Summertime is often seen as a time for teenagers to relax and have fun, but boredom and lack of motivation can also set in. As a result, teens may find themselves feeling restless and uninspired.    
Connecticut Children’s mental health expert Preeti Sandhu, PsyD, shares 6 ways to keep your teenager motivated during the summer months. 

1. Empower them to set personal goals.

Ask your teen what they want to achieve over the summer, whether it's learning a new skill, reading a certain number of books, or volunteering for a cause they care about.

Setting goals will give them something to work towards and help them stay focused. A win-win for them and for you.

What to do:

  • Make sure to also talk about how they would like you to support them! Do they want reminders or would a reward system help them stay on track? 
  • You can be a great foundation for them to learn how to stay disciplined even when motivation is low. 

2. Create a structured schedule together.

Even though school is out, structure is still important for your teen to stay on track and avoid boredom. 


  • A lack of routine can really hamper both physical and mental well-being. 
  • Sleeping three or more hours past a typical wake-time can disrupt circadian rhythm patterns for weeks for our teens. 

What to do:

  • Work together to identify a consistent sleep and wake time, ways to check in during the day to help promote activity, and even time set aside for chores and activities. 
  • Encourage your teens to be just as plan-ful about fun activities. When we start to become bored and lethargic, these are usually the first things we forget about. 
  • Make sure to include time for activities they enjoy, as well as time for chores and responsibilities.

3. Introduce a new activity—or resurrect an old one.

One of the best ways to keep your teen motivated is to get them involved in activities they enjoy. This could include sports, music, art, CPR classes, or volunteering.

Activities will help them stay active and engaged, and they'll also make new friends and learn new skills.

What to do:

  • Tap into social media, which can offer new ways to get involved in the community that does not have to break the bank. 
  • Encourage your teen to practice safe social media use by joining local group outings or finding events they would like to participate in! 
  • Make it a family affair so you can all get active and enjoy the summer sunshine. 

4. Encourage them to look for a job.

If they are of legal working age, a part-time summer job is a great idea!

It can go a long way in teaching teens time management and the importance of financial responsibility.

What to do:
•    Check out this list of permitted occupations for teens, from the Connecticut State Department website. If you teen isn’t legal working age, have them consider local volunteering opportunities. 
•    Ask your teen’s school for resources to help keep students active in the summer as well as local government organizations. 
•    Go to your town’s website and see how your community is keeping teens engaged.

5. Support their interests and unique talents.

If your teen has a particular interest, such as playing the guitar, harvesting a garden, or writing poetry, encourage them to pursue it.

Summer means less academic pressure, so they can spend the time finding mentors and peers with similar interests.

What to do:

  • Provide them with the resources they need, such as lessons, books, or equipment, and let them know that you're there to cheer them on. 
  • Encourage your teen to build a support network around this interest. You may even find a reason to plan a small family trip to help your teen feel excited to show you their interest, such as taking them to a local concert or museum showing. 

Avoid being critical or negative about their interests, as this will only discourage them.

>Related: How to Check on Your Teen's Mental Health 

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Keep the dialogue open. Talk to them about their goals, interests, and concerns. Let them know that you're there for them and that you support them. Ask them if they learned something new today.

Preeti Sandhu, PsyD,
Pediatric Psychologist, Connecticut Children's

6. Success looks good on them. Celebrate it.

When your teen meets a goal they set out for themselves, celebrate! This type of positive reinforcement will help them stay motivated and encouraged to continue working towards their goals, all summer long and well into the school year.

Here are some additional tips for helping your teen stay happy, healthy and focused this summer, and every day: 

  • Make sure they’re getting enough sleep.
    Tired teens are more likely to be irritable and unmotivated.
  • Encourage a healthy plate.
    A healthy diet will help them stay energized and focused. Cook together—trying new recipes is a great way to decompress and share an experience. 
  • Limit screen time.
    Too much screen time can lead to boredom and lack of motivation. Here are 7 developmental pediatrician-approved ways to reduce screen time
  • Get the chores done. 
    Don’t let them dodge responsibility, even on their summer break. Chores are great for feeling a sense of accomplishment. 
  • Spend time together.
    Keep the dialogue open. Talk to them about their goals, interests, and concerns. Let them know that you're there for them and that you support them. Ask them if they learned something new today.

Keeping teenagers motivated during the summer can be a challenge, but it's important to remember that they're still growing and learning. Parents, you play a role in helping them make the most of their summer vacation.  

Keep Calm and Parent On.

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