We are the first generation to have had a global lockdown. The rules may be a little vague here, but some useful principles may help. Post Traumatic Stress Disorders emerge after an individual experiences troubling times, with little or no preparation or debriefing; where life patterns change, values are challenged and habits are distorted. Perhaps the lockdown could be seen as a trauma.
Let's start talking. Use opportunities to create spaces where you (as an adult) can describe your own challenges. How are you managing without staff, without regular food brands, without meeting groups and without transport options. Perhaps your own language may help a teen to describe their own processes. They might be ‘missing’ friends, or ‘irrationally irritable’ over trivial disturbances, they might ‘long for normality’ after rerouting the plan – again. Teens will need the language to support, but will also need to language their experiences to share and inform their processes. Other friends, non-parent adult mentors, chat rooms, and random encounters may be therapeutic in that sense.
Next thing is we can avoid some aspects of lockdown-itis. Perhaps we could plan further ahead to ensure the right dessert is available for the special meal, or that there will be time to get to watch the sports event, even if traffic is disrupted. Pre-planning may be the difference between a sulky teen – who is not able to cope with more changes, and an engaged proactive teen, who has felt listened to.
Thirdly lets gets some strategies going for dealing with stress, – include the successes as well as the epic fails “When things get out of hand I…”, “sometimes I feel so mad that I will…” and “when things aren’t going as I expect them to, I sometimes…”. Providing these strategies will encourage teens to accept their frustrations, and work with them as states – not traits. Best not to describe someone as a ‘moody teen’, rather to say ‘ there is a lot of processing to be done at the moment!’
Chin up, we will get through this. The fun thing about parenting teens (or being a teen) is that there is pretty much always the next thing around the corner!
If you are struggling having your teens home during lockdown, check out our previous blog covering that topic!