Like you, we have been stuck at home, social distancing, and scrubbing our hands frequently. The Coronavirus has left us isolated and worried. And it’s not just the elderly and infirm that it is affecting. Bill has a relative who died from the virus – 34 years old – after returning from a business trip. How could it have happened? And how do we prevent that sad outcome for others?
A teen’s environment is already a minefield of uncertainty, anxiety and worry. Add to those the volatility of a viral infection whose spread and cure are unknown. Counselors have been dealing with increasing teen anxiety and depression over recent years. This indiscriminating and mysterious disease only adds to the load.
Listen, learn and teach
This is a time when we need to control the interactions of our kids and listen to them even more carefully. We suggest following:
Follow regulations of the Centers For Disease Control (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html)
Talk about the virus and its impact on your teen, their friends, and the world. Provide for balance in your discussions. Don’t become consumed with media reports but strive to remain informed.
Ask open-ended questions about how your teen is feeling and how friends are doing. Provide space for your child to respond—and listen carefully without judgment.
Watch for changes in teen behavior, such as withdrawal, obsessive focus on a recent event, even uncharacteristic silence.
Parental involvement can be key to the health of your child. Don’t hesitate to seek help from a teacher, counselor, minister or mental-health professional.
The known unknowns
We need to provide strong love and attention for our kids, know what is going on, and seek outside help when needed. In this uncertain time, perhaps that is the best knowledge to have – the knowledge of what we don’t know.
Teens who are resilient adapt to bad things in their lives and possess the capacity to recover and move on, maintain perspective, think of things in a constructive way, and take care of themselves.
The American Psychological Association provides some tips for building resilience:
Communicate. Find someone to whom you can express feelings. This could be a parent, sibling, counselor, pastor, teacher, or community or school group.
Cool down. Find peace. Practice mindfulness. Take a few moments each day to let your mind find peace, where you can see the issues you are dealing with and let them pass you by.
Find a routine for your day. Although we’ve been limited in our activities, the comfort of even a limited routine provides a sense of security.
Care. For yourself and for others. Get enough sleep. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Look for ways to help neighbors, family, and friends, even in these trying times.
Control. Set a few modest goals. Think about a time when you overcame a challenge. This success will help increase your confidence. And limit your intake of news, which can increase your stress.
Developing resilience doesn’t eliminate stress or anxiety. But it certainly prepares you to handle it more successfully.