14 Apr Tough Talks #1: COVID-19
This has been a difficult time for everyone. News of the coronavirus is spreading rapidly around the world; it seems like everyday comes a new and harrowing update; and with ever-more constricting social guidelines – our normal routines have been turned upside down. What we might not realize, is that as hard as these challenges are for us, they can be even harder on our teens. No adolescent likes change, so times like these may be more difficult for them than we might imagine.
Talking about what’s going on will help to put your teen’s mind at ease, while making sure they are staying informed. Ensuring your teen has access to coronavirus information without increasing their anxiety is hard to do, but essential. Here are some tips on how to talk to teens about COVID-19.
Don’t Be Afraid to Talk About It
Although it may seem obvious, the first step in helping teens with their anxiety surrounding the current situation is to talk about it. Most of the time, we fear most what we don’t know. This means the more you avoid discussing the coronavirus, the more worried they will become. The goal is to ensure they are as informed as possible, and to ease their concerns, which you can’t do without actively discussing what’s going on.
Give Accurate Information
With social media being the source of news for many teens, it’s easy for them to get access to incorrect coronavirus information. Try to help them find credible sources, and focus on fact-based information during your discussion. Let them know that every article they see may not show the whole picture, and direct them to science-based sources like the CDC. It may be helpful to do some of your own research before your discussion with your teen, so you have a better understanding, too.
Teens are still learning to navigate the world while managing their emotions, so during a time like this, they may feel anything from indifference to confusion to full-on panic. It’s essential to understand how they are feeling, and validate their concerns rather than brushing them off. Knowing where they’re coming from and why they feel that way, will allow you to better help them work through it. Listen to any questions they might have, and try to answer them as best you can.
Your teen looks to you for guidance more than you may realize, even if they don’t always show it. Taking care of your own anxiety, staying calm, and keeping a level head will help them see that they don’t need to worry, so try to take a few moments to relax before talking with your teen. Maintaining a normal routine and practicing healthy habits like hand washing, avoiding contact with others and wiping down surfaces will help your teen emulate those behaviors and keep them healthy and calm.
How your teen responds to the ever-changing reality we’re facing may vary, but as long as they have a strong support system they’ll be able to cope with their feelings and move forward in a positive way.
Tilly’s Life Center is a nonprofit educational program that guides teens in effectively coping with crisis, adopting healthy habits and reaching their full potential. To learn more, visit tillyslifecenter.org