Teens: today's problem, tomorrow's future. If this cliche is true, teens should start learning how to handle the future - today.
By having a full schedule, teens learn responsibility. They are likely to stay out of trouble, as well as out of boredom. As a teen, I know what other teens mean when they say they're bored, and it doesn't mean they want to go do the dishes, vacuum, or mop.When teens say they're bored, it usually means, "Hey, let's do something fast before our brains melt on the asphalt," which usually leads to going to the mall, movies or any other source of entertainment. To teens, bore-dom is the number one killer in America.
To test this theory, I headed out to the mall to ask teens the question, "Do you like or would you like a full schedule?" I was astonished. Most teens admitted they enjoyed having a full day.
Kristen Anderson, a 14-year-old from South Jordan Middle School, commented enthusiastically, "I love it!" Even teens who don't have a full schedule want one. Nikky Clark from Alta High School said she wants more to do to keep her busy.
And what better way to learn responsibility than to have a planned day?
Teenagers learn promptness as well as maturity. Of all the teens I interviewed, nine out of 10 said they learn responsibility by working. At work they need to learn toget along with other employees, be on time, work hard and give their best or their employment is terminated. Almost all the teens I in-ter-viewed either had a job or wanted one.
Baby-sitting takes a lot of effort, depending on the child/children. It also takes a lot of dependability. For example: You can't sit on the black leather recliner, watching "All My Children," eating chocolate-flavored Cheetos, bon-bons and licorice knowing that a baby's favorite toy is a knife, and a toddler's favorite food is that blue stuff under the sink.
Work isn't the only thing that contributes to a full schedule for a juvenile. During the school year, teens have homework. And they'd better get out the Einstein thinking cap because if they don't, they'll be up till 2 in the morning doing their homework.
A lot of students are up till early hours of the morning, and not because they start on their homework at midnight. They have seven hours of school a day and many different hard classes with homework in almost every one of them. Ex-tra-cur-ricular activities - such as cheerleading, football or band - take up a lot of time. Such activities require hours of practice besides the hours of competing. They also take dedication.
For example, you can't be a cheerleader for half a year and decide not to cheer any more because you ate too many Twinkies over spring break. You would either be cut from the squad or fail the class, which would lead to possible summer school or taking an extra class.
Even with a full schedule, you can plan some time to relax with your friends and family. A planned day doesn't always have to be a hectic one.
Teenagers will usually have high self-esteem if they have a lot of skills. And we all know the famous saying, "practice makes perfect," but practicing just adds to your busy schedule. Even so, after we improve on our talents, we're happier than those who watched TV for the same amount of time.
If you had no excess time in your day, you'd be too busy to get into trouble. Think about it. If every teenager in the world had a job, school, and extracurricular activities, he or she would actually have to schedule time to make trouble.
It's good to have a little free time on your hands but not enough time to call up your buddies and go spray paint the neighbor's dog. According to Elaine Landau, author of "Teenage Violence," teenage unemployment is astoundingly high in poor urban neighborhoods.
Landau writes, "Young people who can't get a job or find any constructive means of bettering their lives often believe that there isn't much for them in respecting society's rules."
Dr. Carl C. Bell was once a member of a gang but is now a Chicago psychiatrist. He says, "Violence is the weapon of the powerless." So if you want to teach responsibility, if you want a teen to stay out of trouble and boredom, just give him or her something constructive to do.