This Summer is going to feel a lot different. Playgrounds, gyms, sports clubs, cinemas, bowling alleys, restaurants and swimming pools are still closed around the country. I am seeing the need for tweens and teenagers to let off steam, have some fun but how can this be achieved with social distancing and wearing face masks?
Parents are having to become creative with their children returning to simplicity and games of old for fun. But will the teenagers engage in this or will they continue to withdraw themselves, stay in their rooms and try to live a virtual reality through their smartphone?
These poor kids have to recalibrate, finding meaning in things that they have never reached for. Simple fulfillment and a slower life pace compared to 8 weeks ago. These kids are unfamiliar with this vibration as they have been in a system that measures achievement, values productivity and teaches them to do more, add more and BE MORE.
How can we expect them now to just drop all of that attachment and find worth outside of these things without some serious guidance and dialogue?
Instead, they have just dumped them out to unexpected and unprepared society and parents who are just trying to keep their heads above water, the lights on and maintain some kind of financial flow to their lives.
It’s SERIOUSLY tough! These kids are floating around trying to recalibrate on their own. It’s no wonder they are feeling discontented, alone and angry.
How can we help?
- Summer is a time to be OUTSIDE! Encourage children to be out in the sunshine, even if it is on their devices! Sitting under a tree in a park, exercising, going skateboarding, bike riding and on their scooters, listening to music and meeting their friends for a picnic are still allowed! We must help our young people come up with solutions to connect with their friends so they can share their feelings and feel less alone.
- Encourage creativity — what project can you get your children involved in. Do they love art, cooking, organizing? Put their talents to work and help them find ways to help others through the use of their talents. Bake cookies for the neighbors, organize a meet and greet in the culdesac or make cards for the other socially distanced kids in their class or sports club. Isolation for all this time is having negative impacts on all of the kids mental health. Work with your children to find a creative way to solve this problem and bring joy to others who are feeling the same.
- Talk about value — there are a lot of conversations in my home with my girls about their innate value. My eldest particularly is struggling with the lack of routine and having something to work towards. We are helping her set small achievable goals for her days and weeks and talk about the value she has even if it isn’t able to be expressed in the world as it used to. She is a singer and circus arts performer and gains great value from training, being with her friends and having performances to work towards. We all have value simply just by being who we are. Helping her reclaim this value outside of the validation and opportunity to show it to others has been a nice little opportunity for her to gain perspective on her worth and external validation. We all need to love ourselves where we are and for the people we are in all circumstances, not only when we feel productive or achieve meaningful things in the outside world.
- Maintain perspective — tweens and teens can struggle to see the big picture. Every moment feels immediate and in the digital world it’s even faster and immediate gratification is expected. Give perspective to our young people by reminding them where they were and how they felt only 1 month ago. Remind them that a lot can change in a matter of days and in a month things can look a lot more optimistic. Help them keep their frustration and anger in perspective while also validating the emotions they feel. Adults are frustrated and we have the ability to see the bigger picture more than our kids. Imagine how long this must seem and how devastated they feel that their summer plans went up in smoke!
- Lead by example — how are you spending your time? Are you creating solutions for yourself this summer? Are you being creative in the way you connect with your friends and family? Are the words coming out of your mouth optimistic and hopeful? Kids need us to be warriors right now, they need to feel safe in these times of uncertainty. Share venerably how you are feeling, validate your emotions too, but then show them your strength and ingenuity by creating and living out solutions. They need us more now than ever!
This sure is going to be a summer to remember, hopefully for the RIGHT reasons! We need to help our young people by stepping into action ourselves, they need to see us happy thriving and making the best of these circumstances. Make a plan for today, for the week, for something fun for the weekend. Take control back in a time when so much has been taken from us and is out of our control. We have to think and behave outside the box, our young people need us to!