Social distancing has brought a change in everyone’s routine. Just as you’re adjusting to your new daily routine, so is your teenager.
It’s not easy for anyone, which is why it’s important to help your child navigate the emotions and responsibilities that come with such a major change. When you are mindful of your teen’s struggles and honest with them about expectations and concerns, you create a healthier environment for the entire family. Make the most of this time together with these ways to help your teen cope during social distancing.
Stick to a School Schedule
Social distancing isn’t a vacation, so it’s important to stick to a normal routine as much as possible. This includes regular healthy meals and a normal sleep schedule—both of which are vital parts of maintaining physical and emotional wellbeing while they’re stuck at home. Just remember that it’s okay to be a little more flexible during this time. Maybe the school day can start an hour later. Maybe a break halfway through the day to relax or catch up with friends online is a good idea. Work with your teen to come up with a schedule that keeps them on track while still being understanding of this strange and complex situation.
Be Mindful of What They’re Missing
It’s important to keep in mind that everything your teenager is used to has now changed. For example, it’s easy to see your teenager on their phone or playing video games and thinking they’re not active enough. However, texting, social media, and online gaming are some of the easiest ways to keep in touch with their friends right now. Perhaps a little more screen time isn’t a bad idea. On the other hand, it’s important to continue to encourage their other activities as well—especially ones that they can no longer attend. If your teen is missing baseball practice, grab a glove and play some catch in the backyard. If their show or performance was canceled, encourage them to still perform for the family. It’s important to show your teen that it’s okay to be upset about missing these things, but also that you can always find alternatives to still make the most of the situation.
Speak to Them About Healthy (and Unhealthy) Coping Mechanisms
Many unhealthy coping habits develop during one’s teenage years, and a high-stress situation like this doesn’t help. One of the best ways to help your teen cope during social distancing is to be upfront and honest with them about what’s happening. If you’re worried about them and how they’re handling social distancing, sit down and have a conversation. Discuss healthy ways of coping, such as creative outlets, outdoor activities, exercise, or mindfulness. Be sure to lead by example when offering all of these solutions—if you’re not willing to do it, you shouldn’t ask it of your teenager. You should also have a conversation about the dangers of unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as unhealthy eating habits, drugs, or underage drinking.
When you put an honest, understanding effort into the situation, your teenager will know they can trust you to help them through any difficult emotions or circumstances that they may face.