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How to Keep Teenagers Busy

by Jaimie Zinski

Summer vacation, winter break and spring break are the three times a year teenagers relish. Long stretches away from the structure of school provide teenagers with hours of unoccupied time to fill, and the task of filling them is often heaped on the parent. The Women's and Children's Health Network recommends parents help teenagers discover pastimes and pursuits that are mentally engaging, but not so challenging they become frustrated and quit. From landing a summer job to discovering their philanthropic side, the options for teens are limitless.

Help your teen find a part-time job. Check Internet job boards or ask the school's guidance counselor for any opportunities in the area. Whether it's the weekend shift at a grocery store or helping around the house for extra money, a part-time job helps stave off boredom while teaching teens a lesson responsibility, according to the Aspen Education Group, an organization that aims to improve the lives of youth and their families.

Help your teenager find a new hobby or passion. For instance, if your teenager is involved in football, encourage him to try out for the baseball team or the drama club once the season is over. Whatever you choose, try to ensure that it's something that will keep your teen's interest in the long run.

Encourage your teenager to volunteer his time with a charity. For instance, a pet-loving teen could volunteer to walk dogs at a animal shelter. If your teen was moved by images of a natural disaster, suggest he volunteer for relief organization in your area such as the Red Cross.

Start an exercise program with your teen. According to KidsHealth, exercise lifts a teen's mood while keeping them occupied and engaged. It's also an enjoyable way for parents and teens to connect. Turn the experience into a game by suggesting a friendly wager to your teenager. For instance, if your teenager agrees to stick with the exercise program for a set amount of time, offer to buy him a cellphone or that video game he's been after. If you don't stick with the program, the teenager is allowed to take something precious of yours for a set time, such as a prized handbag or set of golf clubs.

Suggest your teen enroll in a summer class through a community college or recreation department. Peruse the course catalog and choose an activity together based on your teen's schedule and interests. For instance, encourage a sports fanatic to sign up for a martial arts or a fitness and wellness course. A music lover might enjoy a summer or after-school course in song writing or theory.

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