Teens tend to have more free time in the summer and there is a strong correlation between free time and risk-taking among teens. This could mean rock and bridge jumping in rivers or lakes, extreme watersports, or off-road activities out at Greenhorn. It could also mean the temptation to experiment with alcohol, marijuana or sexual activity. Short of locking them up, there is no silver bullet to prevent any of the above. Parents of teens know that the chances of something going awry are pretty good. It does not however, have to be as a result of a lack of planning.
If you are a parent or have teens in your life consider this reducing risks plan for summer:
Plan 1 – Do a home inventory: With school out for summer, it’s likely that your home could turn into a hang out spot for your teen and their friends. Inventory what you have around the house that could potentially pose a risk or be a temptation for experimentation. It could be alcohol, tobacco, prescription medications, or even medical marijuana. Now is a good time to think about how you can limit access to these substances. It may be time to consider a locking cabinet, or another secure location that you can monitor. Also, did you know that you can safely dispose of expired or unwanted prescription medications for free? Visit DrugFreeNevadaCounty.org for safe disposal locations.
Plan 2 – Prepare for boredom: With the routine of daily school activities suspended for the summer months, before you know it you your likely to get a call on the phone while you’re at work asking to go to place A, with friend B, whom you’ve actually never met, but is a friend of friend C, whom you know quite well. And oh by the way, they’ll be home before you get home, and they’ll keep their cell phone on. Most teens are inherently honest and able to resist potential negative influences of peers and wild ideas— However, they can still sense weakness and, if they can get their otherwise logical parent who normally would insist on all facts and details with 24-hour notice to budge in this one moment, the door is open for compromise. Work with your teen to make plans in advance and stick with the 24-hour notice rule for activity outside of the home. If friend B is really that important to your teen, they’ll make plans within your guidelines. While most Nevada County teens say they don’t need alcohol or drugs to have fun, peer influence, boredom, hot summer days, and hormones can be a recipe for mischief.
Plan 3 – Have A Plan for FUN and Down Time – Endless surveys of teens show that they are often more worried, more stressed and more over-extended than any other teen generation that has come before them. Sleeping a few days away is not going to be the end of your bright-eyed sassy teenager. Spending time with an approved list of friends hanging aimlessly at the river or lakes may be just what they need to decompress and refocus. Plan in advance for ways that you and your teenager can do just that – relax. Don’t forget to keep them informed of appropriate behavioral expectations before turning them loose by having a conversation with them before they go out with friends and check in to see how their day went. Teens want their voices to be heard and it’s a nice reminder to them that you care what they’re doing and who they’re associating with by asking them if they had fun and what they did.
Have a safe, well-planned summer.
Encourage your teen to attend events and spend time with other teens who are having fun! For information on NEO Summer Events…CLICK HERE