Tuesday 6 August 2019

10 Ways to get your Teen Away from their Screen this Summer

Tween girls feeding ducks

We're fully into the summer holiday now and I'm sure you might have heard the dreaded words 'I'm bored' so far. No matter what, every kid seems to get in this rut and I've always believed that my kids need to break through the boredom barrier. It's good for them to be bored for a little while, as that is when they engage their creative mind and start to think laterally about what they used to or could do.

It's so easy for teens (especially boys) to get stuck in a rut and end up endlessly playing computer games, surfing the web or getting immersed into social media but we all know that too much of it isn't good for us, on so many levels - our physical health, our mental health and our ability to converse and communicate with others.

Here are a few ideas that aren't going to break the bank, that may just help you get your teen away from their screen. Of course, you have to be realistic, they probably aren't going to thank you initially, as they think they want to spend 24/7 glued to their phone or laptop.

1.  Volunteering / Work Experience
This one will depend on the age of your teen and realistically it probably should have been sorted out before now, but whats friends or family do you have who they could accompany to work for the day? My son has done voluntary work gardening, learning maintenance tasks, working in a cafe and marshaling traffic. Each has been great experience for him and provided something different to his skill set.

Don't just assume your teen is too young or that they shouldn't be working yet (childhood is for fun) these kind of educational days can excite, inspire and develop your teen.

2.  Play with/ Look after their Siblings
This will of course depend on the age of your children and their maturity, but my 15 year old can easily spend time with his 12 year old sisters. Once they start, they all enjoy a bike ride, strategy board game or watching a futuristic movie at the cinema. There may be some initial resistance to this, but it is good for siblings to spend time together and purposefully develop their relationship.

3.  Plan a Sports Day/ Afternoon
Either get your teen to plan this, or you plan it and they join in with friends, siblings or neighbours. You don't need masses of equipment, we have bean bags, skates, hoops, cones etc and make fun obstacle course and time each other in the hope of winning small prizes.

4.  Plan a Wheels Day
Where can you go locally that is great for cycling, skating or scooting? We live near the beach and this means it is great to head over there for a long roll along the prom and then fish and chips as our treat for lunch.

Cycling on the prom by colourful beach huts

5.  Book time with their Mates
Be purposeful in these early weeks of the summer and find out when their friends are about over summer and then book up some trips out. Cinema, bowling, laser quest, high ropes, water activity course etc etc

6.  Do Jobs to help around the House
I know some feel children should not do any chores but I am certainly not in that camp. I think it is great for kids to know they are part of a team and are expected to pull their weight (within reason). There is no reason why your teen can't empty the dishwasher, wash the car or mow the lawn in exchange for time doing something they love (tech!) or expecting a lift somewhere.

7.  Cook Dinner or Bake Something
My kids all enjoy cooking, especially when I allow them to choose what they will cook. When you plan your weeks menu, ask the kids which night they'd like to take and what they will cook. You can the either get the ingredients in ready for them, or if it is practical they could start form the beginning and plan the shopping and get it themselves, before cooking. Not only are they helping you and putting in to the family, they are learning important life skills for later in life.

8.  Use their Strengths
What is your teen good at?  My JJ is a whizz with anything on the computer or technical. So last summer when he was bored and needed something to do I got him to use his skills and help me. He cleaned up my old laptop and edited some YouTube videos for me. Good experience for him and fabulous help for me.

9.  Set them a Creative Challenge
Again play to what your teen is good at or enjoys. Could they paint their bedroom? Spend an afternoon outside painting a landscape? Write a short story on a set theme? Create a piece of tapestry/ artwork for the wall? Or go on a photo walk?

murial painting

10.  Get them to visit a Relative or an Elderly Neighbour
Maybe there is someone in your family who gets lonely or needs a hand? It should never be underestimated how much your teen (and us) can learn from an older person. Playing cards, having a chat, doing a bit of shopping together, all these little things might mean the world to their grandparent. My JJ was at the cinema with his Grandad last week and often watches quiz shows with his Nan, simple things they enjoy together.

Lastly, this probably isn't one for the summer but when September comes again see if you can sign them up for some kind of club. Many children have been involved with Guiding and Scouting, but how about the Sea Cadets, Army Cadets, Police Cadets (like my JJ), St Johns Ambulance or maybe getting involved with the Duke of Edinburgh award. All these kind of things really build their confidence and allow them to gain important life skills such as Independence, resilience and accountability.

I hope you like these ideas. Please do share others in the comments!  Thanks, Mich x

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Get your teen off tech pin

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