By Blair Raatjes, Psychologist
The impacts of COVID-19 have been widely felt. A population that has had to adjust to a tremendous amount is our teens. Adolescence is already considered a time filled with many changes and challenges. Forming a sense of self and identity during this age often presents as a push and negotiation for independence whilst still requiring the guidance and support of a stable home base. Teens are still working themselves out and while they do so, navigating the world of high-school can be particularly trying. Often the intense emotions felt by our teens, coupled by limits to change and flexibility, can result in “stuck” feelings...........
An added challenge requiring adjustment and resilience presented in the form of COVID, and wow have they done so well to cope with this upheaval. With the return to school well underway, there have been mixed reports from teens returning back to school. While some quote excitement about being able to see their friends more frequently, others have struggled with the adjustment with reports of social anxiety, generalised anxiety and low mood. Stressors to consider, particularly for teenagers in Year 11 and 12, include a return to a pressurised academic environment, with some teens reporting fears of being “behind” and having to “catch up”.
Furthermore, friendships over the course of COVID may have changed and returning to this social environment may be coupled by apprehension and fear. While some teens may be vocal with their parents and caregivers about difficulties returning to school, others may internalise their struggles. Signs that parents and caregivers may want to look out for include:
Below are some tips that may be helpful to support your teens adjustment post COVID and beyond: