How to Prepare for Spring Break Away from Your Teen
Spring is nearing, which for school-aged kids means Spring Break is coming up right around the corner. While this much-needed break from school work is a welcome reprieve for kids and parents alike, as teens get older, they want to spend less time with their family vacations, and more time with their friends.
If your teen is thinking about heading off on their own for a week of fun in the sun with friends, there are some things you need to do to prepare.
Be involved. If you want to know the who, what, when and where of your teen’s trip, the best way to do that is to be involved with every step of the planning. Help them research destinations, talk about chaperones and who will be there, and research the local area to find out about safety concerns.
Schedule phone time. If your teen doesn’t have their own cell phone, a prepaid phone can really come in handy for a short about of time. You’ll want to let them have some freedom, but make sure they know you expect them to check in. Schedule a phone call every other day or so to talk briefly about what’s going on and if they need help in any way. Keep in touch with chaperones as well through a scheduled call.
Talk about the alcohol issue. It’s no secret that spring break can be associated with heavy drinking, even for underage crowds. Alcohol will likely be much more easily accessible in a lightly-supervised environment. Talk about your expectations with your teen to avoid drinking and trying other illegal substances. Bring up consequences of heavy drinking, including both health and legal issues that can arise from substance abuse. Remind them that if they ever get in a situation where they need to leave to call a chaperone.
Provide your teen with valuable information. Look up the local non-emergency police numbers, as well as other numbers they may need in an emergency situation and program them into their cell phones for easy accessibility. This way if they are in a situation where they need help in an unfamiliar area, they can reach it quickly. Also, be sure to give them a copy of their health insurance card and a handwritten note giving permission to seek medical treatment while not in your care.
When in doubt, say no. If you just don’t feel comfortable sending your teen away for spring break with friends, there are alternatives that may be a more positive experience. If your teen is showing signs of troubling behavior, try a troubled teen wilderness camp or a teen residential program for the spring break week where they can seek treatment and be surrounded by peers in the same situation.