Teenagers everywhere are anxiously awaiting a break from the daily grind of school, homework and tests. But going into winter break without a plan vastly increases the chances that your teens will use their free time to get into trouble.
Here are a few ways your teens can make productive use of their winter vacation:
Earn Spending Money. Although winter break isn’t long enough to get a “real” job, many teens make a little extra spending money by babysitting, shoveling snow off driveways or helping others clean house after the holidays. These odd jobs will keep your teens occupied and make them less dependent on you for all of their expenses without making winter break one big chore.
Volunteer. There’s no time like the holidays to give back to those in need. Local soup kitchens, churches, food banks and hospitals are always in need of a helping hand. Your teens can also get involved with a toy drive or adopt-a-family-in-need program, or raise money for a cause close to their heart.
Get Organized. In the past few months, hectic schedules and school stress have probably contributed to your teens’ room looking more like a jungle than a study area. As new gifts come in with the holidays, encourage your teens to donate the clothes, books and other belongings they no longer use. A thorough reorganization and cleaning will help ensure the next semester gets off to a good start.
Spend Time as a Family. The holidays are a busy time for everyone, but they’re also an ideal time for family bonding. Schedule family game night, movie night or an evening of games in the park, and make sure everyone makes it a priority to be there. If your extended family lives nearby, winter break provides a rare opportunity for your teens to get to know their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins a little better.
Many people do not take the problem of teenage depression seriously. In fact, many people do not even believe that teenagers can actually get depressed.
This conflict stems from the fact that the majority of adults do not understand what teenage depression is. The reality is that it is much more than a sullen mood and bouts of sadness. It is an actual medical condition that can have devastating, permanent effects on a teenager’s life.
Defining Teenage Depression
Depression is a mental illness that can occur in teenagers in much the same way that it manifests itself in adults. A significant difference is that teens are dependent on their parents or other caregivers to provide the medical attention they need, whereas adults are free to go to the doctor on their own.
In many cases, parents or other adults fail to acknowledge the fact that teenagers can, and do, get depressed. They tend to write off the moody, sullen teenager as acting out or one who is simply unhappy about something.