In March of 2020, the Pandemic took us all by storm and life drastically changed for tweens and teens. The world they knew which was full of inconsequential freedoms was now on lock down and all they once knew was changed within days. Life was put on pause; going to the movies, regular meet ups, sports, concerts, amusement parks, restaurants, school, and many of the other luxuries tweens and teens typically enjoy. This ‘new life’ transitioned to the stay-at-home order, virtual learning, isolation, no sports and other extracurricular activities that proved to be a healthy outlet for this population. While some youth transitioned quite easily, some found it challenging and continue to struggle to adjust to the changes in their world. Here are some tips for parents to help their child with adjusting.
- Ensure your child is getting enough sleep. Sleep is super important. Most youth are staying up later than normal, which is definitely effecting their performance at school and at home.
- Getting dressed for school/Washing their face and brushing their teeth helps with self-esteem and helps maintain a healthy routine.
- Eating breakfast allows them to have the nutrients they need to feel energized and focused throughout the day.
- Turning their camera on for school encourages them to pay attention and stay focused while in class.
- Taking breaks from their room and breaks from homework or studying. We all need a brain break and time to step away and recharge. A simple change of environment can be very helpful. This can be going to the kitchen, outside, living room, etc.,
- Going outside allows them to get fresh air and direct Vitamin D. Vitamin D has a lot of benefits including increasing brain cell activity.
- Getting out of the home (adhering to state guidelines) is important because it allows them interact and engage with others socially.
- Socializing with other youth their age (adhering to state guidelines) allows them to return to some type of normalcy.
- Do actively listen. Even if you have something to say initially, JUST LISTEN. You can always respond at a later date.
- Do check their grades regularly.
- Do recognize and acknowledge the progress they make. If they complete an assignment or you see a grande increase from a D to a C that is something to acknowledge and offer encouragement for.
- Do speak to their teachers for guidance.
- Do ask them how they are doing and don’t assume they are okay.
- Do get them a tutor, if necessary.
- Do pay attention to their moods, energy level, appetite, sleep patterns, etc.,
- Do insist they meet some of the goals mentioned above and come together to create a plan to reach those goals. Don’t overwhelm them, 1 to 2 goals is sufficient.
- Do seek help (therapy) if you are not seeing improvements in their mood, energy level, appetite, sleep, etc.,
- Don’t minimize their transition from regular school to home school.
- Don’t minimize their feelings.
- Don’t make it about you, this is their experience.
- Don’t assume, ASK what ever you are thinking or believe you need to know.
- Don’t gossip about them to other family or friends.
- Don’t put pressure on them to figure out things on their own. If your child is struggling in school then you have to assist and be a part of the process. Their grades or lack of completion of assignments could be an indication that they help.
- Don’t make belittling or negative comments.
- Don’t put unrealistic expectations on them. If your child is failing, set a small goal for them to meet. An example could be completing 1 to 2 additional assignments a week until they are caught up.
Shareela M. Allen, LCSW.