Understanding how your teen is dealing with the quarantine and how to help can feel overwhelming. . The world has changed with social distancing, lack of face-to-face contact, and closing of teen hangout areas like malls, skate parks, and movie theaters. While we all realize, this is important for the health and safety of everyone… teenagers tend to process feelings quite differently during this time. It can be challenging to handle your teen’s lack of cooperation in adhering to safety restrictions….but even more challenging may be their attitude about the quarantine and COVID-19. Many teens don’t seem to believe this virus is still any more dangerous than the flu. It may also be difficult to understand why they don’t seem to care… and still want to go out and see their friends. It can feel frustrating to teens to have everything feel so serious.
Please remember that teenagers are already experiencing so many changes. These changes began even before the stress of the pandemic and quarantine, such as body changes, peer pressure and factors surrounding social media and status. COVID-19 has only heightened difficult feelings, leaving your teen more confused, frustrated and misunderstood.
Please keep reading to learn how to help your teen through quarantine.
These days teenagers are struggling…and with good cause. In therapy, I am treating more teens suffering with depression, anxiety and the pressure to get good grades, even while their entire learning structure has changed. Many of you may feel worried with the uncertainty of if your teen will get into a good college and how their grades may shift with distance learning. Perhaps you are feeling anxious helping them with this process…. Their homework looks foreign, your teen’s patience is wearing thin and they seem overwhelmed, angry and just overall sad.
Perhaps you are trying to empathize with your teenager and let them know you understand the pain they are experiencing with missing out on important events due the quarantine. Maybe you are trying to help them in this time of disappointment. However, everything you try falls flat and it feels like your intentions are misunderstood. Your teenager is constantly telling you that “you just don’t understand” and keeping to themselves in their room all day long lately. You begin to feel like maybe it’s true… and maybe you don’t understand and are in need of some help.
Feeling disconnected with your teen right now is extremely common… Please know that you are absolutely not alone!! Being able to effectively help your teen in this time is vital and will ease your stress levels too. Managing how to help your teen is difficult and something all parents are striving to do.
It’s true that learning ways to help your teenager in today’s climate is extremely challenging, however, there are ways to support them. By sharing important strategies and information with them this can benefit them in this experience. In addition, you may develop a new understanding of what it’s like to be in teen in today’s world during quarantine.
Three Ways Teens Are Dealing With The Quarantine And How to Help
How teens are dealing with the quarantine #One: Shutting down
One way teens express frustration, especially in today’s world, is to shut down. They may lock themselves in their room and only come down for dinner…or they may answer with one-word answers and not have interest in engaging with you. Helping your teen to open up involves meeting them where they are at right now…and joining their world by letting them know we are here for them.
Our therapists and psychologists at Simi Psychological Group, focus on reactions like this. We can help you find ways to better connect with your teen such as asking about their friends and listening to their beliefs about the pandemic. This is important even if you don’t agree with their perspective. It’s important to Inquire about your teen’s friend and how they are dealing with the quarantine. Try to ask open ended questions about how it feels to miss prom, graduation and end of the year high school events. Try not to solve their problems or fix their pain… just listen.
Check in about how their relationships have transitioned to virtual connections and how it is affecting them. Just be present, listen and pay attention to your own language. Try to avoid using blaming, shaming or minimizing statements, such as “Why do you always … , I already told you that…. or “should statements” such as “You should be feeling… or You should know.. “
Sometimes, teenagers just want to try to get through tough times on their own and believe they can handle it.
Also, teens may feel your anxiety or depression about the pandemic and may not want to burden you with one more issue to worry about. In response they suppress their feelings about it and try to manage something that… to be frank… none of us clearly know how to manage very well right now.
Allow our team of therapists and psychologists to support your family during these delicate times online teen therapy sessions. When stressors are high conflicts tend to arise. We are able to help mend the communication between you and your teenager. Ultimately to help adjust the language you use to talk to them in a way they will appreciate and respond to.
One way teens are dealing with the quarantine is denial. Teenagers at times may lack insight into the issues happening in the world today. They may deny that COVID-19 is real or have strong feelings about their freedom being restricted. They may also say phrases like “I’m fine, or I don’t care”, when deep down they may be upset or anxious about transitions happening in their life and the uncertainty of it all.
Usually, when someone says “I don’t care” … it’s code for “I’m scared”. So, it’s no wonder that trying to convince your teen how important safety and adhering to stay at home orders, may only drive your teen further away. Strategies like this are only adding to your stress and exacerbating arguments. Join with your teen in their fear… let them know you can hold space for their feelings and can handle it.
Also, allow your teenager the autonomy to have their own perceptions about the quarantine and COVID-19. Validate and listen to them…. Even if you don’t agree. Don’t direct your teen how to feel… just be there. You may want to try to sprinkle in some evidenced based facts or share a meaningful story you heard about on the news to begin a discussion that is open, engaging and comfortable. Remember to let your teen feel heard and not judged for their lack of insight and understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic.
#3. Extreme emotional reactions
At times, you may notice extreme emotional reactions from your teen in dealing with the quarantine and COVID-19. This may look like emotional outbursts like sudden intense tears, yelling or your teen using language that may sound scary, such as “I don’t want to live in a world like this!” While of course, safety is the most important focus and we want to make sure your teen is not engaging in self-harm behavior or suicidal thinking, it’s important to remember the reactiveness that comes with being a teenager and the intensity of the feelings they are experiencing. These feelings just become more intense in a climate filled with fear surrounding COVID-19 and the quarantine.
Some of the symptoms we have noticed with our teenage clients are anger, anxiety, depression, or numbness. At times, your teenager (like all of us do) may also tend to push down their feelings and avoid talking about it. Perhaps they don’t even have the capacity to put what they are feeling into words and would rather not talk about anything at all.
In therapy session, I will work with your teenager on how to learn and apply coping strategies that will help them process all that is happening in their life during COVID-19 and the quarantine.
For now, some ways you can help your teen cope through this transition are to help them get plenty of rest. We are all needing a little extra rest right now with the climate of all that is happening. Also, don’t force them to talk about what’s bothering them. Instead, try watching their favorite teen show with them, checking out social media (non-judgmentally) and making sure they have plenty of time to study and alone time.
Try asking “third person” questions, like “How do you think a person would feel having COVID-19? Or maybe something more personal to them like, “How do you think your friends are handling staying at home?” They may give a one word answer, but try to narrate what they may need to hear…such as “Man, it must be hard… they probably miss you” Also, it may help to encourage them to journal about this historical experience. They might even choose to add their feelings or draw how they feel which can be very therapeutic.
Supporting your teen during the COVID-19 pandemic can be extremely difficult. However, if you commit to understanding your teen and allowing yourself to hold space for their feelings you will begin to understand what your teenager really needs. Ultimately this is just your presence and patience.
We understand that the events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic are extremely challenging, especially to a teenager, who has a multitude of stressors. During this time of intense emotions, misunderstandings and differences in opinions, we at Simi Psychological Group are here to help! Contact us today and allow us to help you and your teenager through the process. We are all in this together….
Written by Dr. Reena Becerra
I believe that through self-compassion, inspiration and hope it is possible for anyone to reach their deepest and truest goals. My focus is working with children, adolescents, and families that struggle with Anxiety, ADHD, Depression and relationship issues. I also have a strong passion for working with adults with a history of trauma. Healing, self-love and acceptance and growing through transformation, are all within reach. Learning to truly love and connect with one’s self and others is a true gift and it is my honor to be on this journey with you. Learn more
At our Simi Valley therapy practice, we offer Child therapy and family counseling, Teen therapy, Anxiety Treatment, Depression Therapy, Marriage Counseling, and Neuropsychological Testing. We are now offering online therapy in Ventura County and online therapy in Los Angeles for most services.