Real Talk     Home and Family     Teen Health    

Connecting – not with tech – with your teen

Teens in particular need real-time talk right now

Teens in particular need real-time talk right now

The pandemic has been a difficult time for all of us, but particularly for teenagers, the so-called Generation Z. A distressed Gen Z kid recently posted on social media, “Are we called Gen Z BECAUSE WE’RE THE LAST GENERATION?” He was only half-kidding.

In a comprehensive New York Times article, Jessica Grose points out the distinctive struggles of teens, who are in significant developmental stages. She presents and offers parents helpful how-to’s to connect about what’s troubling them.

As she puts it: “I have long thought that when it comes to being a parent in the pandemic, it might be the hardest for parents of teenagers. Parents of little ones can meet most of our children’s social needs, and our kids still kind of want to be around us. Not so for parents of teens.”

Lisa Damour, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and the author of The New York Times’ Adolescence column, concurs: “Pandemic conditions are at cross currents with normal adolescent development.” The driving forces of development for middle and high schoolers are both curtailed by the virus: increased independence over time, and being with one’s peers.

READ MORE: Mental health tips for COVID-era teens

Interestingly, teens surveyed in the early days of the pandemic seemed remarkably OK. Researchers say this suggests it’s because they were getting more sleep in quarantine. But of late, not so much. This is especially true if a family is having trouble getting healthy food. Depression rates are ticking up significantly, as are worries about eating disorders. As with adults, stress in teens can be cumulative.

How can parents meet these challenges head-on? Whatever the situation, whether it’s arguments over screen time, over safety protocols, or house cleanup issues, Dr. Damour advises role playing, even if it feels corny.

“Say to your teen: ‘Let me try to articulate it from your perspective,’ and really try to express their point of view. You should even stop and ask, ‘What am I missing? What am I not getting here?’ And then, allow your teen to do the same back to you.

Dr. Damour says this exercise can “pave the way to a solution.” It can get everyone at least a little unstuck in their perspectives, and more important than anything, offer a chance to connect in real time, something that is now scientifically proven to help alleviate pandemic stress: talking in real time.

More Real Talk

  • Everything you need to know about student loans

    Traditional ways of paying for college aren't working

    More American families are borrowing for college. At the same time, merit aid and the use of personal income and savings i falling. read more »
  • 3 ways people of all ages can make the most of International Youth Day

    Celebrate youth activists and combat ageism

    August 12 is International Youth Day, a United Nations effort to celebrate youth activists, combat ageism and help bridge gaps between generations working toward the same change. read more »
  • 4 ways to get involved this global volunteer month

    It's a good time to get in on the action

    Global Volunteer Month, celebrated throughout April, is a time to recognize people who actively support their communities through volunteerism and active civic engagement. It’s also a time to get in on the action. However, if you’re like many people, you may not know where to begin. read more »
  • USC quarterback Caleb Williams supports young adults' mental health

    The athlete teams up with national "Seize the Awkward" Campaign

    In Collaboration with the Ad Council, AFSP, The Jed Foundation, Caleb Cares Foundation & USC, a new student-produced Public Service Advertisement encourages young adults to check in on their friends. read more »
  • "I Have The Right To" launches nationwide pledge

    Offering support to students and survivors of sexual assault

    In an exciting announcement and a first for the celebrated organization, I Have The Right To launches a nationwide pledge to ensure all students receive an education free from sexual assault. read more »
  • Proper medication use can help tobacco users overcome nicotine addiction

    The New York State Smokers' Quitline can help you kick the habit

    The New York State Smokers' Quitline (Quitline) reminds New York State residents that cigarettes and vape products are highly addictive. read more »
  • Weeklong FAIR Film Festival 2022

    The Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR) Hosts a Film Screening Plus Q&A

    The Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism (FAIR) will kick off the FAIR Film Festival 2022 with an in-person screening of the documentary film I Am A Victor plus a selection of short films on Sunday, June 12 at 1:00pm EDT at Caveat on the lower east side in Manhattan. read more »
  • Resources for LGBTQ youth

    Positive online places for your child

    LGBTQ youth are more likely to be bullied and harm themselves because of it. read more »
  • How to prevent cyberbullying with technology

    Who is at risk and what you can do

    Cyberbullying is becoming more prevalent among children and teens, as young people now spend more time on phones, computers and digital devices. About 6 in 10 teens have been bullied or harassed online, according to Pew Research Center. read more »
  • Teenage Period Cramps

    How much pain alerts to medical conditions?

    More often than not prevailing period stigma holds adolescents back from expressing concerns about severe menstrual pains. Experts say that debilitating cramps are not normal and might be caused by underlying medical problems like endometriosis. read more »