No caretaker of adolescents has to
be told that it can be a challenging and often thankless job. No longer small
children, but most definitely not adults, teenagers provide a quandary when it
comes to looking after their physical, mental, and emotional needs. And while
an actual teenager might shrug those concerns off as no big deal, adults
shouldn't let these issues slide. Alarming new studies indicate that mental
health problems among adolescents are on the rise. Even more disturbing, these
studies indicate that these problems have manageable causes, like academic
pressure, and sleep deprivation. While some of these problems must be dealt
with at the source, other teens can be helped with involvement in group
The Benefits of Joining
Encouraging a teen to consider taking part in an organized group sport seems a natural and automatic solution to getting a moody and sedentary teen out of his or her room and the house. And the benefits of taking part in structured physical activity are many and obvious. But not all children are natural athletes, and not all organized school athletic programs are especially appealing. Fortunately, with the introduction of athletic administration master’s degree programs, more and more school systems are producing athletic programs that are more varied, more inclusive, and better administered. And like all other group activities, in addition to physical fitness, these athletics offer opportunities for social interaction, experience in conflict resolution, and a possible foot up in getting into that desired college. Still, sports aren't the best fit for all teens, so what are some other options to consider?
Other Social Programs for Teenagers
Travel and "policy" programs like Global Leadership Adventures, allow for a safe, limited, Peace Corps like experience for adventurous teens that can also enhance future college and employment applications. Academic "clubs" like debate teams or Mathlete groups are a fun way to combine scholastic challenge with socializing, and often involve travel, as well. Service organizations like Special Olympics often regularly recruit "conventional" teenagers to assist with these events in a multitude of ways, and these experiences can be applied to school and work applications, too. And finally, from model airplanes to bird watching, and from Justin Bieber to Star Wars, there's a big group of kids out there eager to get together to enjoy their hobbies.
Caregivers should note that these suggestions apply only to teenagers needing mild to moderate guidance in enhancing social opportunities. Are teenagers genuinely struggling with socializing or other issues? Other more formal programs are available for them, and their caretakers are urged to take advantage of them to help their favorite young people help themselves.