Since lockdown started in earnest there have been a wealth of resources circulating on social media for parents of younger children, from painting rainbows and baking cakes to the highly popular PE with Joe Wicks.
However, there are far fewer tips in circulation when it comes to helping teenagers (and even tweenagers) deal with this crisis. Try making a teenager get up in the morning for a workout, or indeed do anything they don’t want to do, and you quickly realise that helping this particular demographic during this difficult time is an uphill battle unless they are unusually good at moderation and self-care.
Several of us at Your Employee Wellbeing have tweenage and teenage children, ranging from 11 to 18 years old so the following article is written very much from personal experience, with a pinch or two of expert advice thrown into the mix. One thing is clear from the outset, it’s tough enough being a hormonal teenager at the best of times and for many lockdown life is making things harder (both for the teens themselves as well as their families).
Of course, the teenage years are normally about a gradual breaking away from dependence on the immediate family unit, as peers and other adult mentor figures start to hold greater influence. This is an entirely natural process but one that has been somewhat thwarted by the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of being free to hang out with their friends, teenagers are cooped up at home, forced to spend their days with parents and siblings.
Older teenagers (of course there is an enormous difference between a 13-year-old and a 19-year-old) may also be dealing with not being able to see their boyfriend of girlfriend because they don’t live together. Those in this age group may also still be working in the outside world. The fact that you can’t see your romantic partner, or your friends may feel especially hard to swallow if you are coming into daily contact with scores of strangers while sitting at the cash desk in the local supermarket.
As if all this weren’t tricky enough, thousands of young people are also coming to terms with the fact that their exams have been cancelled (whether these be GCSEs, A-levels or even university finals). Initial joy at hearing this news has in many cases turned to grief as the realisation that they have been denied the usual rite of passage of exams, end of term plays and parties sinks in. This sense of loss is compounded by a genuine anxiety about the future.
So, what can parents do to help their teen keep positive during the lockdown? Here are some suggestions, bearing in mind of course that children differ widely in personality and temperament and that age also has a big impact on the best way to interact with them:
Clare de Lotbiniere – BACP Accredited Counsellor and Psychotherapist
https://www.anitacleare.co.uk/thinking-parenting/ (parenting expert blog)
www.themix.org.uk (24/7 emotional wellbeing and mental health support for young people aged 13-25).
https://youngminds.org.uk/ (advice and mental health support for young people)
https://www.headspace.com (mindfulness app for all ages offering free support during the current crisis)
Girl with pink headphones photo by Gavin Whitner
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