If a teen is well rested at night, which they absolutely should be to meet the demands of changing hormones, rapidly evolving brains, and the rigor of school, they won’t need “decompression” as much rejuvenation and re-energizing. Having them learn a practice like mindfulness meditation and/or yoga empowers them with the tools to decompress in the most healthy and effective way. This is a practice they should engage in any time they feel the need to “decompress,” but that they should also practice regularly on a daily basis, ideally in the morning first thing, as a rule, before checking any electronic devices (computers, smartphones) for texts and emails etc. Many mindfulness and meditation courses are now widely and readily accessible -parents should incent teens to enroll-it’s one of the BEST investments they could make.
When they get home from school, decompression time should translate to parents spending several minutes with their teens asking powerful questions (not questions which solicit “yes” or “no” responses, but those that inquire after a teen’s highlights of the day, the moments where they felt most engaged, when their top strengths were at play*, moments when they felt really alive). These are energizing questions that will make the teen feel engaged, appreciated, empowered, connected. It also allows parents to stay up to speed with their child’s life without being invasive or negative.
No amount of time spent sleeping (beyond the requisite 8-9 hours a night) should be indulged because this will promote inactivity and disconnection in a healthy teen. If your young adult seems to want or need excessive amounts of sleep or rest, this could be a sign of depression or a physiological abnormality, and this should be monitored.
Filling hours with TV instead of communication with the family or other meaningful activities only feeds disconnection in a world where teens are already at high risk for losing valuable social skills. So, limit TV to a maximum amount every day, and encourage “face time” with the family-sit down to dinner, board games, family reading time (everyone sits together in the library or den with their current book-each member of the family can read one passage or favorite part at the end of each session). This, of course, on the days when teens are actually home and not filling busy social calendars and agendas 🙂 Either way, constantly remind teens to pursue actives that have meaning for them that feed their current purpose.
The end of school and beginning of summer should be a time to help teens get excited about focused on cultivating their strengths, focusing on areas of passion, feeding meaningful pursuits. So, encourage rest and recovery, through sleep, re-focusing on healthy and energizing foods, and activities like mindfulness, yoga, etc. and then keep the main goal in mind on what exciting things they plan to put summer energy into. If they need summer school, assess what areas of passion they can feed when not in school, using these as rewards for performing in summer school and staying engaged with academics.
The main point: Teens are at an exciting and crucial stage, becoming their future selves. Help them cultivate their best selves and give them the greatest chance for future happiness and success by empowering their strengths, giving them ways to find meaning and purpose, and shedding light on positive spaces, rather than indulging negative emotions, periods of inactivity, and areas of weakness.