Tips for Teens & Returning to a “New Normal”
To help your teens adjust to this next stage of the “new normal,” it’s important to realize how your family has been impacted, then plan for ways to cope, adjust and move forward together.
1. Discover how your teen has been impacted by COVID-19. Was your child already suffering from anxiety or mental health issues, which worsened during COVID-19? Did your child suddenly struggle emotionally due to missing out on crucial social interactions? One way to know how your teen has been affected is by having discussions with them. Some kids open up better in casual settings while doing other things, like taking a walk, drive or making dinner.
2. Don’t shield them from important information they need. Explain why vaccines, social distancing and masks are important, and how to do it in their lives. Explain that this doesn’t just protect them, but also grandparents, younger sibs or friends and family members. Let them know what things have to be avoided for now, and why.
3. Model and facilitate healthy habits. Remind teens to get enough sleep, healthy foods and plenty of water. Exercise together even if it’s just a daily walk or a stretching session. Try mindfulness, meditation or yoga, or maybe journaling to lower stress.
4. Monitor your teen’s behaviors and moods. Have daily check-ins informally over dinner, or in the car or while doing dishes. Talk to them about reaching out for help from you, a trusted adult or even a crisis hotline.
5. Give your teens a schedule with flexibility worked into each day. Have a general flow, but not set times. After school, have a snack, do your chores, play a video game then tackle homework before dinner, for instance. Teens do need some unwind time and personal space; give them both.
6. Recognize teens’ needs for connection and find safe ways to facilitate that. If your child missed out on homecoming, find an alternative celebration. Have an outdoor dress up dance party in your backyard with select buddies. If your child missed a grandparent’s funeral, create your own memorial service and share it online with loved ones.
7. Acknowledge to your teens your own struggles with stress these last several months, and share your strategies for dealing with it. Be authentic but don’t burden them with new worries about you! The main thing is letting them know you love them and are always there for them, and things will be OK!