During these difficult times, all of us are concerned about survival and how our needs will be met. Many teens are absorbing the anxiety of the adults around them. Our teens are confused by all the changes in their lives and the things that are unknown about their future. It is important that we recognize this confusion in our teens and try to reassure them. We need to assure them that we will take care of them, and we need to teach them what really matters at times like this.
What are some of the things that may be on the minds of our teens right now?
At their age and stage of life, teens have a job to do. That job includes:
- Learning skills they will need for their futures
- Dealing with the rules that direct how they live, learn, and play with others
- Realizing that actions have consequences, especially when rules are broken
- Figuring out what they value and what ethics they will live by
At these times of insecurity and the unknown, these tasks are harder to do. Teens are wondering:
- What skills will I really need in the future? What will my future be like? Am I going back to school? What grade will I be in? Can I still go to college or get a job? Can I still follow my interests and talents (the arts, sports, debate, etc.)?
- Exactly what are the rules these days? Who is watching? Are there really any consequences if I don’t follow the rules?
- What are my values? What do I absolutely need and what are the things I just want but could survive without? How important are the needs of others? What happens when the needs of others bump into my needs or wants? Can I have it all? Health, money, fun – these are universally considered things of value. In these difficult times, can I or my family have all three of these things? Which of the three is most important? What are my priorities?
Our teens need to talk these things through with trusted adults. Perhaps the most important discussion is about values. Our teens need to be taught what their responsibility is in a time of crisis. They need to understand that the choices they make can affect others in very helpful or very disastrous ways. They need to separate what is real and what is fantasy. They need to get in touch with their empathy and generosity. Long after this threat of COVID-19, it is the impact of these conversations with our teens that will shape their futures and the types of adults they will become.
Look for more COVID-19 posts this week:
COVID-19: Encouraging Teens to Protect Themselves and Others
COVID-19: Convincing Loved Ones to Protect Themselves and Others