With the school year coming to an abrupt end, teenagers may be mourning the loss of missed milestones – like end-of-year goodbyes, celebrations with classmates and teachers and the classic signing of yearbooks – as well as shortened sports seasons and cancelled concerts and performances. For teenagers, social distancing may be a particularly challenging time as they redefine social lives and forgo rites of passage such as prom and graduation.
Here are some tips to help your teen cope during COVID-19:
- Create a routine. Your teen's average day has been turned on its head. Work with your teen to create a schedule which includes setting a regular wake-up time. It is ok to let your teen sleep a little later than usual. Plan for regular meal times, schedule schoolwork, exercise and allow for downtime. Providing time and space for teens to be creative, listen to music, and virtually hang out with friends can help ease the sense of being isolated and the loss of normalcy.
Talk with your teen honestly and openly. Share fact-based information from trusted sources to help ease concerns about the virus. Be sure to correct misinformation if you hear it and reinforce protective measures such as frequent hand washing and avoiding touching their face.
- Talk about the importance of social distancing to help slow the spread of the virus, protecting those most at risk and helping to save lives. Acknowledge that this is hard and be creative in helping your teen find virtual connections. Help teens look forward by focusing on goals and plans you can make within current circumstances. Explore alternative celebrations to celebrate those missed milestone events. Don't force these ideas on your kids, but be supportive in finding virtual substitutions.
- Create social connection while remaining physically distanced. Allow teens to find community in virtual spaces through texting, video chats, and online games with friends and social media. Check privacy settings and monitor online and virtual activity. This way, you can make sure teens aren't sharing too many personal details or spending too much time online. Also, don't be afraid to ask your teen to teach you and other loved ones how to use technology to stay in touch. This is an opportunity for teens to bring you into their virtual world.
- Encourage family time. Go for a walk or complete a workout video together. Virtually visit museums and libraries, listen to an audiobook or play a board game.
- Tap into teenagers’ resiliency and adaptability to help others. While following social distancing guidelines, teens can volunteer to assist neighbors, tutor younger kids or assist a local not-for-profit organization.
A dedicated coronavirus information phone line is available seven days a week from 7:00 am to 11:00 pm at 814.231.7111. For more information on ways Mount Nittany Health is responding to coronavirus, please visit mountnittany.org/coronavirus.