[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The goal of every parent is to raise well-rounded, competent, caring children.[/pullquote]
Having young teens involved in extracurricular activities and volunteering efforts can build character and be a part of a healthy lifestyle. But parents must help their teenagers maintain a balance between school, activity, and free time to avoid unnecessary stress.
Let’s look at some benefits for children active in outside programs:
- Create new relationships
- Learn about commitment
- Discover teamwork and organizational skills
- Increase self-esteem by helping others
- Learn time management
- Obtain scholarships to colleges
- Create a fuller resume to find a better job
Looking at the positives it’s no wonder parents want their children involved in outside activities and volunteering.
However, parents should remember four things when helping their teenagers choose activities:
- Teens need a voice
- A need for unstructured time
- Parents are the advisors
- Know when to step in
Teens Need a Voice
The key of any parent/child relationship is open communication. You should allow your son or daughter a voice in the decision-making process and then listen to him or her. Teens want to know their opinions count. You help your teenagers grow toward independence by allowing them the opportunity to develop decision-making and problem-solving skills. It is never too late to begin.
A Need for Unstructured Time
Show your children the benefits of turning off the outside noise to enjoy the company of family, friends, or self. Have meals together whenever possible and enjoy a night of charades or a board game once in a while. Without constant activity, relationships can be nurtured, whether family or friends. Unstructured time reduces stress and allows for:
- children to dream
- creativity to flourish
- the mind to expand through reading, conversation, or play activity
- exploration of the world around them
- discovery of a child’s inner self
Parents as the Advisors
Open communication does not mean that parents concede to any request from their children. As parents you must consider the choices presented; then guide your teens to the best activity for them. Once you and your teen choose an activity or two, check on the progress of the decision made.
- Is your son or daughter still motivated to go to the activity?
- Do they feel safe in the chosen environment?
- Does the coach or director understand your teen?
- Does your teen have enough time to complete schoolwork?
- Does your teen still have unstructured time or family time?
Know When to Step in
If all you do is take your teenager to activities and no one has time for sit-down meals, you and your teen are doing too much. There needs to be family time to have that open communication with your child.
It may be time to cut back on activities or choose something that doesn’t require as much time from your child. You and your teen need to reconsider the choices if you notice the following:
- Grades are slipping at school
- Your teen is always tired /sleeping habits disrupted
- Normal eating habits change /skipping meals
- Constant preoccupation
- Your son or daughter can’t follow the conversation at the dinner table
The goal of every parent is to raise well-rounded, competent, caring children. It is important for you to guide your teenager to a balance of individual activities, family activities, personal time, and schoolwork so that your student can achieve success in life.