The gift your teenager needs, but will never request

Your teen may not ask for it. In fact, they may not know it is an option. Use these tips to help your teen find rest from social media.

When I was young, we had one main phone. Connected to the wall with a super long cord. The cord could stretch to the basement stairs, the only place you could talk in “private.”

If someone was on the phone, you had two options. Wait. Or pick up another extension and say, “hurry up!” to whoever was talking.

School day gossip traveled slowly. If you wanted to share info, you had to manually contact each friend individually. One phone call. One origami folded note at a time.

It’s only now, as I look back, that I realize the importance of this slow-moving communication.

Teens Today

Compare this to your teens’ experience.

They are constantly one swipe away from gossip, updates, feedback (good and bad), trends, judgment, and heartache.

They are surrounded by it at school. And it continues through the afternoon and well into the night.

Unfortunately, it’s not just social media that our kids have to manage.

It’s homework. College applications. Jobs. Sports. Extra curricular activities. Relationships.

There’s no end.

There’s no escape.

What teens need.

This generation of teens misses out on a luxury we took for granted in years past…


Your child rarely has a chance to just BE. To be present in the moment without worrying about who commented on their latest picture or what’s happening in the chat.

This constant stress and pressure can be too much to bear.

Unfortunately, they don’t even realize that rest is an option.

How to give your teen rest.

Helping your teen tune into their needs, learn to take a break, to have fun without social pressure, can be a big task for parents.

You can’t force them to engage in restful behavior. But you can encourage it!

  • Schedule family-wide screen free time
  • Spend time together in nature
  • Engage in a (non-screen related) activity together like sports, art, music, or cooking.
  • Do something they loved to do as a kid
  • Explore your teen’s ideas for adding rest into their lives
  • Encourage activities that build mindfulness like yoga and meditation

But, the most important step: Make your home a place of rest

Which means, backing off a little. (Or a lot.)

Rather than drilling your kids about their constant use of technology or getting on their case about missing homework right when they come in the door, pause.

Give them a chance to breathe.

There is a time and place to have conversations about homework, curfews, and safety issues, but these don’t have to be the ONLY topics you cover.

To create a “restful” environment, start by just saying, “hi!” when they come in the door. Give them a hug, pat on the back or a (genuine!) smile. Bring up an interesting news story. Ask about something they are interested in, a book, a movie, music. Ask their opinion. Ask for their help.

Then, wait.

It’s OK if they don’t drop their phone and run straight into your rest-providing arms. Remember, your teen may not even realize that rest is an option in their fast-paced world.

You may get some resistance, confused glances or eye-rolls, but be ready when they take you up on a conversation or activity.

Don’t make rest another thing to fight about.

Rest may not be something that comes naturally for your teen. It may take time for them to become comfortable with the idea of cutting ties (temporarily!) with the non-stop flow of information.

Give it time. Be patient and empathetic with the pull of social media and the need to be connected to friends.

We’re not going back to the days of extra-long phone cords and keeping your sister off the phone so you don’t miss a call from your boyfriend.

Rest is becoming harder and harder to come by.

In fact…could you use a little rest in your life too? (Here are some practical ideas for self-care)

Nicole Schwarz (couch 3)

Welcome! I'm Nicole Schwarz.

I'm a Parent Coach, Licensed Therapist and Author of It Starts with You. I help stressed, overwhelmed, confused parents find calm, confidence and connection with their kids. No one is expecting perfection here. But, if you’re willing to examine your parenting, find encouragement, or try something new, this is the place for you.

Comments have been turned off to retain the privacy of all families. If you have a question or comment on the topic, you're always welcome to contact me.