While also having fun in the sun!
School is out and the sun is shining, meaning it’s time for water activities, barbeques, flip flops and fun times with friends. We want our teens to enjoy their time away from school, decompress and relax. However, it’s also important that we help them enjoy that time safely and responsibly.
Research shows that risky behaviors among teens pick up significantly during the summer months. According to addictioncenter.com, every day, more than 11,000 kids will try alcohol for the first time during the months of June and July. Marijuana, other drug use and sexual experimentation also increases.
Learning how to make the most of free time is an essential life skill that we as parents can help our children learn by building a structured schedule of summer activities. Here are some ways that you can be proactive in helping teens stave off the boredom of summer and the risk activities that could accompany it.
- Plan Ahead
You can save yourself and your teen from frustration and miscommunication by sitting down together at the beginning of the summer to plan out their summer activities. Be sensitive to your teen’s needs. Don’t over-pack their schedule. They still need a little bit of a break, but make sure you engage them in things they enjoy. Talk to them about what they want to do with their summer, while also communicating the need for an agreed-upon amount of structured activity.
- Summer Camps and College Tours
Find an athletic, academic, culinary or other specialty camp that your teen would enjoy. Camps are a great way for teens to stay busy, doing things they like and developing new friendships. Camps can also challenge teens to improve skills they already process. An alternative to camp is scheduling a college tour at a nearby university or one they have expressed interest in attending. Campus visits offer your child a first-hand view of college life, and motivates them to start thinking of their future.
- Family Vacations
Summer break is a great time for you to focus on strengthening your relationship and communication with your teen. You can benefit from shared fun experiences with your teen, and create more time to talk about what’s going on in their lives. Plan family dinners or barbeques, evening outings, weekend trips, or longer if you have the flexibility to take time off work.
- Summer Job
A part-time summer job is a great way for teens to build their résumé, learn responsibility and make a little extra money. Help your teen check out what businesses around town might be looking for part-time summer workers. Teens might also consider going into business for themselves by babysitting, dog walking, pool cleaning or yard work. Older teens might benefit from an internship in a field they are interested in before college.
- Household Chores
You can probably hear your teens groaning at this one, but partaking in household responsibilities is important for teenagers for numerous reasons. At some point, they will have to do these tasks for themselves. Learning and developing the habit as a teen will help them be more prepared when they leave home. Chores can help instill a sense of responsibility in teens, both to take care of their surroundings and to help shoulder family commitments. Make sure your teen knows that their chores aren’t punishments, but normal expectations of growing up. Sit down with your teen and discuss their list of household jobs for the summer.
Hospitals, retirement homes, food banks, and animal shelters are constantly looking for help. Getting your teen involved in the community can play a vital role in developing their whole-self, and helps them learn the importance of giving back.
Encourage your teen to set up an exercise routine for the summer. A regular workout schedule can help teens stay healthy and develop positive self-esteem. However, keep in mind that excessive workouts can be a warning sign for an eating disorder. Make sure you have discussed healthy balances in exercise and body image with your teen.