By Michael Klinkner, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
For most teens, the school year is remarkably busy. Balancing school, homework, sports, extracurricular clubs, religious events, etc., can leave little downtime to recharge their batteries. Summer is the perfect opportunity for teens to slow down and relax, but many teens (and their parents) feel the pressure to make the summer months productive.
Here are some great reasons to let your teen relax over the summer:
Decompressing is Good
Parents should not make their teens feel guilty for prioritizing downtime this summer. Doing nothing is actually really good for teens, in small doses. After the stress of finals, sitting around in their pajamas for a few days scrolling TikTok or binging Outerbanks is just fine. This kind of decompression allows a kid to restore their energy and relieve stress. Plus, a little boredom can be a positive thing. Lots of times it leads to artistic expression or encourages teens to engage in a hobby they haven’t had time to explore in a while.
Teens Need Sleep
Parents often fall into the trap of thinking a teen sleeping their day away is a bad thing. But middle and high schoolers are still in their growing period. During the school year, they are forced to stay up late to study and wake up early to make it to first period. Summertime is a chance to sleep late and follow their natural sleep rhythm. It’s important that kids still have some sort of bedtime schedule, but a parent can be more relaxed about wake-up times. Sleep and rest are important for replenishing energy, physically and mentally. And it is likely to send teens into the next school year more energized.
Family Time is Important
Whether it is a big family trip, a “staycation,” or just coming home early for dinner together, summertime is a great opportunity to reconnect as a family. When parents and kids spend unstructured time together it allows for deeper conversations and connections. Watching movies together, walking the dog, listening to music or just chatting about current events reinforces your relationship with your kids and reminds them you like them, in addition to loving them.
Balance is Beneficial
While some teens might be unable to embrace downtime, others may claim they need their whole summer to do nothing at all. The key is to find a healthy balance. Encourage your teens to spend time out of the house and even help them develop plans for how to spend that time. Give teens some freedom to choose and don’t present them with ultimatums. Too much of the school year is structured by adults and teens need to learn the life skill of organizing their own schedule.
Teens living at home for the summer should be expected to pitch in around the house – driving younger siblings to activities, doing laundry, straightening up after dinner, etc. Lots of parents feel their teen is too busy during the school year to pitch in around the house, but summer is the perfect time to revisit reasonable responsibilities
At the end of the day, it’s okay for your teen to be fairly unstructured and have lots of downtime over the summer. But, as a parent, you can provide guidance and still have a loose schedule that allows your teen to thrive over summer break.
Michael Klinkner is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Neurolinguistic Programming. He is also certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Klinkner provides individual, group and family therapy to children, adolescents and adults in Central Phoenix and Gilbert, Ariz. Klinkner focuses on treating a variety of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, trauma and ADHD. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/michaelklinknercounseling/ or https://instagram.com/michael_klinknercounseling