As a parent, you’re engaged in your child’s life. You don’t want your child to be bored, but you also don’t want them spending too much time sitting in front of a screen. You might not understand what kinds of activities your teenager finds engaging, though. You’ve probably spent enough time with your teenager to know whether they enjoy things like family game nights and road trips, but it can still be hard to find some effective everyday activities.
In this article, we’ll explain how to pick good activities for teenagers and go through several fun group activities which your teen might enjoy too. First, let’s quickly discuss why it’s important for teens to be entertained the right way.
The Teen Mind
Finding activities for teenagers is much easier when you understand the teen mind. Teens are barely halfway through maturing, and they work differently than older or younger people. One of the major challenges with finding fun games for teens is that teens simply aren’t predictable as a consequence of their brain’s uneven development. No matter how mature and intellectual your teen may seem, they’re still prone to Homer Simpson style mistakes because they can’t inhibit their behaviors reliably.
The consequences of brain development on keeping your teen busy are extensive. While some teens may have the ability to direct their focus toward reading books for pleasure or playing chess, it isn’t reasonable to expect every teen to have the capacity to perform these activities reliably. You need to find a few different activities which can be slotted into your teen’s life to match the different moods and ability levels that they have.
What to do when you are bored is a major issue for teens. Teens haven’t developed their full intellectual and emotional capabilities, and so they may end up being bored more frequently than other people if they haven’t learned how to entertain themselves. Likewise, when they do learn to entertain themselves, it may be in unhealthy ways, so as a parent you’ll want to intervene. It’s important to have a replacement activity in hand if you intervene, however.
Make sure that your proposed replacement is genuinely interesting, too. Removing your teen’s video games and offering them a dry book to read won’t go over well – but something engaging like knitting or painting might do the trick. Likewise, if your child likes to create things, don’t be afraid to give them license to experiment.
When you express to your teen that you have faith in their ability to enjoy and faithfully execute the actions of a given activity, you boost their self-esteem and make them think that they are capable enough to engage with something.
Building your teen’s self-esteem by picking the right activities is more important than it may seem because of the unique challenges of adolescence.
A lot of typical activities are a bit more challenging for teens than they would be otherwise. Teens are often experiencing changes in their bodies which make unpredictable activities difficult or embarrassing. Likewise, teens are still experimenting with their self-concept, which can make them find certain activities painfully uncool, especially if an adult suggests them. You should look for activities for teenagers with an open mind and compile a large list of potential candidates.
Sometimes, an added challenge is just the thing that your teen needs. For activities like meditation, teens will get cognitive and emotional rewards the harder they struggle to control their mind’s wandering and identify their emotions.
Much like with exercise, starting your teen off with meditation early on will help them to preserve the habit for the rest of their life and experience many benefits that will improve the quality of their life. Meditation is especially helpful for teens because it can smooth out their emotional highs and lows.
Likewise, meditation can help teens to deal with the changes to their body. Whether you decide to start your teen with body-oriented or focus-oriented meditation is up to you, but most teens will have an easier time tuning into their body’s feelings than their mind.
Don’t be afraid to pitch a list of activities at your teen, one at a time. If your child shoots an idea down, ask for a reason. You can decide whether to negotiate with your teen or to let the idea drop, but the idea is to defuse oppositional behavior from your teen so exercise your best judgment.
Furthermore, don’t be afraid to pitch nerdy or sporty things to your teen if they seem to exhibit the opposite personality. Avoid typecasting your teen into activities which seem to fit the personality type that they present, and they’ll thank you later. It’s critical to build a broad base of experiences at an early age.
You should also favor picking activities which get your teen outside and active. Just like adults of all ages, teens need a lot of exercise to be healthy and happy. Your teen will also have the frame of mind to build a healthy habit of exercising for life if you get them started early. Solo outside activities include jogging, calisthenics, biking, swimming, hiking, climbing, and fishing. You should help your teen find an outdoor activity that they’re interested in to ease them into the process.
As a final note, make sure that your teen applies suntan lotion when they perform outdoor activities – preserving skin is yet another great skill that teens should learn early.
Activities like bowling can be great games for teens provided that your teen has a caring group of friends or family to play with. Bowling is active, social, gently competitive, offers room for self-improvement, and gets your teen out of the house for a few hours. Bowling is also fairly inexpensive, which means that it can fit a teen’s budget, or to your budget.
Other activities like card games can be a great way of teaching your teen social skills while also teaching them a fun game. In particular, complex card games like Magic: The Gathering may be better for teens to play with their peers than games for wider audiences like Canasta or Hearts. Let your teen decide.
Going to concerts with your teen can be another great social activity. By attending concerts, your teen grows their understanding of how to behave in public, and just might gain an appreciation for music, too. Make sure that your child is attending the kind of concerts that you’re comfortable with them attending. You may want to accompany your child to the first couple of concerts to make sure that there isn’t anything untoward going on that might impact your child.
Cultural venues like art museums are yet another great opportunity for your teen. Art museums teach your teen an aesthetic sense, and often provide them with some historical background, too. Other museums can be as interesting as art museums, however. If your child isn’t into art, try a museum of natural history, an aviation museum, or a historic site’s museum. Helping your teen find their intellectual interests early on in life will be something that they can carry with them for the rest of their life.
For a more work-oriented set of social activities, you may be interested in gamifying household chores. Doing the dishes will not seem interesting to a teen, but if you provide an open incentive for anyone to do the dishes – say, a can of soda or something similar – you’ll find takers relatively quickly. Likewise, if you provide the right set of incentives, you can turn your teen into the star of the household such that they continue to do it when they eventually leave the nest.
Activities For Life
It’s important to establish healthy habits for your teen.
With every new activity that you try out with your teen, look out for them in the long term. Sometimes the best way to look out for your teen is telling them that it’s okay to do activities that are purely for fun and not used for any other purpose once in a while. Remember that you need to teach your teen when it’s appropriate to do these just-for-fun activities and when it’s a better idea to be doing an activity that is engaging and centered on self-improvement.
Keep activities and games in the right perspective. Your teen faces a lot of pressure in their daily life, and things that they do outside of school or work should help to ease that pressure rather than contribute to it.
Think carefully about setting your teen up with a competitive or overly stressful activity that doesn’t contribute a huge amount to their growth. When in doubt, try asking your teen what they think they’d like to do. When you and your teen work together, you’ll find that it’s much easier to raise them and your family will thank you as a result.