From Worried to Well: Supporting Teens During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Dr. David Tranter has been teaching and working in mental health, well-being, and education for over 30 years. On April 30, he shared strategies parents can use to support their teens’ well-being -- and their own well-being -- during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Dr. Tranter started his webinar with an important message: our goal right now is not to thrive - it’s to get through this situation safely. “There are lots of messages in the media about ‘how to thrive’ during the pandemic,” he said. “It sets up unrealistic expectations. No one is having a great time right now.”

This was the first of five reminders from Dr. Tranter on how to maintain perspective at this challenging time. Others included:
  • Physical isolation causes low-level chronic fatigue. It can be depleting and strain relationships.
  • There is nothing wrong with stress, disappointment or boredom. “Many parents try to shield their kids from these things, but there’s nothing wrong with experiencing them,” Dr. Tranter said. “Listen to, and observe, your child - as a parent, you will know if what you’re seeing is a serious, long-term change that is concerning.”
  • Well-being is not something you can pursue. It is something that ensues. “Wellness is not a choice,” he said. “It’s something that results from actions and activities.”
Dr. Tranter then went on to share five tips for supporting teens, and five more tips for parents to take care of themselves. One of his most important takeaways for parents of teens: if your teen is anxious, listen to understand, not to reply. “You don’t always need to fix it,” he said. “Find empathy as you listen to them. It can be so helpful for a teen to hear ‘That sounds really hard.’”

Parents can often forget about themselves in trying to support their children, and Dr. Tranter reminded attendees that self-care is paramount at this difficult time. For many of us, that can start with lowering expectations. “Simply try to be a ‘good enough’ parent,” he said. “Know your limits and set healthy boundaries.”

He also encouraged parents to find the small things that bring them joy. “It could be a jigsaw puzzle, a cup of coffee, a comfortable pair of socks,” he said. “Any small thing that brightens your day.”

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