It is that time of year that every teenager or young adult has been waiting for. Summertime! It also happens to be that time that parents look forward to as well. We get to spend more time with our kiddos.
And three months is just about the right amount of time for parents. By the time the three months are up, we look back at a wonderful summer with our kids and may, just a bit guiltily, look forward to them being productively busy somewhere else!
What summertime often means for teenagers and young adults may look a bit different than what parents envision. For teenagers, they see a summer taking a break from responsibilities by plugging into nonstop video games, "all nighters", social media, and other online platforms.
While this can and will be a part of a teenager or young adult's summer, too much is not healthy. As parents, we may have observed our teenagers or young adults being online too much and have watched the resultant brain melt. Their attitude and mood change when they engage too much in online activity.
So, what is the balance and how do we achieve balance? This will look different from teen to teen, young adult to young adult, and family to family. However, there are some strategies to help parents provide balance to help prevent brain melt.
Suggestions on How to Prevent Brain Melt With Your Teen or Young Adult This Summer
As parents of teens and young adults, we know the challenges behind limiting video games and other online activity. Doing so in the past often has resulted in a high level or reaction by our teenager or young adult. You would think we were taking away the very air they breathe!
Below are some suggestions to help families balance online activity over the summer:
Develop a Plan With Your Teenager or Young Adult Before Summertime Gets Into Full Swing
Teens and young adults may be resistant to limiting video game time and online activity. As a teen counselor and family therapist, I have found that teenagers and young adults respond better when you involve them in the development of the plan.
Meet with your teenager or young adult and explain that while you want them to enjoy their time online with friends or other healthy, online activity, summertime cannot be a time of non-stop, endless time spent online. While your teenager or young adult may not like to hear that, more times than not, they get it.
Talk with them about what they feel is a fair time limit on their online activity each day:
How many hours a day is reasonable?
Maybe "x" amount of time every other day?
Only online during the on the weekends?
What time do all electronics shut off at night?
Are weekday limits different than weekend limits?
When on vacation, what does that look like?
While engaging your teenager or young adult in this type of planning is important, they also need to understand that parents will have the final say on what is acceptable/not acceptable.
If you engage your teen or young adult in the planning, they are more likely to follow the plan. When parents dictate the amount of time without input, this is when teenagers and young adults may give more resistance.
Write the Agreement Down & Parents, Hold to the Agreement
The more specific and concrete the plan is, the more effective it will be. And time will pass from the time that you meet with your teenager and young adult. As time passes, memory fades, and it's common to not remember the specifics of the plan. This can create conflict.
And limits and boundaries are only as good as our ability to hold to that limit and boundary. If we agree to a plan and then don't enforce the plan, teenagers and young adults will not take us serious on other limits and boundaries. If they don't believe parents will follow through, this is where you will find more limit pushing and resistance with future limits and boundaries.
Be firm and consistent, in a loving way, right from the start. The upfront work of holding to the limit may result in a little resistance, begging, deal making, at the beginning. And if you hold strong from the start, you will likely find that they are more willing and accepting to adhere to the limits long term.
If you give in up front because you don't want to put up with the resistance, what this tells your teenager or young adult is that if they engage in begging, complaining, deal making, or other negative behavior, parents will give in -- and that is what you will get more of. This can make for a miserable summer of fighting with your teenagers or young adults around video games and other online activity.
Recognize, Reward, & Reinforce
There is a difference between giving into your teenager or young adult's negative behavior so that they will stop and you proactively rewarding them. Limiting video games and other online activity is NOT something your teenager or young adult will be happy about. It can be challenging for them.
When you see your teenager or young adult, consistently over time, adhering to the guidelines you set up at the beginning, tell them. Let them know how impressed you are that they are following through with what was agreed upon.
They may roll their eyes, sigh dramatically, but they will appreciate that you are recognizing their efforts. It's common that when parents recognize how well their teenager or young adult are doing, that they use this opportunity to try to negotiate more time. And good for them! This is a great life skill.
As parents, based on their consistency in adhering to the plan, you can decide to allow them a bit more time, on a one-time basis. Again, it's important to write down the extra allotted time you are allowing. It may not be as much time as your teenager or young adult may like, but it's more time than they originally had.
It's also important that they hold themselves to this additional time limit. And as parents, it's important that if they don't, we do.
And if they complain or give you a hard time about stopping when the time is up, it's a great opportunity to talk about how this may not motivate you to provide more time in the future based on how well they are doing. This is also a great life lesson.
There are also other ways to recognize, reward, and reinforce your teen or young adult adhering to the agreement outside of giving more time on electronics. Be creative in how you recognize, reward, and reinforce your teen or young adult.
When to Seek Help Through Teen Therapy or Young Adult Counseling
For some teenagers and young adults, meeting with them and co-creating a summertime plan may not be helpful. Some who experience depression, anxiety, social anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD/ADD, or who are suffering from the effects of trauma or PTSD, video games can become problematic as it is their sole source of escape or "coping" with their problems.
Thos who use this as their escape from anxiety or depression are usually those who struggle to manage their reaction when limits are attempted to be put in place. The higher the level of resistance from a teenager or young adult when limits are placed, the more likely there is a deeper issue that video games and online activity are numbing for them.
Teen Therapy & Young Adult Counseling: Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Summertime and especially before school starts back up, is a great time for your teen or young adult to start therapy. If they are struggling with anxiety, panic attacks, social anxiety, performance anxiety, depression, or other struggles, we can help.
If you are ready to start, all you need to do is follow these three simple steps:
Contact Katy Teen & Family Counseling
Talk with or schedule a phone call with one of our Office Administrators
Let us help provide the help your teen or young adult may need and let us help support you as parents
Other Therapy and Counseling Services Offered at Katy Teen & Family Counseling
At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we provide a variety of therapy approaches that are supported by research and shown to be effective. Some of the teen therapy and young adult counseling we offer are:
Board Certified Neurofeedback Therapy
Peak performance (optimal academic brain performance)
Peak performance (optimal athletic brain performance)
Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART)
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR Therapy)
Group Therapy for Teens
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Couples Therapy & Marriage Counseling
It can be stressful parenting a struggling teen or young adult. More than anything we want to be able to help them. Sometimes couples may disagree about how to do so. This can inadvertently create stress in a relationship.
And there may be times where the actions of you or your spouse or partner has damaged the trust in your relationship. You want to reestablish the trust in a relationship you have worked hard for over the years.
Relationships are complex and take work. It can be helpful to have an objective, third party who is also experienced in marriage counseling and couples therapy. At Katy Teen & Family Counseling, we also provide couples therapy and marriage counseling.
About the Author
Jason Drake is a Licensed Clinical Worker - Supervisor (LCSW-S), Board Certified in Neurofeedback, EMDR trained, and a Certified Brain Health Professional through the Amen Clinics. He has provided therapy to teens and families since 2003 and is the Owner & Lead Clinician at Katy Teen & Family Counseling.
He specializes in leading teams of high performing therapists who also specialize in teen therapy, family counseling, and counseling young adults.
Jason is also a leader in the field of teen, young adult, and family counseling providing coaching and technical assistance to teen Residential Treatment Centers across the country.
Jason is also a regular contributor to various magazines and publications lending his expertise to various mental health related topics. You can check these articles out on our "Featured Articles" service page on our website.
If you are ready to start your counseling journey, you can schedule a call with one of our Office Administrators by clicking on the button below:
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Phone Number: 346-202-4662