4 Ways to Help Tweens and Teens Break Summertime Boredom
It’s July, and, it’s hot, but your plans for the rest of summer have lost their sizzle. If you’re like most moms, you started the season with ambitious goals full of energy and excitement about the list of fun things you creatively planned to do with your tween or teen. You’ve put check marks beside the completed activities on your bucket list of “things to do this summer,” and, now you’re hearing:
“I’m bored.” “We’ve already seen that.” “I’ve done that three times already.” “We went there two weeks ago.” Tweens and teens are not short of the many ways to say been there done that.
For many school age children in America, there are about six weeks of summer left.
So, what’s next? What will you do with another six weeks…days filled with several unstructured hours?
Suggesting that they fill their gratitude journal with all the reasons they’re thankful for the first several weeks of summer adventure or invite some neighborhood friends over to play a good old fashion game of marbles, pick up sticks or jacks ball would be like asking for a hamburger in Greek! First, they would be clueless about what those games are. Secondly, after learning about them, they might think it’s one of the most insidious suggestions you’ve ever made. After all, they have their iPads, iPods, smartphones and other cool technology that keeps them entertained for hours.
Understanding what boredom is helps you grasp what’s really going on in the mind of your tween and teen. When they become bored, they lack the stimuli necessary to motivate them to use their imagination. If you tell a 12 or 14 year old to use his imagination to figure out what to do with his summer day, most immediately think screen time on their devices, surfing the internet and video games. To get your child to tap into his imagination, ask questions that compel him to think creatively. Inquiry is the stimuli.For example, you might ask him to list four new things he would like to do before he goes back to school in the fall. Then, one item at a time, encourage him to do them.
So, how do you finish the summer with a bang and win-win plans? Include them in the planning. For the sake of cooperation, the older they are, the more important it is for them to contribute to the plans. Make it a team effort to design plans that encourage creativity and productivity with splashes of fun for the rest of their summer break. They will actually be excited and look forward to doing activities because they helped to design them.
Here are some value based ways to put sizzle in the rest of your summer plans, and, simultaneously, encourage productivity, creativity and fun:
- Plan and prepare meals together. Cooking is a combination of science and art that involves skills like: planning, time management, healthy eating, and communication. As your teen brainstorms and seeks out ideas about new ways to create old dishes, it also cultivates creativity.
- Real face-to-face time. In today’s world of technology and social media, teens are losing important social skills such as effective communication, conflict management and empathy. They are also missing out on opportunities to develop their ability to recognize and understand social cues such as facial expressions, personal space, and body language. These skills are important for several reasons, including, helping them discern whether or not they should befriend someone and how to avoid being taken advantage of. Local organizations such as the YMCA, Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts are good places for your teen to experience real life situations that will help him develop valuable social skills.
- Family time adds fibre to your children’s fabric of values. Gardening is a great family activity that teaches children about the value of perseverance, patience and responsibility. Professions, employment, the kind of individual he becomes, and the opportunities he will be offered are greatly influenced by the character and abilities that he develops before leaving home..
- Community Involvement. Children of today are the professionals, entrepreneurs and leaders of tomorrow. Important skills like leadership and how to be of service can be gained by volunteering at places of worship, helping people in need such as the elderly, disabled, child care facilities and individuals with learning disabilities. Doing so also helps him gain valuable skills that makes his college admission process a more colorful experience by proving that his SAT scores alone aren’t the complete picture of his capabilities. This is bound to help him stand out.
Happiness is an important part of growing up, and, an all work no play summer break is no fun. With a little family planning that incorporates some of their suggestions too, they can do both. Explore new things together. You’ll be amazed at how involved they get!
Dr. Trevicia Williams’ new book is "I Love You But I Can’t underSTAMD You Right Now: 100 Ways to Deal With The Heart and Soul of Raising Tween and Teen Girls." Learn more at iomoms.com.