So, we’re seven weeks into lockdown and it’s proving a difficult time for a lot of us. Many adults are struggling with a huge range of emotions, which can swing without any obvious reason from one extreme to another. One group who knows all about these feelings is teenagers! It’s a particularly difficult time for them as they cope with studying from home, being separated from friends and navigating the changes brought about by puberty. They have a rapidly growing and developing brain and this causes a temporary period of chaos as the constant re-wiring prepares them to enter the adult world. This can result in exaggerated emotional responses and a reduced ability to plan, organise and consider long term consequences. In lockdown, there is potential for the perfect storm!
How can we help our teenagers, and indeed ourselves, to survive whilst we learn and work at home? We may expect teenagers to need less support than younger children at this time but It’s really about their having different needs. They may need parental support to organise and prioritise the work being sent home, especially when submission dates seem a long way off. Often, they have not yet developed the ability to predict the consequences of leaving work to pile up. They may lack the confidence to work alone and may appear resistant and hostile to even making a start. Parents who recognise this will find that sitting alongside their teenagers to get them started, offering words of encouragement and showing an interest, can work wonders.
Many teenagers are online more than ever at the moment and parents are understandably concerned. It’s clear that we can’t allow unlimited screen time, but it’s worth remembering that all of us are finding ways to escape from reality in the current circumstances. Teenagers are also acutely aware of feeling separated from their peer group and are afraid of missing out. Connecting online is a way of keeping relationships going, so perhaps we should think twice before we dismiss this activity as mere gaming and a waste of time. If you can get your teen to join you and the rest of the family offline, be thankful but don’t expect them to look like they’re having fun- they are far too cool for that!