How to Help Your Teen During COVID-19
Destabilizing. Paranoid. Out of your control. These are just some words teenagers use to describe their feelings during this period of great uncertainty and frustration brought on by the onset of COVID-19. It is more crucial than ever for parents to understand teens’ experiences during COVID to be supportive. Watch the video to hear from teens nationwide and read on to learn how you can best help your teen now.
Spend Quality Family Time Together
With the shutdown of colleges and schools across the nation, students share they are spending more time with family. This family time takes many forms — from walking around the neighborhood to playing chess, binge-watching Netflix, or hiking local trails. There are more family dinners to enjoy and longer conversations to be had.
Give Teens Some Alone Time
Teens need this family time. We must somehow maintain our social nature within our socially distanced “pods.” Finding ways to keep your teens engaged may be the key difference between them merely surviving and living through this time. And we still want to make the most of our experiences. But because sometimes we are quarantined in our homes nearly 24/7, we will need some time and space away from the family. Balancing teens’ needs for social interactions while respecting their space when they ask for it is vital to maintaining healthy relationships in the home.
Understand Our Losses From COVID-19
As students in high school and college, we were expecting to have “unforgettable” experiences. For many of us, we think of these as the “best years of our lives.” We grew up looking forward to graduations, homecoming games, and Spring Flings. These were incentives for working hard academically and rewards for going through so many transformations. Unfortunately, COVID has stripped many of these events. While we understand why they had to be canceled, there is still a feeling that this is unfair.
It would be helpful if parents understood this and had empathy for their teens. Put yourself back into your “teenaged shoes.” Many of us are missing out on social interactions that shape who we are to become because of COVID-19 restrictions. Because of this frustration over lost opportunities, sometimes teens want to be left alone. On occasion, we need this alone time to recuperate and reflect. To figure out how we can maintain our hope and optimism for a time when this will end. Don’t be disheartened if we push you away or have bursts of anger or sadness. We are merely trying to cope with this new reality.
Be Transparent and Communicate
While we don’t need to talk all the time or be probed to share every detail about our day with you, we like for parents to have open lines of communication. If we have a problem, a thought, or something we are excited about, we want to know that we can share it with you.
That said, communication is a two-way street. We want parents to be transparent — share your fears, thoughts, highs and lows, and successes. For many of us, our parents serve as our beacons of light. But it would be comforting to know that we are not alone in our troubles during this pandemic. Be open with us.
Engage With Us
When you see your teen is stressed or lonely, reach out. It could be as simple as opening up a dialogue or turning on a favorite show to watch together. It is hard to constantly hear the news and witness so much death and disease without it taking a toll on mental health.
Sometimes, a distraction offered by a parent is just what we need. Some parents choose to ask their teens to help them in the garden, while others ask simple questions to show they are curious about their teen’s lives. Do whatever works best for your family. If you can show that you understand your teen and are a rock amidst the chaos, we can feel stabilized, loved, and hopeful for the future.