March 19, 2020

Supporting Teenagers During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Like any parent, I have been worried about how my kids are coping with this whole coronavirus pandemic.  It’s one thing to try to understand it as an adult, but it’s a whole other thing to make sense of it as a teenager.  My twins are juniors in high school and had literally just begun their perspective sports seasons.  My daughter had just made the varsity soccer team, and my son was about to start his outdoor track season.  We also had several college tours set up, ACT testing dates on the calendar, their seventeenth birthdays, and prom just around the corner.  Now, all of that has come to a screeching halt.

I’ve talked to so many parents of high school seniors who may not even be able to experience graduation, as well as parents of college students who’ve had to move back home indefinitely.  For teenagers and young adults, social distancing is a REALLY hard concept to grasp.  Their whole world centers around their friends, and now suddenly, that world has been cut off.  Sure, they can still talk on their phones and even FaceTime, but we all know that just isn’t the same.

I can’t help but feel sad for the opportunities they’re missing and wonder if I’m doing all that I can to support them.  So I reached out to a friend of mine who works for Haven Youth and Family Services, a local non-profit mental health agency.  She sent me several links to articles that they use as resources for their clients and families.  I will link them at the end of this post, but in reading through them, here are the main things I learned about how to support your teen:

  1. Acknowledge that feeling anxious at a time like this is totally normal and to try to encourage them to channel that anxiety into something useful, like learning how to protect themselves from the virus.
  2. Manage your own anxiety because if you seem panicked and uneasy, your teen will no doubt pick up on that fear.
  3. Limit the amount of news coverage you show in your home.  Too much exposure can create unnecessary feelings of anxiousness.
  4. Encourage distractions, like a walk outside or watching a favorite tv show.

Resources for teens:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/well/family/coronavirus-teenagers-anxiety.html

Resources for adults (includes great meditation apps and resources):

https://www.self.com/story/coronavirus-anxiety?utm_source=nl&utm_brand=self&utm_mailing=SLF_Cares_031820&utm_campaign=aud-dev&utm_medium=email&bxid=5c9651f73f92a40ad9380662&cndid=41762900&esrc=origin_load_July2017&utm_content=B&utm_term=SLF_Cares_GenericOpens

Ideas for staying calm, family games, apps, reading material, homework help:

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/resources-for-families-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic

Additional free meditations:

https://www.calm.com/blog/take-a-deep-breath?utm_source=lifecycle&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=difficult_times_subs_031720

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Stay safe, friends & hang in there.  We WILL get through this TOGETHER, one day at a time.

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