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Summer Tips for Parents of Teens
Submitted to the Empowerment Magazine by Sue Goetz, LCSW

 Summertime is creeping up on us!  School's out (or almost...) and gone are the stressors of monitoring homework and studying.  Summer can be a nice opportunity for some family fun, and building/ maintaining positive family relationships. However, for those of you with a teen who is having some struggles, the free time and lack of structure can be all too concerning for parents - or the power struggles over schoolwork can become power struggles over chores, curfew, and opposing expectations. If you're having a tough time with your teen, Summer can be a great time to get into counseling, when the stressors are reduced and coping skills can really be learned without all the immediate pressures.  Keeping all this in mind, I have some tips to share to help get your Summer started on the right foot.

 

Minimizing Conflict…
DISCUSS EXPECATIONS – What are your teen’s plans for the Summer (working? sleeping in? hanging out with friends?) versus your expectations (Summer job? chores being done? watching the younger siblings? increased responsibility?)

CREATE GROUND RULES -  If you and your teen discuss ahead of time what the expectations and limits are, there will likely be fewer power struggles as the Summer progresses.  Some of these ground rules will need to be created by you, but the more you can discuss these/ compromise and get a buy-in from your teen the better.  Here are some points to consider:

What are they to be doing during the day?  Are they allowed to have friends over when you’re not home? Are they allowed on the Internet during the day?  For how much time?  Is this /How is this monitored? What information do they need to provide you about their plans? (Who, What, When, Where)
How often they should check in (via text, for example) as to where they are or if they change plans/ locations (which teens do quite constantly)? Extended curfew now that school’s out?

EXPECT CHANGES IN SCHEDULE – sleeping in is a pleasure of adolescence, so it’s nice to indulge that a bit.  However, if your teen’s sleep schedule becomes a big problem in your household, it can help to get them a morning activity.  For example, a Summer job with morning hours, tutoring sessions to attend, sports lessons/ sports camp, a class, or the need to complete chores at home in the morning in order to be allowed to keep their afternoon plans with friends.   

 

Creating opportunities to continue learning…
Research indicates that students lose as much as two months of [math] learning over the Summer months. 

 

Especially if your teen has had a difficult year academically, Summer can be a good time to seek out a local learning center program or tutoring.  And/or learning can and should be integrated into regular activities and outings your family has planned.

 

Gaining work experience….
Summer is a great time for teens to work or volunteer, to build self-confidence, gain work experience, increase responsibility, build the resume, and expose them to possible post-high school career paths.  

JOB SEEKING TIPS FOR TEENS:
Create a résumé that shows your skills, as well as lists any volunteer or paid work you’ve done

Gather information of contacts for references – employers usually ask for these
Check online for job listings on sites such as www.craigslist.com and www.groovejob.com
Take your résumé to places you’d like to work and can get to (consider your transportation options from home).  Take your resume especially places that list they are hiring or have signs in the window saying they’re hiring.  Dress neatly, be polite, and be ready to fill out applications

 

A lot of places have you apply online now, but it’s good to follow up with a phone call to keep your name at the top of their mind
Practice a job interview with a friend or parent
Consider self-employment, such as babysitting, pet sitting for people on vacation, dog walking, or mowing lawns.  Advertise these services around the neighborhood and with your parents’ friends.

VOLUNTEERING TIPS FOR TEENS:
Consider your interests and look for something that might be a natural fit.  If you like animals, consider volunteering at a local shelter; if you like working with young children, consider volunteering at a day camp or church vacation bible school program.

Check out these websites for local opportunities for teens: www.volunteersac.org and www.handsonsacto.org

Think of any family friends who own their own small business and might be able to use your help.  Volunteering now can get you good experience and turn into paid positions later.

Enjoying free time…

CREATIVE EXPRESSION IDEAS: arts, crafts, cooking, party planning, poetry, story writing, compose or play music, dancing, decorating.  Consider checking the offerings at your neighborhood community center or parks and recreation department.

 

PHYSICAL EXERCISE IDEAS:  team sports, bicycling, walking, dancing, going to the gym, martial arts, yoga, kickboxing, swimming.  Check out your local parks and recreation department for opportunities. 

 

INTELLECTUAL IDEAS:  museums, studying, puzzles, current events, discussions, collecting, volunteering, taking classes, internet research, going to the local library, attending tutoring or a learning center to brush up on skills.

 

SOCIAL RECREATION IDEAS: hanging out with friends, meeting new friends, out to movies, parties, shopping, club meetings, phone calls, having friends over.

SOLITARY RELAXATION IDEAS: listening to music, reading, journaling, going online, planning for the future/ daydreaming.

SPECTATOR APPRECIATION IDEAS: going to a movie, traveling somewhere, getting in to nature (birds, animals) sporting events, concerts, plays, watching a DVD, people watching.  There are so many free outdoor concerts locally in the Summer to take advantage of!

 

 

If you’re interested in subscribing to Sue’s free bimonthly e-newsletter on tips for teens, please sign up online at www.hopeintherapy.com  

Sue Goetz is a licensed psychotherapist/ counselor in private practice, working with adolescents, adults, and families.  Meeting with her for therapy can be really helpful when struggling with troubles including but not limited to: depression, anxiety/ overwhelm, transitions (e.g., divorce), family conflict, and high-risk behavior (e.g., these warning signs).  She is also trained in a therapeutic technique called EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), which is highly effective in work with trauma, including abuse, complicated grief, bullying, and phobias. www.hopeintherapy.com