By Lisa B. Hillman, MSW, LCSW
Owner/Director Exceptional Wellness Counseling
As a mother of two teenage daughters and as a therapist, I have seen the impact the coronavirus has had on our teens. Our caring therapists have also reported noticing the same struggles that their own teen clients or concerned parents have reported about their teens. I wanted to share some tips to help you feel empowered to help your own teen during this challenging time. As we know, there is no roadmap for this nor is there a “how-to” book on how to help your teen during the coronavirus. Here are some tips to help you:
I’ve heard from a lot of parents that their teen’s schedule is atrocious. “They are going to bed at all hours and sleeping late.” During this time when we all have little control, we want to grant some control to our teens. Try to compromise with them. Rather than telling them what time to go to bed and wake up, ask them what they think is reasonable. Usually, your teen will come up with something that is more appropriate and then be willing to commit to the plan because they devised it. Of course, you may need to compromise or discuss that with your teen, but the first place to start is to grant them autonomy. It’s also helpful to explain “Why” to your teen. Meaning why you want them to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, have a routine, get fresh air, etc. By explaining the above your teen can “buy into” the request, rather than feeling like you are nagging them.
VALIDATE THEIR FEELINGS
It’s more important than ever to put yourself in your child’s shoes. Remember how you felt as a teen? Your world was your friends, seeing peers at school, hanging out with your friends, you get the picture. Now, hanging out with friends occurs over social media. It is NOT the same thing. In many respects it’s great, but it’s different. Our teens need to be with their friends. You know that we are social beings, and as such, we crave human contact. Set some guidelines about peer interaction. If you are open to “Physically distancing” have your teen invite a friend to sit in your yard on the grass (at least 6 feet away), or encourage your child to take a walk with a friend. Again, as long as we are all following the CDC guidelines, we don’t need to stay in the house all day. Check out some of these sites for information:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s coronavirus page
- The University of Washington’s coronavirus map
- The World Health Organization’s coronavirus page
- The National Institutes of Health coronavirus page
YOUR TEEN IS EGOCENTRIC
Your teen is full of themselves (and I don’t mean due to all of the baking going on). During the teen years, it is part of the developmental process to be concerned with oneself. Some teens have little empathy for others, especially for their parents and the world around them. They are more concerned with how COVID-19 is impacting their lives. The inconveniences it’s causing for them may seem “silly” to you, who are concerned about bigger problems. However, to them, they are truly upsetting. It’s vital to listen to their upset and validate their feelings, worries, and disappointments.
Due to egocentricity, your teen feels invincible. It’s crucial that they understand the dangers that can arise if they don’t take safety precautions and change their outlook. Because let’s face it, we will be out and about at some point (I know what you are thinking, WHEN?!) and they need to behave differently so they can keep you and everyone else safe. So educate them without going overboard. It is a fine line with exposing them to the harsh realities of the current situation while still allowing them to be children.
One of the most important things teenagers should know about the coronavirus is that their risk of dying is about 0.2 percent. At the height of the epidemic in China, just one person between the ages of 10 and 19 had died from the virus. According to the CDC, thus far 3 minors have died from coronavirus. Again, the biggest danger is connected to your teen exposing you and your loved ones who are at greater risk.
HAVE FAMILY FUN
This is the best time to grow closer to one another. Think about some things you can do that your child enjoys. I’ve been making TikToks with my kids, playing frisbee, and dusting off some old games such as pick up sticks, monopoly, Yahtzee, etc. We ordered some DIY and painted them. Find a new television show to watch or perhaps volunteer to do something meaningful together. Some kids have been learning new languages, new instruments, art, knitting, ect — the sky’s the limit. You can ask your teen, “What is something you’ve always wanted to learn or do? Well, let’s do it!” Check out some of these sites for family fun ideas:
I want to add that right now we have seen our clients and their families needing more support than ever due to the current situation. Anxiety and depression are on the rise and will continue to climb due to the current state of affairs. The government has put some wonderful things in place for mental health needs. One being that teletherapy (video therapy) or online counseling is now covered by all insurance companies. Some are covering it 100% so there is no cost to you.
If you feel you or your loved one could benefit, please feel free to reach out to us at (908) 415-2042 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org as we are proud to serve New Jersey!
Wishing you and your family good health!
Lisa Hillman is a mother of two daughters, ages 14 and 17. She’s also a wife, and mom to a precious dog named Colby (who is really spoiled). She founded Exceptional Wellness Counseling (EWC) to fill a need in the community. EWC has locations in Manalapan and Shrewsbury NJ and accepts a variety of insurances.
Check out Lisa’s professional bio here!
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Next Steps & Resources
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- Do you feel your teen may benefit from counseling during this time? Take the first step.
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