So many teens are feeling alone and are longing for a physical connection. A large part of your teen having a healthy development includes them having a sense of belonging. With the loss of social connection to their peers in sports, classroom activities, groups, and clubs this sense of belonging and purpose can be jeopardized.
With the isolation and new virtual world our teens are not as active and are spending even more time using screens then ever. We know that they need physical exercise to maintain healthy development, reduce anxiety and have a strong and vigorous sense of well-being. This is not happening for many teens due to the pandemic. I have heard from so many of my teen clients that they are uninterested in things that they have historically been interested in and that they are feeling unmotivated or lazy. But really, these are signs of both depression and anxiety. This is concerning and we as parents and therapists are taking note. The fears, worries, sadness and sense of being alone are interconnected to the lack of social interactions but there is hope.
I suggest changing the way we think and do things, it is helpful to encourage your teen to partake in other activities that might give them the sense of meaning or purpose. I have listed below a few suggestions to assist:
- Allow your teen virtual time to connect with friends. This social interaction is important, as isolation and aloneness are leading causes of depression and anxiety.
- Give your teen alone time so they can reflect on how they will adapt to this ever-changing world to develop a healthy sense of meaning and purpose.
- Have your teen do some artwork or use their creative side like, painting, doing artwork or sculpturing. Encourage them to get involved in some media creations. Teens today are extremely knowledgeable and the virtual world and some of the creations that have arisen are astounding.
- Many teens do not know what to do with their emotions and do not know how to express them, have them get involved in writing music lyrics or learning how to play a musical instrument.
- Encourage your teen to develop a schedule or a routine, including schoolwork and time with friends virtually so that their lack of motivation does not overtake them.
- Be aware of how much news you are watching around your teen and how much time your teen watches news. It is important to know what is happening in the world but since the pandemic has been with us there are more and more people watching the news continually and it is not helpful. You can receive a news update with short periods of time watching the news rather then hours. Also share information about the pandemic with your teen and take the time to discuss the facts and different feelings that they may be having during the pandemic.
- Encourage your teens to take care of themselves by going for walks, reading books, partaking in hobbies, researching topics of interest.
- Refer your teen to a therapist if you feel or they feel that they are struggling. There are great therapists that are objective and caring who can assist your teen with releasing their emotions and developing coping strategies. I work with plenty of teenagers and tweens with these struggles.