Parenting the Quaran-teen! Tips and Resources for Parents

Parenting the Quaran-teen! Tips and Resources for Parents

Slammed doors seem to be the new soundtrack for “My COVID Life.”  Emotions are high for everyone – even if they are under the surface at times.  Teen and tween emotions can change in a flash and the breaks we typically get are now non-existent. If the phrase, “you just don’t understand,” were true before, it is even more so now.  While we feel the stress as parents, employees, and people, we cannot compare anything we have experienced in our past to what our teens and tweens are going through now.  How do you work with the stress you face and support your child?  Response for Teens recognizes that parents of tweens, teens, and college-age people may be really challenged by having everybody home during an uncertain time. 

Here are some tips to maintain your own equilibrium:

  • Because of their brain development, young people have a much harder time managing their feelings.  Try to ignore many of the eye rolls and much of the attitude – not all of it, but try to let some slide.
  • Set clear boundaries for yourself and your young people – your sanity depends on it!
    • Discuss a family contract or family norms.  It is something that we do in classes all the time. In these uncertain times, we need them in our homes as well. Use the following questions to get your kids thinking:
      • What do you need to feel supported?
      • How can we act toward one another to make our home feel supportive?
      • What do you need from us when you are doing work?
    • Then make a list of responsibilities for kids and parents.

Here is an example of the one we made at my house:

  • One person talking at a time
  • Take a breath, try to be in the other person’s shoes
  • Hands to ourselves unless we ask
  • Ask for a break or alone time if we need it
  • Give personal space
  • Use “When you ___________,  I feel __________  statements” instead of accusations
  • Assume good intentions
  • Be flexible
  • Be mindful of noise during learning/work time

Remember that this is all new territory. You are a person and you need space as well!

  • Try these phrases:
    • “I need to cool down and will be back in a minute.”
    • “I love you and I also need some space for a bit.”
    • “I can see that you are ________________ (put emotion here). What do you need from me right now?”
    • “When you do _________, it makes me feel ___________.”
  • Turn off the news and take a break from social media. We need to be up to date, but it can become overwhelming.
  • Young people need a combination of structure and autonomy/ownership. Remember, their whole way of functioning has been disrupted. Yours has as well, but they do not have the critical thinking skills or coping mechanisms to sit with the uncertainty and the change. 
    • So, what do you do?
      • Give them routine. Each kid is different. Some might thrive on detailed schedules and others might struggle. Routine is what is important – create a pattern for the day. 
      • Choices: within that routine, give them options and choices. Let them define what they are doing and when.
      • Let them know your schedule in as well. If you have work meetings or need time, put it in a schedule so they know. If you were a stay-at-home parent before COVID-19, you will need time to yourself. Schedule it in! 
      • Set up expectations for how to behave when you are working or when you are taking well-deserved “you” time.
  • Prioritize self-care over school if necessary.  If your child needs a break, or cannot finish an assignment, let them communicate respectfully with teachers about their need for time.  It doesn’t mean that your child is giving up.  They need more self-care right now, and screen burnout is real.
  •  Remember to let young people grieve the loss of their 8th grade trips, proms, or graduations.  These are not little moments for them.  Do not tell them how lucky they are – they really do know that deep down.  It doesn’t make this hurt any less.
  • Help them figure out how to make new memories - they are the only people who will have ever experienced this situation.  Find ways to make a new prom or something else entirely.  Mark the moment!
  • Cut yourself some slack!
    • Have self-compassion. Remember to ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend or colleague in this situation?”
  • Remember to have fun with your kids as well.  Learn a TikTok dance.  Go on a bike ride or walk with your teen. Watch some Netflix.  Just be with them!