How to help your teen in a post-COVID world…
Nature is healing and the UK is slowly but surely inching its way back to some kind of normality. With full unlocking on the horizon, it’s natural for people to feel a concoction of emotions, from unease and anxiety to excitement and trepidation. Teenagers, especially, have experienced an unprecedented interruption to their education during the most important years of their lives. Many will have lost loved ones along the way, been furloughed, worked harder than they ever have before or experienced anxiety, loneliness, and uncertainty.
How can we support our teens as they ready themselves to face the ‘new old’? Read our top tips to give your teen the support they need, every step of the way:
While most of our young people are back in school and are already finding their feet, many will still be feeling anxious. Missed exams, what to do after leaving higher education, how to keep safe in the classroom… the worries and fears may be ongoing.
Talk to your teen about anything that might be keeping them awake at night. If further education is an issue, don’t be afraid to reach out to the school to seek guidance and additional career support. Whether it’s helping with a CV or showing your child potential colleges, your school will be only too happy to lend their support.
Exam and assessment pressures feel even heavier after a year of turbulence. Help your teen to plan a study timetable to relieve some of their anxiety. You can also support their studying by checking in with them regularly to make sure they aren’t overdoing it and are taking breaks every now and again.
Click here for more information on helping your teen cope with being back at school.
Loss has been a deeply sad overriding feature of the past year. Your teen may have lost a family member or friend during lockdown, through COVID or another illness. The restrictions around funerals and not being able to be close with family during difficult times may well have left its mark.
Your teen may be withdrawn, sad, irritable, or angry. Grief hits us all differently and is one of the most difficult journeys we face in life. Let your teen know that you are available for open and honest conversations about their loss. Be prepared to answer their questions – many teenagers want to know details about what happens to someone when they die. You won’t have all the answers, naturally, but talking over ideas and beliefs can help your teen enormously. Click here for more advice on supporting teenagers with loss.
Social anxiety post-lockdown is common. We’ve spent the best part of a year in a very small bubble, only talking to people through a computer screen or on a phone. It’s perfectly normal to have social anxieties as the world opens up.
Encourage your teen to take small steps. They could try meeting up with just one friend outdoors and then move up to meeting with the same friend indoors, to begin with. Next, they might want to try a slightly larger group or going into a busy shop. This can help with building up confidence, one baby step at a time. Your teen can try breathing exercises to help with anxious thoughts and feelings – this can really help when a situation feels overwhelming.
Click here for our guide to the best apps for social anxiety.
We’re well underway with vaccinations but COVID-19 is still a very present concern. Your teen may be feeling extremely anxious about catching COVID when restrictions and social distancing are lifted.
There’s no reason at all why your teen can’t continue with preventative measures like masks and hand sanitiser, even if schools, shops, and restaurants eventually drop these measures. Having a COVID kit of masks, sanitiser and wipes in their bag might help to reassure your teen when they’re out and about.
Let your teen express their fears openly and do your best to support them where you can. It’s also important to separate fact from fear – there are many rumours and conspiracy theories circulating, especially on social media, and these can make young people feel even more frightened and anxious than before. Put any fake news to bed with scientific facts and encourage your teen to cut back on their screen time to reduce their exposure to harmful content.
Ask your teen to read our advice on dealing with covid fears by clicking here.
If you have serious concerns about your teen’s mental health, please reach out to your GP for help. There are many helpful peer support groups available, too. Your teen’s school might also offer a counselling service or additional resources, so don’t be afraid to ask. Your teen can also call Childline on 0800 11 11 if they’d prefer to talk to someone anonymously.