Thursday, August 16, 2012

Get Out Of This House....Now!

Zits Comic:

Mom opens Jeremy's bedroom door after another day of sleeping in and screams at him: "Jeremy, it's a beautiful day! GET UP AND GET OUTSIDE!"

Jeremy stumbles out of bed, walks outside where is dad is sitting and says: "So this is what I've been missing. Sunlight. Big Whoop.

Dad replies: " I've had enough of your sarcasm. Go to your room!"

Jeremy back in bed, shades drawn, thinking to himself: "And that's the beauty of the two-parent system."

Sound familiar. Your teenager, perhaps recently returned home from a camp or summer experience, or done with their summer job, or summer program, spends all day in bed, and like a nocturnal owl, gets up in time to go out in the evening with friends.

The teen who sleeps all day is thinking, I haave 2 weeks left of summer vacation and I plan on taking advantage of every potential sleep opportunity. You on the other hand, like Jeremy's mother is feeling completely disgusted with the sloth like behavior of your teen. The lack of motivation to get up and DO SOMETHING is completely driving you crazy, especially if you are a type A person who makes every waking minute count! Here is the thing about teens, unless they too are a type A teen, (I've never met one, so if you have one, please introduce me!) at this point  their motivation after a summer of doing whatever, is at an all time low. They have seen their friends, shopped till they've dropped, perhaps they went to a sports camp and are burned out from whatever sport they enjoyed, or they spent the summer having to get up early to work as a camp CIT or store clerk, and they are ready to do absolutely nothing! Your perspective looks quite different. Good time for them to organize their room and get it ready for school, get their summer reading done(see blog on summer reading 7/17/12) help you clean the basement, the garage, the attic, time to do all those things there is never time to do. As you can see, two completely divergent perspectives.

You have several options here. You can just give it up, and give your teen this gift of time. But if you do this, make sure you say that this is what you are doing, rather than just saying nothing. A conversation might go like this: " Honey, I get school starts in a few weeks, and you have had a busy summer, and are just looking at the next few weeks as veg time. I am OK with that for the most part, but if there is something I need you to help me with, or I see there is something that needs to get done before school starts, we will have to figure out a way to make that stuff happens. I don't want to be nagging you, and want to give you this time, so lets figure out how and when we can get this stuff done."

Maybe your teen has had enough down time, like maybe the whole summer and you have had it. If this is the case, you are right to be a little worried. If a teen has had a very unstructured summer, getting back into the swing of school and activities will be a rude awakening. Perhaps you might need to start getting your teen back on some sort of schedule. No need to get up a the crack of dawn, but certainly up by 9:30 or 10:00. The issue here, is that unless your teen has a reason to get up, there will be absolutely no motivation to get up. Therein lies the issue. Teens do not know what to do with unstructured time. Remember, they live in the present. They are not thinking about schedules that start in two weeks, they just see the dark, comfy cave they inhabit. You will need to motivate them. Perhaps it's the ability to use the car, or get money from you to go out with their friends, or maybe it's back to school clothes shopping. You may need to tie some of those things to getting up by a certain time. This conversation might go like this: " I get you are loving not being on any kind of schedule, but school starts in two weeks, and I want to set you up to be successful. So here's the deal, what time do you think you should be up by, just to start getting you used to a routine again?" Include your teen in this decision, don't just set a time YOU think he/she should be up by. If you want them to take ownership you need to include them in the planning. Next find out what they think they need to do before school starts, ie summer reading, school shopping etc. Set up one goal a day for them to achieve. If they get up on time, and achieve that goal without you nagging, then they get to use the car in the evening, get some spending money for pizza, or a shopping trip the mall. This will not be easy. There will be alot of resistence. Understand that and work with it, rather than nagging and critisizing. You may be totally looking forward to being rid of them, I mean getting them back to school and routines, but they are not!

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