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During the current COVID-19 outbreak, being active can be difficult. It can be very easy to retreat to our rooms or the couch and this might especially be true for your typically anti-social teen. Breaking them out of withdrawal behavior is important during this time. What can you do to help them to survive being stuck with their families for this time?

1. Give them control the menu for a week


Make your teen feel that his or her choices are important and welcome. Let him or her plan the family menu for a week. You can set stipulations such as each meal must contain x number of veggies or fruits; each meals budget is x, with x amount of people in the home. Whatever the boundaries are is up to you. You have to agree, however, to making whatever meals they choose. If it is a difficult meal or takes a while to make, have them help. 2. Teach them a new life skill


Teens are preparing to leave home before long. Let them help you create a new chore chart, cook dinner, plan the weekly budget, or plan weekly groceries. Teens can be very creative. They also need to know how to do these things. We often hear that teens should learn to do these things in school, but the school curriculum cannot cover everything. Take this time to show them how to garden, organize mail, iron, or do laundry. They also may learn to appreciate things more if they got to plan and execute it. 


3. Allow them have some “private” friend time


This one may seem a bit counter-intuitive, but teens have time at school where they have one on one conversations with friends. Let them have some alone time with friends to decompress. 


4. Encourage them to take up a new hobby or craft


Find YouTube or SnapChat videos of a new dance challenge, how to do their own manicure, fix a bike, or something else. Do this new hobby with them. You can let them choose the hobby. Be sure to let them laugh at you when you trip over your own two feet, or glue the photo upside down. They might learn a new hobby and get some well-deserved laughs. 


5. Motivate them to do a how-to video and post it to YouTube or just share it on Snapchat


Your teen is good at something and has a purpose. Encourage them to share that talent with the world. Offer to be their videographer with your cellphone. Hey, what if it goes viral? It might just go to his or her best friend, but it might be fun. It doesn’t have to be a high-quality dialog either. This is just to keep them from hiding in their rooms. Share the video with us and we will put it in next weeks news letter.


6. Plan a family game night with  family virtually


Let your teen set up a competition with a friend’s family through Zoom, Google Hangouts, WebEx, or some other video chat feature. Play board games. Each family can have the same game and “move” for the other family or each family can have a set of dice and the family with the game can take the moves. See who does the best. Be creative. Charades might be fun here too. If the teen feels like they are in a competition with a “rival” family, he or she might be more apt to participate than a regular game night at home. 


7. Let them experiment with their look/ style


If he or she has always wanted to dye his or her hair, buy temporary dye and try it out. Let them rearrange their rooms. Let them help rearrange the living room or your bedroom. If he or she is a fan of fashion, let them give you a makeover or make themselves over. Encouraging creativity can increase self-esteem for many teens. 


8. Promote movement


Challenge them to a dance-off. Have them see if they can improve their mile run. Get them outside for yard work. Do anything to get the blood flowing. Exercise helps people retain information, and most schools are sending homework for the time being. Get them moving to improve the retention of the information. 


9. Develop a routine


Listen to their behavior. Teens who are melting down or hiding often miss the routine of their days. Help them determine a new routine for the duration. Let them feel that they are controlling things that feel out of control. It doesn’t have to be a perfect routine—it only needs to make them feel there’s some normalcy. If they feel more normal, they may be more likely to participate in life around them.  


10. Give them time to decompress


Let them know that their mental health is important to you. Don’t try to constantly engage them. Let them know that it’s okay to crave a little alone time. They also need to know that they can ask for what they need. It’s hard to perform all the time. If they feel heard, they will try harder to hear you.


These ten things are not an exhaustive list. Some of the ideas seen here might be useless to you and others may be perfect. The point is to get your creative juices flowing. You know your teens and what they like. One of the keys to engagement with others is to make them feel significant. Listen to your teen. Participate with them. Be there when they need you.

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How are you feeling? We just wanted to check-in and ask how are you feeling? Last week we offered some red flags to look out for during in your children, family, friends, and even yourself. This week we would like to provide you a few coping skills you can utilize everyday.

Not all youth will experience the same changes, so please use this only as a guide. If you feel that your child is having mental health issues, please contact his or her physician or mental health services. During this pandemic, many doctors and mental health facilities are seeing patients via tele-health. This is not a substitute for mental health diagnosis or treatment. This for informational purposes only.  Additional resources are listed below.



COMMUNICATE  

As simple as it sounds, simply talking to your child can help. Reassure any fears he or she has. Let them know that their fears are valid. Do not make them feel silly for being afraid. They need to know that we are all in this together, and experiencing this for the first time.


PLAN

Many children are just scared because they do not know what to do. They feel better if they understand what is happening and what they should do. Be honest. Tell them the things that you don’t understand, but try to work with them to create a plan of action:  - What do we do if mom or dad gets sick? What if he or she gets sick? - What if a friend or family member gets sick? - Since we cannot visit them at the hospital, what can we do to help? - What do we do to protect ourselves? Help your teen/child answer all of these questions to the best of your ability.


CONNECT

Get creative. Plan a family game night with another family via FaceTime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, or some other video chat feature. Have your teen “race” a friend by both going for a three mile bike ride around their neighborhoods and comparing their times. Give them increased screen time for time with their friends. Even consider “private” screen time, if the computer is in a shared space so that they don’t feel that everyone is watching them talk to their friends. Of course, certain rules still apply, but let them have some hangout time.

  • Network Connect


Lets get ready for another week! This current situation has been difficult for many people, adults and children alike, as the world has never dealt with a pandemic of this magnitude. Most of the time, though, adults have more coping skills in place to deal with changes. Children and youth rely on their friends and families for much of their coping skills and with many places resorting to shelter at home orders, children can often feel alone and scared. While mental health concerns should be monitored regularly, we may want to be more acutely aware in times like these. Some of the changes to daily routines have happened suddenly and this might create a sudden change in mental health.

Not all youth will experience the same changes, so please use this only as a guide. If you feel that your child is having mental health issues, please contact his or her physician or mental health services. During this pandemic, many doctors and mental health facilities are seeing patients via tele-health. This is not a substitute for mental health diagnosis or treatment. This for information purposes only.  Additional resources will be listed below


Five Things to Be Aware of in Your Child's Mental Health


Check in with people in your life frequently as well as those within your community. Pay attention to the following changes in your child, adults, and the elderly. Zoom, FaceTime, Facebook Live, and Instagram Live are ways to check-in while respecting social distancing.


1. Withdrawal

Children will be somewhat withdrawn anyway since they are not spending time with their friends. If your child does not seem to want to participate in things that brought them joy just a few weeks ago this could be a red flag. Many youths are keeping in contact through apps such as Instagram and Snapchat, and others are having virtual conversations through gaming devices such as PlayStation and Xbox games.


2. Behavioral Changes

If your normally friendly, outgoing child suddenly argues about everything, he or she might be having issues with coping. Your child may not know how to cope with the changes and is melting down inside. Likewise, if the small things have become huge recently, this might also qualify for a similar change.


3. Appetite changes

Everyone jokes about the insatiable appetite of growing boys and girls, but if your child’s appetite is suddenly extremely high or low, this could be something to look out for. Now, many children experience appetite changes during growth spurts, so this may not be a red flag by itself, but it can indicate something could be amiss.


4. Excessive worry or fixation on problems

This pandemic is the source of worry for most of us, so worrying itself is not necessarily a bad thing, but fixation and excessive worrying may be a sign of anxiety-related issues. This pandemic has everyone on edge to some extent, and it is a good idea to make sure that your child understands what is happening and why. This is difficult for anyone to explain, but letting your child know that you are helping to protect the family can help you ease some fears. If your child doesn’t seem to be able to put these fears to rest or keeps bringing them up after you’ve talked to them, you may need to seek more help.


5. Changes in Sleeping Patterns

Teens have a reputation for sleeping excessively, but you know your own children. If your teen seems to be sleeping 20 hours a day despite low levels of activity, you could have a problem. This is not limited to twenty hours a day, though. If your teen is normally up at 6 am on Saturday but can’t seem to crawl out of bed until noon, and he or she is suddenly going to bed at 10 pm., this might be something to look into.


 


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