With all the uncertainty brought about by COVID-19, it’s a fairly common experience for teens to be flooded with a wide range of difficult emotions. And without the right support, these teens may find it difficult to adopt healthy coping mechanisms in dealing with stressful and emotional situations. Fortunately, learning how to give your teen more emotional support during a pandemic doesn’t have to be difficult. Just so long as you know where to begin, it’s never too late.
One of the first steps in giving your teen emotional support is by providing them with many opportunities for self-expression. This is one good way of giving them the confidence to speak and share what they feel, especially when they’re in emotionally-distressing situations.
As a parent, you wouldn’t want to be dismissive of your child’s feelings. You’d want your teen to see you as someone they can fully trust and rely on, especially when it comes to discussions about their emotions. Being dismissive of your teen might only drive them further away from you. Remember that their feelings are just as valid as yours — not all teens are equipped with the same capacity to deal with negative emotions.
Make sure that you create a healthy environment where your teen would be encouraged to speak up. They may be afraid at first, so it’s also important to take the initiative and approach them whenever you feel like they may not be acting like their usual selves.
As much as possible, you’d want to help your teen with putting a label or articulating their emotions. Your child may feel lost if they don’t understand what they’re feeling.
Emotions can arise as a result of even the simplest of situations. Think about this example: Your teen has just gotten a low score in an exam that they feel like they’ve truly studied for. Upon getting the results, they may feel sorely disappointed.
They may not necessarily understand that disappointment is what they’re truly feeling, especially at a young age. Give them an opportunity to sit down with you and let them know that what they’re feeling is normal by sharing words like “You’re feeling disappointed about your test results, and it’s okay. I’m here to listen to you.”
To effectively empathize with your child, it may be useful to draw from your own personal experiences. This may help them gain an understanding that their emotions are valid and that they’re not alone in what they’re feeling.
In many ways, it would be difficult for you to show empathy to your teen if you don’t first foster a healthy environment where they could safely approach you without judgment. But once you are able to achieve this, then your child will have very little difficulty in turning to you for help.
Let’s go back to the example above. After your teen has shared their feelings, let them know that you were also in the same situation when you were younger: “I also felt disappointed whenever that happened to me in the past.” This is one good way of letting them know that they’re not alone in their experiences.
Giving your teen extra emotional support during a pandemic requires you, as a parent, to adopt a more receptive and understanding attitude to their emotions. They may identify you as one of the people that they turn to the most. When they feel like they can approach you with emotions they may not necessarily be used to feeling, and subsequently trust you in helping them see through it, then you’re on the right track.