Change and turmoil seem to be one of the few constants when you are parenting teens and young adults. We deal with and love them through their lightning-quick changes in emotions, their surging hormones, their shifting friendships and romantic relationships, and their mental health issues.
While supporting them with their emergence into adulthood, we often also are dealing with other life challenges, like extended family health struggles, career changes, and cultural shifts. And with deep sadness, we sometimes also must guide them through heartbreaks like divorce, deaths of loved ones, and natural disasters.
We all now are facing another monumental challenge and have begun to move into uncharted waters as parents. In uncertain times like these, there are steps we can take to help our kids best deal with the stresses and disruptions to their normal routines.
What parents can do for teens during the Coronavirus outbreak
1. Let them feel what they are feeling.
Some kids easily verbalize their anxiety, while others take a little time to process before talking. Some will bottle up difficult emotions for extended periods of time. Respect your child’s timeframe, while assuring them that all their feelings are valid and normal. Find tactics and provide materials to assist those that release their feelings in non-verbal ways, possibly through music or various other art forms.
2. Be honest with how you are feeling.
Teens and young adults are usually adept at seeing through our attempts to gloss over big feelings. Sometimes challenging events can be the perfect opportunity to start moving into a true adult-to-adult relationship with your teen. Oftentimes we fear that admitting to them that we are also feeling anxious will cause them more worry, but it’s important to let them know that we can feel scared and keep moving forward, doing our best. That is the definition of bravery.
3 Look for positives, once they’ve had time to come down from an extreme disappointment.
Because no matter what we are going through, there is always something that is a positive. Help them develop their growth-mindset skills by searching for a couple reasons to be optimistic, no matter what it is your family is dealing with. With every crisis, comes creative solutions.
4 Seek out opportunities for kindness and assistance.
Troubled times provide ample opportunities to help out others in need, and altruism is a proven method to counteract negative emotions. We can choose to look at this time period as a rich opening to develop new or deeper relationships with neighbors, fellow parents in our kids’ academic communities and students with all kinds of special needs.
5 Model healthy stress relief.
Now may be the opportune time to try something you’ve thought about in the past, but never followed through with–like yoga, meditation, or a long novel or comedy series you’ve heard is great. Show your kids that times may be tough, but you and they are as well, and finding some inner peace or laughter is something we should all work into our daily schedules.
6 Talk to grandparents, other older adults, or immigrants for some perspective.
Many of our teens and young adults may have never heard personal stories of living through wartime or other extreme hardship events. They truly are lucky in so many ways, and many of them take for granted the technologies that they are accustomed to living with.
Adapting and coming to terms with a new normal is never easy, at any age. Now is the time to help our kids concentrate on what is truly important – our health and our families. All of the rest will get sorted out with time, cooperation, and kindness.
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