Making the Most of Summer Free Time

The one thing that all children and adolescents look forward to all year is here once again... SUMMER VACATION. Summer usually is a time of more freedom for children and adolescents with less supervision than they have during the school year.  Yet for parents who are working, summer freedom often means added worry, especially about safety and the choices your sons and daughters are faced with.  

The best way to make the most out of summer time for your child or adolescent is to involve them in some kind of structured, supervised activities. Whether they participate in summer school, day camp programs, volunteer programs, or recreational activities, it is important to keep them busy. This is important not only to keep them out of trouble, but to also make their summer experiences fun, rewarding, socially healthy, and safe.  

Pre-teens and teens are especially at risk for getting into unfavorable situations during the summer. They may need more direction and support because they are less likely to be supervised.  During summer time there are usually a higher level of accidents involving teenagers, including motor vehicle accidents and swimming accidents.  Additionally, teens are more likely to be presented with temptations to smoke cigarettes, use drugs or alcohol, and engage in sexual activity during the summer.  

Now is the time to talk with your son or daughter about your family values, and what you expect of them. Discuss what rules you expect them to follow while not under your supervision and discuss what safety measures you expect them to follow if something should happen.  Also, talk to them about ways to make appropriate choices and think for themselves.  Most importantly, help them figure out ways to avoid negative temptations and what to say and do when faced with peer pressure or an unfavorable situation.  

If you do not have plans set in place for your son or daughter, it is not too late.  The Parks & Recreation Programs in each city offer numerous activities including sports, arts, music, swimming, etc.  These are usually supervised, structured activities offered at a nominal fee.  Also the YMCA offers day and weekly camps for children and volunteer/community service programs for teenagers, including teen leadership programs. For teenagers, volunteering can be a rewarding experience, especially at a hospital setting or a local animal shelter.

When your child or teen is involved in a positive experience, it can help them make new friends, find new hobbies, and feel good about themselves. 

Have a relaxing and safe summer vacation!

Information has been compiled from various
educational and counseling resources