It’s hard to believe that we have all been living through this pandemic since March. And it’s really tough that in many places in our country the challenge of containing Covid19 seems to only be increasing, which sadly is only placing more pressure on parents and students with many schools announcing that they will be online only in the fall. At our office, we are hearing about the very real impact this is having on families particularly families where both parents work outside the home. While the impact of these choices is definitely impacting families with young children dramatically, I felt it might also be important to speak to ways it is impacting our teens and young adults as well. Plus, then we can talk about how parents can try to help!
I have noticed that teens and young adults are struggling with similar things as the adults and parents I talk to. They feel that this situation has gone on far longer than anticipated and fear there is no end in sight. They worry about their futures and how they are going to be impacted by the economy as well as how to safely pursue their goals. Some are graduating and unsure of their next steps while others are having to adjust all of their plans from where they will live to where they can work or get an internship. Covid19 has truly upended everything for all of us and while teens and young adults have the ability to do many things online, they are still being hit hard by this situation.
While parents of younger children are sharing that their kids want to be with them all the time, parents of teens and young adults might be noticing that their kids are more frustrated and wanting to be away from them more. I think a big part of this is that for many of them, they are in a part of life when they want to be showing their independence outside of their families. They want to flex their wings of freedom and fly free as much as possible. Unfortunately, that is not an option for so many of them right now which is a big part of why some of them might be grumpy or irritated at home.
As parents, I think there is some of this that is just the storm we are all weathering right now. We might need to just accept that this is how things are for our family during a pandemic - with everyone often in their separate rooms. However, I do think that parents can try a few things to better support their teens and young adults right now.
Here are 5 suggestions of things you can try today:
Support - the most important thing we can do for our teens and young adults right now is to support them. This might look different for different kids sso it is important to try to just tune in to what your kid usually responds to well. If they like to have space, give them space. If they like to talk things through, try to just listen rather than problem solving or giving advice. If they want to just spend time with you, make sure to be available and offer (even if they say no more than they say yes!). Even just occasionally doing something extra nice for them will help right now. The idea here is to make sure they feel that you see and hear them.
Exploring their feelings - If you have a teen or young adult who likes to talk things through, try to let them share how they feel right now. Notice that they are feeling similarly to many of us but have an added element of not having as much life experience to tolerate this much change, discomfort, and uncertainty. They also do not have their lives as consistently set up as adults do. Many of us had to adjust to working from home or making other changes but this changes everything for some of our kids. They are bound to have feelings about it and it can help if you notice that, wow, this is a lot to deal with.
Validation - While trying to support and explore emotions with your teens, make sure you are validating of their emotions and experience. Try not to interject with lots of advice or judgment about what they “should” be doing or feeling. Definitely avoid comparing them to anyone and make sure to take special note of what might make their particular situation difficult.
Managing your own anxiety about their future - What I am hearing is a lot of the teens and young adults I work with feel worried about their futures. The pandemic has changed and thrown off so many plans and this is definitely hard for this age group to deal with. As parents, we need to be sure that we manage our own anxiety about this very thing on our own rather than projecting it onto our kids. The more we can give them the message that they will figure things out and that things will be okay because they are resilient, the better! We need them to know that we have faith in them - even when we are worried about their future and doubting them sometimes.
Reduce focus or pressure about productivity unless they bring it up - I find it interesting that our world is so focused on productivity that we are even focused on it during a world wide crisis of this magnitude. Many teens that I work with aer doing their best to cope with day to day life and the changes they are facing. Sure, many are definitely spending more time on video games, binging shows, social media, and just relaxing but I would suggest that this is part of how they are managing the situation. It doesn't necessarily mean they need pressure to do more or to do less of anything. If your teen shares that they are struggling with motivation, then maybe you can talk about how to manage that. But if they aren't, it might be a nice time to take a break from expectations and to let things be a little more.
I hope these suggestions help you and your family cope with this unprecedented time more effectively! If you would like more support, please subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on social media, or feel free to reach out to see if we can help you and your family during this time.
At Thrive, we take a positive, client centered approach to therapy that is focused on creating a genuine connection with our clients. If you would like to talk with a Thrive Therapist about yourself, your child, or teen attending therapy via video sessions, please reach out to us by phone at 858-342-1304.