It is a truth, universally acknowledged that raising teenagers is far from easy. Add to that a global pandemic, schools closed, afterschool activities cancelled, vacations postponed, no hanging out at malls and it starts to look even more bleak.
It would be safe to assume, it is equally frustrating for both parents and teens during these times. Under normal circumstances, I know I need a break from my teens every now and then, as do they. But now our days are spent diffusing tension between family members. (Fun Fact: It’s usually my husband diffusing the tension, and I’m the one creating it).
In the midst of this pandemic, when as parents, we are facing our own anxieties how can we best parent our teenagers? I know my mind is racing constantly with fear and anxiety of so many possible scenarios that are not panning out as planned!
How can we help teens cope during this time?
Keep the Structure
With online school and teenagers literally rolling out of bed to join their zoom classes, adding some structure to their day will help them. I try to make sure they get a decent breakfast and when possible we try to stick to some schedule for home work, meal times, and allow for activities like running or staying active. There is no doubt, flexibility during these times is important, but having a routine will help teenagers thrive.
One of the hardest aspects of all this has been the strain on teenagers and their friends. Hanging out, going to the mall, playing sports have all come to a stand still. Keep the connections going through online applications like zoom, houseparty etc., because having these friendships is imperative at this time.
My daughter retreats to her room in the evenings chatting with her friends. On any other day, I would probably tell her to get off the screen and finish her homework. But I know she needs to connect with her friends for her social and emotional well being.
Listen and validate their disappointment
For most teenagers they will be losing out on memorable high school experiences. Some had planned on working to build their university applications and scholarships with social work, leadership opportunities, participating in sports meets, and so much more. None of that is happening and they have to go through high school without experiencing it to it’s full potential. Listen to their worries and concerns, even if you don’t have solutions to offer. Mood swings may happen even more often. Show empathy for these unpredictable or unprecedented mood swings. It will help them regulate emotions.
Explore New Ideas
We are all cooped up in our homes with online learning and zoom sessions being the central focus of our days. One way to break the monotony is to have the kids start a new project or learn a new skill. This could be a coding class, starting a book club, a DIY project or perhaps a photography challenge.
These are some of the things that we have been trying to incorporate. It has not always been easy and we struggle to stay consistent. But all we can do is try.
How are you and your teen surviving this pandemic?
Hope you and your families are staying safe.
With lots of love,