CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES DURING OUTBREAK

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Social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 can be especially hard for teens, who may feel cut off from their friends. Many also face big let downs as graduations, proms, sports seasons, college visits, and other long-planned events are canceled or postponed. Here are a few ways you can help your teen through this difficult time. 

Work Together To Create A New Normal 

  • Stick to a schedule that works with online learning: Set a time to wake up, exercise, shower, get dressed, have breakfast, or whatever they need within the day. If it helps, allow your teen to sleep in a little later than normal. Like they would be in class, phones should be off while doing schoolwork. Keep the TV off during school hours, too, and limit the time of watching the news. Plan mini-breaks and a 1-hour lunch 
  • Make a dinner transition time: Dinner is a great time to gather the whole family together to talk and share a meal. Try fun conversation starters. This may be the time your family may choose to observe a quiet moment together. Help them keep their usual sleep time routine so they are ready for learning each day. 
  • Allow downtime: It’s normal for teens to crave more privacy from their family. Give them space for some quiet time, creative time, music time, or to virtually hang out with friends. This can help ease any feelings of being isolated from their friends or difficulties with routine-change. 

Communicate Honestly & Openly 

  • Share information about what is happening calmly and factually to help ease their concerns about the virus. Discuss facts about COVID-19 and correct misinformation when you hear it. Reinforce the basics, like the importance of frequent hand washing and avoiding touching their face. 
  • Stress that staying home saves lives. Talk about how social distancing is an important way they are helping slow the spread of the virus and protecting those most at risk. Have a strict no cheating rule. 
  • Talk with your teen about how they’re feeling during the pandemic. Watch for signs they are struggling and may need more support, or if they show any signs of increased suicide risk. Don’t hesitate to contact your pediatrician with your concerns. Read more here.​
  • Help your teen look forward by helping them shift away from what was lost and identify ways to move on with plans and goals. 

Stay Safely Connected 

  • Reach out virtually: Allow your teen to stay connected to friends and loved ones during social distancing by phone, text, video chat, or social media. Remind them to check their privacy settings so they are not posting too much personal information online. Playing games online with friends can also be relaxing and enjoyable for your teen. But be sure to agree on screen time during school days. 
  • Help others connect: Many teens have expertise in using technology and can teach parents or grandparents how to video chat or use social media. This is also an opportunity for them to bring you into their virtual world.