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Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Summer Slugs: How Much Sleep Do Teens Need?

Gracious, what is a parent to do! Another morning watching my teens drag themselves from slumber barely before noon, having gone to bed at 11 PM the night before. Another discussion about getting enough exercise, eating fruit with their breakfast, remembering their vitamins, doing a little required summer reading or Latin grammar homework, and planning a family activity for the day in addition to what they want to do, which is read, jump on the trampoline, play with the dog, and lounge around with friends.

Granted, there has been activity during our three months of summer. We have taken a wonderful vacation, the eldest is leaving for a two-week Japanese immersion camp soon, and we will do a week-long community service trip next week. We have even nicknamed this summer the "summer of responsibility" because both kids (12 and 15) have learned how to do the laundry, have done chores every day including taking the trash and recycling out, vacuuming, walking the dog (twice), dusting, doing dishes, and making some of their own meals, but neither one cleans up the dog poop without being asked or knows how to clean a bathroom, yet.

I am frustrated with the lack of enthusiasm about all the activities we are not doing together, and wonder if they would be better off if I had demanded the eldest work a little, and the youngest attend at east a day camp for a week or two. I am not trusting that all this resting is really justified by the intensity of our school year, which is the excuse I get when I probe into why they need 12 hours of sleep a night and activities requiring very little motion is all they seem to want to do. When I do get them to the beach, or on day trips with visiting friends and relatives, they seem perfectly happy and content to be out in the world, but left to their own devices, I get slug-o-rama!

Where are the parenting experts when I need one? I tend to suggest activities, some of which have been accepted- a little beading, some cooking or baking, crafts, art, a card game or ten, and a couple of really long walks - but it is like pulling teeth. I try to take my own advice and let them take responsibility for planning some of our days, or portions of the day, but I feel the social pressure to keep them busy, build a college resume, encourage them to work of study skills, get ready for the school year, talk to me about meaningful issues, clean out their drawers, read a newspaper to get the perspective of someone, anyone, outside of themselves, but the usual results are I throw in the towel, work a little, garden, or curl up with a good book myself - what a total (comfortable, cozy, relaxing) waste of time.

Thanks for listening and as always, any advice is appreciated.

Photo Credit: dbruiz123

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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