The world has turned upside down for teens around the world. For the first time, teens are facing an active, worldwide pandemic in the form of COVID-19. They have gone from preparing for spring break, proms, and graduations to learning from home, wearing face masks outside, and remaining in isolation from all those they were close to.
For teens in areas where strict social isolation is the norm, this might mean never leaving the house, spending day after day in a small space with parents and siblings. A stressful, frustrating, and overwhelming situation for anyone!
Below are some proactive steps that families can take to help their teens manage COVID-19.
Separate Fact from Fiction
Knowledge can make all the difference! The coronavirus is new and scary. There is a lot of inaccurate and inflammatory information. Accurate knowledge may help you gain a sense of control and help you identify specific strategies to reduce your risk and manage your fear.
Reference reliable information from legitimate sources, such as:
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- The World Health Organization
- The National Institutes of Health
Remind your teens that although social media is full of information and updated often it is not always accurate. Encourage them to fact check or talk to you about strange or new information they see online.
Protect the Vulnerable
Stay home and stay safe!
Public health experts, epidemiologists, and researchers studying the virus all agree: the best way to control its spread is to avoid contact with other people, as well as surfaces infected people may have touched. That means staying home as much as possible and maintaining physical distance from other people—even friends and neighbors you know and love.
The reason for this is that the coronavirus has an incubation period of up to 2 weeks; possibly longer. A person who seems well might be shedding the virus and spreading it to others. Avoiding others protects you from people who might have the virus without knowing it. Perhaps more importantly, it ensures you will not spread the virus to vulnerable people such as grandparents or individuals with disabilities.
Teenagers are relatively safe from the coronavirus. Their symptoms are not as severe, and their risk of dying is very low. That might make it seem like the coronavirus panic is an overreaction, but it’s not. This virus has the potential to kill 10% or more of older people as well as a large portion of people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, HIV/AIDS, respiratory conditions, and more. Your healthy-seeming neighbor might be in danger. Your friend who recovered from cancer could get the virus and die. There is no way for you to know who is in danger, so it is best to treat everyone as a vulnerable person worthy of protection.
Learn Something New
Yes, the pandemic will end… a vaccine will be discovered, and treatments will improve. But, in the meantime, how are you and your teen spending your time. This strange period offers you the chance to learn something you never had time to try before. YouTube offers countless educational videos on a variety of subjects, many language software’s are offering discounted rates, and social media groups can help you get started on a new craft.
Learning something new can stimulate your brain and give structure to your day. Even more, it can remind your teen is a positive way that there is more than just the isolation.
Step Up and Give Space
This time period is stressful for everyone. Parents need to remember that their teens are scared and completely discombobulated. Teens need to remember that parents may be trying to work from home, stock up on supplies, plan lessons, or care for younger siblings.
As a teen, strive to take one task off your parents’ plate every day. You have no idea how far an already emptied dishwasher can go to reducing their stress and improving their outlook.
As a parent, remember that your teen is not used to spending this much time with you either. Space can help them retain a tiny piece of normalcy.
Together, we will all get through this.
Find New Ways to Connect
Okay, your teen cannot get in their car to visit their friends right now; be surrounded by the noise and happy chaos of a football game; or get dressed up for a Friday night party. Life is very different and can be depressing for a socially oriented teen.
Embrace technology. Start a daily group chat with your friends. Schedule video calls throughout the day. Start a blog to share your own experiences. Attend some online exercise classes.
We all need other people… especially our socially dependent teens.
Be safe. Stay connected. Be aware of those around you. We can all manage COVID-19 and survive this pandemic together but… in order to do it, we must stay apart a bit longer!