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Staying at home can be especially difficult for teenagers, who are usually involved in multiple activities and eager to assert their independence.

Here are some hints for hunkering down with a teen or two. Or three.

Your teen is physically ill-equipped to weather a pandemic

Humans’ instinct for self-preservation is rooted in the brain’s frontal cortex, which doesn’t fully develop until the mid- to late-20s. It’s why young people are often reckless and impulsive.

Keeping that in mind can help you understand your teen’s frustration with being isolated at home. Especially when statistics show that young people usually recover from COVID-19 without serious problems.

Social distancing and social media

Your teen is probably already adept at communicating from a distance on a number of platforms. In a way, that makes them uniquely equipped to stay physically isolated.

Still, it’s important to keep monitoring your teenager’s social media, just like always.

A few questions you can ask:

  • Do you feel like your friends are posting accurate or idealized representations of life at their homes?
  • What rumors are you hearing about COVID-19, school closings or future activities?
  • Are there creative or productive ways you can connect — like by holding a virtual concert or playing a board game together over FaceTime or Zoom?

Missed milestones. It’s a real problem.

While missing school might seem like a dream come true, there’s a good chance your teenager is also missing activities they enjoy and maybe even milestones, like prom, sports playoffs or graduation. This prospect becomes even more likely now that schools are closed indefinitely.

From your teen’s perspective, these are life events that might not be repeated. Show them sympathy and let them know you understand.

Remember, this is a crucial time in your teen’s social development, and it’s being interrupted by forces beyond their control. As adults, we have a responsibility to make informed, thoughtful parenting decisions that protect their mental health — and make it as much of a priority as their physical safety.

Next steps: 

School’s out, but learning can happen at home. Here’s how.

Mother consoling daughter over COVID-19 pandemic
Your teen may be experiencing frustration while isolated at home.
Missing graduation due to COVID-19
There’s a good chance your teenager is missing milestones, like prom, sports playoffs or
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