Tips For Parents: Keeping Your Teen Structured In The Summer
Orlando Child Therapist Shares Information
The end of the school year is an extremely exciting time for teens; they’re finally done with all the onerous exams, homework, and early bells. However, parents can come to dread this time of the year, as they wonder how they can help their teen manage all of the newfound empty time. In fact, the summertime can even be as boring as the school year if their teen lacks stimulation. The sudden loss of a schedule can be disorienting, and their friends may be busy or on vacation. This can leave a teen feeling isolated, and with no motivation or goals to achieve. This idle state may bring about some bad habits. Teens may stay up late and sleep in for hours, which disrupts the Circadian rhythm and can cause emotional dysregulation. They may engage in far more screen time, which leads to a sedentary lifestyle and can also cause sleep disturbances. The likelihood of your teen engaging in risky behaviors like drug and alcohol use may also increase in the summertime.
Though the beginning of the season can be overwhelming for parents, there are strategies you can implement that can make all the difference for your teen’s summer. Predictability is key for teenagers. If you had certain ground rules for your teen during the school years, keep those consistent, though you can add some flexibility if you deem it appropriate. You can guide your teen to help create a schedule. Ensure that there is a balance between structured and unstructured activities, in order to keep your teen engaged and prevent burnout. Stimulation from these activities will help to combat boredom and the bad habits and emotional effects, which it engenders.
Below are some tips for productive structured and unstructured activities to keep your teen engaged this summer.
Structured activities can include:
- Summer employment. If your teen is old enough, getting a job can fill the time and help them gain real-world experience. If your teen is too young to work on the books, they can assist neighbors with tasks such as lawn-mowing and babysitting. Being productive and earning their own pocket money can even help improve teens’ self-esteem and sense of efficacy.
- Volunteering. Help your teen find a charitable way to spend time. Volunteering at places such as a soup kitchen, Ronald McDonald House, or a faith-based organization can provide a deep sense of purpose and contribution to the community.
- Summer camp. Invest in a camp that relates to your teen’s interest. These can help your teen hone social skills and widen their friend groups.
- Learn a skill. Teens can take classes to learn how to do activities like sewing, computer coding, or a foreign language.
- Take lessons. Summer can be a perfect time for your teen to take a dance class or learn to play a musical instrument.
Be sure to balance your teen’s structured activities with unstructured activities, such as:
- Joining a gym. Learning how to exercise or taking fitness classes like yoga or Pilates can boost a teen’s mood, increase physical fitness, and help them build confidence. Just ensure that exercising does not become excessive and your teen maintains a healthy diet and relationship with food.
- Get a library card. Reading books for fun can be a wonderful way to spend downtime, and your teen may even improve his or her vocabulary and writing skills from reading challenging books. Some libraries even provide fun incentive programs for summer reading.
- Take the time to study. Though this might not be the most exciting activity for your teen, summer can be a great time to prepare for college entrance exams like the ACT and SAT, and it may decrease stress about these during the school year.
- Practice cooking. You can help your teen gain kitchen skills and find healthy and fun recipes to make together. Learning these skills now can help your teen continue to eat healthy and save money by cooking when they move out or head to college.
- Get outside. Your teen can engage in fun outdoor activities such as kayaking, gardening, bike rides, or even taking the dog to a dog park. Getting active outside can help improve mood, just make sure to keep these activities safe by using adequate sun protection, wearing a helmet, and staying hydrated.
Through all of these activities, spending quality family time with your teen can strengthen your relationship, build trust, and provide opportunities to teach important life lessons. Summertime doesn’t have to be a stressful time for you and a boring time for your teen. Getting involved and creating a plan can help make the summer more enjoyable for everyone.