Summer is upon us, and for many teens in this country, school’s already out. Now what? Typical and cherished summer activities like jobs, internships, and camps may be on hold. There is a general sense of uncertainty about what the coming months will bring, and higher levels of worry in cities and states that struggled with many cases of COVID-19. This is going to be a very different summer than usual for many teenagers and their families. As the weather heats up, here are four tips to guide parents in helping their teens plan for the months ahead.
Validate your teen’s reaction to current circumstances
Teens may be feeling disappointed, anxious, and/or sad about cancelled activities and events. They may have a sense of uncertainty about what is to come. They may also be missing friends and feeling socially isolated. While it can be tempting as a parent to jump into problem-solving mode when you see your teen in distress, first take some time to listen to their concerns. Express their worries back to them, letting them know that you hear what they are saying through your words, tone, and expression. It’s more important to help your teen feel heard and understood than to try to fix the problem in that moment.
Enlist your teen’s help in mapping out a daily structure
This could mean agreeing on rough times for meals, wake-up and bedtime, and incorporating physical activity into each day. (Accept that most teens like going to bed later and sleeping later than they did when they were younger.) Next, brainstorm together about how to fill the remaining time. Strike a balance between structure and down time, incorporating expectations for screens into the plan. Having a voice in these decisions and the opportunity to make adjustments as time goes by matter to teens. As you map out a plan together, keep in mind that boredom is not the enemy. While we, as a culture, have become less accustomed to down time and boredom in our daily lives, there are benefits to both.
Ask your teen which goals or hobbies they want to master or develop
Help teens decide on appropriate goals or hobbies to pursue over the course of the summer. Are they interested in learning to drive a car? Cook meals? Walk dogs or pet-sit? Maybe learn a language or take a course? Family resources need to factor into what’s