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After Treatment Summer Survival Tips for Parents of Struggling Teens

While families are well into their familiar summer routine, here at Solutions Parenting Support, we often receive calls from alumni families with requests for some summer S.O.S.

The majority of our summer maintenance sessions for our parent clients are based around us providing tips and tools so parents can feel confident parenting during the less structured schedule over summer.

In a time of COVID-19 and quarantine, summer can be even trickier to navigate than usual. We've updated our summer parenting S.O.S. guide with a short video from our co-founder, Hilary Moses, with more ideas for managing these typical and atypical summer stressors.

Here are some of our best summer parenting tips...
Down time and busy time - find the balance

While many of our children need some structure, it is also important that our kids have the opportunity to be kids while they still can. It is good to be bored (without screens), to hang out with friends, to do nothing and to be active for fun. Make sure that your fear of them relapsing does not take over all of the kid time that they also deserve to have...find some balance.

Summer Screen-Time Tips

With so much down time, parents tend to flex their typical rules by allowing 4 hours to pass by with a child glued to a screen.

  • Balance technology time
    Set up technology time as "earned" down time for completing some in home responsibilities. Here are some ideas: reading a book, time outside with with friends (and not on screens) or any other healthy summer activities that fit your lifestyle.
  • Limit the isolation time
    Keep screens out of the bedroomd during certain periods of the day.
  • Don't Trade Healthy Sleep Patterns for Screen Time
    Continue to value healthy sleep patterns by keeping screens out of the bedroom after 9:00 or 10:00 pm.
Keys to Emotional Regulation in the Summer (yours and theirs)

Our desire as parents is to also want to breathe a little bit from the packed schedule of the school year. However, summer is a good time to utilize the opportunities that come from getting in some extra therapy sessions.

Structured therapy will allow for more productive process-oriented work that is not always focused on the day-to-day events of school and everything that comes with that chaotic time of year. It also allows families more time to focus on connection and relationships. 

  • Perhaps schedule two sessions a week rather than one
  • Schedule a weekly session if your child only sees their therapist every other week.
  • Work to include family therapy. If you increase to two sessions a week, have one serve as an individual session and one as a family session.
Increase Responsibilities in the Home

Over the summer, children tend to have more time on their hands while parents are still working. We truly believe that kids can step up within the household and take on more responsibilities in the home. While summer is a good opportunity to increase responsibilities in the home, it is important for parents to manage emotions around the expectations with these.

  • Accept and expect that your child will need reminders.
    If you know this is what you can expect, you can better avoid the emotional response that comes from the thought, “Don’t you know by now that this is your responsibility?!”Our children do not prioritize these things and it is ok to offer reminders. “You can definitely go hang out with your friends, once you get the dishes done.”
  • Create new habits for the new school year
    Summertime is a great time to develop some new habits for your older adolescent children to take on, with the intention of carrying it through the next year.
Stick with your usual standards when teaching a life skill

If your child is not already doing their own laundry, now is an opportune time to start. Tell your child that you will help with the next 2 loads of their laundry and teach them the skill. After that, they get to take it on for themselves.

If your child is fine to wear the same dirty shirt all week, let them know that self-care and wearing clean clothes is a basic expectation for some of the privileges, such as screen time, that they enjoy. If laundry isn’t happening weekly, they likely are not practicing great self-care.

Financial Freedom

Set up some summertime incremental financial freedom. The term financial freedom refers to the ability to be free of dependence on your parents, however, with the reality still very much in place, that our children are “parent funded” for quite some time.

  • Have your child contribute
    Communicate what costs you currently cover for your child  (phone, groceries and eating out, clothing, car insurance etc.) Pick half of one payment - such as starting with their phone bill (if your child has one), and let them know that they are expected to start paying for a portion of their bill this summer.
  • Share Ideas for Earning Money
    Money can be earned through bigger community chores (different from basic personal responsibilities such as picking up their room), such as: car washing, a part time job or monetary compensation from you for volunteer hours done in the community.
  • Set a monthly stipend
    Give your child a monthly stipend that allows them to be in charge of their purchases (phone, clothes, spending money). By having to manage a stipend, they learn to budget as well as to see that you have limitations on certain expenses, which teaches them the value of saving, especially if they want to “upgrade”.
  • Have them fund things that make sense to them
    If your child is driving - gas money can be what they start to take over. If your child is older - gas money and part of the car insurance might be more appropriate.
  • Keep the tone positive The “tone” of setting up responsibilities is important and essentially your key to success. “You often mention how you want more privileges as you get older and we really support that along with taking on the age-appropriate responsibilities that come along with the privileges. The more you learn to take on, the more likely you will be ready to take on the independence that you will have worked hard for each year.”

Some of our kids are scared of to grow up, some are excited for it, most experience both emotions and very few of them are prepared to handle the magic “18-year-old" lifestyle that they dream about. This approach also allows you, as the parent, to continue the journey of decreasing adolescent entitlement and increasing adult responsibility.

Parents - do not forget to take care of yourself?

Growing up is exciting, though parents typically only role model that being an adult means having a lot of stress, responsibilities and a never-ending to-do list. Make sure you do something new every couple of weeks. This can be with your significant other, friends or on your own. Get some time away from the kids so that you can maintain the energy it takes to parent well through the summer.

Don't forget to role model that being an adult has responsibilities, but also some wonderfully fun privileges that go along with it.


Hilary Moses &  Jen Murphy

Founders of Solutions Parenting Support

*Please note, in the interest of supporting a child’s pronoun of choice, we refer to the child with the pronouns they, them, theirs in this email.

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Solutions Parenting Support, LLC is a nationally recognized parent support and transition program assisting parents and families with straightforward and compassionate skills based support prior to, during and after wilderness therapy and/or residential treatment. Solutions is a dynamic team of parent coaches who have had extensive careers as therapists in wilderness therapy or residential treatment before turning their talents towards coaching parents around the globe. The team is family system focused and are licensed professional therapists and/or social workers each with 15-30 years of experience working in wilderness therapy programs, varying levels of residential treatment programming, and transitional support.

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