Healthy Habits to Help Teens During Winter Break

The transition to in-person school in August was likely a challenge for many teens, and with holiday break right around the corner, your teen may slip back into old habits and struggle to return in the new year. Maybe they slept in until noon, binged Netflix all day, or talked on the phone all hours of the night.

While it is true that some days your teen will need to do nothing but chill, especially after spending time with family and friends, it is also essential to keep your teen engaged. Allowing them downtime every day may lead them to make questionable choices when left on their own. To prevent this from happening, add structure to their days unrelated to holiday festivities.

Teach Them About Self-Care

Make the most out of your teen’s time off and teach them how to look out for their own health. This may mean getting enough sleep at night, waking up at a reasonable hour, exercising daily, and eating healthy foods. Teaching them to cut back on sugar and processed foods can help prevent poor eating habits in adulthood. You know your kid best, so design a self-care routine catered to their needs that can stick with them for a lifetime.

Limit Screen Time

Limiting screen time can be extraordinarily challenging. In the age of iPhones, iPads, laptops, and video games galore, you likely have a teen glued to one screen at all times. However, their electronic use can quickly get out of control without adult guidance.

A 2020 study on screen time and mental health in adolescence found that two or more hours of screen use after school was linked to poorer mental health, especially in girls.

Chances are, your teen is spending more than two hours a day scrolling through social media and watching TV simultaneously with the extra downtime. Common Sense Media released a survey showing that teens devote an average of seven hours and 22 minutes on screens each day, not including time spent using screens for school purposes.

The study further concludes that longer screen time was associated with lower levels of life satisfaction and optimism and higher levels of anxiety and depression. Social media can be especially damaging to teens’ mental health during school breaks because it can garner feelings of isolation or cause them to compare themselves to their friends.

Do your best to keep your teen busy and off their phones. You can do so in a number of ways, including:

  • Discourage multitasking: Take notice of how often your teen is texting while completing homework. Talk to them about how doing both at once can interfere with productivity.
  • Establish clear rules: Have a set time when screens should be turned off for the night. If this is met with resistance, it may be a good idea to remove TVs or video games from bedrooms.
  • Model healthy habits: One of the most important tips is to role model healthy screen habits. Limit your own screen time and be mindful of when you’re on your phone around your teen. For example, don’t take a phone call during dinner if they’re not allowed their phones at the table.

Seasonal Work

There are many benefits to your teen finding a part-time job during winter break. They can gain valuable work experience, a sense of responsibility, cultivate their time-management skills, and potentially make new friends. Whether they choose to work in retail, the fast-food or restaurant industry, or something else, your teen can enhance their skills and learn how to successfully job hunt in the future. Earning some extra spending money is always a bonus, too.

Quality Family Time

Don’t let the cold temperatures keep you from getting out and bonding with your teen. Create lasting memories by ice skating, sled riding, snow tubing, or skiing. If these outdoor activities aren’t options nearby, then get creative with the resources you have. Build a bonfire and make s’mores, plan a board game tournament, rearrange or redecorate their bedroom, make a meal together, construct a gingerbread house, build a snowman or igloo, and more.

Promoting Healthy Habits

Overall, promoting healthy habits for your teen will not only benefit their physical health but, more importantly, their mental health as well. A break from school shouldn’t mean a break from taking care of themselves. Allowing them to sabotage their routine can lead to anxiety when it comes to returning to school in a few short weeks. Set a good example and help them learn how to prioritize and take care of themselves.

Keeping a teenager busy and off their phones during winter break may seem like a big challenge for some. However, as a parent, it’s essential to protect their mental health by providing opportunities to teach your teen how to take care of themself. This may be met with resistance at first, but your teen will notice the benefits in the long run and thank you for it. If you’re worried about their mental and emotional health, our caring medical clinicians at Achieve Concierge are here to help. Achieve Concierge offers child mental health services in San Diego to help kids explore ways to cope with anxiety, ADHD, and other mental health disorders. We work with both parent and child to provide a personalized treatment plan that accounts for each patient’s symptoms. For more information on the services we provide and to learn how we can assist your child, call us today at (619) 393-5871.

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