With current lockdown measures still firmly in place supporting older children can be difficult. You’re up against social-media, Netflix and Whatsapp, nevermind the absence of them being able to see their friends. For those teenagers that may have just started to date or to have a part time job, these rites of passage have been dramatically taken away while families are on lockdown. During lockdown, teenagers may swing from boredom and frustration to nervous and angry, and a load of other emotions on the way. And because of their teen brains feel invincible in the face of the virus, making it harder to enforce distancing. with potential challenges for parents.
So what can we do during such a time to steer our teenagers away from too much digital display and ensure they follow social distancing guidelines?
Validate their feelings/concerns
Older children are far more exposed to the ever growing information on Covid-19, with social media spreading news by the minute. It is important to be open, have discussions and address any questions or concerns they may have. With social distancing being the rule, the absence of socialising will undoubtedly be a challenge for older children. Validate their feelings and acknowledge that you know how frustrating it must be. To compensate for the absence of face to face social networks, perhaps try to be a little more relaxed on the time they’re spending socialising with friends online.
Mental health / wellness
The current situation causes worry for many, so it is important to ensure your teenager’s mental health is looked after. Encourage conversation around concerns and direct older children to the many organisations providing great tips and resources.Take a look at this.
Encourage a time-table/daily plan
Older children are used to the responsibility of routine at school/college, so try to support them in doing the same at home. Give them the responsibility of planning their day ensuring they’re getting a good balance between work, ‘”socialising” and exercising. Encourage a good night’s sleep, rest and healthy habits.
Enhance your relationship
Whether you are working or not, now is the best time to enhance your relationship with your child(ren). Try the SFSC model of Special Time that was featured in issue 1 of this newsletter.
Make use of technology
For children addicted to their screens BT have created “Code a Cake” which uses baking as an analogy for coding, providing online experience for the wannabe gamers out there. It is aimed at 6-11 year olds but provides great introduction and insight into the world of coding, so older children may find it interesting too.
For the avid gamers, if feasible, invest in a new game that requires movement e.g. dance or sport games; this way you’re not restricting the game console, rather, you’re encouraging exercising / burning energy – win:win.
Allow them to be creative
Now is the perfect time for our children to be creative. Got spare paint in the cupboard? Maybe let them redecorate their room or move their furniture around – this will allow them to create a personal safe space when they want to be alone. Encourage aspirations by allowing older children to research, plan and be creative. Sit down with your child and encourage them to develop goals for their future.
We are all in this together, so remember that there is no right or wrong way during this difficult time. Whilst older children may have a better understanding of the current pandemic than younger ones, it is still important not to forget they are experiencing big changes and are having to adjust to new circumstances. Be patient and understand that emotions might get frayed.