Our teenagers are not immune to the stress caused by the ongoing shutdowns due to the coronavirus. High school seniors have seen much of their culminating experiences canceled or postponed, and all of our students who have been “in the groove” of the year have had their routines disrupted.
Structure and routines are especially important for teenagers, both in middle school and high school, for a variety of reasons. Teenagers are constantly learning from their interactions with those around them, and they are subconsciously forming the routines that they will use for the rest of their lives. What they learn as teenagers is very difficult for them to “unlearn” later, for better or worse.
This is particularly true in stressful situations such as this. Whether they say so or not, teenagers are constantly listening to you and watching you as an example, both for how you handle your tasks and how you interact with them. When you establish a routine with them, it will help them establish a sense of normalcy during these extraordinary times and will serve as a way for you to express your love for your them. They’ll gain a sense of “This is going to be okay” instead of harboring a hesitant nervousness about what is happening.
With all of that being said, here are some tips for establishing a routine with your teenager:
Schedule devotional time with your teen.
CPH offers CPH FaithCourses, which are being provided free of charge during this crisis. This resource will provide an excellent time for you to connect with your teenager—and may even provide an opportunity for you to refresh some of your knowledge! Most important, though, it will communicate to your teen that God continues to care for us all, even though we are living in a difficult time.
Pray with your teenager.
As part of your devotional time, pray with your teen, and allow your teen to lead or participate! You don’t need to use fancy theological language to pray. What is very helpful, though, is to develop a list together that allows your teen to pray for personal concerns. This will also serve to allow your teen to hear what you’re concerned about.
Start with goals in mind.
What does your teen need to accomplish in a particular day? Chances are there is still schoolwork to do and, perhaps, preparations for the next school year. Starting with goals in mind will help your teen see that using a routine will help to accomplish what needs to be done.
Schedule certain times for recurring activities.
Chances are that your teen has tasks that will need to be done every day. Try to schedule those for the same time. If schoolwork is still being assigned, it can help to schedule those school activities for about the same time that they would have occurred on a normal at-school day.
Balance structure with freedom and independence.
Your teenager, sooner or later, will be on his or her own! This is an opportunity for you to help coach your teen into developing habits that will lead to success after graduation, either in college or the workforce.
Especially with the media onslaught that is occurring with this crisis, it can seem to teens (and some adults!) like the sky is falling. Teens don’t have the experience that you have, though, of living through previous crises. Help your teen to gain a sense that we will not be in a state of permanent panic and that life will, indeed, return to normal. Take any concerns seriously, but also help your teen to develop a sense that we will get through this and that God is in control.
Allow (virtual) social time, but make sure that it doesn’t dominate time.
Help your teen to reach out and experience the social interaction that is needed with friends and peers. There are many tools that allow this connection to happen. Of course, be mindful of dangerous habits that can occur with these tools, as well as the potential for socialization to overtake regular activities through interruptions.
Remember that your actions are opportunities for you to show your love and the love of God to your teen! Share the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28–30:
Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
Our Heavenly Father is always with us and shows constant love for us. Let your words and actions be a reflection of the love that He has for us!
Find devotional content for you and your teen.