This is a moment of uncovering for them, a laying bare, of one of the most difficult truths of life. . .that though we try, we have far less control over what may happen in our lives than we think we do. The bravado of the teenage experience--future looking, confident, invincible--is eroded by the daily stresses and fears of existing in this pandemic and the limitations and isolation associated with it. And just like adults, our teenagers are experiencing loneliness, worry, emotional exhaustion, and even hopelessness.
So, how do we help them? What do we do as families, as teachers, and mentors, to help them take care of themselves both physically and emotionally, see and access the good around them, stay connected and continue to imagine themselves as agentive in their lives and futures?
First, we need to remind ourselves that they have experienced challenges before.Typically, as humans, we have a certain amount of resilience built in--as a Learning Specialist Allison refers to this with students as your “bounce factor”. Whether a lot or a little, we are made to recover from stressful situations and experiences, and our teenagers are equipped with this ability right now, though it may be harder to see.
We encourage you to think back in your child’s life to other moments of difficulty and challenge. Moments from skinned knees to the meanness of a friend to the loss of a pet, to changes in friendships, navigating social media, and graduating from 8th grade. How did they handle these? How did they bounce back? What resources did they use? What helped them, soothed them, made them feel safe?
Now, imagine the high school version of these same tools and you continue to care for your teenagers and ensure their feelings of security and safety. You can do this--you have been doing this--for their whole lives. You are the experts on your kids, so don’t doubt yourselves now.
As you know well, parenting teenagers is work, and parenting them during the pandemic is more work. They are home more, they have more free time, whilte simultaneously they are desperate to connect to friends and to life outside of home. This most often manifests as staying up until 3 am, an increased focus on their phones/computers, and greater fear of missing out (FOMO). All of this is typical and expected during this time, much as it is during adolescence pre-Covid.
But, how do we know when our teenagers aren’t ok? How do we know when they need more than space from their siblings, and their favorite dinner? How do we assess their “bounce” right now?
This is where you hear us say that you do not have to do this alone! We, your LREI team, are here for you. Want to talk through your concerns and collaborate with someone in how to support your student? Your advisors, our Learning Center team, our school psychologist, our deans, and your Co-Principals are here to meet and talk through these concerns. Please do not hesitate to reach out.
In addition, we are turning our attention to plans for January. We are planning a month of wellness work with our students: daily practices, advisory conversations, workshops, book clubs and more to help students manage and move through stress cycles, while making and deepening connections with their peers. More to come on this after the winter break!
For today, we want to offer a few resources here if you are looking for support as a parent:
- High School Parent Coffee, Wednesday, December 9th at 8:15 am; Allison’s zoom room (747-424-5440); Allison and Chelsea will host a time for parents to talk together, ask questions, and offer support to one another. If you aren’t able to join this one, we will offer others in January, both morning and evening.
- Looking for a good book right now? Allison highly recommends “Burnout: the Secret of Unlocking the Stress Cycle” by Emily and Amelia Nogaski. This is a great read/listen for both you and your teenager. We will be using some of this work during our program in January.
- Need a resource for understanding the teenage world of social media? This weekend, LREI middle and high school families have access to the film “Like”. Please see below for information on accessing the film.
This is the beginning of the work we are committed to in the coming months to help ensure that our students can thrive in the midst of these times. We are your partners in this work, and encourage you to reach out for support as needed.