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Last Updated on June 3, 2019 by Diane Hoffmaster
As my children move into high school and we start thinking more and more about college, I find myself worrying about raising a well rounded teenager. Academics have never been a problem for my kids. I am incredibly lucky that both my children were accepted into the gifted program early on in elementary school and good grades come fairly easily for them. But, raising a well rounded child is about so much more than grades!
How Do You Become A Well Rounded Teenager?
As my kids get older, the schools are starting to push more and more challenging materials at them. You think that's a good thing, right? But the track they were heading down had them in college level courses by their Junior year in high school. That left little time for anything else and concerned me quite a bit.
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I decided to start putting on the breaks on this 'academic rigor' they were pushing us towards. I began to realize that it is just as important to raise a well rounded teenager as it is to have 15 advanced placement courses on their high school transcript.
Tips for Raising a Well Rounded Teenager
Colleges want to see not only academic success but also a well rounded teen and with too much academic pressure this just isn't possible. What makes you a well rounded individual? I've been doing some research and here are a few things that have stood out so far:
Academics are important but don't let the focus be ONLY on doing well
Encourage your teenager to take classes that expose them to new ideas and skills. Languages, computer courses, public speaking, and other subjects outside of the 'core' curriculum can all help create a well rounded teen. Focus on essential life skills that may be offered at school or through a local parks and rec department.
Essential Life Skills for Teens
- Money or Budgeting Skills.
- Cooking or Food Skills.
- Clothing Skills like sewing
- Basic First Aid
- Social skills and manners.
- Organization skills.
Encourage relationship building
This is one area my son really struggles with since he is very much an introvert. (You can read about our struggles on that issue in my post 'A Mom’s Take on Raising an Introverted Child'). Relationships that your teenager develops should be with friends (both boys and girls) as well as adults.
Encourage them to talk to teachers, your pastor, members of your church congregation, adults at volunteer organizations, etc. They will have to feel comfortable with adults in order to successfully navigate college admissions and job interviews.
Make family time a priority
Studies have shown that a strong family bond can play a crucial role in a child's success in life. Academic success, successful romantic relationships, and long term happiness are all effected by how close a teenager is to his or her family.
Raising teenagers in today's over connected society is hard. Make time to spend together as often as possible. Turn off the electronics, go out for ice cream, or just sit down for family movie night with your teens. Encourage a strong family bond now and your teenager will reap the rewards for years to come.
Encourage Alone Time for a Well Rounded Teen
For some kids (like my introvert) this isn't a problem. But for teenagers who thrive on attention, friendships, and constant activity you may have problems. Teenagers do not need their lives planned out minute by minute. So your kid has a free Saturday afternoon? Don't worry about it! Let them learn how to fill their days without interference from you or help from their friends. Sometimes, all they need to become a well rounded teenager is time to figure out what they really want to do with their life.
Teach Responsibility as Soon as Possible
Teenage life would boring without a horrible retail job, right? Encourage your teen to get a job outside of the house or just hand them a summer chore list to make your life easier. Chores do not need to be paid, either. Combine chores with family time and get the whole family involved on a Sunday afternoon yard cleanup.
Jobs for teenagers could include babysitting, pet sitting, and even tutoring. Make sure you discuss proper money handling and budgeting when they start actually making money. Check out my post about helping your teenager get a job if they can't seem to find one.
Hobbies and Extracurricular Activities
Every teenager is different when it comes to their likes and dislikes. However, everyone should have some sort of 'fun' activity that they can do during their down time. Whether that happens to be playing tennis, playing an instrument, reading, painting, or underwater basket weaving is up to each individual child. Encourage them to try new things until they find the activity that suits them best. Check out my post about new hobby ideas or encourage them to try one of these:
Hobby Ideas for Teens
Volunteer Work is Vital for a Well Rounded Student!
The average teenager is probably not going to seek out volunteer work on their own. This is one area that I think colleges really like to see. It isn't always easy to find volunteer work for your teenager. Scouting organizations, churches, hospitals and school clubs are all places to start looking. This is one we are still looking into for my son. I'm hoping to get him involved with our Community Supported Agriculture program this summer but we'll have to see how that goes. Want to really bond with your teen? Volunteer TOGETHER!
Focus on Your Teen's Physical Health:
Teenagers don't really think about their physical health. They are young and invincible at that age. Try to model good eating habits, encourage them to get enough sleep, and get them involved in some sort of exercise. Good habits now will serve them well into adulthood.
College is getting harder and harder to get into and instead of being 'the smartest student' or 'the best athlete' your teenager should instead focus on being a well rounded person. Sure, being great at something is wonderful...but your teenager should have a life outside of that featured activity to really stand out. Check out the Huffington Post for more information about what colleges look for besides academics.
Do you have any other tips for raising a well rounded teenager?
(NOTE: Post updated and content added from previous publish date)
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She has two college aged kids, one husband and more pets than she will admit to. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire but left her career in science to become a stay at home mom. Years of playing with LEGO and coloring with crayons had her craving a more grown up purpose to her life and she began blogging and freelance writing full time. You can learn more about her HERE.
Finding balance can definitely be a challenge. It's good to learn it as a teenager so you can take those skills with you as an adult.
I'm amazed that more isn't done to teach young people about physical health and nutrition. It's so important, and so many people seem clueless about it.
Great tips! It is hard to find a balance when they have so much school work, but with only 1 1/2 more years left before my son goes to college, I want to make every moment count!
I am getting more and more nervous about college requirements and my son is only a Freshman!
Great post Diane. I couldn't agree with you more. All school and the area we live in seem to value now are academics and that is just a very small part of skills they will need in life!! Thanks for this great list and reminder to looks at the big picture. Happy New Year!
And this morning I watched a segment on the today show about how many schools are doing away with recess. So sad!
Great tips! Bookmarking and sending to my friends who are parents of teens.
Thankyou for sharing!
I agree with you and as nice as it is to get ahead academically there will always be time and building those family relationships are so important. Loved reading your article.