“If a child has a feeling of a choice — or a perception of one — then they don’t hate it as much,” Vasiliu-Feltes says. “That’s the problem with marketing targeted to them. Commercials make you feel like you have a choice, but they give you very specific options to choose from.”
If you have the opposite issue, which is a long and uninspiring summer ahead, you can perhaps find a Miami-based program for almost any subject and sometimes for under $1,000, says Karen Meister, a partner in Aventura’s Camp Experts & Teen Summers, who advises South Florida families for free about suitable programs (the camp or organization will pay her if you enroll.) She’s representing tennis programs at every level and classes for computer training — including video game production — at the University of Miami. There’s also SAT training, theater programs and Sea Camp in the Florida Keys.
“You can do something short,” she says, “but at least it’s a growth experience.”
For even lower-cost activities, assign your teen a long-term project, says Kristin Fitch, a family fun expert and editor of ZiggityZoom.com. An artist can prepare an exhibition while an entrepreneur can come up with a business plan and perhaps even a product. Pay for an online web design class and have them create a site. Or put them in charge of planning a fun weekend for the whole family — such as a camping trip.
“Come up with something they enjoy doing,” Fitch says, “And give them encouragement every day.”
This is one of an occasional series of columns by Miamian Brett Graff, a former U.S. government economist who writes about how economic forces are affecting real people.