Teens and Young Adults in the Pandemic

Teens in the pandemic looking depressed out a rainy window

What are some of the adjustments that teens and young adults are making in the pandemic?

Teens and young adults are making many, many adjustments recently. Not only are they unable to see their friends and connect in familiar surrounding, but they are also facing the uncertainty of what comes next. If they are still enrolled in college or high school – virtually, in-person or in a hybrid version – they are leaving behind the familiar structure of home, school and community.

Yearning for adulthood, while longed for, can be overwhelming. Those with ADHD are more than likely struggling in social distancing. College is not a college experience. The activities, in person classrooms, clubs, teams, fraternities, etc are gone. The same applies to high school students too. Pods need to be formed, and strictly adhered to versus bumping into friends at the cafeteria. It’s a huge shift in many areas simultaneously.

How can parents and loved ones can help ease the burden?

A parent sitting in front of their teen and holding their hand

It’s important that parents and loved ones acknowledge the enormity of this transition and don’t compare their own experiences with those of their children. Things have changed a lot and many young adults struggle under the burden of huge financial debt, social isolation, a high cost of living or the disappointment of living at home, and a tight job market.

Staying compassionate, offering to assist them and collaborate on tasks and being available to talk through emotions related to this change is most helpful. Don’t solve issues. Instead, offer your suggestions and avoid getting hurt if they aren’t taken. Young adults often like to figure things out for themselves, which means trial-and-error learning. Sometimes the best support you can give is managing your own frustrations, sharing your feelings without blame or guilt and validating their successes. 

Tips for helping young adults and teens adapt a healthy routine in the pandemic

Young adult teen stressing out on the couch with her head down and holding her hand to her head

Having a daily routine offers structure and freedom. It’s critical to set aside a specific period of time for attending classes, school work and applying to jobs each day so these activity has boundaries. These daily activities can become tedious and deflating, particularly in a pandemic. They can spread into all aspects of your life as the list of things you should be doing keeps growing. Eventually, avoidance accompanies discouragement and overwhelm.

Talk with your son or daughter about marking off a few hours each day (preferably in the morning to get it over with) for necessary activities. This will assist them in feeling accomplished each day. It will also help them feel competent because they’ve done something in a time frame that they laid out. Then, they can do whatever they want.

Help young adults limit screen time. In doing so, advocate for doing other things that interest them and make them feel good. Exercise, time with friends, shopping and cooking–these are all activities that contribute to healthy living. Teach them how to shop, balance their bank account, make a budget and understand their health/car insurances. These skills are not necessarily second-nature, and it’s very common to need extra support in learning them.

Keep an eye on your child. If you notice changes, don’t hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional. Even very “strong” people are struggling in this pandemic.

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