As the pandemic continues, and as many schools return to virtual-only lessons, many teens all over the world are struggling with their mental health.
The teenage years are a time of growing up, starting to find some independence, and more. As the pandemic continues, and as many continue to stay home, they may need some extra help to deal with the isolation and stay healthy, both physically as well as mentally.
Encourage Self Care
People often preach about self care for mothers, but self care is a good thing no matter what someone’s age or gender. After all, self care is a great way to manage stress and anxiety — and it’s far from just bubble baths and facials. Self care is anything that allows a person to take time for themselves, whether it be picking up a new hobby, reading a book, or finding a way to relax.
Know That Some Anxiety is Normal Right Now
With the uncertainty of so much going on — from the pandemic to school closures — anxiety is the body’s natural response to threats and stress. Some anxiety is normal, and teens need to know that, especially right now. One way to help: teach them about thought patterns and switching their negative, worrisome thoughts with positive ones. If you think that their anxiety is quite high and they’re having a hard time coping, reassure them that there is no shame in seeking out help, either through therapy or through their doctor.
Let Them Feel What They Feel
In line with the above, no one can be expected to be happy 100% of the time. Disappointment happens, particularly when they want to see their friends or play team sports but can’t. Disappointment is normal, and the best way through those big feelings? Letting them feel what they feel and going through those painful feelings. As parents, it’s hard to see our kids go through it, but learning to feel — and cope — is important too.
Connect with Friends and Family in New Ways
I never thought I’d say this: but thank goodness for social media and the internet. It has allowed us to stay connected to friends and family everywhere, even when we’ve been quarantined. In addition to video chats, teens have proven they can be pretty creative when it comes to socializing online, like by co-playing mobile games. So while you may want to monitor some of their online activity, also be understanding that this is one of the few safe ways that teens are socializing right now.
Offer Some Distractions
With “extra” time at home, and virtual school hours often being shorter than “regular” school hours, teens often have more time to fill. More time can sometimes lead to a spiral of “what if” thinking and a whole lot of worrying over things they can’t control.
This may be a good opportunity to talk to kids about changing their focus to the things they can control versus the things they can’t. Together, create a list of things they can do when they’re “bored” or want something to fill the time. In this way, they can control their “free” time and create distractions for themselves.
Focusing on mental health is a priority right now. While teens may struggle with some aspects of the new “normal,” they can also be resilient. Even so — a little extra help from us parents can go a long way too.
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