Teens and COVID-19

Schedules, routines, our very lives have been changed by COVID-19. Entire families have been affected, but social distancing may be especially difficult for teenagers who aren’t able to visit friends and are missing important milestones, such as graduations, proms, and sporting events. Parents may find it difficult to motivate teens to complete school work or daily tasks or keep them engaged in activities due to the current climate.

Please find here some ideas that can provide opportunities for your teen to take on responsibility and contribute to your family and community in ways that are unique and challenging.

Shift responsibilities!

  • If your teen has younger siblings, he or she can help care for them by planning lunch time, creating playtime activities, or finding fun ways to help them complete school work.
  • Can your teens do the dishes and take out the trash? Put them in charge of certain chores, or give them recycling responsibilities and have them research where you can drop off different types of recyclables that may not be collected by your pickup service.
  • If your teen likes to cook, ask him or her to come up with some new recipes, plan the grocery list, and cook a meal for the family.

Maintain virtual connections!

  • Put your teen in charge of creating ways to stay connected with family and friends on a regular basis. For example, themed Zoom chats or virtual game nights can be fun for all age groups.
  • Have your teen create a family email chain that can be used to exchange news, recipes, pictures, and more.
  • See if your teen can use a social media platform as a creative way to do dance battles with family and friends.
  • Is your teen active in the arts, or musically inclined? If so, ask him or her to create a new song or develop a performance to present virtually to family and friends.

Design family projects!

  • Ask your teen to take the lead on a family project (e.g., create a family photo album) that includes the entire family, and ask him or her to delegate roles and responsibilities to each family member – those close and far.
  • If your child is media savvy, ask him or her to take or use existing family photos to create a slide show and have a premier night – make popcorn or s’mores.
  • Suggest that your teen make a family tree, contact grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other extended family to learn more about his or her family history.
  • Have your child create a virtual 5K for family and friends to participate in together.

Declutter and donate!

  • Ask teens to go through their rooms and pick clothes that do not fit or toys or old games they no longer use and package them for donation.
  • Talk to your teen about organizing a family garage or basement clean-out, and throw away or donate items that are no longer in use.

Volunteer within the community!

  • There are many volunteer opportunities in communities that follow social distancing guidelines.
    • Ask your teen to search online for opportunities in which they can help others, such as working in a group to plant or maintain the community garden or collecting food for the food pantry.
    • Suggest your teen use his or her social media platform to spread acts of kindness or make someone feel special (e.g., sharing a positive post about a friend or family member, using Facebook to raise money for a charity).

Helping teens discover ways to take on more responsibility and become leaders in their families and communities is a great use of energy. It can help support their self-esteem and allow them to contribute. In addition, being of service to others may help to mitigate feelings of depression and loneliness.

References

American Academy of Pediatrics. (2020). Teens and Covid-19: Challenges and opportunities during the outbreak. Retrieved from https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chest-lungs/Pages/Teens-and-COVID-19.aspx

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