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Parenting Your Teen During a Pandemic

COVID19 is one of many unmooring situations that your family might be facing right now. There are unknowns with your children who might be living away from home, in treatment, as well as unknowns with children whom you are supporting inside the home under a variety of new social distancing rules or shelter-at-home orders. There might be additional unknowns with your career along with concerns about the safety and wellbeing of friends and loved ones.

Not one of us was ready to be working from home while helping our children master self-directed online learning OVERNIGHT, while simultaneously navigating unprecedented challenges, fears and drastic adjustments to our daily lives.

With an eye on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the psychology pyramid that guides people toward living a life that is more purposeful, we want to remind families that while everything feels out of control, there are plenty of areas in which we do still have some personal agency.

This global pandemic will have many consequences, one positive consequence can be how we choose to shape our families and our lives in ways that are most important to us.

Even without a global pandemic, we always coach parents to support their families from the ground up. While basic physiological needs such as food and safety are of primary importance, managing our own emotions around uncertainty is almost as crucial.

Prolonged panic is not a helpful emotion for problem-solving, therefore, committing to our own self-care and calming our own sympathetic nervous systems when needed, is key.

Identifying routines that make sense for your unique situation can be helpful, but even more important, we encourage you to parent through the paradigm of “what to expect, what to let go, and what to “train” or teach” as you set the tone of the household.

Some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind during this time:
  • Do: Buy yourself time: as your emotions might be on edge, this can help a difficult situation go more smoothly. If you are triggered, take some time for yourself so that you can respond rather than react.
  • Don’t: Fear that how your child shows up through the transition to online school will define who they are as a student for the long run.
  • Do: Guide with education and grace: you might be panicked or completely nonchalant about this situation and it is important to stay informed, inform your children and do so with balance. Say, “hey, we each need to take on some different roles to help out in this new situation.”
  • Don’t: Say things like, “we are just trying to not go out of business so it would be great if you could do the dishes for once.”
  • Do: Make the sacrifices you can to keep your children, especially those with mental health challenges, in some sort of routine and rhythm.
  • Don’t: Allow this time to become a screen time free for all (go for more walks, play board games, card games, charade games, reorganize rooms, and or, check out any of these more intelligent ways to spend screen time):
  • Do: Plan ahead by getting an extra month’s supply of necessary medication
  • Don’t: be caught off guard by a pharmacy closing and mismanage important medication
  • Do: Have a weekly what’s going well meeting *we work with our parent clients on how execute this in the most healthy way.
  • Don’t: Be caught at the end of a stressful day pointing out only the challenges
  • Do: Be consistent and flexible, not rigid
  • Don’t: Be permissive

You probably already have had the experience of working with great experts throughout the treatment process and have learned a number of healthy habits.

In these times when it feels like the ground may be slipping out from underneath, anchor into the skills you already have and call on the strengths you’ve developed until the world finds its footing, again.

Be aware that when we are struggling with multiple stressors, our old patterns can have a tendency to re-emerge, despite all of the positive changes we have made. So it’s also beneficial to reflect back on how you approached previous uncertain situations and make a plan for how you may want to do things differently this time around.

Keep in mind that this is bumpy for all of us. In our work as parent coaches, transitioning a child home, after treatment, takes quite a bit of preparation.

In this unique situation where things are changing rapidly, flexibility is an asset, however, there are big differences between being flexible, as a parent, and being permissive. In our work as parent coaches, we teach the former, not the latter.

If you’d like to speak with us about your situation and find out how our parent coaches can help you strategize the best way forward, please email us at: to set up an initial consultation.

If you know anyone who would benefit from our services, please share this with those in need.

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Solutions Parenting Support, LLC is a nationally recognized parent support and transition program assisting parents and families with straightforward and compassionate skills based support prior to, during and after wilderness therapy and/or residential treatment. Solutions is a dynamic team of parent coaches who have had extensive careers as therapists in wilderness therapy or residential treatment before turning their talents towards coaching parents around the globe. The team is family system focused and are licensed professional therapists and/or social workers each with 15-30 years of experience working in wilderness therapy programs, varying levels of residential treatment programming, and transitional support.

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