The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the whole world and while the government and business are scrambling to get things back to some sense of “normal”, we mustn’t forget about the many ways coronavirus has affected the lives of families.
Although in many places, restrictions are lifting around movement and activities, supporting a teen through COVID is still something parents need to do and remains ongoing. In Australia, where the virus has been well managed, many teens may be struggling to understand the precautions they are still being asked to take as the risk of infection appears to be negligible.
Without causing them undue alarm, it’s important to remind our kids that COVID is a new virus and much about it still relatively unknown. The fear around a potential ‘second wave’ is very real too.
Many of the precautions and safeguards in place will most likely be with us for a considerable time and so accepting these, and learning to enjoy life within the mandated guidelines, is important. Not only for them, but for whole communities too.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to supporting a teen through all of this, and of course you know your kid and how they’re coping best of all. Despite the clichés, these ARE unpredictable and unprecedented times, so below are some factors you may like to consider when helping your teen make sense of the pandemic.
Respect their privacy
Since social distancing needs to be observed and there are restrictions on gatherings, you and your teen will be often at home together. Your teenager, if they are used to a more active social life with their peers, may not be 100% happy with this new setup. Try to create a space in your home where they can Facetime, chat or game with their mates in private.
While they are home with you, they won’t always want to be around you. Sorry, if that stings a bit. Private space will be important to them and if they enjoy passing some time with Netflix, music or reading then respect their quiet time and space.
Talk to them about this new normal
Teens may not be the best at communicating with their parents, but it’s still important for you to discuss how things will change and continue to change from now on.
Official state and federal government websites will give you the latest definitive guidelines on what should and shouldn’t be done but be aware of these rules frequently changing as we enter new stages of restrictions and re-opening.
Teenagers definitely appreciate honesty and they like to have their independence and maturity acknowledged…. in short, they want to be treated like an adult. Share appropriate information and problems you might face during the pandemic, so they feel included and understand the bigger picture. Communicating with your teen is an important step to ease your family into a new normal.
Prioritise their safety
As a parent, it is still your primary task to protect your children, even if they insist that they’re old enough to manage themselves. Remind them (not nag them) to follow the proper hygiene and distancing protocols to keep themselves and others safe. Keep having the conversations about why staying home (unless it’s important to go out), is still a good health precaution for your family.
It may also be worth speaking to your GP about the pros and cons of the seasonal flu shot and then making a choice about this vaccination in light of the current situation.
Monitor their mental health
Make sure your teen knows you are there for them if ever and whenever they need you. Keep an eye on their behaviour and ensure you’re aware of any mood changes that could be indicating the onset of anxiety or depression. If you are at all concerned, please seek professional help as soon as possible.
Encourage them to stay connected with others
While you can stop your teen from going outside and meeting up with others, you can still encourage connecting with their important people by ensuring they have the means to contact their friends.
It’s important for teens going through the same thing to support one another and keep in touch, especially as many have missed significant time at school with their peer group. The kind of support teens can provide one another with will help them to not feel isolated during the pandemic.
How has your teen coped in COVID-19 times? Join the conversation on Facebook about this and all things teen-related.