It’s been five months since the COVID-19 outbreak hit Americans hard. As we’ve gotten used to a lot of change, here are a few ways parents can help teenagers even more right now.
Parenting Teens – 5 Ways to to Help NOW
Many parents have been agonizing over how to cope during the pandemic. It’s hard enough to handle life right now, and adding the struggles of parenting teens onto the mix can make life extremely stressful.
If you’re a parent of a teenager, you understand what I’m talking about.
Think of the stress and anxiety that you might feel today because of COVID-19. All of that worry and stress is piled on your dinner plate and you just put a giant helping on your teen’s plate. Now take a big ol’ spoon to add more things to your teenager’s plate. Choose all or a few of these side dishes:
- Brain development
- Growing pains
- Body image
- Relationships and/or Underage Sex
- College Testing
- Future Decision Making
- Coping with a Parent’s Stress
- Health Problems
Your teen’s plate is majorly overflowing. Talk about overwhelming!
When the pandemic first started, I wrote articles about Boredom Busters for Teens, but it’s been five months of this my friends. Let’s take some time to slow down, talk about things and get a handle on life for the future of our kids.
5 Ways Parents Can Help Teens
I’ve chosen five important topics for the five months that we’ve been living in a different type of world.
I’m not a therapist, only a mom of two teenagers. I don’t have the answers, but I wanted to start a conversation for parents about where we go from here with our teens.
Here are a few things we can work on as parents of teenagers:
1. Talk to Your Teen
Recently, I had a painful talk with my 17 year old son about today’s world and his feelings. I was happy he opened up to tell me how he felt, but as his mom, it was heartbreaking. I didn’t realize how full his plate really was.
Today’s teens may seem connected through the internet, organized activities and social media, but in reality they are still isolated and confused.
Your teenager could be staying home, or going out like everything is fine and not thinking about any consequences to themselves, family or friends.
The world most likely seems like total chaos to them. They don’t know what to believe. Is it fake news? Who should they trust? Why do things have to change? It’s out of their control, so why even care?
Each teenager is different. Take some time to talk to your kids and hopefully they will open up about any stress, fears or anxiety.
How do you get teens to talk who don’t want to communicate?
Here are some things you could do to get teens to talk:
Do something with JUST them.
Have more than one teen? Take one at a time to do something alone together. Go for a drive or walk, watch a movie together, play a game, start a book club together, do something they are interested in… anything you can think of that will help get a conversation started.
Sit down for dinner – no phones allowed.
Want more help? Read The 5 Love Languages of Teenagers to learn about their love language. This has helped me so much!
2. Be Prepared for the Unexpected
What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it’s supposed to be.
Throughout the first few months of the pandemic, we dealt with the heartbreak of our kids missing out on major life events.
Sorry parents, but we need to be ready for more let downs and so do our teenagers.
Hopefully all of your expectations will come true once school starts. But, we have to face the facts that we’re living through a pandemic. Both parents and teens need to be ready to handle more changes that we never expected. (Skip to #4 if this freaks you out like it does me!)
This recently happened to one of my teenagers when expectations were not met. People we both trusted to enforce safety procedures couldn’t. It was different than we expected which caused even more worry and anxiety, making the plate full of stress overflow even more.
Now is the time to change the picture we have in our head. At least put those old thoughts on hold and think of new ways of how it could be good with what we can actually do. This pandemic could last for years. Who knows?
Here are a few things to think about to help kids cope.
3. Teach Teens to Respond with Kindness
It’s easier to deflect an argument with laughter and kindness than hate.
If you’re on Facebook, you’ve seen the arguments and heated discussions over various topics such as masks and social distancing. When I see adults fighting in public, I can only imagine what kids will say to each other at school or activities after being isolated for so long.
Do your kids keep their cool if things get heated? Do they have the skills to respond with kindness?
Often when I’ve got a kid alone in my car, I like to discuss friendly comebacks for all kinds of situations whether they are online or in person.
For example, let’s say someone says, “Masks don’t work and you’re stupid for thinking they do!” Instead of saying “No! You’re stupid!!!” your kid could simply walk away, scroll on by, or use one of these replies:
- I’m sorry you feel that way.
- Yeah, but I like wearing them. I feel safer and I don’t need lipstick!
- But I like wearing this, it covers my braces.
- Better safe and stupid than sorry.
- (Joking) Oh, you’re just jealous of my sexy mask look.
What other scenarios can you imagine your teen might have to deal with? What are they already dealing with on social media or with friends they do come in contact with now?
Together with your teen, think of some nice ways to respond to keep their cool. I bet some of your kid’s ideas will be pretty funny and at least give you both something to laugh about!
Something to think about… I recently saw a meme that suggested these responses for these statements:
When someone says: “I decided to send my kids to school.”
Say this: “I’m proud of you for making this decision. I know it wasn’t easy.”
When someone says: “I decided to keep my kids home and do virtual learning.”
Say this: “I’m proud of you for making this decision. I know it wasn’t easy.”
4. Discuss Ways to Cope with Anxiety
During such a stressful time, everyone should know a few of these simple techniques to calm anxiety.
Take Deep Breaths
Breath in for 4 counts and breath out for 4 counts for 5 minutes total. This will slow your heart rate, which should help calm you down.
Question Your Thoughts
Ask yourself if the negative thoughts you’re having are actually true or just distorting the severity of the situation. Changing the way you think can help you take back control.
Find more ways to cope with anxiety here.
5. Have Grace and Be Kind
This seems like an easy task, but tensions are super high right now for millions of people.
Opening the country back up has been full of major controversy and confusion. If your child’s schools and organized activities are starting soon, it will be a huge learning curve for everyone involved. Fears and stress levels will be at their highest. Have grace and know things could change at any minute.
When you’re worried about an issue with your teenager and don’t know what to do, the best thing you can do is talk privately to your teachers, principals, coaches, leaders or therapists.
It takes courage to talk to the people in charge about a problem. If you reach out with grace and kindness, those people are going to be glad you did. Hopefully they will do all in their power to help.
Most of all be kind to your teens.
Lift them up by telling them you love them, tell them how proud you are of them, compliment them, write them a nice note, give them a gift or clean their room for no reason or just give them a much needed hug.
They might seem okay to you, but understand their plate is overflowing with stress just as much or more than yours.
What’s been working for you and your teens during the pandemic?
Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear what positive changes you have made in your lives with the current situation.
More articles you might like:
- 5 Things Teen Boys Want from Their Moms
- How to Talk to a Reluctant Teen
- 10 Tips to Get Your Teens to Open Up
- Take the 5 Love Language Quiz for Teens here