All parents know that it doesn’t take a lot of Summer break time before your kids begin complaining of nothing to do! A lot of pre-teens talk about feeling “stuck at home” while parents are working or friends are not available. To avoid the boredom blues, encourage your child to be proactive. Your student can have fun and continue learning responsibility at the same time. Here are some tips for your teen:
1)Talk it Out- Discuss with your child what their interests are for Summer. Teens desire to feel heard and understood more than we realize. When an adult approaches them and explores their wants, teens are more likely to come to a compromise or resolution. Parents may not be comfortable with their child’s requests or not have the means to provide their requests. In such a situation, understanding from the parent can go a long way.
Example: Cindy asks her mother to go to the beach with a friend, however her mother is uncomfortable with her leaving for an extended period and/or with this friend. Her mother approaches Cindy and says: “I can imagine how this trip would be really fun for you. I understand your reasoning for wanting to go and would love to discuss other ideas for Summer you may have. However, I have reasons for wanting to make sure you stay safe and my answer for this particular trip is no”. This is an empathic response and is more likely to lead to a more respectful response from your child rather than a flat out “No”.
2) Take Up a Hobby – The wonderful thing about taking up a new hobby (joining a club, volunteering, arts and crafts projects, etc.) is that you learn so much about yourself! Middle school students spend the majority of their time trying to figure out who they are and what they like (which is very healthy and normal!). Encouraging a new hobby can be inexpensive and aid in their development and individualization.
3) Earn Money and/or Rewards- Money can be tight for many families. However, that does not mean that responsibility and independence cannot be fostered. A couple of ideas for motivating your teen to complete tasks include chore/reward charts and “If… then…” requests (Example: “If you keep your room clean during the week, then we will rent you a new video game this weekend). What can they do for others? Such as cutting grass for neighbors or helping a family member.
4) Family Time- Summer break can be the perfect time to reconnect with your child. Again, kids are often motivated by a positive reward that they know is coming. Although they may seem more focused on their friends right now, don’t count yourself out! Create a family game night, hold family meetings to discuss fun plans, cook together, go hiking – the options are endless! Kids will rarely remember what gifts they’ve been given, but are more likely to remember how someone made them feel.
**Extra Tip**: Encourage your child to solve problems themselves. Ask them: “What can you do to help yourself with this?”
Brittany Montgomery, LMSW