Eighth Grade Summer: Keeping Kids Busy and Safe

In response to many discussions and inquiries about risky behaviors on the part of some eighth-grade students, the Rye Youth Council has culled specific suggestions from a wide variety of parents, youth workers, and students about how to keep our children safe.

Published June 25, 2015 5:00 AM
2 min read

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In response to many discussions and inquiries about risky behaviors on the part of some eighth-grade students, the Rye Youth Council has culled specific suggestions from a wide variety of parents, youth workers, and students about how to keep our children safe.

By Sara Braun and Casey DeCola

In response to many discussions and inquiries about risky behaviors on the part of some eighth-grade students, the Rye Youth Council has culled specific suggestions from a wide variety of parents, youth workers, and students about how to keep our children safe.  

• Think about what your rules will be for the summer. Your children will want and push for more freedom than they have had. Think (now) about what you are comfortable with in terms of curfew and their whereabouts. Write down your expectations and communicate them succinctly to your child. Include clear communication about consequences if/when they break rules. The clearer and more up front you are now, the better it will be later.

• Connect with other parents. Kids will tell you that “everyone else’s parents” let them stay out late, hang out, go places, etc. This is simply not true. Some parents are lenient, but most are struggling against the pressure that they get from their kids. Connect with the parents of your child’s friends and ask them about their rules. 

• Be the parent who calls. Call, or even go to the door of the house where your teen is planning to hang out. Ask the questions that you need answers to for your own peace of mind. (“Will you be home?” “What time should I come get her?” “Is their access to alcohol?”)

• Quote from one parent: “Nothing good happens in town with a group of eighth graders after 10 p.m.”

• Have a plan for your child to communicate with you if she/he is in trouble.  Establish a way for your child to let you know that she needs to get out of a risky social situation. It can be a brief text that you agree in advance means you should send a (fake) angry text telling her/him to come home immediately. Let your kids blame you for having to leave risky situations.

• Keep kids involved at home as much as possible.  Family time, dinners together, day trips, and vacations are as important now as ever—even though your children will often protest. They need to have a home base and a sense of connection to help with emotional regulation during adolescence.

• Get out of town. Adolescents need a break from their social lives, even if they don’t know it. Getting away gives everyone a chance to relax and renew. 

• Sign them up for meaningful volunteer work. Early adolescents need a sense of purpose and connection to the world beyond their social drama. If at all possible, give them an opportunity to get out of their own heads and connect with a higher social purpose.  This can be transformative for kids this age!

• Talk to them about next year. Help them set goals.  Perhaps this is better done towards the end of the summer. It helps kids to reconnect with the school and the purpose of their academic lives.

The authors are Rye Youth Council advocates.

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