: 7/13/2013 8:00 AM

How to keep your cool with your kids during the heat of summer

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While the summer heat scorches the ground outside, the tension inside your house could reach new highs unless you stay calm, cool and collected with your kids.

Summer's novelty has worn off, and you might be looking for ways to reduce stress levels inside your house. Parents and experts have some suggestions.

Dr. Cliff Saper, executive director at Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital in Hoffman Estates, suggests parents should reshape their own behavior to set a better example for their kids.

"The first step is to be aware of your own behavior as a parent," he said. "You need to be able to recognize if your behavior is helping or hurting."

Such hurtful behavior includes: yelling, name calling or physical punishments. These contribute to breaking down your child's confidence and self worth.

Instead of indulging in destructive behavior that harms both you and your child, try thinking constructively to deal with problems, he said.

Don't punish negative behavior. Instead, ignore it. Look for the positive behavior your child exhibits and reward it. "If you tell your child to clean their room and it hasn't been done, don't punish them by demanding it gets cleaned right now. Help them clean it and mention how easy it was when the two of you worked together on the project," Saper said.

You should always try to look for a silver lining, he said.

Saper suggests consistency in your own behavior so your child knows what's coming and so he or she will catch on in hopes of receiving an award. If your behavior is all over the place, your child will never know what to expect, which will never break the cycle of bad behavior, he said.

Suburban parents find that boredom in their children equates to headaches. They find enrolling their children in camps or classes throughout the summer helps to alleviate some stress.

They also find relief in calling in reinforcements.

"Once a week he has to go to grandma's," Francelia Johnson said about her son, Anthony.

Another Arlington Heights mom, Nicole Neri, plans a host of activities to keep her kids busy. She put a 'no technology before 5 p.m.' rule in her house in hopes of encouraging a variety of activities.

"On Mondays, we go to the library and I make them (the kids) sit down to read and write for an hour," she said. She enrolls her children in swim lessons and camps and finds refrigerator boxes -- perfect for kid-sized play houses -- excellent for keeping them busy. "Find some refrigerator boxes from a kitchen store and have the kids draw on them."

If the kids are in your hair, make sure you stay calm and find some activities for them to do that will hold their attention.

If that doesn't satisfy their hunger for stimulation, call grandma and ask her to keep her door open.

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