Parents: Summer Activities to Keep Your Child on the Right Path
by Frank Lawson
Like any good parent, you always try your best to raise your child the right way. Of course, even the best parents know that it’s impossible to keep an eye on your child 24/7. As a parent, how are you supposed to ensure your child’s safety while you’re not around? How will you keep your child out of trouble during the summer months? More importantly, how can you teach your child to respond to peer pressure and not abuse drugs or alcohol?
75% of parents believe today’s teenagers face situations with more dangerous consequences than previous generations have had to face. If you’re reading this article, don’t worry; you’re already on the right track to keeping your child out of trouble. Your heart is clearly in the right place. Keep reading for some summer planning tips from the experts:
Stress management activities
Iceland recently made the news for successfully reversing the troubling trend of drug abuse, smoking and alcohol abuse among Icelandic teenagers. The nation’s secret was to simply promote alternative recreational activities to naturally reduce stress – without the need for drugs, cigarettes or drinks.
If this works for Iceland, it can work for you, too. Create a family culture of seeking healthy ways to reduce stress and negative emotions. Teach your children how to heal trauma through the benefits of self care, and how to seek help when they need it.
According to the Icelandic study, some activities you can try with your children this summer include outdoor or indoor recreational activities, “strengthening family ties,” boosting your child’s self esteem, team-based activities to help your child build interpersonal relationships with others, and “broadening cultural experiences.” The more fulfilled your child feels and the better equipped he or she is when dealing with stressful situations, the less likely your child will be to give in to the pressures of drugs and alcohol.
Activities to stay busy, not bored
Police say busy teenagers are more likely to stay out of trouble than bored teenagers. Perhaps echoing what Iceland has discovered, some police departments now recommend enrolling teenagers in summer activities such as extracurricular sports, physical activities, and academic activities. In addition to reducing crime in the local areas, this can also improve grades, boost confidence, reduce chances of drug and alcohol addiction, and keep otherwise at-risk children and teenagers out of trouble.
Make a list of local sports, art and theater clubs – whether sponsored by schools, nonprofits, churches, or other organizations. Regardless of whether your child is excelling or struggling in school, you may want to consider academic tutoring over the course of the summer to help get a head start on the upcoming year.
Many children and teenagers also benefit from community-based activities like volunteer work, Boys & Girls Clubs, and other activities that allow them the opportunity to “give back.” Older teenagers may also enjoy getting a part-time job for the summer, which will keep them busy while allowing them financial freedom.
“Positive” peer pressure
It may sound like an oxymoron but there really is such a thing as “positive” peer pressure. Positive peer pressure occurs when a child’s group of friends encourages him or her to make good life decisions, such as staying out of trouble, going to college, or saying no to drugs. Ideally, you want your child to be surrounded by these types of friends.
Communication & family bonding
You should also establish open communication with your child. This builds trust, improves your relationship, and helps your child feel safe and secure. Be sure to ask your child how his or her day was. Talk to your child about his or her interests. And above all else, tell your child that you are proud and that you love him or her.
Don’t stress about trying to do things perfectly. All parents – even the best parents in the world – make mistakes from time to time. Just enjoy the transformational journey that is parenting. Communicate with your children, talk to them about drugs and peer pressure, and show them you love them. By modeling healthy behaviors and taking a sincere interest in their lives, you will be able to help them more than you know.