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Being a teenager is hard, even in the best of times. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic, many teens are dealing with a profound sense of loss, in addition to the usual growing pains. This new, uncharted territory can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be debilitating. Follow these five tips to help support your teen’s physical, mental and emotional health.

Be a role model

Everyone is on edge right now, and for good reason, but anxiety is contagious. Teenagers look to the adults in their lives for cues about how to feel when faced with something new. How parents or older role models manage their anxiety has a big impact on teenagers. Keeping calm and having coping mechanisms of your own will go a long way to comfort and reassure your teen.

Validate their feelings

Let teens know they are allowed to feel anxious, sad, scared or angry about their new normal. Have regular check ins and allow them to ask questions or share their emotions without judgement. Simply being present and showing compassion will go a long way.

Help them find new ways to connect

Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. To help your teen feel less alone, encourage them to stay in contact with friends or family. It might not be in-person, but using technology like FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangout or Google Duo, can be the next best thing. Some ideas for virtual fun include:

  • Sharing a meal
  • Hosting a game night
  • Singing karaoke
  • Having a movie or TV watch party
  • Starting a book club
  • Doing an online workout
  • Creating art
  • Organizing a virtual jam session

While sheltering in place, it’s a great time to learn a new skill or rediscover a long-lost hobby. Trying new things can help overcome fears, provide a sense of calm and comfort, and increase creativity. Teens could try their hand at cooking, drawing, practicing an instrument, reading a book or writing in a journal. YouTube can be a great place to find free tutorials for any number of hobbies, crafts and other pursuits. Support them in trying something new.

Encourage healthy habits

Taking care of yourself will not only help your teen but the entire family. To better cope with these stressful times, make it a priority to:

  • Eat healthy
  • Exercise
  • Get enough sleep
  • Practice mindfulness like meditation or deep breathing
  • Stick to a routine to provide consistency and structure
  • Limit exposure to news and social media

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