How to support your teen during the Coronavirus.
By, Jonathan Levin, LCSW
“I feel like I’m in prison.”
“I can’t take this anymore.”
“I can’t sleep anymore.”
“All I want to do is sleep.”
“I want to go back to school”!
All of these quotes came from my teenage clients today. One after another, age 13-18, my clients expressed their concerns to me about how they are feeling.
I see fewer smiles.
I find that many of the teenagers that I work with now since the Coronavirus do not show much emotion at all, are almost despondent when sharing their thoughts and feelings.
Two weeks ago, I saw more angry faces. Now, almost no expression at all. While many teenagers complain of being bored, I feel what they are really saying is, “I am scared”.
It makes sense that they are experiencing fear.
We often think of teenagers as living in the moment, only thinking only about themselves. But it is clear that teenagers are much more complex than we give them credit for.
Teenagers are exposed to so much more information than ever before. It is understandable then that their overexposure to the news coupled with the mysterious and unknown ultimate consequences of Covid-19 lead to fear. Fear for their current situations, and fear for their futures. Our teenagers are living in fear.
It is important to allow teenagers to express these fears. It is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that they are feeling something that is very normal. While there is very little that is normal in the current climate, feel scared should be seen as completely acceptable.
Not all fears are the same. Many families are in financial crisis due to Covid-19. Some have family members, or the teenagers themselves have medical problems that make them susceptible to Covid-19. Some are concerned about the future of the country, the world, whether it be economic, environmental, or other general concerns.
And many teenagers feel alone, away from their friends. They miss the social contact that they were used too, that they relied upon. These are all normal fears, and teenagers should be assured that they are not “going crazy”. We are all feeling the same things.
Do’s and don’ts of what to do as parents for your teenage children that are expressing fear about Covid-19:
- Do show empathy towards your child and the fears that they are expressing. Listen to them, and let them know you care, and congratulate them for their courage in expressing their fears.
- Do not try to talk them out of being scared. Many fears are illogical. Especially in this case, where so much is unknown, allow them to express their fears without judgement.
- Do let them know that fears are normal. That there is nothing wrong with being scared. Fears are not a sign of weakness
- Do offer suggestions of what they can do when feeling scared, such as reach out to friends virtually. Find a way to express their fears in art, music, or any other creative manner.
If you believe your teen is struggling by showing signs of sadness, withdrawn, suicidal thoughts, or anger/irritability that doesn’t seem to alleviate, it may be time for a mental health professional to step in and support your family during this time. Virtual counseling, otherwise known as online counseling or tele-mental health, is here for you and your family. Schedule a FREE consultation today to know if this may be helpful at this time.