Summer – it’s that time of year when we loosen the rules and take things a little easier. But all the extra free time and lack of structure can lead to problems for your kids. Let’s talk about some ways to keep the summer fun and easy, while making sure your kids get what they need to stay healthy, busy and happy.
1. Encourage them to try something new
Is your teen at a loss now that the school year is over? This can be a great time to try other pursuits they don’t normally have time for. San Antonio has some terrific summer programs for teens, including summer camps at UTSA, drama and music camps, and sports programs. This is a perfect time to meet new friends and maybe discover some talents they never knew they had.
2. Support their efforts to earn money
By the time your kids are teenagers, they’re probably looking for ways to earn their own spending money. Depending on your child and their talents and abilities, they might be able to babysit, start a dog-walking service, do yard work for neighbors, or get a job at the local ice cream stand. Volunteering is also a good option, and can lead to real-life work skills that will help them in years to come. If they are interested, support them as best you can. Yes, it can add to your work load to have to bring them to work or adjust meal schedules around their commitments. But supporting their efforts to become more independent is one of the best ways to help them become successful adults.
Your teen is probably at an age where they are testing their independence and want to have more privacy and more time away from you. That’s normal, and healthy. But make sure they aren’t getting too much, too soon. Meet the kids your child is hanging out with, and get to know the families where they are spending time. While some independence is great, it’s still your job to be sure they are spending their time in safe ways. Talk to them about risky activities (internet, sex, drugs and alcohol…), and have a frank discussion about your rules regarding their behavior, no matter who they are with.
4. Don’t neglect their mental health
Family vacations and other summer fun means you might be tempted to skip counseling or therapy appointments. Do your best to avoid this, and keep on a regular schedule of mental health care. While some leeway is great, show your child that you believe their mental health is just as important as their physical health, and make every effort to keep up on their progress over the summer.
5. Say “YES”It’s summer for you, too, so go ahead and bend the rules once in a while and share some of that delicious summertime feeling with your kids. Volunteer to chaperone a trip to the theme park with some friends. Or, take a day off and spend it with your teen doing things you both enjoy. Spending time just hanging around and playing is a great way to let your kids know you love them.
Make this summer a special time for your teen; you just might find some of that old summer magic yourself.
For hope and healing,
As the director of communications for Clarity Child Guidance Center, Mike shares the insights of children’s mental health experts, both inside and outside of Clarity CGC, who work with families looking for answers about their children’s mental health.
Note: If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 9-1-1. If you need help locating mental health resources in your area, call your local health department or the National Alliance Mental Illness's helpline at 800-950- NAMI (6264). If are looking for mental health resources please click here.