Stressed Out Quaran-Teens!
Teens are in a unique position during quarantine. As social, rapidly growing beings, teens have been hit hard by the changes accompanying quarantine. Our teens have gone from traditional school to online school and many of their milestone social gatherings have been cancelled. In talking with parents, teachers, coaches, and tutors, I have noticed some trends when it comes to the challenges teens are facing right now. The top three issues I have seen our teens express over the past few weeks are: lack of motivation, difficulty completing assignments, and increased emotional stress. Below, I would like to offer a breakdown of each challenge, some questions for parents to ask their teens, and potential solutions to help teens progress through quarantine well.
Lack of Motivation
Teens have expressed a lack of motivation to start and complete their schoolwork. With the monotony of online learning and less structure surrounding their educational activities, many teens are having a hard time remaining energized and inspired to complete their work.
A possible question for parents to ask teens could be, “Who can you connect with other than your teachers and me?” The goal of this question is to encourage collaboration with other peers online. Study buddies generally make studying more enjoyable! There is value in having someone who is not a parent or teacher help the student, since parents and children can often mix like oil and water when it comes to school. That is NORMAL and OKAY! Life is hard enough being a parent right now, so give your child the freedom to study with a friend online for certain subjects during certain times of the day.
Another way to combat a lack of motivation is to help your child create structure. Remember, you are a partner with them in the process, and your job is to give them choices and collaborate not dictate. Assist your child in making a plan for the day including exercise, time outside, a consistent wake up time, and time for chores. Let your child give their input in this process and watch them feel empowered as they see their opinions and perspective are valued!
Keeping Up with Assignments
Due to significantly decreased accountability, and lack of personalized help from teachers and classmates, teens have communicated difficulty keeping up with assignments. In order to combat this sense of confusion and overwhelm, encourage your teen to identify where they need help. Then, ask them to seek out potential resources that could meet their needs. Some ideas could be online resources like Khan Academy or Brain Pop, tutors, coaches, or other peers.
Kids often get angry when parents contact teachers to verify or follow up on schoolwork. Instead of emailing teachers on your own, ask your student to email their teacher and copy you on the email. This approach teaches self-advocacy and shows teachers that students are taking responsibility for their own learning.
One last point of emphasis concerning complete and incomplete schoolwork: celebrate what is done rather than focusing on what is not! By celebrating what is done, students receive positive reinforcement which associates schoolwork with excitement and positive feelings. Punishment, on the other hand, associates learning with fear.
Your student has had to cope with the loss of many milestone events like prom, sports seasons, play performances, graduation, etc. This sense of loss has been hard on parents as well as teens, and there is a collective need for both parties to be available and present for the other.
You can encourage your teen to deal with the emotional stress and disappointment of this time by focusing on self-care, gratitude, and reflection. You could start these conversations by asking, “What was hard today?” or, “What was good today?” At the end of the day, all we can do is show up for each other with kindness and compassion acknowledging that these days are hard for everyone in different, personal ways.
My last piece of advice, as a mom, tutor, and business owner, is this: Praise effort over results. Effort gives us something we can control while results are the product of many different (often uncontrollable) variables. By focusing on effort, your student will see you support them no matter their performance, becoming more resilient along the way.
Interested in finding a tutor specific to your child’s needs? Learn more about Wright Academics here.
About Evelyn Wright
Evelyn Wright is the Director of Wright Academics, a tutoring business created to target kids’ specific needs. Her passion is helping students and families succeed so that they achieve their maximum potential in and out of the classroom.
With over 25 years of experience working with children and their families in public and private schools, as well as in private practice, Evelyn’s focus is understanding the individual’s learning profile, guiding families of children with learning differences and matching students to the tutor or coach that best fits the student. She believes in not only matching educational needs to the right tutor’s skills, but matching a student to the tutor with the right personality.