What are some ways to keep my teen busy during vacation?

Your teen has spent all year longing for the summer break, and now that it's here, he doesn't know what to do with himself. He's too old to just be dumped at grandma's house, but he may not be old enough to keep himself occupied without parental suggestions.

Encourage your teen to get a summer job -- not only for the income, but also to gain work experience. Enterprising teens can start their own business mowing lawns, walking dogs or babysitting. You can also employ your teen at home, paying him or her to do some of those extra chores around the house and yard. If finances aren't an issue, your teen can consider a volunteer position or internship in a field that interests him. These experiences can be assets on resumes later in life.

Summer camps can take care of "what to do" for a period of time -- from a week to all summer even. They are often the perfect way to meet new and old friends, and to be away from parental "interference" but still in a controlled and educational setting. Even young teens can learn leadership skills as junior counselors. Day camps are also good options: Find out what's offered at your local sports center or YMCA, or what's available to strengthen your teen's special interest, whether fashion design, writing, music or science.

Be sure to set at least part of the vacation as family time -- whether for just you and your child, or with cousins, grandparents and everyone else. Get your teens involved in planning family gatherings, outings or travel so that the vacation includes at least some of what they want.

While on vacation, you might relax rules about curfews or wake-up time, but there should still be clear guidelines for accepted behavior. Most importantly, remember that vacation is meant to be just that: Allow your teen time to watch movies or listen to music or just hang out with friends.

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