No idle hands this summer

Getting teens involved in a good cause IS a good cause

Have you checked out your teen’s Facebook page lately? Many parents might wonder if their offspring will ever become less self-absorbed. However, encouraging a teen to be involved in the world around him can offer a lesson in selflessness, while inspiring a positive future.

“Adolescence represents a period of change for the child and the parents,” says Richard E. Frates Jr., M.D., a board-certified pediatrician at Watson Clinic in Lakeland. “These changes are immense. As young people transition from childhood to adulthood, they struggle with self identity, that is, who they are and where they are going. This is an opportunity for parents to help guide their children to success in life.”

Here are some tips about teen motivation.

• Teens want to improve their world.

“Young people will grow in countless ways when they reach beyond themselves, reach out to others, and learn a key to happiness in life: Giving of oneself enriches the whole community,” Frates says.

• Teens want to take action.

“It is critically important for adolescents to participate in peer group social settings,” Frates says. “Church youth groups, chess clubs, sports teams, academic societies all offer young people opportunities. This exposes the children to people from other backgrounds and experiences. They can learn confidence and self esteem. The summer holiday is a great opportunity to get involved with the community. Call some friends and volunteer at the church, the YMCA, the local hospital.”

• Teens want to work with their friends.

“Working with others is a critical life skill, a skill to be practiced and honed as an adolescent,” Frates says.

Also, time spent working with friends can help with college admission. “Institutions of higher learning have competitive selection processes,” Frates adds. “Volunteering and working with others is an experience that these schools seek out in their applicants. Scholarships are often based, at least in part, on an applicant’s participation in these social interactions.

• Teens don’t want their parents to force them into volunteer programs.

They’re capable of developing their own projects, from inspiration to leadership and follow-through. However, if a teen invites a parent to join in an activity, say a car wash, do so. Parents can show approval and set a good example by getting involved.


story by BEV BENNETT

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