Teenagers tend to learn a lot through social interaction. Naturally, social distancing for most teens can feel like a cruel punishment. Many teens feel that social distancing is irrelevant to their age group. It is important for teens to understand that they can be carriers of the virus, even if they don’t feel sick. They can spread the virus to vulnerable populations without even knowing it.
In order to help teens follow the guidelines, they need to understand the severity of what is happening. A few parents in Delta County have reached out, asking what to do when their teenage child won't listen, won't stay in, and won’t adhere to the social distancing guidelines. Delta County CTC partnered with Bay Pines Center and the Delta County Sheriff Department to come up with some helpful advice for parents:
1. Educate: Help youth understand the disease. Use the CDC website to educate and understand the dangers of COVID-19. They need to understand how the disease is spread and the dangers of passing it on to others. Attempt to create a sense of empathy.
2. Structure: Teens benefit from having a schedule. Adding some structure would help the days feel more normal. Following meal and school schedules will help keep a sense of normalcy.
3. Loosen Screen Time Restrictions: Be creative with Social Media. This is probably not the best time to keep tight restrictions on screen use. Allow teens to spend time together using zoom and other apps.
4. Increase Family Activities: This is a stressful time for everyone, but more planned family activities could be beneficial for the entire family. Plan for picnics, movie nights, or board games. Ask your teens for suggestions on family activities.
5. Talk to Them: The fears caused by this pandemic are real. We all are struggling with our emotions. Give your youth time to talk about what is going on and allow them to express their feelings openly. Be honest about some of your feelings regarding the quarantine. This is difficult for everyone.
6. Choices: Many teens may feel like they have no options. Consider things they can control and provide them with choices. Can they choose which school work to do first or which to save for last? Can they choose what’s for dinner?
7. Create Online Opportunities: Many youth are struggling with the fact that many life events are canceled and they cannot participate. Have them come up with ideas to recreate those events. Zoom dances, online karaoke, virtual vacations and zoo visits.
8. Improve Wellness: Go outside, get fresh air and exercise. Create an exercise the whole family can participate in. Walking and hikes are great exercises that do not require physical contact. Meal plan together, start a healthy lifestyle change.
9. Instill Consequences: Ultimately, it’s up to parents to create responsible youth. If they are not listening, find an appropriate punishment and stick to it. Try taking away their phone if needed. If your child is under the age of 17, you can be held accountable for their actions.
10. Consider Online Counseling: Many local, state, and national entities are providing counseling via phone or internet. If you feel this would be a benefit for your child or anyone in the family, please don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Consult the Delta County COVID-19 Response Guide for National Hotlines as well as local options, or call your insurance company to see if they have anything available.
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