A lot of us are now working at home with a strange and unusual creature; the teenager. Never mind the virus, some of us are struggling to find ways to stay sane – and keep our kids sane – in these troubling times. Our advice is designed to help you and your ‘quaranteenager’ get through this with your relationships intact.
Before we discuss things to help keep your teenager, happy, occupied and safe during this time we need to understand how they feel.
Most teenagers are:
- Missing social contact (seeing friends everyday)
- Missing peer support (unable to talk about their problems with each other)
- Lack of space (everyone is packed together in one confined space)
- Feeling anxious and stressed (a lot of pressure and too much focus on school, and change in food and sleep patterns has not helped them to relax and enjoy this)
Everyone copes in a different way, so finding a balance between what is healthy for their mental and physical health and yours is important. Open and honest communication is the only way to achieve this.
Most parents are:
- Juggling several jobs and roles at once
- Thinking about money
- Trying to maintain relationships with a significant other – this can be much worse if your co-parent is outside the main residence
- Trying to keep their kids safe
- Missing social contact and peer support
- Feeling anxious and stressed
During this pandemic, our life has been turned around and it seems every day it just keeps getting worse. For many parents, they wonder how they can keep their teenagers, in particular, safe, but also entertained. In their free time, teenagers like to be social and hang out with friends so because of this pandemic, life can be extremely boring if you rely on social life as your primary source of entertainment.
This first thing that is essential to making sure your kids are safe and that is forcing them to stay inside. A lot of teenagers may not see this pandemic as anything scary and therefore may prioritize hanging out with friends instead of being in quarantine, however, you do not want to end up getting the virus as shown by the major death total.
We as adults have to empathize and understand how this experience is affecting them in the same ways as us. Let’s face it, they are working from home, too!
WHAT TO DO
- Checking in – without burdening them with pressure to be OK
- Give them a space - Teenagers need a place to escape from so whether its giving them some confidential private space when they are home.
- Stick to a routine – that’s tough if you are furloughed, but any routine helps
- Do things together – take a walk, watch a movie, cooking, games
- Support their projects - everyone needs an outlet during these times. Whether it’s creating something new, organizing or decorating their room, or levelling up in a video game; having an escape is healthy
- Encourage healthy habits - many teenagers may turn to exercise as a way of coping as it releases pent up emotions, some may just find it to be an added stress; respect and support their own ways of handling this experience
WHAT TO AVOID
- Threatening with future punishments – when we get out of this, you want relief not resentment
- Forcing family social activities – instead, give them something to look forward to; try relaxing their curfews for when lockdown has ended, and they can eventually go out
- Threatening to call the police – teenagers know it is unlikely you will do this and therefore it won’t have an impact
- Threatening to confiscate mobile devices or video games – remember, the first thing they are missing is social contact. Instead, encourage a healthy use of these. Share memes, videos, messages with each other. What makes you laugh will probably give them enjoyment, too.
- Overreacting or being strict to the point they leave the house at all – this jeopardizes the safety of everyone in the household. Remain calm.
Head of English Department