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  • Tamara Ramsay-McCord, MSW student, Special Education Teacher

Summertime Support: How Parents Can Boost Teen Mental Health



Boy jumps cannonball style into pool



We are well into July and peak summer! The temperatures are rising, pools are open, and school is out! Summer is a time for fun, vacationing, and overall enjoying the good weather outdoors. Summertime for teens, specifically, may really be seen as a time of relaxation. It is important to keep in mind that stress is not confined to a specific age and teenagers most definitely may experience their most stressful moments during the school year. From academic stress, to stress related to peers, and even stress related to after-school activities or sports, teenagers can face many stressors daily. Summer break may be their only relief and time to reconnect with themselves. As parents, it is important to acknowledge this and understand that sometimes it is okay for teens to simply want to rest. 


Here are some tips to guide parents in promoting self-care for teens during the summer and ensuring they can make the most of these few weeks being free from responsibilities related to schooling.


Free Time

It is okay not to have every moment of the summer booked! Because teens have more free time, we should not assume they want every moment filled with activities to keep them busy. As parents, it is vital to create a summer that your teen will be able to enjoy. It can be so easy to get caught up in trying to produce “the best” summer but it is essential to keep your teens as part of the process. Incorporating their interests and desires promotes inclusion and strengthens the relationship with parents. Parents, it is okay if your teen decides they simply want to relax for the day in whatever form of relaxation is most comfortable to them. This can manifest as watching television, playing video games, reading a book, or simply staying in with family and friends. I encourage you as parents to allow your teens to express themselves, so long as it is done in a healthy manner. Balance is key in these instances.






Autonomy

Teens deserve their freedom too! Not only are these teens but also soon to be young men and women. The development and maintenance of their autonomy is pivotal in the growth process. Furthermore, autonomy is the root of self-determination which speaks to their mental health Status. Let teens make choices about their time and summer schedule to help develop this.


Maintaining Connections

There are so many contributing factors to someone’s mental health status and the connections in their life play a significant role. Staying connected with peers and trusted adults is crucial for teens’ mental health, especially during the summer months when regular school routines are paused. Parents can facilitate this by encouraging their teens to participate in summer camps, sports teams, or local clubs where they can interact with friends and mentors. Additionally, organizing regular get-togethers, like barbecues or movie nights, provides a relaxed environment for socializing. Virtual hangouts can also be a great way to keep in touch, especially for friends who are far away. Ensuring teens have opportunities to connect with their peers and trusted adults helps them feel supported and reduces feelings of loneliness and isolation.



As we embrace the joys of summer, let’s remember that free time, autonomy, and meaningful connections are vital to fostering positive mental health in our teens. Encourage your children to explore their interests, spend time with friends, and make memories together as a family. By being present, supportive, and understanding, you can create a summer filled with laughter, growth, and cherished moments. Enjoy the sunshine, the adventures, and most importantly, the time spent together. Here’s to a summer of happiness and mental well-being for you and your teens!

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