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Generation Z can use a little help

EVERYONE has grown tired of the virus. Gov. DeWine advises we have to learn to live with it until we have a cure, a vaccine, or herd immunity. If you have small children who want to play with the other kids in the neighborhood, you are tired of the restrictions. If you are planning a wedding with so many safety concerns, you are tired of COVID-19. If you have teens and tweens in your household, you ALL are stressed out and tired of quarantine, face covering, heightened hygiene, of not being able to go out with your friends or allowing your children to hang out with theirs. You might even be in a rebellious state, ready to just throw caution to the wind and do what you want without considering any of the consequences beforehand.

The word is out that teens and tweens, aka Generation Z, are struggling. And the adults who live in their worlds are struggling, too. The difference is that the brains of the children are still developing. They don’t understand what is going on (I know, you don’t, either) but they don’t have the adult coping skills that their parents do.

If you visit the website, www.jcfs.org, you can find “Parenting the Quaran-Teen!: Tips and Resources for Parents. This article makes some recommendations about what you can do to help your children cope with the pandemic that resembles the Eveready Bunny, it goes on and on and on, or the Timex watch that “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking!”

Teens roll their eyes and complain about a lot of things, especially now that they have missed out on a lot of things they had looked forward to, sometimes for years … the traditions and rites of passage that have been put on hold throughout the pandemic. They can’t get away with everything they do wrong, but the emotional struggle is real and patience, understanding and communication will help.

Parents and children need to have boundaries of what is acceptable and what is not. Sitting down together to set them will seed that communication, patience and understanding on both sides. What do they need to feel your support and encouragement? How can you act toward and help one another to make home more what you all need at this time? How can you make this work together.

Kids need structure … routine. We all do. And kids feel valued when they contribute to the well being of the household. So make a chore list. Let the kids have some choices about what they will be responsible for and when they will take care of those chores. The list might also include what the parents or guardians will do. And everyone needs space from time to time, parents and children, including the stay-at-home parents who often don’t get a break from their obligations and responsibilities.

Depression, boredom and anger are normal for teens, comes advice from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Talk to them with accurate information about the virus and give them a project or plan to work on, to develop, something with a beginning, middle and end that can give them a purpose rather than leave them wandering in and out of days with no reason. Push them to do healthy things they have always enjoyed, just making sure that they are going safely about those things.

Some things to watch for, say the folks at Johns Hopkins, include changes in sleep habits and, eating habits – are they eating way more than normal or a lot less? Self-harm, substance abuse and acting out more than usual makes the list, as well as complaining of body aches that are not related to a physical problem, hiding out in their room alone too much of the time (isolation) and not doing things they used to enjoy. Get them help when they need it.

We can say it again, parenting is not for the faint of heart. It’s a monumental challenge, but it will be the most important job you ever do in your life.

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Addiction has no address, but Family Recovery Center does. For more information about the education, prevention and treatment programs for substance abuse and related behavioral issues, contact the agency at 964 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, info@familyrecovery.org. Visit the web site at www.familyrecovery.org. Family Recovery Center is funded, in part, by Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board.

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