School is done but most of us are still working, and the prospect of six weeks trying to entertain your offspring without giving in to a total gaming/social media fest, may already be causing you nightmares.
A May 2020 survey conducted by Churchill Insurance showed that just 44% of parents make it past lunchtime before their children are complaining of boredom, and the pressure to provide wall to wall entertainment can be overwhelming. Boredom is a feeling which has mixed reviews because it is the font of both risky behaviour in teenagers, and creativity. For parents the challenge is to allow enough boredom for creativity, but not so much that they will seek to alleviate it at any cost.
Spending hours on screens may not seem like risky behaviour, but gaming addiction is now a recognised mental health disorder, and in most families the biggest battles between parents and their children centre on the use of screens. As parents we need to protect them from harm whilst encouraging them to become responsible digital citizens. It is not the screens, but the mindless use of them, which causes problems. It’s all about balance.
A couple of hours of Minecraft or Fifa with friends is fun, challenging, creative and social, and when balanced out with a family board game, some exercise and a couple of household chores, not a bad way to spend a day. Scrolling through TikTok videos and social media feeds brings fewer benefits, but has its place in terms of feeling connected and current. Technology is not the problem, and there are lots of activities which are only really possible because of it, but teenagers need to learn to be discerning consumers to get the best out of it.
Work with your teens to create a family screen contract – see our contract in The Wellbeing Hub – be prepared to negotiate if you want their buy in.
Next get them thinking about how they are using technology. Challenge everyone to come up with ten ways to use screens for good and then suggest they try at least ten of the ideas over the course of the summer, and commit to a minimum of two as longer term projects. Here are a few to get you started:-
Micro-Tyco Innovate At Home is challenging students to create an innovative idea that will help make life easier for people in their local community. Use YouTube videos to learn any new skill from building an engine to making sourdough bread. TED talks are a brilliant way of learning about a subject from an expert. Typing Club teaches touch typing. Learn to code with Codecademy. Media Smart aims to raise young people’s interest in creative careers by challenging 11-16 year olds to design their own advert. Challenge them to get creative on iMovie. Learn to play a guitar with Guitar Tricks. Create digital music using Bloom. Take on a challenge with the Dyson foundation. Learn to cook with Delia Smith. Join Joe Wicks to get fit. Learn mindfulness with Calm or Headspace. Boost that CV with Google Digital Garage. Volunteer with organisations like EcoSwell or learn about geocaching and join the world’s largest treasure hunt.
Technology doesn’t need to be just about staring at a screen for hours. It is brilliant for sparking ideas and providing platforms and information to help us do, learn, participate, share, get active, create and contribute. If your teenager is into running but struggles to motivate themselves to go alone, suggest they phone a friend who can become their virtual running buddy. Why not chat to a friend on Zoom whilst painting, cooking or model making. Teenagers need to feel connected to their friends, but there is no reason why they can’t do something life enhancing at the same time.
Keep up to date on our latest insights, guidance and tips
While many families will be looking forward to their first holiday abroad in three years, parents who are recently separated or divorced might be feeling anxious about holidaying as a single parent. Parents who are divorced or separated must take certain steps to ensure that their trip is in line with the law. Annabel Andreou shares her advice for recently separated parents and carers wishing to take their child on holiday.
Prospective memory develops during childhood and adolescence through to our mid-twenties, but during the teenage years other factors come into play which make it less reliable in certain circumstances. Teenagers need to become increasingly independent in preparation for leaving home and prospective memory plays an important role in helping them achieve this goal. Alicia explains the relationship between prospective memory, alcohol and decision making, and shares tips on how to prevent lapses of prospective memory.
We are delighted to share this blog written by Katrina Judge from Young Climate Warriors on how to counter eco-anxiety and support your child/ren. This resource is also available in The Wellbeing Hub for parents, pupils and staff.
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2022, we thought we’d share this blog written by Clare Nicholas on negative thought patterns. Clare shares her advice on how to manage negative thought patterns, practise self-care, and notice your positive attributes. This is a great one to share with your child/pupils.
It is hard living with ME/CFS, patients feel really unwell and miss out on day-to-day life because they simply don’t have the energy to participate. People with ME/CFS often have to make major lifestyle changes to manage their illness, and all of this can make them more susceptible to developing mental health issues, such as depression. Alicia discusses what ME/CFS is, and gives practical tips for parents with children with ME/CFS.
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This week is Eating Disorder Awareness Week and with an estimated 1.25 million people living with an eating disorder in the UK it is helpful to know what we can do in terms of prevention and support. We discuss what an eating disorder is, how to spot the signs, and how to prevent your child from suffering with an eating disorder.
January will have been a busy time for those sitting mocks in preparation for the summer. Some will have been reassured when they received their results, while others may have felt disappointed. As parents it can be difficult to know how best to help. So, what can we do? Lizzie Mitchell, an experienced tutor and university lecturer, shares her top tips and advice for parents.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a mental health problem which affects two in every one hundred people. It is a complex disorder which can be difficult to understand for both the sufferer and their family and friends. You often hear people joking about being a bit OCD when you see their immaculate laundry cupboard or categorised book collection, but those who suffer from OCD know it is absolutely no joke. So what is it?
As our children enter adolescence, they will start to reject things which seem childish to them, and that may include our gestures of affection. As parents we generally accept their rejection of childhood toys and interests but struggle when we are in the firing line. It is a sad day when a previously affectionate child pulls away from a hug or shuts down your expressions of love. For parents, the loss of intimacy can feel devastating, but what we sometimes fail to appreciate is that even though they are the ones doing the rejecting, they will experience a sense of loss too. In celebration of National Hugging Day, we discuss the importance of hugs for the self-esteem and wellbeing of young people.
The past twenty months have taken their toll on the wellbeing of so many people and the last thing we all needed was more uncertainty and drama, but here we are, Omicron is with us, and life has become unpredictable once more. We share our tips on how to support your children and cope with the uncertainty of life with the new Omicron variant.
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Alicia went onto the Emma-Jane Show’s podcast to discuss all things teens and mental health. This is a very open and honest conversation about recovery, resilience and Alicia’s journey to where she is today.
Following the horrific death of George Floyd and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, we have been asked for advice on how to talk to children and teenagers about racism.
With young people online more than ever, those who would seek to influence, radicalise or groom them via social media and gaming will be busy. Find out how to support your child and help them stay safe.
We are working with some wonderful therapists across the country and some are offering two free, half hour emergency sessions to teenagers who might be particularly struggling.