Written by Rachel Butler, LAPC. Counselor with JCAC
Teenagers are facing a unique challenge during COVID-19. During this stage of development, adolescents are more in the present and focus on the short term. They focus on prom, the end of the school year, and summer. While adults can see the big picture 5, 10, and 20 years from now. With that, teens perceive “their world ending,” and they will grieve it as a loss.
In addition, teens are likely feeling disconnected from their friends that they see at school everyday. Yes, they have social media and other ways to connect virtually but it's not the same. Teens may likely not full appreciate why they can't go see their friends and have an attitude, negatively affecting your relationship for the time being. Some were looking forward to prom, championship games, and graduation, this can be a lot to be upset about at once. Read on for tips for teens and for their parents to get through this time successfully, together.
Tips for Teens
1) Go for walks and get fresh air, you can still talk to your friends while outdoors. Maybe you can try a group FaceTime call or Netflix party for watching movies together.
2) Practice self-care. Is this face masks and bubble baths? Meditation and mindfulness? Trying a new activity or exercising? Do what makes you happy.
3) Try journaling your emotions. They're better out of your head and on paper.
4) Learn the 5 steps to positive spins:
Identify the specific thought (ex: Sally hasn't reached out to me, she must not like me)
Categorize their thought (overgeneralization, personalization, worst case scenario, etc.)
Identify the situation you are/were in (ex: In my room and I was texting)
Identify the emotions tied to the thought (I felt frustrated, sad, and a little scared)
Put a positive or self-loving spin on the original thought (I can't know for sure if Sally doesn't like me. She may be busy with her family. Or, I could take the initiative to reach out to her and see how she is.)
5) Create some sort of schedule to help the day move along. Have a set time you wake up, complete school work, take a lunch break, get some fresh air, spend time with family, and a set time to go to bed. School normally provides this structure for you.
Tips for Parents
1) Respect their need for privacy and independence depending on their age and emotional maturity. Becoming a teen means they're learning to individuate themselves and being stuck at home may make them feel younger.
2) Validate their emotions and empathize with this big change going on for them. Some students may not be going back to school until the fall.
3) Rest easy that you know where they are and they can't get into too much trouble
4) Be available for questions that your teen may have about COVID 19 and read up on the latest information on sites like the CDC.
5) Use open-ended questions when talking with your teen about their life. For example: What were some of your highs and lows of your day? Rather than, How are you
6) Be kinder to yourself, you're balancing a lot right now. You're likely a brand new homeschool teacher on top of all your other roles in your home. It's a big change for all of us.
Is your teen’s struggle causing you concern? Are you a teen that needs extra support? We are happy to discuss if we are the right fit- or helping you find someone who is. We offer online counseling during the quarantine!
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