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How to Help Your High School Senior Cope with Covid-19

Photo by Retha Ferguson from Pexels

If you’re the parent of a teen and in particular a high school senior, your lives may have looked very different just a few months ago. You were probably preparing for graduation and the many milestones of senior year while emphasizing the same day-to-day guidelines such as not texting while driving, and avoiding alcohol. 

Now, the milestones are gone for many teens, and the warnings have become more focused on remembering to maintain social distancing and wear a mask.

It’s been a difficult few months for everyone, but for high school seniors, there are so many life milestones they will no longer get to participate in, and that can be an overwhelmingly sad feeling. There is also a lot of uncertainty as far as how the next few months will play out.

For example, colleges and universities aren’t even sure in some places if they’ll be reopening in the fall, and if they do reopen, campuses could be a lot different for a while. 

So how can you provide support to your high school senior during this pandemic?

Be Empathetic

As a parent, you probably have a lot on your plate right now. 

There are economic concerns and the day-to-day challenges that have occurred as we all deal with the unknowns of covid-19, but don’t let that diminish what your teen is feeling. 

There are so many milestones that are intended as a way to celebrate the culmination of seniors’ entire school careers, so as a parent, be sensitive to what your teen is ultimately missing.

For example, there are prom, graduation, and final sporting events, all of which are likely canceled for most teens around the country. 

Put yourself in your teen’s shoes as you provide them with emotional support, even if you are also feeling worried or frustrated. 

There will be a certain sense of mourning that many seniors feel right now, and that’s natural. 

Much like other types of grief or mourning, there may be phases that your teen needs to go through as they process their myriad of emotions. 

Be On the Lookout for Mental Health Red Flags

It’s not just teens who are experiencing serious mental health effects from the covid-19 crisis. Everyone is feeling it, but teens may be more susceptible. 

As a parent, familiarize yourself with the red flags of mental health issues like depression and anxiety. 

If you notice them in your teen, it’s best to talk with them directly and potentially have them speak with a counselor before the problem becomes more challenging. 

Encourage Your Teen to Stay Connected 

When social distancing first started, teens may have found it easy to stay connected with their friends through FaceTime, social media, or other communication platforms. 

Now that it has gone on for two months in some places, that has become increasingly challenging. It may be easier to drop into a pattern of disconnect, but as a parent, one thing you can do to help your senior or kids of any age is encourage them to stay socially connected. 

Yes, they have their family, but teens need more than that. 

Remind them to connect with friends virtually and help them come up with creative ways to do so. 

You can also find alternative ways to celebrate certain milestones that would be happening in your teen’s life. Of course, it’s not the same, but it may be a memory they build along with a sense of resilience. 

You could, for example, have a virtual family party to celebrate their graduation or help them organize a FaceTime prom. 

Talk to Your Teen About Things You Can Do Together

Your teen has you, and that’s valuable, even if you don’t necessarily think they feel that way. 

Talk to your teen about what they might be interested in doing with you during this time. 

Maybe you take an online cooking class together or come up with something else that’s enjoyable and can be a stress reliever and a distraction for both of you and perhaps the entire family.

Finally, remind your teen to focus on things they can control

Some things are out of all our control right now, but not everything. 

If your teen can plan a trip later in the summer, help them do that. If they can plan for a party at the end of summer before everyone leaves for college, maybe that’s an option. Help your teen have something to look forward to, as well as something they can manage.

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