Spring Break Tips

Spring break is typically an exciting week for teens and a week of worry for parents. Here are a few tips on how to keep teens excited and take some of the worry out of Spring break:
1. Establish rules and consequences: Even if you have established rules and consequences in your home, spring break is a great time to review the rules (general behavior, household rules, curfew, chores etc…) and the consequences that come with breaking the rules. You may even wish to set up a parent/teen contract just so everyone understands and agrees.
2. Keep them busy. Bored teenagers with too much time on their hands is a recipe for trouble. You do not have to entertain them every second of every day but if you will plan ahead with specific chores, projects, and activities that include them in a positive way they will be less likely to find less desirable activities. Make sure you allow them balanced time of family/friends and work/play.
3. Be reasonable and realistic. It would be wonderful if our teenagers would rise early, have breakfast with us, clean the house and watch their siblings (while we go to work), and be happy to stay home with the family for dinner and family time. Let’s face it, this is not reasonable or realistic. So while trying to establish the 2 tips above consider and discuss what rules are reasonable and what consequences you will realistically follow through on. Be reasonable and realistic with their chores, time, and activities. (This is not to say be manipulated in to “but mom/dad it’s spring break”)
4. Remain open to negotiation: If teens are allowed to have an opinion and participate in creating the rules and consequences they are more apt to follow them. Even if the results are the same, a teen will appreciate being a part of a discussion and not another lecture. Teens benefit from contracts also.
5. Remain in contact and informed. Unlike the old days when every teenager used the excuse (at least once in their lifetime) they were not near a phone and couldn’t call, if your teen does not have a cell phone I guarantee 9 out 10 of their friends do. Get the phone numbers of their friends and their friends parents. Know where they are going to be and how long they will be there. Have specific times they need to check in with you, and if their plans change (and they do) they are responsible to call and inform you (or there will be consequences).
6. Talk about concerns: Even if you feel your teen is trustworthy now may be a great time to discuss sensitive issues that may concern you like alcohol, tobacco, sex, or drugs. Let you teen know even if you trust them you do not know who they may come in contact with and you just want to make sure they protect themselves. You may even want to make sure if they are attending parties they are aware of such things as:

  • Date rape drugs or spiked drinks. Not to drink from punch bowls or already opened drinks.
  • Alcohol. Do not drive, or be alone, with someone who has been drinking.
  • Drugs. If drugs are present they are leave! or call you and you will help them.
  • Sex. Stay in groups. Never leave a friend alone. Abstinence. etc…

These topics may be difficult for some parents/teens. They can be addressed in a positive and educational way. Remember, they may know everything but you will feel better knowing they are getting correct information from you and not finding out the hard way they could have done things differently.

7. “There is always a choice”. Let your teen know they always have a choice. Some choices are not always as clear as right/wrong or black/white. Let them know you are available to them if they need help making a choice. Peer pressure can be brutal. I often tell my teens if they are in an uncomfortable situation and do not feel they can stand up for themselves they can use me as an excuse. I’m ok with them telling their friends, “I can’t my parents will kill me” or “my parents are going to be here any minute” or “my parents won’t allow me”. I am ok with their friends not liking me if it keeps my teen safe.

8. Make Spring Break Fun! Share time with your teen and your family. Build fun and exciting memories with your family. Spring cleaning can even be fun and memorable if you approach it properly and everyone participates. Memories do not have to be made of beach vacations, you can build them right in your own home/neighborhood.

9. Be positive! Every day is a good day to tell your child how much you love them and how proud you are of them. (ps. positive self esteem also helps them be stronger in difficult situations)