Teenagers and Free Time

Teenagers need free time to explore their own interests, be with friends or just unwind. If you and your teenage child can find free time activities to enjoy together, it can be a great way to build your relationship.

How teenagers spend free time 

All teenagers are different. But many enjoy spending their free time doing things like shopping, going to parties, being with friends, gaming and using social media, texting, watching movies, reading and going to the beach or park.

Teenagers are also spending an increasing amount of their free time in structured extracurricular activities like arts and sports. And they often feel bored with unstructured spare time.

Free time with parents and family

One of the joys of the teenage years is discovering the things you have in common with your teenage child, or new things your child might open your eyes to. Spending free time together is a great way to stay connected with your teenage child.

Finding a balance between showing an interest in your child’s activities and being ‘in his face’ can be tricky. Our articles on supporting your teenager’s independence and privacy, monitoring and trust in the teenage years have practical tips.

Activities with you

Doing something one-on-one with one or both parents can be a treat for your child, especially in larger families. An occasional movie together, or even a quick meal or a drink in a café after another activity, can feel a bit special. You could go to a concert, cook a meal together, or work on a project like redecorating your child’s room. It just depends on what interests you and your child.

These activities might not happen spontaneously. You might need to discuss ideas with your child and plan to spend some time together. 

If spending free time with you is a new thing, your child might take a bit of persuading before she’s keen. If this is an issue, you could consider inviting one or two of your child’s friends along as well.

If you spend time together often enough, your child will probably build up more enthusiasm, so keep trying. You might need to try a range of activities before you find one you both like.

Shopping! My daughter and I just love shopping. Then we stop for a coffee or juice and just talk. It can feel so strange doing that with my daughter, but I love it.
– Sarah, mother of 16-year-old daughter

Activities for the whole family


If you’ve got teenagers and younger children, a family meeting can get everyone brainstorming activities to enjoy as a family. You could make a couple of lists – activities to do together, and activities that only some of you will do.

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