While few among us are “Tiger Moms,” all parents hope that their kids will one day say, “Thanks mom, thanks dad, for helping me get to where I am today–feeling good about myself, having a great career, good friends, and fulfilling hobbies.”
Summer is a wonderful time to begin building this future, but life-spoiling dangers lurk around every bored corner. Here are some tips to make it a productive summer:
*ENCOURAGE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY: Being physically active is a great way to stay busy, healthy, and out of trouble. Studies show that when kids are involved in sports, aside from being in good physical shape they are also mentally sharp, possess better social skills, higher self-esteem, and have reduced anxiety levels. While there are many ways to be active without financial expense, if the way your child wants to exercise costs money, consider it an investment in his or her well-being.
*ENCOURAGE A HOBBY: Think “scratch-n-sniff.” Try to detect hints of a talent and encourage it (scratch) until it comes alive. Being good at something is a tremendous confidence booster and a wonderfully productive way to spend time. These pursuits will also enhance personalities and resumes! Remember that your teen’s interests may be far from your own, so you may have to educate yourself on his or her hobby in order to show honest enthusiasm.
*MAKE ‘EM GET A JOB: For so many reasons! 1.Earning a salary is a great feeling. 2. Jobs teach skills.3. Having a purpose to wake up for in the morning gives structure to your child’s time and encourages them to go to sleep earlier, thus less apt to be involved in a late-night, possibly trouble-filled activities. 4.Giving free money to a teen capable of earning is not the best policy, while the desire to have money is a great motivator. 5.Today’s job market is filled with many internship opportunities that can provide a great close-up look to your child’s field of interest and jumpstart his or her career.
*ENCOURAGE BEING A VOLUNTEER: Volunteering for a charity organization is a perfect way to network with people, stay busy, learn skills, be productive and positive, and feel great. Note: When kids at any age see their parents volunteering, chances are they will follow suit. The Mitzvah Man has many volunteer opportunities. Inquire at www.mitzvah-man.org.
*MAKE FAMILY TIME APPEALING: Create opportunities for the family to be together, and try your best to make it a pleasant experience for every age. Do whatever you can so that your teen is well- received among relatives and that the activities and conversations are appropriately engaging.
*ENCOURAGE YOUR KIDS TO HELP YOU: Humans are born with a clenched fist and must learn, as they grow, to open and give. It is not a natural tendency for a teen to want to teach you how to use the computer, help out around the house, or help you with your errands. You may have to struggle to get participation, but ultimately it is well worth the effort. The time together and their contributions will foster stronger connections with the family.
Have a wonderful summer! -The SAFE Foundation