Adults and children may be struggling right now with the changes that the coronavirus pandemic has brought upon the whole world. However, it is important to keep in mind that for teenagers, their worlds have also blown apart, and they may be faced with intense anxiety. Teens are known for not being open about their feelings, though, so it is crucial to give your teenager all of the support they need to get through this pandemic.
Acknowledge How Your Teenager Is Feeling
A teenager may not be an adult yet, but they are aware of what is happening to the adults in their household. If they notice that their financial situation has changed because both parents are out of work, talk to them about this. They also may be concerned if they have a parent who is a healthcare professional or food worker who could get sick and/or potentially bring the virus into the house.
Also, your child may be depressed that they cannot go back to school, have a high school graduation or prom, and be able to maintain their social life. Many teenagers want to establish their independence away from their families and have lives of their own. It is hard to do that if they are forced to be restricted. Try to think of how your teenage years differ from what your teen is going through currently.
Validate Your Teenager’s Struggles
There are a lot of things your teen is missing out on because of this pandemic, like school dances, sporting games, plays, school concerts, clubs, tests they have been preparing for, graduation, internships, and jobs. They are old enough to understand what is happening and how uncertain everything is. They cannot turn to their parents for answers because their parents do not know, either.
One of the kindest things you can do as a parent is validate your teenager’s feelings about how horrible things seem right now. Acknowledge that although missing prom or not being able to wear a cap and gown at a graduation ceremony might not be the end of the world, it may feel that way to them. It can make a difference to let them know their feelings are completely understood.
Notice Your Teenager’s Behaviors
The normal routine has changed for everyone, including teenagers. Currently, their lives take place solely at home. They could be staying up later or sleeping for longer in the day. If they are not seeing their friends face to face, video chats or phone calls may not feel like enough—so much so that they end up refraining from contacting them at all.
Pay attention to these shifts, as they can be signs of developing anxiety or depression. These signs can include preferring to sleep all day or talking to friends late at night because they need comfort from them. If it has been a few weeks and their behavior is getting worse, that is a potential red flag. Speak to a mental health specialist or find one online to speak to about your teenager.
Be Honest About Your Feelings
If you let your teen know that you, yourself, are also feeling anxious and worried, it can help reassure them that this is a normal reaction. If you simply let your teen know when you are having a bad day, they may feel less alone. You can then try to show your teenager healthy ways to cope with their worries.
Some examples can be to invite them to go on a walk with you, practice meditation with you, or any other physical activity. Even though you should be honest with your teen, do not overwhelm them too much with bad news, as it is more important to talk about how you are handling it. Get your own anxiety under control to be of better help.
Take Part in Your Teen’s Activities
You may be busy right now, as you try to tackle work, childcare, staying healthy, and remaining connected. Remember that your teen may be feeling lonely if they have nowhere to go or people to see. You can make your teen feel better by taking up hobbies that make them happy.
This can be things like playing board games or making a video together. You can listen to music together to learn about each other’s tastes. It could even mean playing an hour of video games. Doing activities together shows that you do not want your teen to be alone and would like to share in their happiness.
Encourage Them to Help Others
It is important to teach your teen that while they may have their own struggles, there are people out there with their own unique problems. Let them know they can make an impact in the lives of those in their household by washing their hands frequently. You can also let your teen know about people out there who may have the virus who cannot leave their home and have no food.
You can help donate nonperishable food to a food bank. Let them know that even though they may be missing their friends, it is important to not have in-person meetings with them for now as you do not want to risk this virus spreading faster. By supporting your teen during this tough time, you are helping them ease their anxiety symptoms while finding the good in all of this.
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