Are you finding this season to be particularly trying for your teenager, and perhaps any family member who dares to cross their path? You’re not alone. This quarantine has been difficult for all of us, but particularly so for teenagers. Why is that? Here’s what we know:
Teens are not made for isolation. They are highly attuned to social status and crave independence. This means they are also pretty touchy to feeling treated ‘like a child’. A mandated shelter-in-place order does just that.
Today’s adults have seen their fair share of society’s ups and downs; however, most teens were born after 9/11 or were too young to remember, and as a country, we’ve been in a bit of a “golden era” economically, commercially, and creatively since. For most teens, this is their first worldwide tragic event.
Teens are in the midst of a journey discovering who they are. While missing a season of baseball or graduation may seem like no big deal to you, it is for them. Activities, sports, achievements are external markers that help them put their stamp on their identity. If your child is entering a transition, like their final year of high school, missing the opportunity to ‘say goodbye’ makes the transition more difficult.
What to do from here?
When your teen does choose to open up (or vent), listen. It’s tempting to want to try to solve their problems or teach a lesson. Instead, try to be compassionate and validate that this is hard. Ask them directly how you can best support them right now while respecting your limits.
Your teen is thirsting for independence. Give them freedom where you can. Allow them to manage their responsibilities and grow in the areas of prioritization and time management. Instead of nagging, try asking “what’s your plan?” and let them feel like more of an adult.
With everyone at home, there is more responsibility for all. Expect contribution to the household- helping with meal planning, prepping, laundry, or cleaning. Put them in charge of planning fun family activities. This is a great time to pass on some of these important life skills.