This is a post we wrote recently on parenting teens in a pandemic as guest bloggers for the Buzz Hub Co.
Being a teenager is difficult at the best of times but right now it’s harder than ever. The Covid pandemic has created huge uncertainty for young people, and we know that many are really struggling to cope with everything that’s going on.
We work closely with many parenting and teenage mental health experts and have pulled together some of the excellent advice out there for a quick guide on how to support your teens through this challenging period.
Reassure your teenagers that it’s normal to feel unsure and anxious
It’s important that they know it’s okay to admit that they’re worried or having problems coping. They need to know they’re not alone in this and to feel comfortable talking to you and to others about it.
Equipp has published several blog articles written by teens that might help anyone the same age understand that it’s normal to experience such a mix of emotions, including this one written during the first lockdown by Isobel, 15.
A good way to start the conversation is to ask them what they would say to help a friend who’s having a hard time.
Focus on what they can control
Encourage them to create their own routine and build in daily positive actions:
- An exercise session, whether it’s a trampoline session in the rain or a virtual dance party. Time outdoors is always helpful for a mood boost.
- A to-do list for their school or college work, broken down into simple sections that can be ticked off when completed.
- A way of helping others, such as making a video for an elderly family member who’s feeling lonely or shopping with you for a shielding neighbour.
- Scheduled free time, filled with activities they love, that can be looked forward to and enjoyed guilt-free.
Rethink your parenting boundaries
Just at the time when teens are meant to be making their way into the world and discovering their independence, they’re suddenly being asked to spend all their time at home.
It’s really important that teens feel secure, so you don’t want to change all the rules overnight, but you might want to introduce greater flexibility in some areas:
- Teens really need their sleep, so if getting up later than usual is a lockdown bonus, embrace it!
- Screen time is always a controversial topic, but they need to remain connected with friends more than ever before, so a little more laxity than usual might be a good thing.
- Take time to really listen to what they’re saying and work through issues together.
- Respect their need to be alone.
Provide coping strategies
As a first step to dealing with feelings of anxiety and low mood, you could suggest that your teens try these techniques:
- Hector’s House Eat Move Love movement is all about making small, simple steps to help put mental health first. It’s brilliantly simple and is very teen-friendly.
- Try and think about the present – focus on today as much as you can.
- Try and relax your mind. If you want to try something a bit different, one of Equipp’s recent blog articles on helping teens deal with anxiety includes a fantastically calming 10-minute sound therapy session. We highly recommend it!
- Get creative – anything from scribbling out negative feelings onto paper to designing your own face mask. There are plenty of creative kits out there if you need some help getting started.
If you feel your teens need further help:
There are plenty of brilliant resources available; here are just a few suggestions:
- Mind have an excellent section on positive coping strategies (and what to watch out for if you’re concerned your teens are turning to negative coping strategies).
- Hector’s House has a resources page developed for teens and parents of teens.
- The NHS has a helpful section on diagnosing anxiety and depression in teens.
Finally, it’s important to remember that there are always positives. The pandemic is bringing out the best in many of our teens and we’re constantly encouraged by the inspirational stories we’re hearing. This won’t last for ever and we’re sure the current generation of teens will emerge all the stronger and go on to really flourish. Just keep telling your teenagers just how amazing they are and how much faith you have in them…
Louise & Anna x