There’s 104 days in summer vacation / and school comes along just to end it. / So the annual problem for our generation / is finding a good way to spend it. As the popular kids’ series Phineas and Ferb –with its iconic theme song–comes to a close, many parents and concerned caregivers are faced with the dilemma of what to do with kids over the summer. It would be nice if we only had to worry about our children or teens getting into Phineas-and-Ferb-type adventures, like finding a dodo bird or giving a monkey a shower! In reality, summertime is the time for real-life kids to get into real-life trouble, like substance abuse or risky sexual behavior. Check out these tips for helping your child or adolescent enjoy a summer filled with fun—and healthy choices:
- Talk with your child or teen about healthy choices & risky behavior. Hopefully you’re already having age-appropriate conversations about smoking, sex, alcohol, and other drugs. Continue those discussions, and start including conversations about other unhealthy behaviors that might tempt them during summer vacation, such as prescription drug abuse and gambling. Learn more in Teen Gambling: 3 Talking Points Parents Need to Know.
- Monitor prescription drugs in your home. Your child or teen may not need to leave home to get high. A 2012 survey found that 24% of teens reported using a prescription drug without a doctor’s prescription. In another survey, nearly 50% said they believe prescription drugs are safer than illicit street drugs. Monitor prescriptions needed by family members, and safely dispose of unneeded doses. Find a Prescription Drug Take-Back Location in Lancaster County.
- Set boundaries. Establish age-appropriate curfews as well as boundaries for computer/smartphone use and Internet access. Enforce all rules so your child or teen learns that—just as in an adult’s life—breaking rules will have consequences.
- Know your child’s friends & their parents. Go beyond just knowing their names! Invite your child’s friends to your home occasionally so you can get to know them better—and it’s a good idea to connect with the parents of those friends too. Also make sure your child understands that if he or she ever feels uncomfortable or has concerns about risky behavior while with a friend that he or she can call you right away.
- Place your child/teen in adult-supervised activities. Many Lancaster churches offer free or low-cost vacation Bible school (VBS) camps; some operate during the morning, while others are in session during the evening. You might also consider conventional day or overnight summer camps, some of which may offer financial assistance to families in need. Check out Summer Camps in Lancaster and the Surrounding Area.Additional things for kids to do in Lancaster during summer include: Library-sponsored activities, such as child/teen reading groups, crafting events, and more. See the Lancaster Public Library’s 2015 Summer Program Calendar, or visit your local library’s website for info on its summer offerings. Free Lunch for Kids in Columbia Borough: Runs Monday through Friday, June 8-August 21, 11 am to 1 pm. Contact Vicki at 717-684-9444. Lunch and activities included.