Top 5 Challenges and Solutions for Teens During Shelter-in-Place and Lock-Down

March 23, 2020

Teens are in the peak of their social lives.
Staying home with their parents is likely at the top of the list of things they do not want to have to do. We are all becoming aware of just how important it is for all of us to stay home, and as we transition to more isolated lifestyles there are some things to keep in mind about teens specifically. Once you’ve beaten the challenge of convincing them to stay home, there are a whole lot of new challenges that may come up while they stay safe at home.
1. Social Isolation -
Many of our teens are on campus or involved in extracurricular activities for a majority of their day, five to six days per week. The sudden decrease of participation in activities such as team sports, or even sitting next to friends in a classroom is a huge change of pace for many of our teens. With Lock-down, Shelter in Place, or Safe at Home laws being enacted coast to coast, it’s clear that teens cannot manage this change as they would on any other vacation. They cannot stay over at each other's homes, meet up for movies, or even grab a bite to eat.
Solutions:
Encourage your teen to set up a regularly scheduled time to chat with a group of friends via online video conferencing services. If your teen has friends in the neighborhood, or even next door they can speak to each other from windows, or standing in front or back yards. Teach your teens that phones can be used for talking too - not just sending texts and posting memes.
2. Social Media Consumption -
Teens are already social media machines. Now that school is out and most other activities are cancelled, there’s no doubt that your teen has already ramped up the amount of time they spend on social media per day. This is one aspect of their everyday life that has somehow remained unchanged, and in many ways may be providing comfort that comes with the things we know best. In the interest of maintaining normalcy for your teen, it may not be appropriate to drastically limit or remove their outlets to the world.
Solutions:
It may be wise to establish certain boundaries around content or time. Have a frank discussion with your teen about how it may be difficult to determine valuable information from disinformation. Spending too much time reading or researching Coronavirus (COVID-19) may lead to unnecessary stress or concern. Ask your teen to help you with projects around the house, rather than spending time sending photos and videos to friends. Participate in social media with your teen by making a family account and allowing them to document your time spent together at home. You can work together to make content and choose what gets released.
3. Boredom -
Ever notice how your teens start to get restless by the end of Winter or Summer break? If you have that’s because they’ve started to get bored. Even the most engaging and activity filled summers can become boring without proper mental stimulation.
Solutions:
Help your teen explore some online resources for learning new subjects or reviewing old ones. You can look into online tutors that can review skills to keep your learners fresh for when school is back in session. Allow your teen to express themselves through art, be it music or painting, encourage them to spend their downtime practicing skills they don’t typically have the time or energy to practice. Ask them to learn a favorite song of yours, or try to sketch a still life scene of your dog napping in the living room. Suggest that they turn all their movie and television watching into something productive by writing critical reviews, comparing them to other movies or shows in their genre and explore differences.

4. Worry/Anxiety -
Even adults find themselves anxious or worried when faced with situations they don’t completely understand or have control over. This is especially true in periods of great change. Teens often feel they have no control over their lives which is a major area of conflict with their parents. The feeling of being out of control, coupled with a major social crisis could lead some teens to be overwhelmed with anxiety and become impossible to live with.
Solutions:
One effective way to curb stress is to distract your mind by keeping your body busy. Tune in to YouTube for exercise videos ranging from yoga to weightlifting techniques, or check with your local gym to see if they are offering any live stream Zumba! Now may be a good time to try the age old art of meditation which allows you to let thoughts happen - then let them pass. You and your teens will certainly have time to practice or exercise a little bit each day.
5. Frustration -
Not being able to contribute to a cause, or change anything about one’s situation can be totally frustrating. It is possible that you will see your teen acting out or being more moody than usual while staying home over the next few weeks. This could be coming from the frustration of being cooped up, not being able to meet up with friends, or some combination of smaller concerns, like their favorite food not being available at grocery, or simply not being able to run out to pick up a new game or clothing item.
Solutions:
Allow your teen to have more autonomy around the house than they normally do. Assign them one night a week where they choose and make dinner for the family. If that works well, ask them if they’d like to be in charge of breakfast, lunch or other future dinners. In this small way teens will be able to exercise a measure of control of the menu and cooking method, helping them to feel satisfied and accomplished in a new way.
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