After school special: Encourage extracurricular activities

ToxicFriends

The sun is out, the bell has rung, the backpack weighs at least 20 pounds as David files out of the school for the day. Upon getting home, backpack is on the floor, shoes are off, snacks are gathered, remote is located and David is set to relax for an hour or two in front of the TV.

Not just a babysitter’s club

Not just an excuse to get the teenager off the couch, extracurricular activities can keep them from abusing drugs and alcohol with the wrong crowds. Extracurricular activities or a sports team can motivate teens to find what they enjoy and would even want to continue into adulthood.

Kidshealth.org encourages teenagers with the importance and fun of joining an extracurricular activity, “You get to explore your physical, creative, social, political, and career interests with like-minded people.” Parents can put the ball in the teen’s court: their child has to select at least one extracurricular activity or sport to participate in, but it has to be something out of the house.

Kidshealth.org also explains, “People who are involved and engaged are less likely to become addicted to bad habits, like smoking or drinking.” The important part is to stress the teenager being the one to find an interest and not in just fulfilling a requirement.

Find your interest

Erica Patino, M.A., has developed a quiz designed to help the parent find an extracurricular activity for their teenager. The quiz involves a series of true or false questions asking about the teenager’s interests and behaviors in group activities. The results will recommend groups, sports or clubs based on the answers. Activities can vary beyond sports as many schools will include activities such as:

  • Dance or karate
  • Band, piano or guitar lessons
  • Chess club, drama club or computer club
  • Photography, yearbook or ASB

A study conducted at Northeastern University, authored by Amy Farrell, Ph.D., Sean P. Varano, Ph.D., and Jeb A. Booth, Ph.D., explores delinquency in teenagers who are involved in extracurricular activities. Results of the study find, “Students who reported greater involvement in sport, church, community, and nonsport school activities reported significantly lower levels of serious delinquency.” While his involvement did not stop the students from alcohol and drug use altogether, it lead to less opportunity for the chance of succumbing to substance abuse.

Having an activity of interest and an amount of time away from TV and video games can hold great benefit to physical and mental health. White River Academy provides treatment and care for troubled boys from ages 12 to 17. The academy follows a boarding school format, offering guidance through a disciplined education program and instilling character values through service projects to promote positive growth. For more information or to register, feel free to call 866-520-0905.

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