Lockdown, with Teens...
The most important thing in many teenagers’ lives is being with their friends. Feeling connected socially is critical to their happiness. There may very well be some push back around the restrictions that are currently in place. In addition, teenagers often see themselves as invincible and as such will not necessarily recognise the impact that this disease may have on them. Lots of press stating that young people are not necessarily getting ill can results in some complacency within this age group. In fact, compliance around hand washing has been most difficult to maintain with teens as opposed to younger children who are better at following the rules.
So, what do we do:
1) If you nag, they will push back, involve them in listening to reliable news sources. They are going to be more willing to listen to health experts than parents.
2) Ask them to think of friend they know who is immune compromised or an elderly relative. Discuss how not following these restrictions will increase the spread of this virus and result in this person becoming very ill
3) Pick your battles, now more than ever you have to decide what are realistic expectations of your teen. For example, the teenager’s room…this is their own space and their devices are the only way for them to interact with others.
4) Have allocated screen free times e.g. meals, sometime outside, and at least 2 activities per day with the family
5) Flexibility on the state of the room, consider having the following conditions, keep the door shut so we don’t have to see it, if it smells you are coming in, no dishes stay in there, clean clothes come out…..and once a week it has to be “tidy”…even this only lasts an hour and its not to your standard
6) Despite the bravado and nonchalance, you may see in your teen, there will be underlying anxiety that sometimes presents as anger, moodiness and irritability. Acknowledge how the uncertainty is making everyone feel and that these are normal emotions. Remind them that this strange time will end and that they will see their friends, school, gatherings, parties and sport will resume and you as parents will still love them ….no matter what they do.