The Role of Recreation in Keeping Teens Out of Trouble

There’s an old saying about the dangers of an idle mind, and there may be some real wisdom there. Teenagers who don’t have enough to do may begin making negative decisions regarding conduct and behavior. As a parent, you can help reduce the likelihood that your teen will choose undesirable activities by encouraging her participation in recreational activities.


Belonging to school or civic clubs and participating in club activities can have a strong impact on a youth’s self-concept, according to Dawn Anderson-Butcher, an associate professor of social work at Ohio State University. The connection between a child, the organization and the adult leaders often has a positive effect on a child’s self-esteem. Children who reflect a stronger sense of self as a result of club involvement are less likely to engage in troubling behaviors, Anderson-Butcher said.

After-School Programs

The hours immediately after school are a time of misbehavior for children and teens, according to The Children’s Trust website. If teens do not actively engage in organized activities or programs during this time, they may engage in risky behaviors because they do not have adult supervision and opportunities for expanded learning and exploration. The combination of structure and supervision often proves valuable for keeping teenagers out of trouble.


When teens participate in organized recreation or activities, it can give them a goal to focus on and pursue. When teens lack goals and activities, they may lose focus and begin to struggle with a lack of direction. Parents can play an important role for teenagers to help them maintain this focus, according to the USAA Educational Foundation. If parents provide recreational activities that appeal to the teen and helps her set goals, the teen is more likely to spend time and energy achieving these goals instead of getting into trouble.

Positive Role Models

The adults involved in teen recreational or extra-curricular activities can have a powerful impact as positive role models for the youngsters. The trusting and caring relationship that often develops between the teens and the adults may give teens additional incentive to stay involved in the activities. A mentoring relationship can provide teens with interaction and support to help teens make positive decisions and resist negative peer pressure, according to the Be a Mentor Program 1.