Things To Keep In Mind To Avoid Stress In Teenagers Amidst COVID-19 Environment

Parents need to have a strategy to manage the situation for the betterment of the child and the family.

The teen years are a uniquely stressful time. The individuals go through rapid changes – physical, mental, emotional and cognitive. This is also the time when they are beginning to discover their individuality and have to contend with decisions around higher ed and career choices. Increasing peer influence at this time very often creates family tensions, which adds to the stress.  

In the current COVID-19 crisis scenario, we are facing an unprecedented situation of a lockdown and a possible economic downturn. The uncertainty that the pandemic has brought across the globe has created an additional layer of stress. Parents need to acknowledge this fact and have a strategy to manage the situation for the betterment of the child and the family. For the teen also, this is a new situation and adjusting to this new reality (with all the other issues he/she is managing) can add to the stress.  

It is important to watch out for some signs – increased irritability, withdrawal from activities/people, chronic anxiety/nervousness, change in eating or sleeping habits etc. which can be indicative of stress. 

Self-isolation or home quarantine situations have developed a sense of panic and stress among teenagers adding to their existing set of challenges. Shutting down of schools, change in their vacation plans and physical distancing from their circle of friends and family is certainly not easy for them. To make this difficult phase a little easier, parents can adopt the following steps to keep the pandemic chaos away from their teenage children and help them deal with their stress and anxiety a little better. 

While the individual strategy to handle the situation would differ, some common aspects to keep in mind are – 

1) Communication is key

Be an active listener and most importantly acknowledge their feelings. Most teens were suddenly thrown from a thriving socially interactive environment into a lockdown where their physical interaction with peers is down to almost nothing.  

Maintain eye contact with your child. Give them non-verbal cues that they are important – put down your pen or paper or phone that you are working with and give them all your attention. DO not judge them and try to fix the problem. Just listen and be present. They must be allowed to talk and you need to create the environment for them to be able to open up and talk.  

Also, be lenient if they are on long chats with friends. It often acts like therapy.  

If the topic of COVID-19 comes up, do not hide anything. Mention the precautions and create awareness. As Dr Daniel Keating says in Psychology Today, “Parents can remind students that this too will end and that being mindful of their goals and sense of purpose is still important, even if it seems chaotic now.”  

2) Routine building

This is a time when schedules can go completely awry. Schools are either out or operating in a remote mode providing e-learning.  

Having a routine will provide some structure to the day and maintain a semblance of normalcy. It helps the body and mind stay focused. Also, the routine will provide a sense of daily purpose, which will help the child.  

This can also be a great time to get involved in some skill-building – there are umpteen sites on the internet which offer short term and long term courses for various skills. The available free time can be used to great advantage.  

Do ensure some time for physical exercise or activity. A healthy mind in a healthy body, as the old adage goes.   

3) Manage anxiety and stress positively

Do not panic with the extended lockdown dates, instead make it your social responsibility and adhere to it by staying at home. Be optimistic about the current ongoing situations and focus on the positive impacts of the same.  

The whole world is figuring out how to cope with the extreme change in our lives. Our adolescents are experiencing the same. Help them to understand that we are in this together and we need to do our bit to help the society and the nation by adhering to the lockdown rules.  

Each crisis carries within it an opportunity to grow. This forced family togetherness is a great chance to strengthen family ties and build long-lasting bridges with your children.   

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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