The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a great deal of anxiety for families around the world. And the stress isn't limited to adults – kids and teens are feeling it too. That's why it's so important for parents to have a plan for handling their teenagers while we quarantine.
A great first step is sitting down and talking to your kids about the situation. But what should you say? And is there anything else you should be doing to make quarantine easier? Take a look through this handy list of pointers and figure out the best way for you (and your teen) to navigate these troubled times. It's always better to be prepared!
So, here's how to handle teenagers while we quarantine.
Acknowledge their disappointment.It's important to remember that teenagers will likely be missing many rites of passage because of the self-quarantine. Proms, performances, competitions, and other school-related activities are being canceled, and it's natural for teens to be upset about the loss.
Find ways to control your anxiety.Self-quarantine may prevent the spread of COVID-19, but anxiety spreads too. So, if you're cooped up with your kids and unable to hide your nerves, they'll spread. Thankfully, there are ways to keep the nerves in check.
Get credible information.Make sure you (and by extent, your kids) aren't absorbing misleading information on social media. Make sure the things you're taking to heart are purely fact-based and actually helpful.
Stay up to date.
via: GettyMake sure you're also following all notices from your kid's school, plus your town and state. You'll be less stressed if you're properly aware of all protective measures being taken in this time, and by association, your kids should be less stressed too.
Be honest.If your teen comes to you and asks if you're worried, now isn't the time to lie and say "no." They'll be able to tell, and it's not helpful for controlling their own stress. Instead, be honest. Admit you're worried, but also acknowledge that there are ways to protect yourself and them.
Take care of yourself.And make sure your kids are doing the same. There are many ways to attend to your physical health that also help stress levels: exercise, yoga, meditation, or even just relaxing and watching a favorite TV show.
Make sure everyone gets a good nights' sleep.Getting enough sleep is key to reducing anxiety, since it's just good for your basic health as well.
Have someone else who can support you.
via: GettyMake sure there's another adult who you can trust, confide in, and vice versa. This will help control your stress, and thus help you better deal with it around your kids.
Talk to your teens.It's pointless--and even harmful--to try and keep bad news about COVID-19 from your teen. They've heard about it, and perhaps overheard other people talking about it, so cutting off their source of information will only stress them out. Have an open discussion and find out what they know about coronavirus, and what they still want to know.
Be open to questions.One conversation probably isn't going to cover it, not when this quarantine is likely to last for a long time. So just let your kids know that they're free to come to you with questions and concerns.
Respond to their concerns.
via: GettyIf your kids get worried (which would be totally normal) about themselves, you, another family member or friend's safety, it's important to pay attention to.
Validate your kids' feelings.Similarly, their concerns are valid and should be recognized as such. Make sure they know their fears are heard, while also offering them what (factually accurate) consolation that you can.
Model good behavior.Neither you or your teen want to get sick, and the best way to teach them good safety precautions is to model them yourself and let them pick up habits by example.
There are plenty of things to model.Hand-washing, coughing into your sleeves, keeping your hands away from your face, and not shaking hands or making physical contact with others are all examples of things you could do to show them in turn how to stay safe.
Don't shift around blame.When bad things happen and people begin to feel helpless, they tend to want someone to blame for their fears. However, in the case of COVID-19, that can't be done. There isn't any single person to point out as responsible for spreading the disease, and singling out an entire group of people is extremely harmful.
Yet some people are doing it.There's been a tendency in the US to blame people of Asian descent especially--since COVID-19 hit hard in Asia before other places. But we definitely don't want our kids to pick up on that kind of thinking, so make sure they know that perpetuating negative stereotypes and unfounded accusations isn't okay.
Catch up on the news with them.
via: GettySince we're talking about teens were in particular, they're definitely old enough to watch or read the news for themselves if they so choose. If they want to watch while you are, let them.
Let them help.You also don't have to do all the work when quarantined with your teens. They can help shop for supplies or babysit younger siblings. Not everyone may want to do this, but generally, taking an empowered role in things can help to lessen anxiety.
And treat teenagers as partners in problem-solving.Sure, you're ultimately the adult and have the final say, but teens are mature enough and perfectly capable of helping. So, when making plans or coming up with solutions, include them in the process.
Set routines.Everyone needs structure to some degree, and if your teens are going to keep up with schooling, then they need a schedule. So, organize the day almost like it's a typical day of school, with time set aside for study, lunch and snacks, and et cetera.
How to facilitate the routines:Lounging around in pajamas is fun, but it actually does help the brain get in gear when you change into day-clothes. Also, set up space in the house specially designated for schoolwork to further improve the transition.
And while you're at it, anticipate roadblocks.Naturally, this whole thing is an adjustment. So, things will go wrong sometimes. And kids will have bad days, especially when their lives have been upended so drastically. As long as you can anticipate and deal with those bad days (see above), you'll get past those days easily enough.
Plan for conflict.You're cooped up in a home with your teenage kids--there's going to be conflict. It's inevitable on normal days, and doubly so in this strange time. So, know there will be days like that and make sure you and your teen are able to hash out your differences together.
And plan for resolution.Just knowing that you're inevitably gonna get on each other's nerves is a start, but also go into it knowing that you and your teen can resolve things for the best.
Give them some privacy.Teenagers forced into quarantine are going to need some time alone, and it's important to give it to them. So, make it clear that your teen is absolutely welcome to hang with you, but it's also okay for them to want some private space.
To do that, give them leeway with their rooms specifically.Bedrooms especially are something that will be especially sacred to a teenager when they're locked in with the entire family. So long as there's nothing actually hazardous about it and it doesn't disrupt the rest of the house, now probably isn't the time to get on them about cleaning it and whatnot. Just let them have their rooms and their space.
Approach some tasks with extra consideration.
via: GettyYou can also still have requirements for your teens--chores or babysitting younger siblings or such--but do so with more consideration for the teenager's needs as well during this time.