In 2020, nearly all states closed their schools for the upcoming academic year, forcing around 50.8 million children and teens to adapt to remote learning arrangements. While this was the safer option, it caused students of all ages to miss out on important milestones. Within weeks, students began to feel the psychological consequences of learning at home. Many even admitted that they missed going to school.
Teenagers, in particular, have it difficult. They’re missing out on social interactions that are crucial to their personal growth. And those in high school are likely struggling through their educational transition to college. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to alleviate their stress. Here are a few suggestions:
Help Them Cope with Their Grief
With the closure of schools, many students discontinued their usual routines. While the freedom might have been enjoyable for a few weeks, the lack of structure can lead to feelings of loss, despair, disconnection, and a lack of control. This, in turn, can affect their social life. Eleanor Linebarry, a high school student from Houston, shares the following:
“[My friends and I] all just sort of stopped talking to each other. I tried to get in touch, and none of them really wanted to. It’s really hard because you feel so lonely.”
This isolation, coupled with the cancelation of in-person events they might have been looking forward to, greatly contributes to your teen’s grief. In cases like these, simply be there for your teen. You don’t need to fix their problems right away because it’s important to let them release the negative emotions that they’re feeling.
Another thing you can do is help them find a method with which they can deal with their grief. This can be anything from talking about their feelings, to exercising, or even speaking to a therapist. You could also opt to get them a care package with everything they need to take care of themselves and their grief. The Alleviate Anxiety Kit contains tools and resources that can help your teen manage their anxieties — therapy dough, mindfulness cards, mental health articles, and more. Once they find a good outlet to release their stress, they’ll be able to deal with their grief in a much healthier way.
Support Them as They Continue Their Education
The closure of schools spurred more educational institutions to offer online learning options to their students. This is one of the few good things that have come from the pandemic, as it makes for a more accessible education system. It also shows that institutions can offer their courses wholly online without sacrificing the quality of student learning. Joe Balassi, a graduate from Maryville University’s online RN to BSN program says:
“I feel like Maryville is really helping to prepare me for my career path and to become a successful nurse. I’m receiving all the knowledge I need, and I’m also learning how to apply it in a clinical setting.”
Given this, you can be confident that your teen will acquire the knowledge they need from their online degrees. However, you should also be aware of the limitations of remote learning arrangements. For one, they are not conducive to all types of learning styles. Eric D. Loepp, an assistant professor teaching for the political science program at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, conducted a study about university students and remote learning. One of his interviewees had this to say:
“I personally struggle with learning remotely. My learning style is very visual and I like to connect with other students and my professors. Another concern with learning remotely is the home environment. Just because students have a place to live does not mean that the environment is healthy.”
That said, ensuring that your teen is in a safe and healthy environment is necessary for them to learn from their classes. If possible, you should also assist them with their schoolwork or hire a tutor. These can help make it much easier for your teen to learn from their online classes.
Address Future Uncertainties
All of these changes and uncertainties put a heavy burden on your teen’s shoulders. They might start worrying more about their career and finances, which can contribute even more to their current stress levels. What you can do is talk to them. But this is difficult when all these negative emotions are weighing down on them. So, first, get them in the right headspace. Maybe spend some quality time with them or prepare their favorite food. You could also send them a Student Success Box. It’s the ultimate self-care package that will help your teens care for their mental health and keep their stress levels down. Once they’ve cleared their mind, you’ll be able to talk to them about their plans.
Be upfront about how it’s difficult to plan for the future now, given all the uncertainties surrounding it. Remind them that you’re there to support them and that not knowing what to do next is okay. After all, they don’t need to have all the answers yet, especially now that the world is still in the middle of a pandemic.
For now, it’s best to take it a day at a time. And you’ll be with them every step of the way.
Gwen Alisha Ward is a freelancer and aspiring writer. She enjoys tackling a myriad of topics, such as educational psychology and child development. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading a children’s book and munching on a croissant.