If your teen is introverted, spends a lot of time messaging on their phone or prefers FaceTime over face-to-face time, you may be concerned that they’re not interacting enough with others in-person. We’ve compiled a list of tips to help you encourage your teen get out in the world and make some real connections with their peers and community.
Encourage Them to Join a Sports Team or Club
Extracurricular activities such as sports and clubs are great ways for teens to make new friends and connect with people who share their interests. If their school doesn’t offer many options, check out your local recreation center; they often provide lots of programs just for teens.
Establish No-Screen Times
Sometimes the only way to get your teen off their phone is to set rules and boundaries. Consider no-screen times, such as during dinner or before bedtime. That way, your teen can engage with your family during meals and they’ll be able to get enough sleep to put them in a good mood to interact with others the next day.
Offer to Drive Them to Events and Get-Togethers
Your teen may be holding back on hanging out with their friends because they think they have no way to get to the mall or movie theater without a driver’s license. Let your teen know that you’re happy to drive them to any get-togethers whenever you have the time so that they don’t miss out on any opportunities to socialize.
Open Your House Up to Your Teen’s Friends
Sometimes you’ll be too busy to drive your teen to places where their friends will be. For those times, you can suggest to your teen that they’re free to invite their friends over to hang out.
Encourage Them to Volunteer With a Cause They’re Passionate About
Volunteering lets your teen get involved in their community and meet new people. Your teen could walk dogs at the SPCA or tutor younger kids at the community center. Or they could put their technology skills to good use by teaching senior citizens how to use the Internet.
Explore New Activities Together
Has your teen been showing an interest in gardening or chess? Spend some time exploring that interest with your teen—it may motivate them to pursue that hobby further in a club or organized group.
Find a Physical Activity Your Teen Enjoys
It’s hard to remember why spending time looking at a screen is so great when you’re having fun outside. Help your teen find a physical activity they enjoy so that they can get some fresh air with like-minded people. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box; hiking, kickboxing and horseback riding are great options besides running, wrestling or gymnastics.
Translate Your Teen’s Online Interests into Offline Hobbies
If your teen loves spending time on Pinterest, encourage them to tackle some of the DIY projects they’ve been pinning. If they find pleasure in maintaining a Tumblr blog focused on visual inspiration, grab some old magazines for them to get creative and make collages. Your teen’s online interests may provide a clue into what they’d enjoy doing offline.
Recommend a Part-Time Job to Your Teen
If your teen is mature enough to manage new responsibilities on top of schoolwork and household chores, consider encouraging them to apply for a part-time job. They’ll meet all sorts of new people outside of their social circle, and on top of that, they’ll develop a sense of independence.
Feature Photo: Seth Doyle