When the sun shines and we can comfortably say we’re experiencing a Summer, the six week Summer Holidays begin.
Occupying children is always a task and the task is greater if they are in different age ranges. So what’s the process if you have a Tweenie (8 – 12yr old) and a teenager (13+). Having teenagers can also be a struggle if they are at different ends of the teen spectrum.
So in my own personal situation Kamarane is 15, and Morggan is 18 and they both want to go to the LoveBox Festival (so do I actually, I’d love to see Frank Ocean, Rag ‘n’ Bone Man and Solange then spend the night dancing while Jazzie B and Jazzy Jeff spin the tunes). Now, even though families are welome at LoveBox, kids under 12 go free and would naturally be accompanied by a parent, but under 18s need to be accompanied by a parent or a sibling 18 or over. Morggan just wants to jump in her car and go off with her 18yr old friends. Kammie doesn’t really want mummy hanging around – as cool a mum as I think I am I’m still mummy.
Perhaps after Love Box or any festival we look at different ways to occupy Tweens and Teens.
How do we tackle this situation in a healthy way and get smiles all round?
Millions of tweens and teens exist in a summertime no-man’s-land: too old for kiddie-camp and too young to get a job. Even for older teens, the job market is bleak. In many cases, camp counseling jobs and other jobs traditionally held by teens are being filled by college students and recent college graduates.
How is an idle teen supposed to pass those summer months? If you’re lucky, she can visit grandma for a week or two. And then there is the family summer vacation. And yes, a week or two of downtime with not a lot to do is much needed after the pressure of a long school year. That still leaves weeks, and more weeks, to fill. The best inoculation against summertime shenanigans? Duffy advises: keep them busy! Plus, by finding inspired activities, your child will develop invaluable skills for high school, college, and beyond.
Get their input
As much as kids complain about homework or their classes in school, these things are actually very good for them in a number of ways. Academics aside, school helps kids develop a sense of purpose. A universal question, worded differently across the life span, is why am I here? We answer that question by discovering a sense of purpose. School-age kids need to feel a drive, a motivation, a sense of purpose in order to be mentally healthy. Sometimes, the summer months can contribute to feelings of depression or anxiety because of their lackadaisical days. To help kids maintain a sense of purpose, and thus mental wellness, consider these ideas:
- Get them to help decide and plan activities (with age-appropriate limitations, of course). Challenge them to brainstorm things to do, and have them make the plans for it. This can apply to the lunch menu or to a weekend outing. Kids thrive when they are allowed to have some responsibility for what the family does.
- Give them age-appropriate chores. Sure, they’ll likely grumble, but behind the rolled eyes is a kid who is developing a sense of purpose, a sense that there are things to do during the summer and that they can contribute to getting them done. That develops self-confidence, an important component of mental health.
Focus on what’s best for your child… not necessarily your child’s friends
The most popular summer activities that all the other kids are doing are not necessarily the right ones for your child.
Maybe some teens you know are involved in sports programs over the summer, but your child would rather hold a job at a local water park. As long as activities are providing structure, safety and building their skill sets, adolescents’ summer months should look different.
Friends have a heavy influence on your tweens/teens, but it’s worth a serious discussion to make sure your teens aren’t succumbing to peer pressure. The influence that friends exert over one another as teenagers is clearly powerful and, far too often, undesirable. Unhealthy behaviors can be almost contagious among kids this age. Teens whose friends smoke, drink or use drugs, for example, are more likely to indulge in these behaviors themselves. Aggressive, illegal or self-injurious behaviors also have a tendency to cluster among friend groups, as do concerns about body image and eating.
Boredom can spark creativity!
Summer months don’t always have to be lazy!
- Encourage your tweens and teens to coordinate a book drive with their friends and neighbors..
- Summer for some children mean months without meals which were provided by the cafeteria during the school year. Find an organization that you and your teens can volunteer to help feed children in the community who would otherwise go hungry and find out how your tween or teen can get involved whether by donating or volunteering their time.
- Whether it’s a new recycling or composting initiative in your own house, or a neighborhood project to coordinate a monthly clean sweep of green spaces and the local park, the eco-friendly ideas are on trend for teens and tweens looking to make a difference.