Parenting teens during the Covid-19 outbreak

Written by Dr. John Coleman

Being stuck at home for weeks on end will be a huge test for all families. Even if parents and teens get on reasonably well, there may be problems that arise because of being in the home day after day.

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However small or cramped your home, try to find a space for your teen to feel that they can own. If they have their own bedroom, allow them more privacy than normal circumstances.

Time and routines

One way to manage anxiety is to create daily routines. This is true for us all, but especially for teens. Create a routine for managing time for the day and the evening with your teen so it works for them as well as other members of the family.

Teens need structure too

It is assumed that teenagers do not need structure, this is incorrect. In fact, a structure set by parents and carers makes young people feel safe and cared for. Teens may argue against it, they may even say they hate it, but they need boundaries and structure.

Screen time

The simplest thing to say about this is, do not worry about screen time in these circumstances. We are all connecting online. Teens need all the contact they can get with their friendship network. Also, much of their school work will be delivered online so the digital world becomes a lifeline.

Social media and gaming

The same goes for social media. What we say in normal times is true now. Do talk with your teenager about what they are doing online. Open communication is important.  If you are worried about how much they are gaming, do discuss this with them. Parents should keep an eye open, but also allow more freedom than would be the case in normal times.

Eating and sleeping

Things like eating and sleeping are often markers of how young people are coping. It is good for parents to be alert to how these things might have changed under these new circumstances. Do not be adverse about discussing health issues with your teenager. Talking about such matters shows them that you care about them and their welfare.

If you are concerned and would like to talk things through, please call us on our helpline on 0808 800 2222 or email us at You might want to chat to other parents in our online forums

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