DARIEN, Conn. -- With summer vacation in full swing, students are able to relax and unwind, leaving behind the daily demands of the school year. However, as much as everyone loves the freedom of long, warm summer nights, vacation can come with its own share of stressors for struggling teens.
Changes in routine often are difficult to cope with, and adjusting from a school to summer schedule can be challenging for everyone in a family. Children and teens suddenly have more time on their hands, which can lead to increased demands on parents. Experts at Newport Academy, an adolescent treatment facility that operates a campus in Darien, explain how to get the most out of summer vacation while strengthening family bonds.
Unplug as often as possible. For teens today, summer vacation can become one long, unending digital distraction, with an endless supply of things to watch. According to recent statistics, eight to 12-year-olds spend six hours a day in front of screens, teenagers spend nine hours a day and 17 percent of children under age eight use mobile devices on a daily basis. "Parents may feel helpless to stop their kids' social media habits, but there are ways to prevent this obsession," said Kristin Wilson, director of clinical outreach at Newport Academy. "Little things like making meal times a 'tech free zone' or keeping your phone off as often as possible can go a long way."
Get outside together. As well as getting kids off their screens, spending time outdoors is healthy for the mind, body and spirit. Taking a walk or a swim when you’re feeling irritable or down can totally transform your mood and that goes for grumpy teens and restless kids as well. "It's proven that spending time outside reduces anxiety and depressive thoughts," said Wilson. "A hike or a visit to the waterpark is a great way for teens to unplug and relax."
Take more time to talk. An ongoing, meaningful connection between kids and parents is one of the most powerful factors in supporting teen mental and physical health. "Summer offers a chance to reconnect after the busy school year," said Wilson. "It's important to balance their freedom with home structure. However, just talking a few minutes a day can help both parents and children."
For more information about Newport Academy or to find a campus near you, click here.