Being a teenager has never been easy. At the risk of aging myself, I’ll say this, when I was a teenager, things were different. We didn’t have social media or text messaging. We didn’t have that constant connection with the world around us. Parents have been learning to navigate the digital age for a few years now. How much screen time is too much? Should I check their text messages? What’s a Finsta account, anyway?
And then, 2020 happened.
If you thought you had a handle on the whole parenting thing, think again! What better way to cause parents to question everything they’re doing right than a global pandemic? Well, mom and dad, rest assured, you’re not alone. If you feel more lost than ever, if your kid is fighting you on even more stuff than usual, if you feel like you’ve tried everything under the sun but you just can’t “fix” your teen…I’m here to tell you, what you’re feeling is normal and it’s ok. Sure, they may have started an all-out brawl with you about putting their shoes on before getting in the car this morning, or maybe you can’t get them to talk to you about anything more than what kind of pizza they want. But I promise you, your child is not broken. They’re not irredeemable and there absolutely is hope.
Nearly half of all parents polled…
Nearly half of all parents polled since the start of COVID-19 in March of 2020, say that their teens have shown signs of new or worsening mental health conditions. I don’t have to tell you that the past 14 months have turned their worlds upside down. It’s been hell on even the most well-adjusted among us. Add to that being taken out of school, not being able to spend time with friends, being stuck at home, fighting with siblings and parents, oh yeah and a little thing called puberty. It’s no wonder teens are struggling with the impacts of COVID-19 on their mental health.
Growing up comes with natural feelings of wanting to become more independent.
It happens when baby birds are big enough to fly, when cubs are old enough to hunt, and when our babies turn thirteen. Ok, maybe that last part isn’t exactly scientific. But there does come a time in every child’s life when they just don’t rely on mom and dad quite as much. For teens coming of age during the pandemic, this has been particularly difficult. The options other generations have had aren’t available to them. Even without a global pandemic, one in three teenagers falls into the criteria for anxiety disorder by the age of 18. Now we have online school, canceled graduations, virtual college interviews, and even more screen time to worry about. During COVID-19 lockdowns, parents of girls reported a 36% increase in anxiety and a 31% increase in depression/sadness. Parents of boys have reported a 19% and 18% increase, respectively. (WebMD)
Changes to routines, isolation, fear of uncertainty, and other pandemic-related lifestyle changes all contribute to the anxiety kids are experiencing. Another aspect that we certainly never had to deal with as teenagers is masks. We’ve heard feedback from some parents here at Claibourne Counseling, that their teens are struggling with identity issues regarding wearing masks and going back to school. This could be because they’re not able to express emotion as well or because they feel silly wearing masks. Masks are also a constant reminder of the virus, of germs, and how not normal things are. This could be anxiety-inducing for some. Of course, it’s important to continue following CDC guidelines in regards to wearing a mask, but if your child is experiencing any anxiety around wearing a mask, here are some great tips to help them feel more comfortable.
Tips to help your teen feel more comfortable wearing a mask at school:
- Treat the mask like a fashion accessory.
- Choose a transparent mask or face covering.
- Remind them they’re not alone.
- Be a role model.
Whatever the reason, if you or your teen are experiencing anxiety or depression, whether it’s new or something that’s been going on for years, we’re here to help. This isn’t something anyone has to go through alone. Reach out to a Claibourne Counselor today.
If your teen isn’t quite ready to take that step yet, encourage them to get in touch with Teen Line, a peer-based education and support hotline. They can text, call, email, or use the message board to talk to kids their own age who are trained to help.
Sending you light and love,
~ You are worthy. You are capable. You are enough! ~