SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Lifestyle

June 7, 2013

Dr. Kate's Parent Rap: No summer plans for tweens and teens? Don’t panic

Many parents ask me for help figuring out what to do about their tweens and younger teens who have no plan for the summer.

Kids in this age group want freedom during their summer break, but they need help finding a balance that includes productive ways to use their unstructured time. Age-wise, they’re stuck in the middle. Typically, they don’t have jobs because they’re too young, but they’re too old for some things that used to work but might not work anymore, like summer programs that cater to younger kids. Working parents want to know: can my child handle being home without adult oversight?

What can these in-between-age children do? Here are some suggestions:

Help your child use the Web to get the word out that he or she can do odd jobs. With your supervision they can post their availability to work within the community. For example, my town has a parents’ Facebook page where many kids post (through their parents) their availability to baby-sit, walk dogs, do yard work, be a mother’s helper, etc.

Get them involved in the community. Service opportunities on the North Shore include the Open Door Food Pantry and Beverly Bootstraps. Boston Cares has statewide volunteer opportunities listed on their website (bostoncares.org).

If you belong to a local church or synagogue, ask the minister or rabbi if there are volunteer projects that your child can engage in.

Have them get creative with a new program. Software programs come with video and written instructional manuals and can be self-taught by a tech-savvy tween or younger teen.

Encourage them to start an exercise routine. Everybody could use this. If they are hesitant, set them up with a couple of training sessions through the local YMCA or a gym to get them going.

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