Your child’s teenage years are filled with exciting firsts and important milestones: new friends, prepping for college or travel, prom, and more.
As a parent, you know that these were formative years in life and essential for building confidence and self-esteem later in adulthood.
As communities begin to reopen, now is an excellent opportunity to get to your teen’s summer bucket list that’s been on hold the past year.
Many teens have struggled with mental health during this pandemic, and have had to adapt to remote learning, virtual graduations, and isolation from their friends.
And as you prepare them to re-enter school, work, and other social activities, there are plenty of ways to increase your teen’s self-esteem and build their resilience moving forward. It’s time to shake up boring routines, get outdoors, and start the summer off with a bang!
Here are some fun summer activities for teens you can try out to get them out of their comfort zones and into new adventures.
Re-Establish Routines (Or Make New Ones)
In a recent poll by a Children’s Hospital in Michigan, 3 out of 4 parents have noticed changes in their teen’s mental health since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“Pandemic-related lifestyle changes have wreaked havoc on teens’ lives, with many experiencing disruptions to their normal routines,” said Gary L. Freed M.D., the co-director of the poll and pediatrician at the hospital.
One way to combat this is to re-establish simple routines in the home, or make new ones that fit your family’s lifestyle.
As Dr. Freed suggests, many of these routines have been lost during the past year. It can positively improve your teen’s day to pick these back up again.
You can help your teens do these items themselves, and you might even help the rest of the family realign in the process.
In the morning:
- Make the bed and tidy up the room
- Go for a short walk around the block
- Sit down for a healthy, filling breakfast
- Brush and floss teeth
- Make a to-do list for the day
- Do a 5-minute meditation
- Take a shower and put on a clean outfit
In the evening:
- Power down devices 1 hour before bed
- Read a book
- Do some self-care (skin care routines, candles, etc.)
- Listen to relaxing music
- Brush and floss teeth (also a great time for teeth whitening kits!)
- Take time to journal and reflect on the day
- Make some tea or have a glass of water
To bring more structure to the week, you can also pick special days for certain activities. For example, LeBron James is a big fan of Taco Tuesday, and enjoys making tacos with his family every week.
This not only helps the days look a little different (we know they can blend together when you’re at home all the time), it can also get your teens excited to cook and create memories each week.
You can help your teen by writing these routines down together and brainstorming fun things to do as a family like Taco Tuesday, Take-Out Friday, or a weekly hike to their favorite spot.
Building up a healthy oral routine each can also boost their confidence, as they’ll be ready to take off their masks soon enough and light up a room with their smiles!
Get Your Teens Outside
We’ve all seen the effects of being cooped up inside for too long. Research over the past year suggests that teens have particularly dealt with more mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and fatigue from too much screen time for school.
While public venues are still slowly opening back up, you can take full advantage of the outdoors with your teens safely this summer.
Some communities are rolling out new open space programs for kids, like Philadelphia’s Playstreets Program which became a huge hit last year.
The city even closed off streets to traffic and built hundreds of play areas, games, and provided snacks for kids. The impact was enormous.
“You can’t cancel summer for kids, you just can’t. There has got to be a safe way for us to save summer for the kids of Philadelphia,” said Philadelphia Parks and Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell.
Whether your city is implementing outdoor facilities, you can encourage your teens to get outside this summer and play.
Some ideas for outdoor activities:
- Sidewalk chalk
- A game of baseball or kickball in the park
- Socially distant games like Corn Hole and Ladder Toss
- Plant a garden or pick up trash in the neighborhood with friends
- Host an outdoor movie night
- Set up a tent and camp in the backyard
- Go on a hike to a place you’ve never been
- Set up a hammock for outdoor reading
- Build an outdoor obstacle course
Our brains and bodies thrive outdoors. your teen can certainly benefit from being outside and engaging with friends in the neighborhood.
As long as you’ve got sunscreen at the ready, you’re good to go!
Create New Experiences with Your Teen
Your teen has likely missed out on certain milestones this past year like prom, graduation, and seeing friends. You can help them by celebrating new ones or creating experiences to encourage them through difficult circumstances.
With a break from school, they’ll have more time to do the things they love.
Here are some unique ways to engage with your teen:
- Build a healthy reward system around school work (1 completed homework assignment = 1 hour TV/phone time)
- Create a custom graduation banner for the front lawn
- Learn how to play their favorite games and activities
- Make a family Tik Tok account
- Do remote school on the road for a few weeks
- Go to a drive-through movie together
There are infinite possibilities when it comes to making lasting memories with your teen. All you need is a little creativity and a willingness to try something new.
Prioritize Your Teen’s Health
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Putting your teen’s health first is a great way to boost self-esteem and maintain a positive outlook on life.
Some teens have even taken to the popular app Tik Tok to get access to mental health professionals and share their stories through the pandemic.
This might also mean making sure they get plenty of sleep and exercise, or planning healthy meals with them throughout the week.
You’ll want to build back up those regular healthy oral habits too, so that they feel confident when seeing (and smiling!) at their friends again.
To keep their teeth healthy for any occasion, you can make them an on-the-go ortho smile kit equipped with flossers, a travel toothbrush, toothpaste, mirror, and ortho wax.
You might also suggest braces-friendly gum or a tongue brush to freshen their breath behind their masks. That way, when they can take them off they’ll be ready for any social interaction big or small.
Help Your Teen Build Self-Esteem with a Great Smile
When your teens feel good on the inside, they’ll feel even better as they move through challenges and difficult situations.
You can help your teen gain self-esteem and excel in social situations by helping them get a bright and confident smile.
Summer is a great time to build back up healthy oral routines and find new activities that the whole family will love and enjoy. And when your teen is healthy and happy the possibilities for fun are endless.
Not to mention all the selfies they’ll want to take with their friends again!