Keeping Teens Happy and Out of Trouble during Summer.
As the end of May approaches and June starts, we all look forward to the beginning of summer. Parents are on edge as their teens take their final exams. They are filled with anticipation about the next three months, with no stress about homework or missed assignments. The teens themselves are trying to focus on finishing strong and doing well, even as they also look forward to the summer and the late nights and sleeping in, with no school responsibilities.
Both parents and teens heave a big sigh of relief when the summer break finally begins. Yet, after only a few days or weeks at home, teens start complaining about being bored and parents become anxious about how to keep their teens occupied and out of trouble.
Here are a few suggestions to help make the summer a success for the entire family.
1. Talk it out
Even during the summer, it’s so important to keep the channels of communication open with your teen. Don’t let them shut themselves off in their rooms all day, with you not knowing what they are up to. Find out when your teen is most open to talking and use that time wisely. Come up with ideas and plans for the summer but please discuss them with your teens. It’s always helpful for them to think that they participated in the plans and that they have options. Listen to the plans they have come up with and decide on what works for both of you. Be involved in some activities with your teen. Teens talk more easily when they are having fun and their guard is down.
2. In your neck of the woods and beyond
Find out about summer activities right in your neighborhood. There are organized summer camps, basketball, volleyball, swimming, academic and music camps. There is a camp for practically everything you can think off. In addition to that, you can organize trips to area lakes and beaches or parks as a family. Participating in these camps keeps your teens active and moving and of course you can exercise with them as well. There are also museums, and other historical sites you can visit. Most of us live for years in an area and never take the time to find out all the resources we have available right in our area.
3. Pitching In
Volunteering is another great way to keep teens occupied and out of trouble. Even if your teen is too old to participate in a camp, they can volunteer to become counsellors and help supervise younger teens. That way, they have fun, and learn about responsibility and get volunteer hours for school. Teens can volunteer at soup kitchens, Vacation Bible School or in nursing homes and assisted living facilities, or even to teach younger teens. Spring cleaning can be made fun by having teens meet and swap out some of their books, video games etc. Some of my patients have told me about organizing their neighborhoods to participate in this and the rest of the items are donated to a charity of your choice. This is fun for both teens and parents, and your teen’s room finally gets cleaned, and you didn’t even have to fight with them to do it.
4. Work it out
Working during summer is also a great idea for teens who are of legal age to work. Suggest a summer job that helps them learn people skills and teaches self-esteem even as they make some money. Take the time to teach them how to manage the money they make wisely. For your more enterprising teens, encourage them to create their own jobs. Many successful entrepreneurs have been borne that way. Talk to your teens about the potential risks they may face in the job market. Let them know that it’s okay to say “No” to an adult, supervisor or anybody else they respect, if they think they are being led down the wrong path.Remind your teens how important their facebook, twitter accounts and other social media sites are, when looking for jobs. These sites are a reflection of your teens character and habits so it’s very important that they keep them clean.
5. Keeping it safe out there
Teens will of course hang out with each other during the summer and safety cannot be overemphasized here. Remind them about underage drinking and they certainly should never drink and drive. Discourage them driving with large groups of teens in their cars. This causes distractions and some teens have lost their lives in accidents. And of course your teen should not borrow another teen’s car or be willing to loan their car out. They should know their limitations. If your teen can’t swim, he really shouldn’t go swimming with others. Somehow, under pressure they feel they can learn right there on the spot and we know how dangerous that can be. Encourage outings with friends you know and trust. Teens must always remember to carry the cell phones and be courteous enough to let you know when they are running late. Remind them that all the rules still apply during the summer.
Even as summer approaches, stop stressing out and start planning with your teens how you can make it an exciting, fruitful and memorable time for everyone. Keep an open dialogue, discover new adventures together. Encourage volunteerism, and help your teens develop their hidden talents as they come up with safe ways that they can generate an income or how to learn responsibility on the job. Summer should be a time of relaxation, family togetherness and enjoyment. Make this one count.
You can find more ideas on Summer fun from the online resource Summer Fun!