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Focus on Your Teen: 9 Best Activities to Do As a Family [Infographic]

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9 Best Activities to Do with Your Teen. Are you and your teen drifting apart? Start with some fun activities and then add in some meaningful things like volunteering together. #teenactivities #familytime #family #familymoments #teentime #teens #familytimecounts #dinnertime

It is important to focus on your teen especially because we live in such a superficial and materialistic world.

I think about the situation with Kate Spade and her loss of life due to suicide. It makes you realize there is more to life than a designer purse.

Perhaps we have lost our focus. Our world tends to value things more than people. Here is one of Kate Spade’s quotes, “I adore pretty things and witty words.” Unfortunately, pretty things and witty words didn’t help her feel life was worth living.

Where Is Your Focus?

I am back to focusing on people. More importantly, I am going to focus on my teen. I want her to know all the money, clothes, purses, and fame cannot make a person happy. If that were the case, we would have many more happy Americans.

Related: Parenting Teens: Is Your Daughter a Graceful Pillar?

Instead, we have a lot of depressed Americans. America has one of the highest rates of depression. Our teens are included in this statistic. Social media is to blame for a lot of this depression. Here is an infographic on The State of Mental Health in America (2018). 

Focus on Your Teen: 9 Best Activities to Do with Your Family.

Our teens constantly compare their things with each other and post it on Instagram/Snapchat, etc. Other teens look at social media for a while and get depressed. They are upset they don’t have those things or weren’t invited to a certain party.

There has got to be more to life than posting your purse, clothes, shoes, car, or who you are with on Social Media. I’d be depressed, too, if this were all I looked at during the day.

Related: 5 Things Teens Wish Their Parents Knew

The Black Hole

Most of us have pretty much what we want, but it is not enough. There is a black hole in our hearts. Anything we try to buy or add to our lives goes into this black hole.

The problem is you can never fill a black hole. It is a bottomless pit. Boy, do we try!

I loved my Kate Spade purse and wore it for several months with great pride. Guess where that Kate Spade purse is right now?

Kate Spade purse on the top shelf of my closet.

It is in my closet on a shelf. The season changed. I have another purse I am wearing for the summer. While I was on vacation, I was looking at yet another designer purse. I didn’t buy it, but I was tempted.

Could it be we are always looking for the next best thing to fill that void?

Where Is Your Focus?

Is your focus on your teen’s character? Or is it focused on the accumulation of stuff, popularity, and position?  I had to ask this question to myself often when my kids were growing up.

We are so concerned about them having the right purse, outfit, car, and status. Maybe we have lost focus on them as a person and their character. Who are our children becoming?

Are they more concerned with the external than the internal? Are WE more concerned with external than internal? Take time to honestly asses your child’s character. Ask yourself where they are emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

9 Ways to Focus On Your Teen (or Younger Child) This Year:

1. Devotional at Meal Time

Read a devotion every day that focuses on character. Ask a few questions at the end so you can get feedback. Use this time to focus on the story and the choices that were made-good or bad.

Related: 25 Things You Must Do to Be a Good Parent

2. Bible/Prayer Quiet Time

Focus on your teen or young children by creating a quiet time during the day or before bed.  Have them do Bible/prayer reading. I used this scale as an idea for their spiritual time: Age=time. If your child is 15 years old, encourage a 15 minute Bible/prayer time.

Related: How to Approach God as Parents

3. Volunteer

Find a place to volunteer together. Most schools require a certain amount of volunteer hours. Use the summer or holidays to do it together. You will have something to talk about as a family. There will be bonding over what you saw together, and how you made a difference.

4. Mission trip

For years we did a family mission trip in the summer. Both of my kids say this was the best thing we did as parents. It was life-changing for our whole family. If you can’t go, send your kids on a trip.

Related: Mission Trip: How Bad is it at the Texas-Mexico Border

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book.

Purchase your ebook or paperback on Amazon or at your favorite digital store. 

5. Teachable moments

Take time to talk about things like suicide, #metoo, or whatever is important to your family. Talk through all the aspects of it, and let your kids wrestle through the issues. You don’t have to have all the answers.

Related: How to Create Family Memories With a Crazy Schedule

6. Character quality

Focus on your teen or young children by picking a character quality each week. Your kids can help pick it out so they have ownership of the choices. Weave that character quality into discussions all week long.

Related: The Best Parenting Tips You Will Ever Find

7. Giving

Have the kids work around the house or do a lemonade stand. Teach tithe and offerings with their earned money. Or have them help an older neighbor for free.

8. Pray together

Pray together every day at meals and at night. Your kids are not too old to pray with them. I prayed on the phone with my 19-year old the other night.

Pick someone outside the family to pray for such as a missionary or friend.  Someone that your teen/child cares about.

9. Eat together

I can’t tell you how important it is to eat with your family most days. Turn off the TV and talk to each other. You will find out a lot just by listening. Give time for each person in the family to talk.

It is a non-threatening environment that gives you a clear window into your teen or child’s heart. I suggest there never be any real punishment given while at the table. It will muddy your time with the family.

Related: How to Get to Your Child’s Heart

I pray you will make time to focus on your teen or young children so they realize there is more to life than a designer purse or the next best piece of sport’s equipment. Put your time in things that are eternal instead.

What fun activities would you recommend to do with your teen?

Book on Family Estrangement from a Christian Point of View

Are you experiencing family problems? Perhaps you and a loved one are no longer speaking to each other. Don’t go another day without reading this book. It addresses family problems and estrangement from a biblical point of view. Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart is on Amazon or at your favorite digital store.

Estranged: Finding Hope When Your Family Falls Apart book.

Get Creating Family Memories for FREE in exchange for your email. If you get this book, it will help you build a good relationship with your kids so that when the hard times come (teen years), you will be able to weather the storm.

Scroll down or look to the side to sign up. You can also get it at your favorite bookstore.

Facebook Group

Continue the conversation on Facebook and join the group Christian Family Living. This is a place for Christian women to share their experiences and get helpful tools to navigate the Christian life. We love to laugh, cry, and encourage each other to live out our faith one day at a time.

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Julie Plagens

74 Comments

  1. Adrienne Bruner on June 16, 2018 at 12:24 am

    “maybe we have lost focus on them as a person and their character.” so true! I love this! My son is 2 so I have a while before the teen years but I do think I need to prepare and always be on alert on focusing and relating.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 4:02 pm

      Adrienne,it comes faster than you think. It is never too early to start training good character. Simple things like not hitting, tantrums, etc. can be used as times of reinforcement for what is acceptable. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Rachel on June 15, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    Mental Health is super important and I wish it didn’t have to take celebrity deaths to bring awareness to this. I work at a science museum and we recently opened an exhibit on mental health to reduce stigma and increase conversation. People need to learn to recognize signs for help and not de-legitimize someone’s struggles.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 4:04 pm

      Rachel, this is so good to hear. I think talking about it really helps. Prince Harry has done a lot by making it a point of conversation. Glad you all are doing your part, too. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Jen @ Jenron Designs on June 15, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    These are such great mantras to focus on especially over the summer months when you dial life back a bit and really reconnect as a family. It is the perfect to put done the technology and get back to the grassroots meaning of a good life.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 4:06 pm

      Jen, I do miss the days of very little technology. I just had to deal with the TV and computer when my kids were younger. But cell phones came into life when they were in Jr. High. We, of course, got them one eventually. Ugh.

  4. Jean on June 15, 2018 at 1:17 pm

    These are some great ideas. It’s important to give young people our time, it’s such a challenging time growing up. I agree with you about buying things to fill a void. It’s all about making memories and time together.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 4:14 pm

      Jean, thanks so much for your comment. It is easy to send your kids with money and not spend time with them. There needs to be a balance of time and getting needs met.

  5. Kathleen Betancourt on June 15, 2018 at 8:40 am

    this post is SO important. Thank you for sharing about mental health illness! xo

  6. Ophira on June 15, 2018 at 7:24 am

    Teenage years are full of emotional ups and downs. Its wonderful that you are keeping time together so organized. this is one age group that truly deserves a lot of one on one attention.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 4:08 pm

      Ophira, thanks so much for your thoughts. Kids do need a lot of time.

  7. Charli Bruce on June 15, 2018 at 5:26 am

    Teenagers really do need our attention, they can hide so much from us but not in a malicious way but because they don’t want to share or burden us with their problems. I try to do something with my daughter one on one at least once a week, it gives her time to just open up and chat in her own time without feeling the pressure. We are also going on a holiday at the end of July, there is no wifi and no electronics allowed while we are away and I’m hoping it will give us all some well needed bonding time x

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 4:11 pm

      Charli, that is so smart. I think they do enjoy connecting with us. I am so glad you will be away for a while without electronics.

  8. Jubilee D Meyer on June 14, 2018 at 9:47 pm

    I think it would be amazing to go on a mission trip as a family!

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 4:15 pm

      Jubilee, it is such a great thing. So glad we did it! Thanks for your comment.

  9. Katie/Celebrating With The Bug on June 14, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    Well said! Things don’t really make us happy and that is so important to teach our children!

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 4:16 pm

      Katie, so hard to realize this. We keep coming back to stuff instead of dealing with issues. Thanks for your comment.

  10. ohmummymia on June 14, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Lovely tips! Without a doubt, teenagers need our attention. I think eating together it’s really important

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 4:17 pm

      Yes, eating together is very important. I am so glad we did this. You learn a lot about what is going on with your kids. Thanks for your comment.

  11. Becca Wilson on June 14, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    I really think that we definitely don’t spend enough time together as families anymore. This is so very important!

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 4:19 pm

      Becca, it is hard to spend time with your kids if both parents work full time. It is important to make the time though. Thanks for your comment.

  12. Maddy on June 14, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    These are amazing tips. As my son gets older, I am more am more and more conscious of giving him attention. Just because he is getting independent, doesn’t mean that we don’t still need to connect.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 4:20 pm

      Maddy, you are so right. They need a lot of time even when they are older. Thanks for your comment.

  13. Annick on June 14, 2018 at 11:14 am

    it’s just so sad hearing about the deaths of successful people.. really serves as a reminder that depression does not discriminate.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 4:54 pm

      Annick, you are so right. It sure doesn’t. You can have everything and feel like you have nothing. Thanks for reading.

  14. Marcel on June 14, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Spending time together seems like the best solution! Great article! ?

  15. Caitlin + Dani on June 14, 2018 at 6:49 am

    Volunteering and Mission Trips are such eye-opening experiences for teens. Such a great list!

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 4:55 pm

      Caitlin, yes, they are. I am so glad we did this with our kids. It reaped great dividends. Thanks for your comment.

  16. Vanessa Delia on June 14, 2018 at 12:33 am

    Luckily I do not have to deal with teens yet. I certainly am getting prepared though!

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 4:58 pm

      Vannessa, yes, it is coming. It will be here before you know it. It is good to start working on character at any age. Thanks for reading.

  17. Apolline on June 13, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    This is well written and eating together is one of my favorites. Thanks for these tips.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 4:59 pm

      Apolline, that is one of the best compliments. I am always thrilled when someone says it was well written. Thanks for taking the time to read.

  18. Heather on June 13, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    I love these ideas. I am already doing a few of them with my teen, but will make an effort to add a few more!

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:00 pm

      Heather, it sounds like you are a great mom! Thanks for reading.

  19. Nicole on June 13, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    These are all really great tips to be more involved with your teen and family. I always try to have a family dinner or breakfast each day, I think it’s a great way to talk and get involved. I’ll have to try some of the others as well, thanks for sharing!

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:01 pm

      Nicole, it is so great that you eat together. You do find out a lot from your kids. HA HA. Thanks for reading.

  20. Jojo Hua on June 13, 2018 at 10:22 am

    Kate Spade is such a tragic loss. Same thing happened to me actually, I got my very first Kate Spade nude Cameron Street Lucie which I LOVE. I then went on to get the same bag in rose gold. I can’t believe she has passed now. And how heartwarming that you turned this tragedy into something so mindful and positive.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:03 pm

      Jojo, it is horrible. I feel bad for her little girl who will never have her mommy again. Such a loss. I hope we can find something good in this situation. We have got to stop this. Thanks for reading.

  21. Hannah on June 13, 2018 at 9:40 am

    I love these great tips! We always try and eat together as a family sooooooo important! Also think is very important to teach how to make money as well as proper distribution of that money. Enjoyed this read.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:04 pm

      Oh, yes! Money issues are so important to address. Such a good idea for the next post. Thanks, Hannah.

  22. Renata on June 13, 2018 at 4:41 am

    Yes, there is certainly more to life than a great purse – being a traveller, I don’t focus on material things too much, anyways. But I must say that my daughter turned out just find – very happy, healthy life, great circle of friends, cool career – and we are not a religious family; as a matter of fact when I look at all the things that have happened in the name of religion – entire continents were basically destroyed, I personally do not believe that praying and a religious obedience are key to a happy and fulfilled life; they can be for certain people and I’m happy for them to have found meaning in that, but it does not have to be so for everybody. You can be a very empathic, good-hearted person without having prayed in your life.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:13 pm

      Renata, I am so glad for you and your family. You have learned that stuff doesn’t make you happy. Yes, there have been all sorts of wars over religion, but I would say it is a cover for the real reason for some of the wars-greed, power, lust for more.
      I can’t begin to convince you why I find a relationship with Jesus is meaningful. For me, it is not a religion, but a relationship. I am so glad there is something way bigger than me because if this is all there is in life, I am gonna be really depressed. I am really not that impressed with myself or anyone else, for that matter. We are all sinful.
      If you ever get to a place in your life that seems hopeless, I hope you will ask God to show you if He is real. He has a way of showing up. Thanks for your honesty. I am thrilled you commented.

  23. tia mckinzie on June 13, 2018 at 12:06 am

    This is def. a great reminder! I know remember how it was to be a teen so i pay extra special attention to my oldest daughter. I want her to know she is loved and that no matter what she is feeling she always has a safe space with me!

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:14 pm

      Tia, that is so sweet. We need more people like you who will stop and listen. Thanks for reading.

  24. Nina on June 12, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    Certainly, a very good reminder to concentrate on the priorities! Thank you for sharing this inspirational post.

  25. morry elder on June 12, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    Great Post
    This article is a reminder as to how important family interactions are . Indeed how we teach and treat our kids is reflected in their behaviors.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:16 pm

      Morry, family interaction is so important. Eating together is one small way to reconnect every day. Thanks for reading.

  26. Tara Pittman on June 12, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    The teen years were tough for me as depression hit me hard after my brother was killed. I will focus on these tips with my teen for sure.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:17 pm

      Oh, Tara, I am so sorry. That would be hard for anyone. Teen or not. Things like that are hard to process. I hope you have been able to work through the pain and loss. Thanks for reading.

  27. Andrea on June 12, 2018 at 10:44 am

    Times have changed a lot since I was a kid, and I see the kids rather play inside with videos games or phones instead of spending more time outside playing games. I remember my mom not letting us in the house during the summer unless it was for lunch, or snacks, she wanted us to really enjoy ourselves outside.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:19 pm

      Andrea, yes, this is so true. I feel like we have this generation has been robbed of their freedom because of an uptick in crime and electronics. So sad for our kids. It was wonderful back then to roam around. Thanks for your comment.

  28. Asher Kabeer on June 12, 2018 at 10:26 am

    Depression is due to the fact that they are not taught any specific code to live a self-contented life. When people start chasing material things, they always end up no where.
    You’ve discussed great tips to put our focus on children. Well being South Asian, and specifically a Muslim, we are taught from the very early age to respect human and people around you more than material things because these things have no real value.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:21 pm

      Asher, it is so good to hear your culture values human life. We could all learn a few things about respecting people more than stuff. Thanks for your comment.

  29. GiGi Eats on June 12, 2018 at 8:41 am

    These days I think kids/teens get way too caught up in technology and I don’t think that’s healthy at all. They need to get outside, EXPLORE THE WORLD – see it in front of their eyes in person, not on a screen!!!

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:22 pm

      Gigi, amen! I agree. Camping was one way we got our kids out in the open, Such a fun thing to do as a family. Thanks for your comment.

  30. Olga Zak on June 12, 2018 at 6:45 am

    Ohh.. love this post. All ideas are nice. It is an inspirational article. Thanks for sharing this great post.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:22 pm

      Olga, thanks so much. That means so much to me. Thanks for taking the time to read it.

  31. Sophie on June 11, 2018 at 3:58 pm

    Beautiful – I love this. I’m going to be holding on to it for when my kids are a bit older!

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      Sophie, you can start training your kids early when it comes to character. I read the Bible outloud to my babies in the womb. God’s word will not return void.

  32. Amanda Preston on June 11, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    This was a great reminder to focus on the right priorities and also a helpful list to get there! Thanks!

  33. Ayanna @ 21FlavorsofSplendor on June 11, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Love this! Finding ways to build memories with our kids and focusing on what truly matters is so important.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:25 pm

      Ayanna, it is hard to find what matters. It is through trial and error. Thanks for reading.

  34. Julie on June 11, 2018 at 11:36 am

    I love your idea of the Character Quality discussions. While we do talk randomly about different character qualities, I think focusing on individual character traits for a week and weaving into everyday life is a great suggestion. I feel this is something that our children need to know and understand.

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:26 pm

      Julie, thanks for your thoughtful comment. It is hard to be purposeful somedays. Many days we are glad the kids got their pants on right side out! Hope you will make time to work on different character qualities as time permits.

  35. Amalia Silva on June 11, 2018 at 10:23 am

    I think doing having some teenager moments with them is a great tip, it will make them feel like they are in control of choosing what to do which is something I remember I loved! also eat together is so important and not done so much lately in our days!

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      Amalia, yes, we are so busy working and running kids to practice that we don’t have time to do what is really important. I hope parents will make time to spend with their kids and work on character. Thanks for reading.

  36. brandon hudson on June 11, 2018 at 8:25 am

    This was a very well written article and one that I hope reaches a lot of people. Times have changed a lot since I was a kid and all I see now are children who rather play on the phones or on videos games. Even as an adult, I sometimes feel like I’m missing out when I see the luxurious post on social media. Mental health needs to be at the forefront in every household, checking on people in person rather than online!

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:29 pm

      Brandon, yes, I am here online now. it is hard to get away from it. We are becoming more and more connected with a screen instead of people. Thanks for reading.

  37. Brandi on June 11, 2018 at 6:53 am

    Great tips! We’re planning on taking a long family trip this summer and I’m hopeful that it will give us a chance to really connect with our teens and tween without technology being in the way. For as wonderful as technology is, it can also be so damaging. ?

    • Julie Plagens on June 16, 2018 at 5:30 pm

      Brandi, hope you have a great trip without all the screened things. Great for family connection. Thanks for reading.

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