How to Help Teens Shelter in Place

by LG Happiness Project | April 28, 2020

Social isolation is difficult for everyone, but especially hard for teens and young adults. Their brains are preoccupied with the social world and their place within it, making this time of physical distancing challenging for them and their families.

When parents put restrictions on what teenagers are able to do right now, teens may feel as though they are being treated like little kids. We can counteract that by approaching them like competent young adults. Here are some tips from Christine Carter, Ph.D., at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center to help your teens cope with quarantine :

  • Expect them to contribute to the household in meaningful ways. Give them responsibility for tasks like meal prep, household cleaning, or planning family activities to keep them involved and busy.
  • Allow them to manage themselves, their own schoolwork, and their other responsibilities without nagging or cajoling. You can still be engaged with their lives, but allow them some freedom to manage their own time and responsibilities.
  • Ask them to help with your work to the extent that they can. Express to them how their interruptions or distractions are affecting your work, without being accusatory.

It is important to help your teens understand that their life has purpose and meaning during this time, and to emphasize the impact they have on others. Through conversation, you can teach them to be a part of the solution, not the problem. Here are some talking points to help teens take responsibility not only for themselves, but for their local and global communities:

  • What do you genuinely care most about in this crisis?
  • Who can you help, and who are you concerned that you might harm? How can you use your skills to help the world right now?
  • Your grandchildren are going to ask you about the role you played during this pandemic. What will you tell them?

For more tips on how to help your teens through this time, read the full article by the Greater Good Science Center, an Experience Happiness partner.