On 23rd March Boris Johnsons announced that new measures were being introduced to put the UK in a state of lockdown.
My first initial reaction was one of relief that my children’s health would be under my control.
And selfishly since I have revelled in their company.
Of course, we have had some bumps on the way. However, I am super proud of how all three seem to have been coping.
Regarding my 17year old daughter it would be the first time in a while I would know exactly where she is, what she is doing, have a better input on the food she was eating and so on.
However, all responsible parents will instinctively agree with leading experts warnings that lockdown loneliness could have long term damaging effects on teenagers mental health.
We won’t know what the exact effects will be for each child.
My teenage daughter Kia, is a super social being. She has been unable to work, go to school and her upcoming birthday plans have had to be put on hold.
The lack of routine and the lack of freedom have had an effect on her all round health.
University of Cambridge researchers warn lockdown may lead to a host of mental health, behavioural and cognitive problems for teenagers later in life.
On top of major hormonal changes and puberty, this is the point at which people want to spend more time with their friends than their family.
It is also the period in their life when they are most likely to develop mental health problems.
Earlier studies have suggested that high quality relationships appear to protect people from mental health problems and strengthen their resilience.
So how can we help?
- Contrary to all the anti social media advice, scientists say social media might actually have been the saving grace for teens during the pandemic. This is because virtual interaction can mitigate some of the negative effects of physical distancing. As long as social media has a purpose it should be encouraged.
- Teens need routine too, so talk about how they can organise their day. Include time not just for learning but also exercise, sleep, virtual friends-time, down-time, how they can help around the house and with younger siblings. Hopefully more structure will mean less boredom and help avoid everyone driving each other mad.
- As well as time for Kia to have her own private space, I have had some one on one time with her. We have been taking walks together, having a late night chat when her younger siblings are asleep, using the opportunity to discuss her mental and physical health, any worries she may be anxious about, or normal stuff she would be doing with her peers like listening to music, joking about and having a laugh.
- Acknowledge their losses and that all their anxieties are taken seriously. Trying to understand their feelings maybe uncomfortable to hear but I want my daughter to open up to me rather than bottle her feelings up. It helps me to Point her in the right direction for reputable and valid information. Try and put yourself in their shoes and try to see things from their point of view. Model good behaviour – if you are calm and rational, they will be too.
- This is something I have to work on, obviously if I don’t look after myself I can’t function as a well balanced parent. We have so much to deal with so taking a little time for our own sanity and well being is super important. That pile of washing can wait until tommorrow. I have stopped watching too much news as I was becoming anxious which wasn’t setting a good example. I try and take time to have a coffee and catch up on my favourite box set. Nothing major just a little me time.
Hopefully we can find the right approach and strategies in supporting our teenagers through these challenging times.
Sending Love x x