COVID-19 has shifted life for everyone. In Singapore, there is still an ongoing Phase 2 raised to prevent socialising and to reduce unnecessary contact.
While adults may feel frustrated with the restrictions, most of us understand the dire consequences if everyone in Singapore stops wearing masks and refrains from practising social distancing.
However, youths may find it harder to comprehend the seriousness of the situation or may have the impulse to act irrationally after being coop up indoors for several months.
We can see the reports of teenagers being charged with disregarding COVID-19 laws, and these call us to take a closer look at the impact COVID-19 has on our youth. It is also important to do the necessary actions to help them cope up with the changes that the pandemic has brought into their lives.
Although we see restrictions easing off during Phase 2, like the reopening of schools and restaurants, many people still feel that their movements are being monitored, especially with the latest TraceTogether implementation.
Your teen may have been looking forward to the annual family travel plans, which are now cancelled, or he may have been saving up for his idols’ concerts only to be disappointed that the events are postponed indefinitely.
Adding constant reminders to stay at home, your teen may feel more constrained, with his freedom is being snatched from him. So, mood swings may be evident and may change rapidly from boredom and upset to anger and frustration.
Increased Parental Control
Since some industries were forced to close or to rotate their staff attendance because of the pandemic, many parents were forced to work from home.
Before the pandemic, parents are busy with their work and may not have the time to observe their teen’s daily habits. Now, parents will have the chance to constantly monitor the activities of their children, and thus, increasing their attention to them.
As parents, we may get easily triggered by our children’s slightest misbehaviour and lose our temper with them. The more parents scold their children, the more pent-up frustrations the children will have.
As a result, teenagers may feel that they are forced to be more careful with their actions unless they wish to earn the ire of their parents.
Coop Up Within Four Walls
With everyone stuck at home and coop up for months within our HDBs or condos, it is not unusual to have some tension rising at home.
Bedroom sharing among siblings with less time spent outside of the house can be a disadvantage at this time. Your teen may feel some frustration as they would want to have more alone time and have their personal space without the presence of another person in the room.
This may cause some disputes among siblings as most of the children tend to spend time in the room to do their activities.
No time for face-to-face interactions with friends
Although there are social media platforms and video messaging apps available to help teens communicate with their friends, many of them still prefer face-to-face interactions as these allow them to build better personal connections.
Face-to-face interaction also allows them to understand the world around them and helps them shape their own identity. Unfortunately, the current pandemic and the restrictions implemented prevent them from doing it at this time.
Due to the lack of personal contact with their peers, teens will also start to retreat to their rooms and avoid contact with family members. Some may not be able to initiate conversation as easily as before, and some may even develop social anxiety.
Uncertainty about their future
With the pandemic looming with no ending in sight, the youth are now feeling uncertain about their future.
Some may question if things will still go back to normal and if they can still be able to do the things they love doing outside their homes as before. They also question whether they will be able to fulfil their ambition, like pursuing their desired degrees outside of Singapore or working and building their careers overseas.
Underlying stress among family members
Aside from the uncertainty about their future, teenagers are also becoming stressed because of the impacts of this pandemic on their families.
Some parents are forced to take sabbatical leaves from work because their companies are affected by the pandemic while others were even laid off due to it.
With no work opportunities available for most parents to apply for, the uncertainty creeps in even further, and consequently, affecting family life.
How to Support Our Teens
With the sudden shift in their lifestyle and the uncertainty brought by the pandemic to their lives, our children may start showing signs of negativity.
Without knowing how and where to let out their problems coupled with their inability to meet and speak personally to their peers, they may have been unconsciously building up emotions like anger, anxiety, and frustrations inside.
All these pent-up emotions have to be let out somewhere, right?
As parents, it is important to help our teenagers to find ways on how to cope up with this pandemic. Here are some ways on how you can support your teens and help them live their lives as normally as they can during these difficult times.
Always make time to listen to your teenager’s worries because they can only take stress as much as they can handle. Ask them about what they are feeling and let them know that you are there to help them in whatever way you can.
Encourage open communication
Don’t restrict your teenagers from speaking to their relatives and friends, especially now that they can’t see them personally. Let them use social media, video chat, and other communication methods so that they can still socialise even if not in person.
Set a fixed routine even when stuck at home
A great way for your teens to feel that things are still normal is by letting them have a routine to follow even at home. Schedule activities for the day like study time, family bonding, meal times, and even sleeping times as this practice can help them resume their normal schedule once things are back to normal.
Make family projects
Check out some family projects that are available online and do it with them. Some examples are learning how to bake cookies or learning a new language together. These types of activities can be a great way to learn some new life skills while spending time with your children and strengthening your family bond.
Give new responsibilities
Since your children are spending most of their time at home, you can give them new responsibilities to work on. It can be as simple as cleaning one part of the house or helping you with cooking meals.
Discuss the latest COVID-19 news
Some children tend to panic because they don’t know what is going on with the outside world. Be honest with them and let them know the latest news about the COVID-19 situation in your country and around the world. Sit with them during the news, explain the facts, and discuss it with them.
Allow alone “Me” time
Finally, always give your child some “me” time, especially now that you are with them every day. This will give them time to collect and organise their thoughts in their personal space.
Coping with this current pandemic is not easy, and with a vaccine still far from sight, we must support one another to survive this situation. If you have teenagers at home, give them the space they need, but let your doors remain open for them to reach out to you if they feel everything is getting too much to handle. We can get through this with the help of one another.
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