Provide structure for teens and tweens this summer
A few weeks before the end of my oldest daughter’s sophomore year of high school, I realized, We’re going to drive each other crazy if we’re both home together. I said, “Casey, how about if you get a job this summer? I’ll drive you up to Four Corners and you can fill out some applications.”
After two fights — one at home and one outside of the grocery store — she slammed the car door behind her. “I’ll pick you up here in an hour,” I said. She didn’t answer. “Did you hear me?” Casey nodded and stomped off. She applied at four stores and avoided Papa Gino’s. “I just couldn’t go in there. They looked too weird,” Casey reported. The next week, Casey started working at Boston Market. The job opened up all kinds of opportunities for her and her two younger brothers who followed in her footsteps. I had to use the power of expectation, encouragement and demand to get her to take the first step.
Teens and tweens need structure – some activities or work around which to structure their summer. It could be a combination of camp, contributing to the family, paid jobs and/or volunteer work. It needs to be something besides texting, sleeping until noon, and surfing the web. Start by having a family meeting and ask your children of all ages what their goals, plans and hopes for the summer. Make a list. Set a budget for special activities.
Talk about how they could contribute to the family for the summer , such as cooking dinner once a week, making dessert or salads a few times a week, caring for or driving younger siblings, cleaning, yard work, car care, house painting, painting their bedroom, a building, sewing or craft project, reading, writing, learning an instrument, computer repair, pet care and training. If they want to start a business or provide a service, help them with publicity by making a flyer and distributing it and putting up a website.
Negotiate what they’ll do for the family by what date, and hold them to it. Do not pay them unless they pay you for everything you do for them. Doing something for money is the lowest form of motivation. Appreciate their efforts loudly and often by saying, “The lawn looks great. Thanks.” “Dinner was delicious. I really appreciate coming home to a home-cooked meal at the end of the day.” “Do you need more thread for that project? I can pick it up for you on the way home tomorrow.”
Build on interests that they can do at home, online or outside the home. Teens will need help connecting to volunteer work, jobs working for neighbors and finding paid work. Call your network of friends, neighbors and co-workers to inquire about volunteer and paid work. Even two to four hours a week gives them a focus. Lookup telephone numbers for them. Assist them in filling out applications and rehearsing for interviews. Encourage them – which means, to give courage, especially as they are starting something new. “You can do it” are four of the most powerful words in the English language.
When my son Ian graduated from high school he had no summer job lined up. I was furious that he expected to loaf all summer before going to college. I opened up the phone book to “Moving companies” and began calling them until I got him a telephone interview with the owner of a small company who gave Ian a chance. He got some fantastic experience and built his confidence. By midsummer, Ian found another job working as a carpenter, through a friend-of-a-friend. It was easier work than moving. Ian had responded to my expectation and encouragement to work during the summer. It paid off in more ways than one.Explore posts in the same categories: chores, Family meetings, give choices, How chores empower children, summer vacation, teenagers, tweens comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.