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How to Plan a Day of Social Team Building for Teenagers

by Erica Loop

While your teen may seem aloof or distant when it comes to you and your family, she is probably much more social around her friends. Teenagers, according to KidsHealth, are growing increasingly independent in terms of the parent-child relationship and more reliant on their friends and peers. Although your teen may crave the companionship of her friends, she may not always act as a team player. Team building activities can help your teen and her friends work together, consider other people's views and help each other achieve a common goal. Plan a day's worth of team building that will help the group come together and work as one.

Start off with an ice breaker as an introductory activity to help each group member to feel more comfortable with each other. Act as the group leader, giving the directions to the kids. Ask each teen to write one general question on a piece of paper, such as "What is your favorite birthday memory?" or, What is your favorite books and why?" Fold the pieces of paper, place them into a hat and instruct each teen to choose one piece. Open the papers, then have the teens answer their chosen questions one at a time.

Play a ball toss game to help the teens remember everyone's names. Avoid simply giving the teens name tags -- it's likely that they won't want to ruin their cute outfits with silly-looking "Hello, My Name Is..." stickers. Instruct the teens to stand in a circle around you. Say your name, then toss the ball to one of the teens. Ask the teen to say your name, then her name. Move out of the center of the circle and have the teen throw the ball to any other group member. Tell the next member to say all of the names before hers, then add her name at the end. Continue on in this pattern until everyone has had a chance.

Create a group art project such as a team collage or a mural. Roll out a large piece of butcher paper or plain gift wrap to use as a base. Page through magazines for themed pictures. For example, if your day of activities if for your teen's basketball team, have the kids look for pictures of athletes or sporting equipment. Ask the teens to work together to create one cohesive picture.

Give the teens the option to paint a mural that features one central theme, such as their school group or sports team, instead of -- or in addition to -- making a collage. Roll out another piece of butcher paper. Brainstorm specific ideas, then have the teens select a part of the mural to paint. Provide each teen with a paintbrush and non-toxic craft or tempera paints to compete the craft.

Play a sport. Choose a flag football game, soccer or go with a relay-style or obstacle course race in which the kids have to work together to make it to the finish line. Split the group into two teams. Start a soccer or flag football game, playing at least two 15-minute halves. Finish the sports activities with a relay-race or obstacle course. Set up backyard obstacles such as an army-training course that includes crawling through a muddy yard or getting each team member up a climbing wall. Encourage the teen team members to help each other through the course, making it to the finish line together as a group.

Close your day of team building with another group activity. Invite the teens to say what they learned about themselves and the other team members during the day's games, sports and crafts.

Items you will need
  • Softball or other ball
  • Rolled paper
  • Craft paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Pens or markers
  • Scissors
  • Magazines
  • Glue

Tip

  • Let your teen, and possibly even her friends, help you to plan the day. Ask the kids what team activities they think would work well.

Warnings

  • Avoid making anyone feel isolated or like an outcast. Insist that everyone join in during all activities.
  • If you are using a question-and-answer approach for an ice breaker, instruct the teens to not ask embarrassing or overly-personal questions, such as when did a certain person have her first kiss.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

Photo Credits

  • Barry Austin/Photodisc/Getty Images