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Constructive Use of Teens’ Time (part 1)

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More on youth development and the 40 Developmental Assets needed by 12 to 18 year olds, as described by the Search Institute.

1) Creative Activities: where teens spend three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts.
Hand down a hobby. Teach a young person a skill, such as quilting, carpentry, or gardening.

Help your children—at every age—to find positive outlets for their creative energy. These could include classes, crafts, physical activities, drama or more.

If you played an instrument when you were younger, take a refresher course. Then set a good example and practice often. Or join a choir, try out for a play, pick up a paintbrush or write a poem. Share your excitement with your children.

2) Youth Programs: where teens spend three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in community organizations.
Scouts and other youth groups are great places for young people to build strong, supportive relationships. Explore youth group opportunities available in your area.

Suggest that your teen join a local organization for the summer as a counselor or mentor for children.

Encourage your teens to be involved in some out-of-school programs or activities. If they aren’t interested in options at school, help them identify and research opportunities in your community. Carefully chosen part-time jobs or volunteer situations can be tremendously worthwhile.

If you think it would help your child, look into a formal mentoring program through your school or a community organization.

Many programs can match teens with an adult who will be a supporter and friend for years to come. Many young people have an interest in clubs and organizations at school that do fund raising for causes worldwide. Encourage their leadership and participation.

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.