10 Activity Ideas For Your Teen

Planning activities is great for your teens.

mvc-082f.JPGHere are 10 suggestions for activities parents can create/provide/encourage, so teens have less opportunity to come up with their own…

1. Paintballing/Mini-Golf/Lasertag:

Ok this is three in one, but teens usually love doing these kinds of activities, they can be co-ed and not that much money for a few hours of amusement (and physical activity).

2. Comedy Clubs:

There are a lot of improv clubs, comedy clubs or even coffee shops that have stand-up that allow all ages.  This can be a really fun weekend night for teens.  You could also ask in advance to use a local coffee shop for the teens to do their own stand-up one night and they will all buy coffee and bring friends as an incentive to the owner.

3. Plan a Themed Party:

So this sounds lame, but I do not mean plan a themed party in the 4th grade sense, I mean, if you are willing to open up your house have a party that will appeal to teens: an 80′s movie marathon and make dinner, fondue, pop-culture trivia night, pool party and BBQ, murder mystery…

4. Dinner and a Show:

There are lots of places that offer dinner and then some sort of entertainment, we used to go to a place that was Mexican food and then a salsa class and then a salsa band which was all ages or you can go to a place like Medieval times where they have food and then a joust show.

5. Celebrate a Holiday (no matter how minor):

Luckily, my mom had lots of patience and loved to cook, we often had Valentines parties (for my sisters and our friends and I) Superbowl parties (for my brother and his friends) or Halloween Parties (co-ed), where she would come up with games and serve us lots of food, it definitely kept us away from ‘parents-are-away-for-the-weekend’ parties that were going on.

6. Gameroom:

We had a friend who’s parents had tons of board games, a ping pong table, air-hockey table, pinball machine and a foosball table.  This was AWESOME, it was great when it was just girls, just boys, but also a great way to spend time with the opposite sex when they came over.  You might think of getting one of these or some videogame systems like a Wii with lots of controllers. My brother and his friends (I thought they were losers at the time, but it probably kept them out of trouble) all had their own ‘laser-guns’ and would wear vests and little blinking things and run around the neighborhood or backyards in their own version of outdoor lasertag.

7. Plan a Tournament:

For boys, host a videogame tournament at your house (usually just includes lots of your patience and lots of food) or, if you have the space or live near a park, have a sports day.  A sports day can be as simple as grabbing a few softball bats from HomerunMonkey and hitting the field. For girls, I would also put spa party/sleepover, chocolate making party and craft or jewelry-making party under this category.  Notice how I use the term ‘party’ loosely, in my opinion, the more you can make it feel like everyone is showing up for something special and that it is being planned for them, the more distracting and fun it can be.

8. Attend an event:

Go to free outdoor concerts, big music festivals or sports games.

9. House Hop:

This one takes lots of coordination, but works really well if you do end up doing a parent-event-planning-commitee (above).  Since we get bored really easily, have four different houses get together and host a different part of the night (preferably if they are in walking or short driving distance) one house does snacks and outdoor activities, then someone else has BBQ dinner, someone else does game night and then end at dessert.

10. Drop Off at a Distant Location:

I could not think of a better name for this category, but there are lots of  game centers, go-carting, water parks, theme parks at night where you can drop a bunch of teens off and maybe hang-out in the area and have a date night while they play.

*Note 1: Your teens need to thank you and uphold their part of the bargain.  Planning these kinds of events are a lot of work for you and they do not need to come freely.  Let your teen know that you want to plan some fun activities, but they need to get A’s this semester/do all of the clean-up before and after/help you cook/ drive your sister to ballet class etc.

*Note 2: Lay Down the Rules. The whole point of planning activities is to keep them out of trouble, make sure your kid and their friends know that there is no drinking, sneaking away or drugs at these events.  My parents used to collect everyone’s keys at the beginning of the night and make everyone say hello and goodbye to make sure they were in an ‘ok’ state before they left.

*Note 3: Many of these activities involve you planning them and then sort of, well, leaving them.  I know, I know this seems rough, but the whole point is to let teens feel like they are having fun and still having their independence so they do not need to get it by rebelling.  My parents were always, always home, but would go upstairs or stay in another room and just come down if it got too loud, but would NOT repeatedly check on us, because they trusted us, and this in turn, made us feel more responsible so we made sure we did not, nor did any of our friends break the rules.

Be sure to add your suggestions below!

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  • jesse

    I totally agree i wish my parents made more activities for us, they are always yelling at me to do something new, but there is nothing we really can do, if they came up with ideas it would be better

  • http://vanessavanpetten.com Vanessa

    just saw this on about.com:

    How to throw a superbowl party for your teen:
    http://parentingteens.about.com/od/partyplanningresources/a/superbowl_party.htm

  • http://www.nezsez.com Nez

    Hi Vanessa,

    Thank you for the insightful post.

    We have 6 and 10 year-old boys, and besides their video games and toys, which we’ve started limiting their time to (say, an hour to play video games, then chores, then an hour of playing toys, then something else), we’re also implementing reading time.

    And this is where the library comes in very handy — trying to find books that are at the appropriate reading level, AND are interesting. Luckily, the older one has (kind of) taken to Harry Potter.

    My thinking is if we can develop their reading habits, perhaps even foster a love for reading, that will help them in more ways than one down the road, including combating boredom.

  • http://www.VanessaVanPetten.com Vanessa

    the library has some great events for adolescents what a good idea! I also used to get books on CDs from the library and play them in the car when my parents and I did not feel like talking.

    Thanks for your comment!

  • http://www.alyzabethan.blogspot.com Alyson

    I agree, teens need active social group gatherings that are more than just “hanging out”. Rules are good and most always curb bad behavior and the kids know what is expected. Getting kids outside will be a challenge as we are crazy about our computers. We need to change our habits too! I can’t wait to be at home by the time my future daughter reaches teen status.

    Alyson LID 01/27/06

  • http://www.loveofdance.com dancergirl

    try shaving cream fights in the backyard, games of tennis and a class eg. first-aid, hip-hop, abseiling or karate

  • Greg

    How about getting outdoors? Some people may view these ideas as old fashioned, but today you can blend new technologies in with outdoor pursuits: hiking, camping, mountain biking, fishing, hunting, geocaching, canoing, rock climbing…
    I loved doing many of these things with my parents, friends, and mentors when I was a teen.

  • http://www.debbiefranklyn.com debbie franklyn

    HELLO. I just came across your site. Thank you for some ideans. I have a good kid, 17 year old boy. Has a bunch of friends who love xbox. I need to get him off that game. You gave me some great ideas.

  • Tamekis

    This was great! I am looking to start something for the teen and tweens in my county and you gave me some good ideas. If you have anymore please email me.

    Thanks

  • http://vanessavanpetten.com Vanessa

    Debbie and Tamekis

    Great, I am so glad you liked them, stay tuned, I am thinking of doing a part II!

    Vanessa

  • http://muskogeephoenixonline.com/blogs/MelonyCarey/ chrissie wagner

    Great ideas! As a mother of 4, a high school teacher and a teen column contributor, I think boredom contributes to lots of problems and wrong decisions. Chrissie Wagner and Melony Carey “The Care and Feeding of Teenagers”
    http://muskogeephoenixonline.com/blogs/MelonyCarey/

  • http://www.thecalmtechcoach.com Helen

    Great post Vanessa with some different ideas to think about. We went out as a family on Tuesday to a comedy show – the first time we’d been anywhere together for ages and it was so good – the guy had us laughing pretty solidly for almost 90 minutes – comedy is good!!! There’s a bit of a concern here with beach/park parties – the problem being now I realise that once they’ve gone to those even once or twice anywhere they go after that has to involve alcohol otherwise it’s considered ‘lame’…. but hey they don’t drink @ movies and still enjoy it so I’m going to give these ideas serious consideration and planning!!

  • Lauri

    Our kids are 21 (B), 17 (G), 12 (B) & 7 (G). They all love hiking in the woods. Our 12yr old thinks pretty much everything I suggest is uncool expect for that. I intergrated these walks with “memory boxes”. We decorate a shoe box with wrapping paper, photos, paints, jewels, etc. Then we start our walk. They put in literally anything that catches their eye. Leaves, rocks, odd shaped sticks, flowers…I take lots of photos. I encourage them to write something about the walk and their collection and put it in the box. On rainy days you can get the boxes and photos out for a little family “remember when”.

  • http://www.callwhenyougetthere.com Jenn

    These are great ideas. I have two teen girls, and though they are insanely busy, it never hurts to have a few new ideas to pull out of the hat. Thank you!

  • http://www.onteenstoday.com Vanessa

    Jenn,

    Thank you so much for reading, two teen girls…wow you must have your hands full! its great you are still trying great activities with them

    Vanessa

  • http://shortcutsleuth.com Andrea

    I just found this site and these are really some great tips and ones that I will keep in mind for years to come. I have a 14 yr old boy that just started high school and an 11 yr old girl, too. These kids definitely need to be kept busy and when they’re out with friends you need to keep in touch with them.

    I am a big fan of getting kids involved with community service activities with their friends. They have fun and also feel good about what they’re doing and learn some important lessons as well.

    I also think it’s important to keep the lines of communication open with your teens and tweens when they’re out with their friends. So that I don’t ‘impose’ on their time, I have learned the art of texting – in their language – so that we can check in with one another without embarrassing them in front of their friends. I wrote an article about some of the top 100 texting shortcuts to make it easier to communicate with your kids at http://shortcutsleuth.com/family/communication/100-text-and-im-shortcuts-so-you-can-communicate-with-your-kids/ . I have found this has helped out a lot!

  • Website Admin

    I totally agree that many teens today go down the wrong path because of boredom. I try to keep my son busy with the right group of friends. I believe that is so important. I find usually hanging with a good group of friends tends to at least help keep kids stay on a good path.

  • you name it!

    i under stand that many parents are worried about there tweens and/or teens but always rember that they need their privicy.texting them is fine but dont do it more than you have to. for example if your tween has his/her friend over and they go into a different room more than likely there is so sort of reason for it.they probly want some privicy.this does not mean you have to and check on.just rember if you trust them they will trust you more.oh and this is a wonderful artical on ways to keep teens/tweens busy thanks so much for writing it

  • carol

    My teen daughter recently started a “Classic Movie Night” – once a month, all of her friends show up – BYO snacks in hand – and they watch old movies like Casablanca, Singin’ in the Rain, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. This has been a huge hit. Often we coordinate snacks or decorations to match the movie or time of year. They are always eagerly asking “what are we watching next month??” (For boys, you could easily do old westerns, war movies, old sci-fi.)

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  • N Smith

    This post is great. Today there is so much trouble for teens because there is not enough for them to do. The summer is definitely when they need to become involved and active with things to keep trouble off their minds. I know my kids like to go to theme parks and what not over the summer, but that gets expensive. I am thinking of taking them to Raging Waters because of their great $7 off discount when I buy the tickets on line. There is a promo code I got online that I want to share with all of you because it could be fun for your kids/teens too! It is 1061, just use it at checkout. Its good all season long too, which is even better. Yay for fun this summer!

  • cleo jade sybil

    As a mother of 2 teenagers, i found this article very helpful guide.

  • D. Sadows

    What a fantastic post! I am actually a stay-at-home dad with 2 girls and to be honest I am scared to death once they hit their teens. I had my fun in high school, through my twenties…….and my early thirties LOL! I do not want my girls doing the same thing.

    Anyway, this article has really opened my eyes to some fantastic ideas on how to let your kids have a lot of fun while \steering\ them away from the things that will ultimately set them back.

    Thanks for the read.

  • Name

    since i’m throwing a part tomorrow…i think these ideas wold work!! n my mom’s also a super duper cook !!…

  • Name

    since i’m throwing a party tomorrow…i think these ideas would work!! n my mom’s also a super duper cook !!…