Your teenager is growing up, and you may be finding out that you’re no longer the centre of their world! They’re branching out, finding some independence and trying out fun things with friends. So the big question is: Are there family activities for teens that they will happily engage with?
Maintaining the Connection
You might get an eye roll at the mere thought of doing something together as a family. Getting together with “the olds” might not seem like much fun!
However, family activities for teens are an important way of connecting with your child and staying bonded. Spending quality time together is a vital way nurturing a good relationship between parent and child through the teenage years. Participating in fun activities for the whole family are perfect opportunities to help keep the lines of communication open.
Your child’s wellbeing is probably right at the top of your parenting priorities, so let’s take a look at a list of ideas to keep your big kids occupied and stimulated.
Why is Teenage Wellbeing Important?
Developing a strong sense of wellbeing is fundamental to our health, happiness and sense of fulfilment. Good mental health contributes towards developing the ability to cope with life’s challenges, achieve goals and manage emotions well.
Prioritising Wellbeing Through Family Activities
Most teenagers enjoy and stay connected on social media. But this can also be isolating within a family setting. It’s likely your teenager occupies themselves with screen time, but as an alternative (or an addition) is there a better way that teens can prioritise wellbeing through family activities?
Here are some possible advantages to discovering activities you can engage with as a whole family,
- You get to connect with your child and monitor their wellbeing.
- Everyone increases their physical activity, moving their bodies through sport and exercise.
- You get to have new experiences, get out and about, and explore the world.
- Members of the family have a chance to challenge by trying something new.
- Family activities can provide much needed rest and relaxation, as a shared family experience.
- Engaging in activities together offers an opportunity for everyone to be “in the moment” and present with one another (also known as mindfulness).
How to Find Family Activities for Teens That The Whole Family Will Enjoy
Family circumstances and finances often dictate how much time and money you all have to dedicate to family activities, so planning can often be critical. Perhaps you will decide to do one activity per month which you have to pay for, and one that is free. You could designate the first and third Saturdays of each month as your Family Day.
Next comes the difficult part… How to find something that will engage your teenager!
First of all, what does your teenager like doing? What are they interested in? How much free time do they have?
7 Indoor Activities for Kids of All Ages
Do you have a bored teenager at home? It’s time to get creative and the best way to get your kids to be open to trying new things is to involve them in creating those ideas themselves. If you know they love reading, why not suggest a book club you could all join. If they love theatre, why not seek out what your local amateur dramatic society is doing.
We are all busy in my household, work, school, commitments, house chores, looking after pets, music practising. It’s not always easy to get everyone in the same place at the same time!
To organise some family activities for teens why not use a platform like Whatsapp? We have a family group where we can throw in ideas and dates and times of when we can do family activities together. It really works well for us.
Not just for a rainy day, these activities can be a fun way to spend time together.
1. Escape Room
This is a great family games activity. You have to work together to work out how to escape a room within a time-frame, following clues and steps to unlock the room. Escape rooms are not only massive fun but they strengthen skills such as: communication, memory, perception, time management, aim and dexterity.
In-person escape rooms can be pricey but offer a fantastic immersive experience. You can also take part in a virtual escape room from the comfort of your own home! Since the pandemic a wide choice of options has sprung up, some of which are free.
2. Planning and Cooking a Family Dinner
You can cook together at any time, not just for a special occasion. Get family members involved and chat about what foods everyone would like included. Have fun with it, maybe come up with a whacky ice cream recipe and experiment with different ideas.
3. Board Games
With hundreds of board games to choose from, maybe think about what strengths you might all bring to a game. For instance, if you like being detectives, try Cluedo. If numbers and maths is fun for you, try Rummikub or a fun game with cards.
4. Create a YouTube Channel
There are so many great ideas you can use to make a channel as a family. There are lots of YouTube video examples to get inspiration from. What are you good at doing together? How about comedy sketches, food & music reviews, gaming or challenges. Who knows, you might even make some money from it one day too!
5. Video Games
Gaming can provide an opportunity to work together, puzzling, strategising, solving problems and sharing ideas throughout the game. Parents can use video games as a tool to discuss character behaviour, answer questions about consequences of actions, and tackle healthy competition. So, if you have access to an x-Box, computer, Wii, Nintendo Switch or other device, try out some great family games.
6. Jigsaw Puzzles
From high tech to low tech! Jigsaw puzzles are a Christmas tradition in our house, but you don’t have to wait until then.
We dip in and out, sometimes working in pairs, sometimes more, but it’s always fun with the usual debate about who puts in the last piece!
You can buy puzzles from lots of outlets, but charity shops (thrift stores) often have plenty to choose from too. Perhaps you could set up a swap scheme at school or amongst friends and family or in the village or town you live in.
7. Movie Night
Plan a date in the diary where you all stop work, put studying aside, park the jobs list and come together for a great time watching a pre-chosen movie. Throw in some popcorn and snacks and have a cinema night at home!
7 Outdoor Activities
1. Cycle, Walk, Geocache
Get outdoors! There are lots of ways you can spend time outdoors, without spending a lot, if any money. What have you got on your doorstep? Can you walk or cycle to a river, a canal or wood perhaps?
If you’re walking, you can add some secret spice to win over your teenager by incorporating geocaching into your route.
Geocaching is like a giant treasure hunt. Use your device to locate a tiny container using cryptic clues. Inside the container you will find a log (to record your name and the date).
Usually you will also find small pieces of “treasure” the last person has left for you. It might be a key ring, a sticker or a pencil for example. The etiquette is to bring some of your own treasures to replace any you remove.
Try it, I guarantee you will have fun!
2. Time Capsule
How about burying a time capsule together? This is your family’s opportunity to make history for someone to find in years to come. You can communicate with future generations about us, today. It could be really personal to your family or include a wider collection of items that tell a story about the world you live in today.
Ideas of items or messages to include: a printed and dated news article, a family tree, photographs, artifacts, a list of current prices of food and staple items a family might need, an old mobile phone.
Get a comprehensive guide in this article on how to create a family time capsule.
3. Seasonal Events Including Family Festivals
Why not plan a new adventure for your family and go to a local outdoor event? The music, food and drink, and range of activities at festivals offers something for every member of the family. For example, check out this guide to family-friendly festivals in the UK.
If you’re reading this in the Winter months, check out seasonal family events like Christmas light trails and markets. For example, many country houses in the UK such as Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire have Christmas light trails combined with a Christmas fair. But what if you’re not in the UK? What kinds of local events is your area known for? Try asking friends and family and then get that date in the diary!
4. Organised Charity Challenge
Wherever you live, it’s likely there will be organised charity challenge events near you. Why not find an event that is family friendly, such as a sponsored walk, and sign up? For example, the UK charity Action for Children has a wide range of challenges to choose from.
5. Organise Your Own Fundraiser
Did you know that having a set of clear values is hugely important for your child’s mental health? And finding small ways to “live your values” is a vital aspect of wellbeing and life satisfaction. If your family share the value that we should give back to others, the perfect way to live this value is to find a way to support a good cause as a family.
There are endless projects you could work on together. You could try:
- A yard sale of pre-loved goods.
- A bake sale
- A home-made crafts sale.
- Volunteer together in an animal shelter or food bank.
6. City Tour or Treasure Trail on Foot
It’s never a good idea to visit a town or city if there’s a risk you may end up wandering aimlessly. You can follow a city treasure trail in your local town, and teach them about the history and culture of the place at the same time. Many towns and cities now have these self-guided trails to download. For example, this treasure trail website is UK-based and covers most areas.
7. Watch a Sport
Even if your family is not sporty, there’s something about attending a sporting event that is unforgettable. You get a sense of one-ness not only with those who you came with, but everyone else in the crowd, who have come to watch this unique experience.
So I recommend you get out of your comfort zone and give it a try. It may become a regular thing for your family!
Learn a Life Skill
Learning and mastering a new skill will boost your teenager’s confidence and build self-esteem.
This is especially true if your child has struggled to find a passion at school.
Here are some good ideas for learning a new skill together.
- Simple plumbing, electric wiring, DIY, wood-working, car maintenance
- Learning to cook
We have a great article which outlines some of the best learning platforms on the internet: Free Online Education Resources for Children. These free online courses and education resources may provide your child with ideas for projects that they would otherwise not have the chance to try!
What used to be called “distance learning” is now a fantastic and free opportunity to broaden your child’s learning experience.
Why not take a look together and see what your teenager might connect with?
Benefits of Family Activities for Teens
Learning life lessons through living out our family values will help your teenager feel safe, secure, grounded and understood. That special quality time with you will help them to express themselves, grow, develop self-esteem and master skills and abilities that will lead to fulfilling lives.
Prioritising family activities for teens will have so many benefits, not only for your teenager but for you all as a family unit.
Family activities for teens can…
- Build self-worth through values.
- Develop social skills including perspective-taking, empathy and social problem-solving.
- Develop effective communication styles.
- Create memories – things they will remember forever and maybe even turn into a tradition that gets passed down to the next generation.
- Increase physical wellness through movement and time in nature.
- Increase productivity and motivation.
- Develop social skills through sharing, co-operating, listening, following instructions, respecting others.
- Develop conflict management skills.
- Increase family wellbeing as a whole.
The fun activities we have explored in this article are, of course, not exhaustive. Tune in to what you all bring to the table as a family. When thinking about family activities for teens, always think about what they connect with so that a good time that can be guaranteed for all and your teen will stay engaged.
Hayley Vaughan Smith is a Person Centred Counsellor accredited by the National Counselling Society. She is the founder and counsellor at The Ridge Practice in Buckinghamshire, and Counsellor at Everlief Child Psychology.
Hayley has a special interest in bereavement counselling and has worked as a bereavement volunteer with Cruse Bereavement Care since 2019. Being a mum to 3 girls is hard work and rewarding in equal measure and gardening and walking in nature is her own personal therapy. Hayley believes being in nature, whatever the weather, is incredibly beneficial for mental health well-being.
Are you the parent of a 6-16 year-old? Join They Are The Future’s free Facebook group for regular tips on supporting teens and pre-teens with their mental health! Join the group: Parent Tips for Positive Child Mental Health UK.