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Parenting teens during COVID-19

May 8, 2020

A teen’s job is to become their own individual. It’s important to give them enough space to let them make some of their own decisions right now. Within a firm set of boundaries, give them freedom.

Remember that you are the parent and are in charge. This may be a time when you’re having to take charge more than you ever have as a parent. Give grace to yourself as a parent and to your teens. It can be hard for adults to stick to guidelines so imagine how difficult it is for young people. Let them know how much you appreciate their sacrifice. You can use affirmations such as, “all of your feelings are okay with me” or “what you need is important to me” to affirm their feelings. 

What about rules?

Yes, you should have rules. This may be a time, due to the safety issues, that you need to use more firm and less flexible kinds of rules. This may feel different and uncomfortable. Rules (especially now) are not permanent. This is an evolving situation and rules will likely evolve, too.

  • Families should re-evaluate rules on some sort of timeline.
  • If there’s more than one caregiver, make sure you aim for a United Front in terms of rules.
  • Remember to tell your kids “thank you” when they make a sacrifice.
  • Use positive affirmation such as, “you can feel all of your feelings” or “you can find a way of doing things that works for you” to validate your teen’s emotions.

Kindness goes a long way and continuing to model this with your teens is especially important during this time. 

Keep it positive

By this time you’ve been home with your family for several weeks and the panic may have worn off while monotony has set in. Being intentional about positive parenting has never been more important.

Remember, its human nature to give more attention to negative statements than positive so when talking with your teens, try your best to keep it positive. Research shows it takes about a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative comments to keep the relationship in balance.

Affirming statements can be short and sweet. “Thank you for doing the dishes”; “You are so funny!”; “I’m glad you are you,” are examples you can use and then try some of your own! 

Developmental affirmations

Check out developmental affirmations on the overindulgence webpage for more ideas on how to talk to your teens. Use them in a variety of ways such as putting them on the bathroom mirror, leaving a note where they’ll be sure to see it, or telling your child positive things you are thinking about them along the way.

The affirmations don’t have to be grand gestures. They can be as simple as saying, “you’re doing a really good job coping with this situation.” The developmental affirmations provide ideas for positive statements that you can use when you can’t find the words.

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