This current quarantine period goes against the very nature of teen life. Most teens feel the most comfortable within their circle of friends engaging in physical socialization. Quarantine has put a stop to all of these and many teens are struggling with the adjustment. We have titled this blog Quaran-TEEN because this is a very unique situation in the life of your teen where there is no playbook.
In my professional and personal dealings with teens during this pandemic both as a licensed therapist, a Military Family Life Counselor and as a mother of two teens and an aunty to countless other teens, these are my take away points .
Validate, Validate & Validate!! Yes, it may seem like the end of the world to your teen, and, yes, they may be catastrophizing a bit, but let them vent, hear them out, and try not to minimize their concerns. Teens tend to deal with uncertainty very differently than we do as adults. Remember that their brains are not fully formed yet (brain maturity reaches age 23-25) so they will process their emotions quite differently and not always rationally.
Check yourself- Be aware of how you are responding during this time. Teens often look to parents and other family members as barometers of how to react to certain situations. If we are constantly negative or worrying too much, they will certainly pick up on that energy, which could exasperate their confusion even more. Of course, you don't need to paint a rosy picture, especially if the family is facing financial difficulties or other personal matters impacted by COVID, but be aware that you always have eyes watching and seeing how you confront certain challenges.
Encourage your teen- Encourage them to try new things, get some fresh air, and limit time on electronics. Perhaps they always wanted to learn a new language, or pick up a new instrument, or explore a new hiking trail. Break up the mundane by mixing things up when you are able to and support your teen in trying new endeavors; without breaking CDC guidelines, of course.
Start new family rituals- With the flexibility some parents now have with working from home, perhaps consider going on a family walk in the morning or encouraging your teen to go grocery shopping with you or planning out a family meal they can cook. Bring out the old board games and puzzles and have a game night.
Please understand that these are mere suggestions and this may not pertain to many families who still have parents working full time or have been laid off and priorities are survival. But the main takeaway for parents during this pandemic is to check in with your teen daily. Teens have a knack of making themselves invisible by hibernating in their rooms or zoning out on their phones. Make the added effort to let them know you SEE them and that you want to spend time with them. It is completely normal if they resist, but don’t give up!! If you keep reaching out, they will at the very least see that you are making an effort and that is HUGE for teens.
Here at Pua Mohala, we understand that teens can be quite puzzling and oftentimes parents don't have an idea about what their teen is experiencing or what they deem as important. Through our interactions with teens during this pandemic and asking them the right questions, Pua Mohala has come up with a workshop titled: Quaran-TEEN: Coping with COVID-19. In this virtual Zoom class, which is specifically geared for girls in Middle School and High School, teens will learn coping skills, how to create a peaceful corner for themselves, engage in thought provoking exercises, and gain a clearer understanding of the sacrifices being asked of them during this time through a cultural lens. Each girl that participates will receive a box of goodies that will be used for this class and that they can enjoy afterwards as well. This is dated for Saturday, October 24 from 9-11 am.
Itʻs important to remember that no one parent gets it right all of the time and raising teens is no easy task. Seek out support from those you trust and do not be hesitant to seek out professional help to address issues you may have or that can be potentially life-threatening to your teen. We at Pua Mohala are here to be a support. Feel free to reach out to us at anytime