We are starting to see the light at the end of the dark tunnel of lockdowns and pandemic restrictions, but that doesn’t mean it’s over yet. We still have a socially distanced way to go before life can get back to anything like normal. And if you have been living with tweens or teens during this time, you know it has been stressful for them, too. Here are two things you can do to help them cope with events that will mark their lives forever.
You know that feeling of information overload, when you have been a little too caught up on what is happening in the world, and you feel burned out on life in general? Kids are vulnerable to that experience, also. Teens and tweens are just getting to an age when they are starting to be aware of the news, and it is hard to point to a time with a more fraught media landscape. Add to this that they are developmentally hyper-tuned into their friends, peers, and community’s micro-news landscape, and information gathering behavior can quickly become overwhelming.
If your child is going through life on overload, the first step is to have an honest conversation about it. Don’t try to nag them out of being informed, but do help them see that they sometimes need to take a break for their mental health. Work together to find activities that can distract them from the information their phones bring, like art projects, music, or language learning.
If things have gotten to a point where necessary, consider setting up the parental controls on their phone. You can find step-by-step instructions here. If possible, you should do this together to ensure that they have a voice in what restrictions are appropriate. You might be surprised to find that they genuinely want to take breaks themselves. They may even want more restrictive settings than you were planning.
Self-care is crucial to maintaining your energy and enabling you to be fully present and energetic for all the other commitments in your life. Help your teens and tweens find some activities that they can do just for themselves. It’s great if they can lose themselves and recharge with something you and society think of as positive, like reading or exercise. But the whole point of self-care activities is to take the pressure off. Make sure your child has some space in their life to indulge in whatever relaxes them.
If they are young enough to play still, make sure to set aside time when they can, and don’t pressure them to give it up. Let them be the one who loses interest. If they can’t access that imaginative space anymore, help them find something that works for them. Be creative and let them take the lead. Together, you might just find something that they can build into a beneficial lifetime habit.
Try to be gentle with your teens and tweens, and understand that they are going through a tough time, too. Developmentally, they need to be socializing intensely at this time in their lives. Add to that all the stresses they share in common with you, and are old enough to worry about, and this trying time is an excellent opportunity to help them learn to care for themselves.