5 Ways Teens Learned and Adapted During the Pandemic

Many teens have endured and adapted despite the challenges faced by families during the COVID-19 pandemic. And while some adults may repeat the refrain of this being a “lost year,” teens tell us how they’ve risen to challenges during a period that has them spending more time with family and less with friends and teachers. 

Have Questions? Teens Have Answers!

The Center for Parent and Teen Communication has a Youth Advisory Board (YAB) that offers teen perspectives on a variety of topics. We asked our YAB members to tell us what they learned during the pandemic and how it has impacted them. Their responses made for an uplifting list of ways they coped and established new values. Through their learnings, they gained better understandings of themselves and the world around them. Here we share some of their responses about ways they adapted during the pandemic.     

1. Teens found strategies to cope with stress

Managing stress is an essential way of building resilience for the challenges life presents. Young people need to have a range of coping strategies to turn to when faced with stress or challenges.  Having coping options helps them bounce back. And, while getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercise are a few important strategies, these teens discovered some other techniques. 

  • I started learning how to meditate! -Sean, 22 
  • I learned to make my bed every morning as the first thing I do to help my productivity and mindset. I also realized how important it is to wellness for my body and mind to get outside for long periods of time every day. And I started to appreciate my daily walks more. -Jadan, 16
  • I learned that it’s important and necessary for my well-being to spend time with friends, spend time outdoors, and spend time exercising. -Paul, 22

2. Teens became more self-aware.

Learning outside of traditional classrooms and spending so much time isolated led many teens to gain more self-awareness. Having self-awareness lends to young people being able to build upon individual strengths and identify areas for self-improvement. A healthy sense of self-awareness can be empowering. 

  • I learned that my intellectual growth is not solely tied to school work—even without class as usual, I gained just as much if not more knowledge from my own research and simply living and experiencing the world. -Paige Lauren, 17
  • I learned how much of my mental well-being was driven by seeing people physically. -Sean, 22 
  • I learned that I only have so many hours in each day, and not only is it ok to say “no” to some opportunities, but I need to say “no” to some opportunities! If I say “yes” to everything, then I won’t have time to do anything well. -Paul, 22
I learned that my intellectual growth is not solely tied to school work—even without class as usual, I gained just as much if not more knowledge from my own research and simply living and experiencing the world.

3. They also gained awareness of others.

In addition to dealing with the pandemic in their lives, young people also bore witness to some historical events in the realm of politics, racial reckoning, and social justice. Taking so much in heightened their social awareness and broadened their ability to understand and respect others’ perspectives.

  • I learned a lot more about racism against Asians, how prominent it is, and how prominent it has become during the pandemic. -Mandy, 17
  • I started learning about how my Whiteness shapes the way I see and experience the world -Sean, 22
  • I spent time understanding my sister’s emotions and who she is as an individual. -Amber, 19
  • I learned that as hard I work against them, I still have a ton of implicit biases and more progress to make. -Paige Lauren, 17

4. Teens learned new life skills.

Pre-pandemic teen life was often jam-packed with school, after-school activities, jobs, and friends. That left limited time to learn something new. But for many young people, having to remain at home during the pandemic allowed them to learn new skills, sports, or concepts they’re able to take into adulthood. A bonus? Lessons learned alongside family members often made for new family memories.

  • I learned how to sew a shirt and how to embroider flowers, and I embroidered some on my clothes. -Mandy, 17
  • I learned about some aspects of finance and the stock market. But I also learned and played ping pong with my dad during his work breaks. -Amber, 19
  • I learned how to golf! -Paul, 22
  • I learned many of my mom’s cooking recipes and her tips and tricks on making them. -Jadan, 16

5. They recognized how much connection matters.

When dealing with hard times, connecting with others gave tweens and teens wider perspectives, a place to vent emotions, and the ability to deal with stress together. Their connections lent comfort and reinforced that they were not alone. They felt empowered learning there was strength to be gained from reaching out for help. And they found a sense of purpose by connecting to their communities — helping to remind them how much they matter. 

  • You never realize how much you miss seeing your friends on a daily basis until that’s gone. The best part about being with friends is being with them in person. And when that aspect is taken away, you have to work much harder to keep the friendships strong. – Jadan, 16 
  • When I felt stressed, bored, alone, or disappointed about all I was missing out on at college, I found solace in my sister and my parents. Connecting with them helped me stay sane and reminded me I’m not alone in feeling these emotions. -Amber, 19
  • I am grateful to have built meaningful connections with people from every ethnic, religious, geographic, political, and socioeconomic background. Having friendships across identities has helped me find myself, shape my worldview, and expand my understanding of a diversity of lived experiences.Ranen, 19

Adapting to a New Normal

Our teens continue building the path to a “new normal” and developing character and life skills while becoming accustomed to life during a pandemic. Did your teens learn or adapt in ways that others can learn from? We’d love to hear from you, so share with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

About Eden Pontz

Eden Pontz is Executive Producer and Director of Digital Content for CPTC. She oversees digital media content development and production for Parentandteen.com. She also writes, copyedits, and produces articles, podcasts, and videos for the site. Her pieces cover a range of topics including teen development, peer pressure, and mentoring. Eden brings years of experience as a former Executive Producer of Newsgathering at CNN, as well as a field producer, writer, and reporter for CNN and other news organizations.

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