Team-building exercises are fun activities that help people learn to work together more easily, communicate more comfortably and trust each other. For teens, there are other benefits to team building as well, including improving self-esteem.
What Is Team Building?
Team building brings teens together to accomplish a common goal. All the team members must find a way to cooperate and work together instead of doing their own thing.
For example, think of a game of tug-of-war. If each person on the team decided on his own when to pull the rope and how far to step back, that could lead to chaos. However, if the team works together to pull at the same time while taking small steps backward, the team is less likely to fall down and more likely to win.
Benefits of Team-Building Activities
Team-building games and activities can help your teen learn cooperation, improve communication and learn to trust others. Teens who have trouble with organization, planning and flexible thinking can benefit from watching how teammates approach problems. Teens who struggle with social skills have a chance to practice working and communicating with peers. Positive interactions during team-building activities can boost their self-esteem.
Types of Team-Building Activities
Sometimes team building takes the form of a planned activity designed to teach a specific skill. But sometimes it’s a less structured activity or game in which kids have to work together. There are four main types of team-building activities.
Communication activities help teens understand that expressing their ideas and listening to others is sometimes the best way to solve a problem. An example of a communication activity is a game called “the human knot.” The teens make a circle, puts their hands in the middle and, without looking, each person grabs two hands. The teens must talk through how to get untangled without letting go of each other’s hands. This may involve crawling under or climbing over arms. If they don’t communicate well with each other, they may become more tangled.
Problem solving activities help teens work together to create a solution to a problem. A common problem-solving activity for teens is called “hot lava.” In this game, the group has to figure out how to get across an imaginary stream of lava. The group has two or three “rocks” they can step on to get across. But there are rules about how often the rocks can be used and in which direction people can move. Following the rules and getting everybody across requires planning, organization and critical thinking.
Planning and adaptability activities encourage teams to change their plan if it doesn’t work the first time. A good example is the “egg drop” challenge. The team is given an egg and a bunch of materials such as cotton, duct tape and plastic straws. The team has to create a container that will keep the egg from breaking when it’s dropped from a ladder. What happens if the first design doesn’t work well and the egg breaks? There are two more rounds so the team can adapt its plan and look for different ways to protect the egg.
Trust-building activities work on building a trusting relationship among team members. A typical example is called “blindfold obstacle.” In this activity, one team member is blindfolded and must trust a partner’s directions to get through the obstacle course.
Being a Teen Team Player
You may not have the chance to do team-building activities at home with your teen. But social skills groups, sports and even group projects at school are all part of team building.