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Constructive Use of Teens’ Time (part 2)

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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.

3) Religious Community: where teens spend one hour or more per week in activities in a religious institution.
Adapt your religious and spiritual practices to match your child’s developmental abilities. Children this age may only be able to sit 10-15 minutes (or less) at one time. Offer a quiet activity or book to keep your child engaged.

Encourage your child to talk about her interpretations of spiritual or religious concepts, asking questions to clarify comments, rather than judging what she says.

It’s okay for your teen to seek out adult mentors with deep spiritual commitments or practices, even if those practices differ from your own. Exposure to different cultures and belief systems can help him evaluate and define his own.

Keep talking with and listening to your child, even if she says things about religion or spirituality that worry or disappoint you.

Together, read stories and enjoy music and other creative arts that have religious or spiritual themes.

4) Time at Home: where teens are out with friends “with nothing special to do” two nights or less per week.
Make sure your kids’ time at home is constructive by setting aside at least one evening a week as family time. Play games, have a family book club, make dinner together, or go on walks, taking a different route each week.

Limit time on TV, computer and video games. Many young people choose to be active when they aren’t glued to a screen.

Set aside media-free family time on evenings or weekends. Play games, read aloud as a family, toast marshmallows, listen to music, play outside, go on an outing, or plan some other enjoyable activity together.

As much as possible, honor mealtimes as “connecting times.” Don’t watch TV or stand over the sink as you eat!

Many preteens and teens start dropping activities and wanting to spend more time “hanging out” with peers. Be patient, but also encourage your child to find constructive activities to participate in.

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.