I Love My Teenager, But COVID is Tearing Us Apart

COVID affects teens
Things have been hard and, honestly, they may get a lot harder. COVID-19 is wearing everyone down. Not only is your teen going through a lot of changes and increased responsibility that comes with age, they are dealing with a worldwide pandemic.

As the parent, you are well aware, because COVID is impacting every area of your life as well. COVID fatigue is a real thing and it’s making strained relationships much worse.

What is COVID Fatigue?

Simply put, we are tired of COVID. Of course, being tired of a disease doesn’t mean it’s any less dangerous or any less pervasive. But, there is a very real outcome to months of stay-at-home orders, masks, lost jobs, closed social circles and endless news cycles. We are burning out. And COVID fatigue is responsible for increasing infections when people feel they can’t take it anymore and grow lax on their efforts to stop the spread.

How is COVID Affecting My Teen?

If things were tough with your teen before, they might feel impossible now. Every disappointment and frustration feels like it’s being taken out on you. Communication might take the form of screaming or it could be stony silence.

You might fight through continual lies or you may be met with open defiance from your teen. You might feel trapped in your home with a difficult teen, or you might feel desperate to rein your teen in more. You wonder, how do I talk to my teen? You feel out of control.

Chances are: so does your teen!

COVID-19 is taking a mental toll on teens, especially teens that were already struggling socially before the pandemic.

According to a recent study on the how COVID is impacting teens, “School closures and enforced social distancing, as well as health and financial uncertainties, during the COVID-19 pandemic are expected to adversely affect mental health in youths, particularly adolescents who are already at risk for experiencing emotional difficulties.”

Your teen is dealing with crushed dreams, frustrating restrictions and the daunting unknown.

Mood disorders, depression and anxiety aren’t always easy to spot.

You might feel like your teen is just angry and aggressive, but this could be a cover. It’s easier to be angry than vulnerable, so it’s a common response in the face of fear or grief. Be watching for signs that your teen needs more help. While many teens deal with moodiness and a desire for privacy, you might notice some extreme behavior if your teen is struggling.

  • Feelings of hopelessness or emptiness
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Dramatic shifts in weight gain/loss
  • Excessive sleep or insomnia
  • Sudden contact with troublemaker friends
  • Complete lack of interest in hygiene

If your teen is suddenly avoiding all family meals or refusing to participate in anything, it could be a sign that the teen is struggling with a disorder, mental issue or emotional problem. It could also be a sign that the family dynamic has become dysfunctional or toxic.

Not every cry for help is going to be in the form of self-sabotage, self-harm or suicide. If your teen does talk about harming themselves or wanting to die, you need to seek help immediately. That is a clear sign that a professional needs to get involved as soon as possible.

If this occurs, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 to get on the phone with a professional.

But, in many cases, the signs start out small. Seemingly harmless issues start to snowball into behavior patterns that are harder and harder to rein in.

Helping Teens with COVID Fatigue

If COVID is starting to tear you apart, it’s time to take action. You can help your teenager find some relief by following these tips:

Plan socially distanced visits

Looking for ways to help them participate in safe and fun events with peers is a crucial part of alleviating the COVID fatigue.

Talk to them like adults

Your teenager isn’t fully an adult, so this doesn’t mean you should give them adult responsibilities or expect them to be able to handle the irritation of COVID like an adult. BUT, you should be talking to your child like they are a decision-maker that has a say. If you blow off your teen’s feelings now, what do you think will happen when they are old enough to live on their own?

Make them part of the solution

Your teen might have creative ways to help solve the issues that have cropped up. When your teen does skirt the rules, make them part of suggesting their punishment.

Listen to the struggles they identify

Are they complaining about virtual classes? Are they frustrated by feeling trapped in the house? Listen to your teen and consider where changes or compromises can be made to alleviate their frustration.

Do not let them cross the line

Your teen is frustrated, but you cannot excuse inappropriate behavior. If your teen is aggressive or disrespectful, you are going to have to start curbing the behavior new. The sooner you can get ahold of that behavior the easier it will be to avoid something much worse down the road.

Get professional help

We have to move past feeling like the sky should be falling before we seek a mental professional. If your teen is not already seeing a therapist, COVID-19 is the time to get one.

This is the first step before taking a more intensive treatment direction for your teen. If in-home tips and therapy doesn’t help, it might be time to think about boarding schools or residential programs.

If you need help sorting through options and choosing the right program for your team, we are here to help. Contact us today.

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