PUT YOUR PARENTING SKILLS TO GOOD USE
While parents are worried about the economy, work and protecting their families from a global pandemic, they also see their teens getting hit hard by the impacts of social distancing. Parenting a teen can be rough without the added challenges of COVID-19. By putting yourself in their shoes, using your parenting know-how that got you this far and finding ways to help teens cope with social isolation, you can navigate these new conditions.
The world feels different, but teenagers are still teenagers. Your teen was designed for socializing and exploring. This is when they are finding their identity. Things like social status, parties and friends have amplified meaning at this time in their lives. So, you can imagine how this can have a devastating affect when suddenly, your teen is isolated from friends, major milestones events are canceled, and even school isn’t available as a social outlet.
5 Ways to Help Teens Cope with Social Isolation
1. Talk to Them About Their Concerns
Acknowledge this is hard for them. This is not the time to diminish their concerns about coronavirus and their experience with social isolation – or what they feel is really important to them. Now is the time to listen and validate your child’s feelings about their experience. You might feel a lot of anxiety right now but speak calmly so you don’t pass that anxiety on to your teen.
2. Find New Ways to Celebrate
There will be celebrations and milestones that could be missed. How can you celebrate them in a new way? Is that a virtual celebration using Google Hangouts or Facetime? Or a special family celebration? Include your teen and respect their wishes for planning. You’ll likely be surprised by their ideas.
3. It’s Still “Time to go to School”
Routine is the antidote for complacency. Their phones, Netflix and videos games are great ways to stay busy, but it’s a slippery slope. Work together to build a daily routine to help your teen cope with social isolation. Having a schedule will help them keep some sense of normalcy. Build time in for schoolwork, exercise and those other fun things.
4. Ask Them to Lend a Hand
Make them feel empowered by doing their part. Remind them that by social distancing they are helping others who are more susceptible than they are. You can also ask them to help around the house, care for siblings, create a shopping list or help you with technology.
5. Watch for Signs of Anxiety or Withdrawal
This is a hard time for all of us and especially teens. Watch for changes in behavior, irritability, hopelessness, different sleep patterns, extreme fatigue, or changes in appetite. If you think your teen is having a mental health crisis, don’t wait to contact the right resources.
Take Steps to Help Your Teen Cope with Social Isolation
Supporting your teen’s mental health during this time is just as important as protecting their physical health. Take the steps to help teens cope with social isolation and ask for help when needed. You can always turn to Willow Creek Behavioral Health. Call our 24/7 phone line (920) 328-1220 and set up a free in-person assessment, if needed. Your teen isn’t in this alone, and neither are you.