While the summer months bring sunshine and freedom for teens, it can be challenging for parents to find healthy activities to keep their teens engaged and away from parties and risky behaviors. Summer means more freedom, and many homes with little or no supervision. This can create situations where drug and alcohol experimentation take place.
During the summer months, car accidents spike for teens and many involve intoxication. In addition, kids are at risk for accidents as they skateboard, bike, swim and play. Here are some tips from Parent Map to help you keep your teens safe this summer.
Out of site out of mind. A newly released report notes that the #1 cause of overdose deaths is not illegal drugs, but rather prescription medications. For parents this means getting rid of your old medication (many local pharmacies will take them for you). Lock up other medications that can be harmful or addictive. Remember, it’s not just your child, but perhaps his or her friend who may search through your medicine cabinet while visiting.
A phone call is all it takes. If you work, make a habit of calling your teen at least once a day. Texting can make this even easier. Try to make the conversation a friendly one rather than an obvious check-up. And ask teens to call or text before they leave the house to tell you where they will be. Many parents set a rule that there can’t be friends over or visits to friends’ houses without an adult present.
Safety first. It’s always a good idea to review safety rules with your kids, from wearing a seatbelt in the car to wearing a helmet when biking. Remind them to be cautious of cars, and if they drive, be more aware of the extra kids out and about during summer. Many accidents happen right in the family driveway.
Remember to take a break and enjoy summer activities with your teens. Take in a summer concert in the park, hike or take a picnic to a local lake or beach. Spending time together builds a stronger foundation, and this foundation ensures wiser decision-making when apart.
Communicate with your teens
Here are 10 tips from Narconon that encourage communication with teens to help keep your kids off of drugs this summer:
- Have the Talk Don’t assume that your children have fully gotten the message about staying away from drugs at school, in the media or elsewhere. Even if they have heard it countless times, it will have more of an impact when delivered one-on-one and with you expressing your sincere concern.
- Don’t let them Go to Unsupervised Parties – Summertime often sees parties where teens take advantage of the fact that parents may be out of town, or when teens host parties outdoors in different locations away from the prying eyes of adults, and they do this for a reason. Make sure that there will be responsible adults present at any parties that your children might be going to.
- Maintain an Open Channel of Communication – After talking with your teens about drugs, make sure that they feel comfortable discussing the subject with you. To do this, you need to avoid making the talk a stern lecture; keep it relaxed and invite your child to share his or her views on the subject. The more communication you and your child can have on the subject, the better will be the understanding and the more that your child will want to avoid doing anything that would disappoint you.
- Keep Unsupervised Time to a Minimum – In all likelihood, there will be long hours during the work week when you will not be able to be there with your children to supervise their activities, but this doesn’t mean that you should just leave them to their own devices. Try to arrange things so that they’re with an adult as much as possible, whether at a friend’s house, coming with you to work, visiting with family, etc.
- Always Know Who They’re with and What They’re Doing – Your teen could easily spend most of the summer doing things you don’t have any idea about and spending time with friends you have never met, and you would have no idea what happened. Take the time to ask questions and keep tabs on their schedules and social scene.
- Point Out the Media Influence – Movies, TV, music, and video games are filled with references to drug use, and in many cases, the media not only normalizes drugs but makes them seem glamorous. Discuss this with your children to make sure that they’re aware of the message that’s being pushed, rather than passively accepting it as part of the show.
- Acknowledge and Reward Them – While you can focus on the things that your kids should not be doing, you should also pay attention to the good things that they do. By doing so, you can help to build up your child’s self-esteem and confidence, leading to a better outlook and overall level of happiness. If your child feels really loved and has a stable home life, there will be fewer reasons or excuses to use drugs.
- Help them Get Involved in Summer Activities – Summer break doesn’t have to mean idle days and aimless hours. In most areas of the country, there are plenty of activities going on, from organized sports to summer camps, to volunteer activities. By choosing fun and engaging activities that keep your teen occupied and interested, you can reduce the opportunity to get involved with drugs.
- Help Them Find a Job – If you can help your teen get a summer job, you can not only rest assured knowing that they will be busy and most likely supervised for much of the week, but also take stock in the fact that working and earning a paycheck can make an enormous difference in helping your teen to grow up. The responsibility of holding down a job can be a great deterrent to drug use.
- Set a Good Example – This is one of the most important things that you can do to help your teens avoid drug use. Don’t underestimate the effect that the things that you say and do have on shaping your children’s opinions and attitudes towards life. Be upbeat and driven, be compassionate and caring, and stay sober.
Fun summer activities
Summer is a great time for teens to enjoy different indoor and outdoor activities. Here are 20 fun summer activities that you can suggest to your teenagers to keep them safe and healthy while they enjoy the summer fun:
- Watch a classic old movie (like Sunset Boulevard or Rebel Without a Cause).
- Go to a thrift store or garage sale and find something fabulous for your wardrobe or room.
- Stargaze from on the roof, or pull your mattress out into the yard.
- Invent a new type of sandwich (peanut butter and salami?).
- Make a zine and put copies in all your friends’ mailboxes.
- Learn to cook something complicated, like macaroons or baked Alaska.
- Have a yard sale and sell your junk. ($$$!)
- Make a new playlist of the best tunes for your summertime soundtrack.
- Teach yourself some new dance moves (learn to moonwalk and pirouette).
- Take up the ukulele (or some other instrument).
- Do something kind for someone—a neighbor, a family member, or a complete stranger.
- Get artsy and draw, paint, or collage a portrait.
- Act like a tourist and visit the top attractions in your town.
- Climb a tree.
- Write and produce a film or play with your friends.
- Have a scream-a-thon (have a sleepover with friends and watch scary movies!).
- Re-create a childhood photo (you’re a lot bigger now).
- Go on a photo safari.
- Clean your room (just kidding!).
- Make your own list of things to do when you’re bored (with better ideas!).