What is my teenager going to do this summer? – Julie Nicodemus, Gateway Counselor

May 26th, 2011 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized


Sleep, text, eat, repeat.  What are appropriate summertime activities for adolescents?  Consider sleep, exercise, social stimulation, responsibility and diet.

Although some parents believe their teens will become lazy if they sleep long hours, sleeping has restorative value.  Natural sleep patterns for adolescents are really different from most adults and small children.  Teen bodies naturally tire much later in the evening thus giving way to a late nighttime sleep pattern and of course that follows with sleeping later in the morning.  Something to consider beyond the rest factor is how sleep affects attention.  A teen risk for sleep deprivation is lower concentration when driving.  Consider allowing your teenager to fall into an appropriate sleep pattern for their body this summer.  Going to bed at 11 and sleeping until 9 might fit with their biorhythm and it meets the need for recommended longer sleep hours in adolescence.  Routine – regularly going to bed at the same time and waking at the same time – is significant in regulating those teen attitudes and alertness.  http://www.helpguide.org/life/sleeping.htm

Are you looking for social experiences for your teenager?  Exercise with peers can involve shopping for new gym clothes, hanging out at the yogurt shop after a workout and listening to music in a spin class.  At the gym, guys take turns rotating through equipment and this is a social skill.  Regardless of the social component, teenagers thrive when they are allowed to expend their angst in an appropriate way.  Hitting that gym bag and pumping iron feels manly and exhilarating for teen boys.  Consider the long term payoffs of engaging in a regular exercise routine.  If your teen works out regularly now, they are far more likely to work out as an adult.  Check out the YMCA, you subdivision or apartment workout facilities, and local gyms.  Think about the social opportunity and have them invite friends when the work out.  If you don’t have the ability to go with your teen and you think they need some training, consider hiring a personal trainer or a teen partner.

As you proceed through the summer, reflect on your own experiences at your teen’s age. Some things never change: resisting responsibility seems to be a rite of passage in adolescence. When you look back, how do you remember feeling about the feedback you received form adults? There are some core competencies teens should master but there are some areas where parents should improve their communication. Try to make consequences predictable and natural. For example, if your teen needs to learn how to use a washing machine, they might not be motivated to act until there is an interruption in their supply of clean clothes.

What three simple responsibilities can you decide are important to master this summer? Here are three suggestions.

–          I get off the phone when I need to go to bed.

–          I call if I’m going to be late.

–          I dress appropriately.

See if they fit your situation, and if not, think of ones that do. Remember, natural and predictable consequences work best for any habit you want to eliminate or create! If you need more ideas on adolescent competencies, contact me.

Food can be a sport for some teenagers while others are so concerned about body image, they refuse to eat much at all.  A couple of key ideas to help manage your teens eating are keeping healthy foods in the house and making sure they eat at least one nutritious meal a day.  It is a good idea to shop with your teenager if you don’t already do so.  They learn from experience about the cost of food, its nutritional value, and even how to choose fruit.  Like picking out clothes, they are growing in their own personal preferences.  You may be surprised on why they choose a box of cereal…it may be the taste, the advertising, or even that “their friends like it!”  Teens generally love food so this is one area you may still have some influence.

Some final thoughts on summer activities with teens:

–          Give them more opportunities to control their life (sleep times, food choices)

–          Be rigid on a few important things (put your dishes away, don’t use inappropriate language around me)

–          Suggest and provide opportunities for fun (exercise, social avtivities)

Keep me posted on your successes!


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  • These are exactly some of our goals at the Amazing Grass Company. We see benefit from these older guys and gals having summer jobs that they’ll be able to learn from and get a sneak peak into “real-world work responsibilities.”

    -Richard Kelly

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