Teenagers, in particular, have been having a difficult time dealing with changes that have occurred from the COVID-19 pandemic. They have had to adjust to homeschooling, are unable to be with their friends, and may have had to give up milestone moments such as being in the school play or even graduation. Having to adjust to this situation at a transitional time in their lives can lead to a variety of emotions and reactions. To help combat the negative behaviors, here are some ideas on how to help your teen stay positive and create a new normal during this difficult time.
Help Your Teen Create a Schedule: When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, your teenager's life got turned upside down. While they may be able to comprehend the reality of the situation, it does not mean that they emotionally can justify social distancing or having to give up their regular life. With no regular school, no after school activities and no regular routine, teenagers may find themselves seeking a tangible schedule that can motivate them to even get out of bed in the morning. When creating a schedule, some areas of focus could include:
Bedtime and wake-up time
Time spent in online classes (if applicable)
Regular eating times
Time spent socializing with friends
Time spent on devices
Be a Supportive Listener: Even if your teenager is pushing you away, it doesn't mean this is the time to avoid conversation. Teens are especially vulnerable during this challenging time as they are mourning the loss of a time in their life they may never get back. As a parent, it's important to be compassionate and validate your teenager's feelings. Talk to them about the grief process and how saying goodbye to this school year is like saying goodbye to a loved one. Let them know how hard this situation has been and talk to them about what could make it better. Letting your teen know that you are an emotional resource to them can go a long way not only during the duration of COVID-19 but also after it is over.
Initiate Activities: Low activity levels and social disconnection are the two main factors during COVID-19 that are creating low mood, motivation, and energy. If you are finding that your teenager is looking for things to do but having trouble getting started, help them come up with exciting ways to pass the time. Some ideas include:
Writing in a journal
Watch a movie
Take a bath
Listen to a podcast
Read a book
And many more….
Create a New Normal: In a typical life situation, family rules may have been created to establish consistency in the home. During COVID-19 it's possible that there might need to be a bend in the rules—this is okay. Think through what your teen might be asking for. Is it more screentime? More time talking to friends? Different foods to get them through the day? Go with it and see how it plays out. Work with your teen to create a plan that makes sense for everyone involved. Setting rigid guidelines during this challenging time may exacerbate conflict in the home. Ask yourself, why is it important my teen follow the old rules right now and can there be any flexibility to them with the understanding things may go back to the way they were prior to this pandemic.
If your teen is having trouble adjusting to the “new normal” they may need extra support. Look for signs of depression, anxiety, social isolation, or increased nervousness. These behaviors could increase as the stay at home orders remain in place. Remember, if your teen is struggling during this time, you are not alone!
We're continuing to provide psychotherapy services here at Liz Morrison Therapy via teletherapy – please do not hesitate to reach out for further support by calling
347-758-2985 or emailing Liz@LizMorrisonTherapy.com