In general, parents are concerned about their teen’s mental health. This can be greatly heightened through the COVID pandemic. Isolation, virtual learning, and lack of extracurricular activities have caused mental health challenges to teens. Many parents are thrown off guard when they find out their teen is struggling with suicidal thoughts, self-harm, and depression. They are seeing how COVID has impacted their social connections with their friends and even positive adult relationships from school.
Many parents feel lost on how to best support their teenager. The teen years are always a tricky time to navigate in general. To add COVID on top of that, it is no wonder parents are feeling lost! Not only are parents trying to work, run their household, they are also having to figure out how to keep their child engaged in school and healthy physically and mentally.
Connecting with your teen- the best medicine
Believe it or not, connecting with your teen is the most valuable thing parents can do. Many of the teens I’m seeing express a desire to be able to connect with their parents, yet they fear they may be rejected, judged, or criticized when opening themselves up and being vulnerable to their parents.
Tips for Connecting during COVID
Listen with a full open heart
Leave the judgements and criticism to yourself and allow for open dialogue. Be curious and ask questions to learn more about your child, their interests and even engage with them in those interests. If you have concerns, save that conversation for another time. Being present and listening to your child open up and be vulnerable is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.
Dedicate a specific day of the week
(i.e., Friday or Saturday) for family movie night or game night. Cooking a meal together.
Show your appreciation
Many teenagers are struggling with their own insecurities, struggling to fit in, feeling like they can’t do anything right. When your child accomplishes something, even if it is emptying the dishwasher, or getting the mail, showing them that you appreciate them and noticing their effort offers encouragement and lets your child know that you noticed them.
Ask your teen how they are doing, what they need from you, and what they feel the greatest impact they feel is from COVID-19. Know that if you or your teen is experiencing self harm, suicidal ideation, or other risky behaviors, this is a major red flag. Please take them to the closest emergency room if the threat is imminent. Please find a licensed therapist for yourself or your child as soon as possible.
Foundations Family Therapy is currently offering telehealth and in person visits in our Fuquay and Raleigh offices. We would love to help you connect with your teen and help your teen thrive during this season. Contact us for more details!
This article was taken from an interview between Sara Davison and therapist Allie Cataldi.