As summer break from school begins, and the world continues to open up after the pandemic, many teens are struggling to adapt to “life as normal”. Teenagers struggle with change as it is. When the pandemic began, the sudden loss of interacting with their school friends was hard. But at least there was some guidance from school, community, and government officials about what to do.
Now, with restrictions being lifted, there is virtually no instruction on how to go “back to normal” Despite the difficult, emotionally destabilizing quarantine and lockdown, we are all expected to navigate this change on our own. For teens who experience anxiety, stress, or behavioral health challenges, the sudden lack of restrictions can feel like too much too soon.
Fortunately, by understanding how teens have been affected by the pandemic, we can help them navigate these changes and have a safe and enjoyable summer.
How the pandemic has affected adolescents
During normal adolescent development, school plays an important role. The time away from home is a time teens have to develop independence and find increased autonomy.
However, this all changed during the pandemic. Many teens went from having more autonomy and meaningful relationships at school to being stuck at home. Even if parents did everything they could during this time, it still wasn’t the same as what most teens wanted. Not even social media can replace the experience of being with friends.
While the loss of autonomy was hard for some teens, others struggled in different ways. Some teens were required to step up and fulfill adult responsibilities, such as those whose parents were essential workers.
All in all, there are few teens who escaped the pandemic without experiencing intense amounts of stress. Those who were already experiencing emotional challenges are now going through another dramatic change where their responsibilities are likely shifting again. By knowing what to look for, we can tell the difference between what’s normal and what needs extra special care.
Telling the difference between normal emotions and a call for help
Teens can quickly change moods and have normal emotional shifts during the day. But the following signs may be a call for help:
- Feeling completely lost, hopeless, and uninterested in previously enjoyed activities. It’s normal and expected for teens to feel especially stressed, frustrated, and overwhelmed this summer – they’ve never been through anything like this, and neither have we. But if a teen has lingering depression or completely loses interest in things that formerly brought them joy, reach out for professional help.
- Social isolation. Teens need time to themselves to develop their senses of identity and independence. But if a teen isn’t able to enjoy time outside the home, with friends, or with family, they may be dealing with depression or another challenge.
- Frequent outbursts and becoming aggressive when faced with consequences. Adolescent years are a time to learn boundaries, but some teens struggle to navigate this well. If you see a teen frequently showing aggression, lashing out, and blatantly disregarding authority, it could be time to seek professional help.
- Inability to function normally. Finally, if your teen struggles with daily functions – such as sleeping all day – they might have something more going on than stress.
What to do if you think your teen needs help If you’re concerned about your teen and think they might need help, don’t hesitate to reach out. Seeking help early can mean the difference between a temporary challenge and one that becomes a lifelong battle.
At Houston Behavioral Healthcare Hospital, our team of specialists understand the psychology and behavioral science about what your teen is going through. Call us directly at 832-834-7710 or contact us online. We’re here to support you and provide a path for you and your teen to enjoy full, enjoyable lives.