Is your teen involved in any extracurricular activities? These activities can take place at the school or elsewhere in the community. This article will discuss the benefits that extracurricular activities provide for teens, as well as steps that you can take to help get your teen involved.
Benefits of Extracurricular Activities
Here are just two of the many benefits of extracurricular activities offer teenagers.
1. Opportunity to Make Friends – Since academic classes are structured and don’t always allow students to mingle and socialize, it can be difficult for teens to make friends during class. Joining an extracurricular activity can improve your adolescent’s social life by providing them with the opportunity to meet and talk to people with a shared interest. This is especially great for teens who are a bit shy when it comes to approaching others and starting a conversation.
2. Keeps teens away from drugs – There is evidence that teens who participate in extracurricular sports might be less likely to get involved with alcohol or drugs. There are a few reasons for this:
- One is that the students in sports tend to exert some positive peer pressure on each other. No one wants to be responsible for getting kicked off the team and perhaps jeopardizing the team’s reputation or their eligibility to compete.
- Another reason is that the teens involved in sports don’t have a lot of excess time to fill with activities that will get them into trouble.
Helping Your Teen Choose an Activity
When you think about extracurricular activities, the ones that immediately come to mind are probably sports and theater. If your teen doesn’t want to be in the limelight and isn’t particularly athletic, they might be hesitant to look into extracurricular activities because they are not aware of the many other options. Going through a list of what’s available at the local high school and in the community might open up his or her mind to the idea of getting involved. Chances are there’s much more than your teen thinks is available in your area.
For example, if your teen is a budding photographer, there might be a photography club that is right up his or her alley. Even a teen who would not want to go onstage can join the drama club and learn how to run the lighting. Artistic students might like to design props for a school play, create a pleasing layout for the school newspaper, or volunteer at a nursing home and lead a craft project each week.
Ask at local churches, community centers, and other places to find opportunities that you and your teen haven’t thought of.
Activities for Teens With Anxiety
Some teens are reluctant to join an activity because they are anxious about meeting new people, talking during meetings, and trying something new. This could be caused by anxiety, including social anxiety.
For a teen with anxiety, over-scheduling can be a problem. Having too many places to go or having to make a large time commitment can be difficult for anxious adolescents. Instead, look for an activity that meets less frequently than a sports team. Many schools have community service activities that meet only weekly. Something like that might be more palatable to an anxious teen.
A socially anxious individual might prefer an activity where they already have a wide knowledge base. If your teen is excellent at dancing, for example, then a dance class might be a good choice. If they’re a whiz at math, a math club might be better. This way, they’ll have the comfort of an activity they already know they’re good at.
Coaxing Your Teen to Join an Activity
Some teens are not interested in joining any type of extracurricular activity. They might not think it’s cool, they might prefer less structured activities, or they might just think that none of the available activities are a good fit. If your teen is otherwise involved in healthy activities, such as hanging out with friends, volunteering, having an after-school job and hanging out with the family, then they might not need an extracurricular activity in addition to all of those things.
If, however, your adolescent is bored, getting into trouble, or otherwise showing you that something is missing in his or her life, you might need to be a bit more persistent. Meet with your teen’s guidance counselor to find out what opportunities are available. Talk to your teen about what their goals are and which types of activities can help them meet those goals. Also, encourage your teen to try an activity that one of their friends enjoys. If you have a family friend who is close to your child, ask them to also encourage your teen. Sometimes, teens will not want to try something, but when they do, they end up having a great time. Your son or daughter might just need a push to try something new.
Supporting Your Teen With His or Her Activity
Once your teen chooses an activity, it’s important to support him or her. Here are a few ways that you can do that.
Show up – It’s important to arrange to attend your teen’s games, shows, or competitions.
Organize transportation – Either provide transportation to and from the activity or help your teen figure out how to arrange it if there is no school bus to bring them home afterward. Learning how to arrange logistics is a great learning experience for your teen.
Teach time management skills – Be sure to help your teen with time management and balance. When a new activity is added to a person’s routine, they need to find ways to manage all of their other obligations and responsibilities. Encourage your teen to use a planner, a calendar, or a phone app to keep track of where he or she needs to be and at what times. Talk about the importance of still making time for homework and studying, and remind them that there might be travel time or other preparation to figure in. Learning how to manage time is another skill that all teens should learn, and extracurricular activities can help provide practice.
As the parent of a teen, it can be difficult to know that your teen is staying out of trouble and making headway toward his or her goals. Chosen carefully, an extracurricular activity can go a long way toward helping them make friends, boosting a college application, providing real-world experience that can later translate to skills used at work and in life, and keeping them too busy to get into trouble. Showing that you care about your teen’s activities is a great way to bond. Do what you can to encourage your teen to take advantage of the unique opportunity to be involved in a high school or community activity during this flexible part of his or her life.