Beating Summer Boredom – Tips for Tweens
By Staff Writer
Young people between 10 and 15 years of age are sometimes the most difficult to entertain over the summer. They aren’t quite old enough to spend extended periods of time home alone but they’re too young to drive or get a summer job.
But summer opens up valuable opportunities for tweens – a chance to develop practical skills outside the classroom and explore interests the busy school year schedule doesn’t allow. Here are a few ideas to get your tween active and engaged this summer:
Start a Club with Friends or Family. If your tween is bored, she is probably not alone. Your tween’s friends, cousins, siblings, and neighbors are probably spending more time in front of the television than they would like, too. Find out if anyone is interested in forming a club, possibly a book club, running club, or any other type of club that evokes a shared interest. Set aside one night a week for the designated activity and keep it interesting by alternating who hosts, who prepares snacks or a meal for the event, and who chooses the next activity.
Get an Age-Appropriate Job. Since many families take summer vacations, this may be an ideal time for your child to offer his services to people you know and trust in the community. For example, kids in their early teens are usually responsible enough to baby-sit for an evening, pet-sit or house-sit for the neighbors when they’re out of town, mow lawns, wash cars, deliver newspapers, and so on. Not only will your tween enjoy having some extra pocket money, but he’ll be learning responsibility, budgeting, time management, and other life skills that will prepare him for more responsible roles in the coming years. Tweens may also be able to volunteer as “aides” in local parks and recreation programs, with the added benefit of using the pool, gym, sporting areas, and other amenities for free.
Keep up the Chores. Summer shouldn’t be all hard work and no play, but there’s no reason tweens can’t keep up their share of the household chores. After all, earning a small allowance will be more important than ever, now that your tween has more time on her hands to shop, go out with friends, see movies, and enjoy herself. Offer up household “projects” as extra incentives, such as cleaning the refrigerator, organizing the closets, or helping to clear out the garage.
Find Activities in Your Community. If you live in close proximity to museums, amusement parks, state fairgrounds, or other sites of interest, schedule an outing once a week with your own family or groups of families to shake up the weekly routine. You will all benefit from getting active and spending time together, while learning something in the process. If the closest attraction is a park or restaurant, schedule a family picnic or special lunch date.
Make Time for Traditional Favorites. Reading, art projects, playing outside, and trips to the park or local pool have stood the test of time as favorite summer pastimes. Whenever your tween complains of boredom or appears to be spending too much time in front of the television or computer, throw out one of these old favorites as an option.
Enroll in Summer Camp. Tweens are at the perfect age to start creating happy memories of summer at camp, whether at dance camp, sports camp, cheer camp, wilderness camp, or a camp for kids with special needs. Summer camp provides kids and younger teens with opportunities to play and “just be kids” before the pressures of high school and college really set in. Between campfires, games, sports, art projects, and laughing with bunk mates, kids rarely feel bored or homesick and most are anxious to return year after year.
A bored tween is one who finds trouble, deciding it is worth trying anything to alleviate a summer of boredom. According to research by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, there is a 40 percent increase in the number of youth who smoke pot for the first time during June and July. Underage drinking and cigarette smoking are also more popular during the summer months. One way or another, tweens will find a way to fill their days – make sure you have some say in how that happens.