By: Lillie Palmer, Mental Health Counselor with JCAC
Teens are Bored in the House and They’re in the House Bored
As we near the end of the academic school year and the summer season looms around the corner, there’s no doubt that teenagers are anxiously awaiting to see how the occurrences with COVID-19 will alter their summer plans to travel, hang out with friends, go to college, get their first summer job, go on adventures, and more. Being a teenager is hard enough nowadays with pressures, expectations, and physical/emotional/hormonal changes, but to add a pandemic into the mix brings about even more stress and emotions. Teens have had to adjust to virtual school from home, spending a lot more time around family members, being without their friends or boyfriends/girlfriends, and unable to go out and “be teenagers”. If parents thought they always heard their teen say “I’m so bored” followed by a long grunt before this quarantine, then they are surely hearing it a lot now. For a lot of people, not just teens, boredom is often accompanied by other unpleasant emotions like loneliness, anger, annoyance, sadness, confusion, lack of motivation, and hopelessness, which is why we often see boredom followed by a bad attitude, depressive symptoms, withdrawal, etc.
Many teens during quarantine are trying to fill their never-ending free time with social media, TikTok dances, video games, and trying to find creative outlets, but for a lot of teens, these things provided relief from boredom and “quarantine fatigue” for a short amount of time before those unwanted feelings crept back in. Not only are teens dealing with the changes and uncertainty of this time in quarantine but so are their parents and siblings. Parents of teens might be dealing with stress from job loss, financial worries, struggling businesses, managing children’s schoolwork, household duties, and more; trying to appease a bored teenager probably feels like another daunting, unwinnable task.
Parents – How to Cope with a Bored Teen
Practice Your Own Self-Care – Just as the flight attendant says on an airplane, you need to put your own oxygen mask on before assisting someone else with theirs. It is really hard to help someone else manage and cope with their mental health if we are struggling to manage our own. To be the best support for someone else, we have to support ourselves first and foremost. This can be a hard concept for parents to grasp because a lot of times parents are sacrificing their own wants, needs, and emotions for the betterment of their kids.
Validate their Emotions – Acknowledgement and understanding of the feelings of disappointment, boredom, sadness of not seeing friends, etc. will help your teen feel heard and seen. Providing your teen with the space to talk freely about these emotions without feeling like you need to fix it or take these feelings away can be a challenge, but can be even more validating for them. All parents have been a teenager at some point and can empathize with the fact that it would be hard to be a teen during this time and be forced to miss out on friends, events, and experiences
Encourage Healthy Habits – Helping your teen maintain some sort of schedule or daily structure can help them maintain healthy habits with hygiene, stress management, school responsibilities, and emotional regulation. When it comes to creating a schedule with your teen, collaboration is key to them buying into the routine. Maintaining good sleep patterns, healthy eating, and physical activity are all habits that help foster better mental health during high-stress life events. When they are engaged in a daily routine, they know more of what to expect each day, they have more focus on completing their daily tasks, and have less time to be filled with boredom
Make More Family Connection – Although family members are inevitably stuck in the house with each other, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are spending intentional quality time together to strengthen the family bonds. Instead of each family member going off and doing their own thing, plan time each day to intentionally be together as a family- not mindlessly watching tv in the same room together while one person is on their phone and another is reading a book). Have your teen pick a game or a movie to all sit together without distractions and watch or play (or take turns picking a family activity - several options are listed down below.)
Teens – Strategies for Coping with Boredom and Related Emotions
Make It Family-Friendly – Take things that you do alone in your room (TikTok dances, binge watching tv shows or movies, watching YouTube, scrolling through Pinterest) and make it into a family activity. Now, I get it, you are already stuck in the house with your parents/siblings and they might be the last people you want to do things with. However, even though we can connect with friends over the phone and facetime, research shows that physical interaction, connection and touch with other humans is directly related to our mental health. So, instead of doing the same “boring” things you might already do as a family, get creative and make family time more intentional. Each family member can take turns choosing from a list of activities and use the time to laugh together, bond, and talk about the current circumstances and emotions
Mix It Up and Try New Things – A lot of times we feel boredom because we are finding ourselves doing the same things to rid of the boredom. Yes, too much free time can create boredom, but so can monotony, a lack of challenge or excitement. Start a new hobby, get creative and make something, dive deeper into a new interest, explore things you’ve never considered before, and break yourself out of your comfort zone. Pushing yourself towards a new goal is anything but boring
Figure Out Ways to Make It Virtual – If you are able to make facetime get-togethers with your friends, work together to find ways to make games you like to play or things you like to do, facetime-friendly. If you were supposed to go to a concert together, get together over facetime and have a dance party while listening to the album together. See how creative you all can get
Need More Inspiration? (A lot of these are family-friendly)
Work on a 1000-piece puzzle
Journal – write down your feelings, your experiences throughout quarantine or google “quarantine journal prompts” to get ideas, dive deeper with yourself, and self-reflect; Journal Prompts: https://saharnawaz.ca/2020/03/25/21-journal-prompts-quarantined-edition/
Start a Blog – Feeling more courageous or seeking connection with people who feel the same as you? Share your journal prompts in a form a blog and let your vulnerability shine! Sharing your emotions and experiences with others can not only help them feel less alone but also help you feel more connected.
Watch each family member’s favorite movie
Learn a new language – Duolingo is a great app!
Join a virtual book club – A group of people get together and send each other books, you could end up with several new books on your bookshelf to dive into.
Write and send old-fashioned hand-written letters to friends or family members that aren’t near
Pick up a new hobby – You can learn almost anything on the internet and through watching YouTube videos; makeup, calligraphy, candle-making, making vinyl decals… you name it, it’s on there.
Teach your family members a TikTok dance
Come up with your own TikTok dance
Write your own song
Learn to cook or bake
At-home workout videos on YouTube – Chloe Ting has great videos!
Pitch a tent and spend the night in the backyard
Find DIY projects around the house
Create a scavenger hunt inside the house
Rearrange furniture in your room
Make a meal where each family member is in charge of a different course
Ask for Help and Support if Needed – There are many counselors who are offering telemental health sessions online during this quarantine. If these emotions are too much to manage, there are many professionals ready to help. In areas where the stay-at-home orders are being lifted, some counselors are beginning to offer in-person sessions again as well if there is hesitation with online sessions.
Click Here to schedule a time to talk with Lillie Palmer
Click Here to learn more about counseling for teenagers
Click Here to Download your free copy of the E-Book Series, "Finding Calm Before the Storm"
Johns Creek and Alpharetta Counseling (#JCAC) is a warm and family orientated counseling practice in Alpharetta, Ga. We offer online counseling services in the states of Georgia and Florida. We offer in-office counseling service at our Alpharetta office which is conveniently located to serve Johns Creek, Milton, Roswell, and Cumming, Ga.
The JCAC Counselors specialize in counseling services throughout the lifespan! We offer play therapy, counseling for children, parental support, adolescent counseling, mental health services, couples counseling, premarital therapy, and individual counseling for adults.
To learn more about our practice, click here!
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