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Three Skills Teens Can Develop Over Spring Break
It can be easy to forget that kids aren’t born knowing some really basic skills. More than ever, teens need to be taught basic social etiquette to become respectful and safe young adults — especially now that the social climate is so different to how it was a couple decades ago.
Spring break can be a great time to give your teens some extra responsibilities that will teach them helpful life lessons, such as improving their interpersonal communication by teaching them to put their phones down, showing them the skills needed to keep their room clean, and providing them with tips on practicing safe driving.
Teens today were born between the early and mid-2000s, meaning they’ve probably never known a life without the widespread use of technology. Although this means they’re likely more tech savvy than the average adult, they also need more formal education in general etiquette.
One result of teens growing up with so much communication happening online has been a disconnect from those they’re talking to. During adolescence, our brains are literally being rewired in the prefrontal cortex, so technological barriers can seriously hamper social development. It can make it difficult for modern teens to assess the impact of their actions on others. Communication lessons are especially important for this group.
Another situation that often occurs after spending so much time communicating online is that teens forget how to talk to people in person. They may prefer to engage online with their friends, family, and romantic interests. Because the internet offers such convenient channels to communicate through, young people won’t feel it’s necessary to engage with others in the physical world. However, they should be taught the importance of building relationships and having face-to-face conversations with the people they care about.
In order to teach your teen some valuable lessons about how to behave during scenarios in public and around friends and family, teach them to put their phone away at the proper times. It can be an easy and automatic impulse for them to take out their phone when they are idle for a moment. However, you should teach them to put their phone away at the dinner table, in movie theatres, while waiting in line at a store or restaurant, when walking down the street, and during family events. It’s also generally considered poor public etiquette to talk on the phone inside stores or on public transportation, where other people may be forced to listen to your conversation.
Keeping a Clean Space
Spring break is a great time to teach your teen about the joys of spring cleaning and keeping a tidy space. Teenagers often don’t care about the cleanliness of their bedroom — usually because they have never had to live anywhere aside from under their parents’ roof.
During spring break, encourage them to thoroughly clean their room and get rid of items they are no longer using. Letting go of items that no longer serve a purpose in one’s life can be liberating and teach them the value of reassessing the necessity of belongings every now and then.
This can also give them a chance to clean and rearrange their room, which can encourage them to give their limited space a fresh feeling. Assessing belongings and clearing clutter can be good skills for people to acquire during their teenage years. It will give them some time to determine their personal style and figure out how they like to keep their space.
Teaching them organizational and other basic life skills, like how to wash their clothes and do dishes, can prepare them for a few years down the road when they have to get ready for college. One of the reasons dorm living can be really hard on some young adults is because they haven’t learned to keep a clean and respectful area for those they share a space with, which can cause problems. It’s very important for teens to know how to do laundry and how to keep their dining and bathroom areas clean for their dorm to feel like home — and to avoid future conflicts with roommates.
As a new driver, your teen may have an unclear idea of what safe driving looks like. If you’ve been meaning to get them behind the wheel for some driving lessons, consider fitting some bonding time behind the wheel into your schedule.
Although many safe driving habits are learned with time, many are also learned by watching our parents drive. During spring break, take a short road trip with your teen down some relatively quiet roads where you can instruct them on what you’re doing behind the wheel. If they’re being receptive and the road looks safe, allow them to get behind the wheel for a few minutes and show you what they can do.
These small driving safety lessons with your teen could teach them the skills they need to practice safe driving habits. As a precursor to summer, spring break is a great time to do this — especially because summer is a particularly dangerous time for teen drivers. The weeks following the end of May are commonly referred to as the “100 Deadliest Days” due to the increase in teen driving accidents that occur due to less supervision and more free time during summer break, as well as dangerous habits like texting and drinking while driving. By spending some quality time with your teen and teaching them what safe driving looks like, they’re more likely to be safer over the summer.
Spring break is a great time to bond with your teen. It’s also an opportunity to teach them some important life skills that could come in handy in the near future.
Teens have a lot going on in their lives, but teaching them to communicate better and reminding them to put their phones away can be hard lessons that will be really important for them as they get older. Similarly, spring cleaning and organizing is an important habit for teens to get into, especially if they plan on living in a dorm at any point in their life. Lastly, safe driving cannot be stressed enough, and giving your child memories with you to associate with the decisions they make in vehicles could end up saving their lives.
About the Author
Magnolia Potter is from the Pacific Northwest and writes from time to time. She prefers to cover a variety of topics and not just settle on one. When Magnolia’s not writing, you can find her outdoors or curled up with a good book. Chat with her on Twitter @MuggleMagnolia.