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Parents of Teens During School Breaks 

In this age range, teens begin to learn how to be independent and may take on more activities and responsibilities outside the home. When supporting teens, you should communicate with your kids about expectations and boundaries. The Teens section provides some tips on how teens can manage their own mental health during breaks. This section provides insights into how you as a parent can communicate with your children effectively and support what they need to maintain their mental health.

Respecting Boundaries

Boundaries and respect are very important in providing a foundation of trust between parents and their teens. As teens are on break without school restrictions, they have more time to dedicate to their hobbies, jobs and friends. Every family has different needs, and boundaries can look different. Take a look at our Boundaries info sheet to learn more about what they are, why they’re important, and how to set them up.

When thinking about your boundaries, consider your individual needs and capacity. Once you can think about your boundaries and where you can find flexibility within those boundaries, talk with your teen about what their boundaries are. Feel free to review the Boundaries info sheet with them so you’re on the same page.

Discussing boundaries with your teen can be difficult at first. Here are some things you can discuss regarding your boundaries and expectations. You don’t have to cover each thing on the list; this is just to help get the conversations started. It’s important that you explain why your boundary is important to you. You may be prioritizing your teens’ safety, while your teens may be prioritizing their autonomy and independence.

  • Using the family car — when it can be used, who fills the gas tank, where it can go, etc.
  • Having guests over — who can come over, how long can they stay, logistics around how they’re getting there and getting home, etc.
  • Going out — who is going, when they are going, how long will they be out.
  • Space — specifically relating to personal spaces like bedrooms or, in the case that a bedroom is shared, respecting items or areas in the room.
  • Personal time — specifically discussing when the best time is for everyone to have their own personal time or time away with friends.
  • Respecting time when at work — outline acceptable reasons why one person could call the other while at work. If working from home, this could also be respecting space for participating in meetings and getting tasks done.
  • Family time — what are the expectations for watching younger siblings? What are the expectations for spending quality time with family?
  • Autonomy — when out of the house, how often are teens expected to check in? As a parent, how should you respect your teenager’s time away from family?

Supporting Your Teen’s Wellness Practices

You may have an idea of what wellness practices work for you and others, but it’s important to let your teen find what works best for them and support them as needed. Refer your child to the Teens section of this guide for more ideas on activities they can do to support their mental health. As a parent, you can support your teen by respecting their space when completing a wellness activity, and by doing your best to provide additional support when needed. You can also invite them to your wellness activities to help normalize taking time to support one’s mental health.


Since your teen(s) are out of school, this may be the best time for the family to take a vacation. Please review the Parents Supporting Children 12 and Under section for some great tips on how to manage your own mental health while traveling. In that same section, we review some practices you can do with younger children. A lot of those practices can be translated to teens, but we have specific practices aimed at teens in the Teens section. Additionally, as a parent you can help relieve some anxiety and stress for both you and your teen by inviting them to help plan aspects of the trip.

For example:

  • Planning locations you will visit.
  • Packing snacks and choosing rest stops.
  • Deciding what activities you will do.
  • Scheduling breaks during the day.

Addressing the Feeling of Isolation

Students on break can feel isolated when they can no longer see their friends in their classes and at school. If possible, it will help support your teen to provide transportation to visit friends or respect time where they connect with them through calls. If your teen discloses to you that they feel lonely or isolated, validate that they are not alone in these feelings. in the Teens section, we break down some ideas of how to manage isolation that you can review with them. If they are interested in talking to someone else about how they’re feeling, you can refer them to NAMI’s Teen and Young Adult HelpLine by texting “Friend” to 62640 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. You don’t have to be in crisis to connect.

Here are some additional helplines:

Trevor Project: LGBTQ+ hotline available 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Crisis Text Line: Mental health support available 24 hours, 7 days a week.

However your teen decides to spend their school break, we hope that they can utilize our suggestions and tips to prioritize their mental health and rest before they go back to school.

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NAMI HelpLine is available M-F, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. ET. Call 800-950-6264,
text “helpline” to 62640, or chat online. In a crisis, call or text 988 (24/7).