We are into summer full swing. People are spending a lot of time outside gardening, traveling and enjoying family and friends. But summer can be a challenging time for parents - as many parents continue working but kids are involved in activities that are very different than the rest of the year. With the new routine parents can look for different ways to connect with their kids.

There are many summertime opportunities to connect with your kids, continuing the ongoing development of respect and trust with each other. When considering your summer activities, think about whether your choices will allow for meaningful interaction. And know that this summer may be a lot different than the last one. Last summer your kids may have stuck close to you at events or on outings, while this year they may want to run around with their friends. As they grow, we also want to grow the rapport and trust our kids have in us as parents.

Act the way you want your kids to act. How you act with your kids and with other people is called role modeling. This includes the good stuff and the moments where maybe we aren’t so proud of ourselves. When you are honest and reliable with your kids they take note of that. They will also observe and learn from the way you interact with other adults, neighbors and other children. Kids will model what they see you do. Consider it a bit of a mirror of yourself.

Talk and spend time with your kid. When you spend time with them - walking, fishing, listening to music or working on a project - you build trust simply by being together. This together time, in turn, helps kids when they want to talk with you about something they are scared about or if they think they have disappointed you.

With trust and rapport already in place, kids are also more likely to ask for your opinion about what to do in different situations. You can relate to them how you would handle new or unfamiliar situations. By sharing your thoughts in this way it gives them options to make their own good choices down the road. Discuss your expectations and take opportunities to review things that have all ready happened. And, of course, compliment and support your kids for situations that they have handled well.

Talking with your kids doesn’t necessarily have to involve a special outing. It can be as simple as asking about their day. What was the best thing that happened today? What was the worst thing that happened today? What are you looking forward to tomorrow/ next week? Listen to their answers. You might just hear a lot more than you are expecting.

Family Safety Network participates in the annual Tin Cup Challenge. Your donations will be matched and support us in continuing our advocacy and education work in Teton Valley.

Willy Warner, Family Safety Network Outreach Educator, fsnsupport2@silverstar.com

Family Safety Network’s mission is to partner with individuals and communities to eliminate violence, abuse and oppression. Child sexual abuse is a complex problem. For more information on how to prevent abuse or training contact the Family Safety Network. Family Safety Network is offering the Stewards of Children training. It is designed for all community members: parents, professionals and the faith community. The training is simple proactive steps to protect children from sexual abuse. Contact the Family Safety Network to host a training. Upcoming training dates Tuesday July 7, 14, 21, 28 from 6:00 to 8:00. Contact Family Safety Network to register.