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Conversation with Tori Cordiano: Keeping the Peace During a Pandemic

Clinical psychologist and Director of the Center of Research on Girls at Laurel School, Tori Cordiano joined Your Teen to answer questions from parents. In case you missed it, here are a few of the highlights:

1. Collaboration is key

This goes for everyone in the family including parents, who are also spending more time together in tighter spaces. Sometimes this may mean agreeing to step away and take a pause when things get heated.

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2. Enlist teenagers to help

Getting teenagers to help around the house is particularly important when parents are working from home. You can’t just tell them what to do, however; instead, bring them into the conversation and discuss expectations about taking care of younger siblings, making meals, or walking the dogs. By doing so, you are creating opportunities that teens need right now to feel purposeful.

3. Have realistic expectations about school

No matter how hard teachers are working, school is just not as bearable for most teenagers who are missing their friends and face to face interactions. Parents need to acknowledge that and recognize that their teenagers may not be as motivated. Focus on what absolutely needs to get done. It also helps to brainstorm ways to make learning from home more tolerable.

4. Acknowledge negative feelings

Many teenagers (and adults) are not in a positive frame of mind. We need to process our anger and sadness first and acknowledge how we’re feeling. “It’s hard. Whatever you are feeling is okay. How can I support you?” While we all want to look for silver linings, some teenagers may not be ready for this yet.

5. Support connections with friends

Teenagers are all missing their friends right now. Accept and have empathy for them. And encourage them to find ways to “be together.”

6. Get help if necessary

Monitor your teenager for depression. Look for signs of lethargy and lack of motivation. If they persist, contact school counselor or family physician. They are working with patients over the phone.

7. Stick to the rules

While it is appropriate to be flexible with some rules like screen time, it is also important to have boundaries in place that ensure your teenager is in a safe environment.

8. Take care of yourself

Figure out what you need to do to take care of yourself. Consider CASE: Connect, Acceptance, Self-care, Empathy.

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