It’s no secret that this past year has been difficult for everyone. As adults, there have been many adjustments we’ve had to make in our lives. Whether working from home, homeschooling, navigating travel plans, or socially distancing from family and friends. This past year has been has seen some incredibly hard times for all of us.
Teens have especially struggled to cope with the number of changes they saw the world go through. Growing up and discovering who you are is enough of a challenge. Puberty, body image, self-esteem, family transitions are some challenges to name a few. Add in a worldwide pandemic, shutdowns, mask mandates, and life-altering changes…all without much notice. That’s a recipe for stress, worry, anxiety, and depression. As a result many of our teens isolate from others, fret about their futures, get mad for various reasons, and yet need comfort, encouragement, and hope. How will they get what they need as they adjust to these unprecedented times?
As the world attempts to recover, there’s still more adjusting needed. You already worry about your teens, and now you’re not sure how to help them adapt to even more changes. So here are a few things to consider when helping your teen regain the stability and confidence needed in these challenging times.
Acknowledge the Global Pandemic as Not Part of Typical Growing Pains
We all know the term growing pains when discussing growing up. Being in the middle of not feeling like a child but not quite an adult is hard. However, a global pandemic was never a part of growing pains.
At first, there was the fear of what would happen to themselves or a family member if they contracted the virus. Now, despite things improving, there remains the fear of what may happen next. After spending over a year in near isolation with little social time, many teens are now facing uncharacteristic anxiety.
Maybe they had anxiety before the pandemic, and it’s worsened since. Or maybe you’ve noticed they’re more anxious and stressed over returning to school, sports, and socializing. With so many changes in the past year, life might feel unstable for them.
First, to help them adapt, acknowledge that this pandemic is extraordinary, unpresented and something you never experienced as a teen. Secondly, give them time to adapt to changes at their own pace. Remember, being a teenager is hard enough and overwhelming on its own. So even though they were forced to rapidly adjust in 2020, let them ease their way back into life this summer of 2021 and beyond. There was a lot to process from the past year, and not forcing them to adapt at a certain pace will help them in the long term. Third, be there for them. Take the initiative to “hang out” with your teen. Be open to just listen. Allow them time and space to vent but not to be alone.
Returning to Normal Will Take Time
Last year, teenagers had no choice but to go with the changes. From switching to virtual learning, hardly ever seeing friends in-person, and putting extracurricular activities on hold, was a lot of change all at once. But, as we see the light at the end of the tunnel growing closer, it’s hard not to rush towards it at full speed.
Keep in mind, your teen’s brain is still developing. It doesn’t process changes, stress, and negativity in the ways that the adult brain does. So if they are struggling to feel confident being around people or returning to in-person learning this school year, that’s okay. There’s no race or time limit for them to feel at ease.
Check In, Be Available, Give Space
First, to help boost your teen’s confidence, check in with them. Let them know what they’re feeling is common among teens right now. Be available when they need you. Then, by letting them take things at their own pace, you will understand they are apt to regain the confidence they need in time. In other words, be patient in the process while being observant of their behavior.
If you sense things are not quite right with your teen, you are probably right. There may be deeper emotional pain that they may not be telling you. What we have learned in working with teens, is each one processes change, uncomfortable feelings differently. Many times they just don’t know what they are experiencing but it “sucks”. They are probably going to need some help sorting it all out.
If you think your child is struggling with life post-pandemic, reach out to us for teen counseling. We are here to work through these challenging times together.