How to Get Along with Your Teen Over the Summer: Tips from a Teen Psychologist

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Summer family vacation

Summer can be a challenging time for parents and teenagers. The structure of the school year is gone, and with it goes the predictable daily routine. While summer offers a fantastic opportunity for bonding and creating lasting memories, it can also lead to conflicts and misunderstandings. Here are some tips from a teen psychologist to help you and your teen get along and make the most of the summer months.

1. Open Communication

One of the most crucial aspects of any relationship is communication. Encourage open and honest conversations with your teen. Create a safe space where they feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and feelings without fear of judgment. Listen actively and show empathy towards their concerns. One of the 7 habits of highly effective people (Stephen Covey, 2020) is “Seek first to understand, then be understood.”  By showing that you care about what your teen thinks, you’ll build trust and mutual respect. 

  1. Set Clear Expectations

While summer is a time for relaxation, it’s essential to establish some ground rules. Discuss and agree on expectations regarding chores, curfews, and responsibilities. Involve your teen in this process to ensure they feel heard and valued. Setting clear expectations can prevent misunderstandings and help maintain a sense of order. A teen psychologist often suggests involving teens in decision-making to boost their sense of responsibility.

3. Plan Activities Together

Take advantage of the extra time during summer to plan activities that you can enjoy together. Whether it’s a family vacation, a day trip to the beach, hiking, or even cooking a meal together, shared experiences can strengthen your bond. Allow your teen to have a say in the planning process to ensure the activities are enjoyable for everyone. Also, allow your teen their own space to relax and unwind. They don’t need to do every activity with you and the family.

4. Respect Their Independence

Teenagers are at a stage where they crave independence and autonomy. It’s important to respect their need for personal space and time with friends. Encourage them to pursue their interests and hobbies, and support their efforts to explore new activities. Balancing togetherness with independence is key to maintaining a harmonious relationship. 

5. Encourage Lifelong Learning

Summer is an excellent time for your teen to explore new interests and learn new skills. Encourage them to take up a summer course, learn a musical instrument, or volunteer for a cause they care about. Lifelong learning not only keeps them engaged but also helps them develop a sense of purpose and achievement. According to teen psychologists, promoting lifelong learning helps teens develop confidence and resilience.

6. Be a Role Model

Your actions and attitudes have a significant impact on your teen. Demonstrate the values and behaviors you wish to see in them. Show respect, patience, and understanding in your interactions with others. By being a positive role model, you can positively influence your teen’s behavior and attitude.

  1. Manage Screen Time

While technology is an integral part of a teenager’s life, excessive screen time can lead to conflicts. Discuss and set reasonable limits on screen time, and encourage alternative activities that don’t involve screens. This could include outdoor sports, reading, or engaging in creative projects. Set boundaries around meal times, and going out with the family, and follow the same rules yourself as a parent.

8. Address Conflicts Calmly

Conflicts are inevitable, but how you handle them can make a significant difference. Approach disagreements calmly and avoid escalating the situation. Take a break if needed to cool down, and revisit the issue with a clear mind. Use conflicts as opportunities to model problem-solving and negotiation skills. These conflicts can be teachable moments for developing emotional intelligence.

9. Show Appreciation

Regularly express how much you appreciate your teen. Acknowledge their efforts and accomplishments, no matter how small. Positive reinforcement can boost their self-esteem and reinforce positive behavior. Teen psychologists know the value of positive reinforcement in building a teen’s self-worth. In fact, teens respond much better to positive feedback, than to negative feedback and punishment.

10. Enjoy the Moment

Lastly, remember to enjoy the time you have together. Summer is short, and these moments can create great memories for both you and your teen. Focus on building a strong and loving relationship. Dr. Steve, a teen psychologist says, “Focus on quality time with your teen. Do things with them that they would enjoy. Then, when the teen is asked how their summer was, they will remember the positive interactions with you, their parent, instead of the conflict.”