However, teenagers are facing a direct conflict with their development due to increased isolation, according to Kathryn Anderson, a family therapist at Sacred Heart Medical Center.
“For teenagers, our developmental task is to be building up our own independent identity and our sense of self away from our families,” Anderson said. “Wanting to spend more time with friends, spend more time away from your home – those are very healthy urges that teens will have. But we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic… Teens are being asked to kind-of work against their developmental interests. It’s a really hard time for teens, especially with that isolation.”
Helping people overcome trauma has been Kathryn Anderson’s specialty for nearly a decade. As a family therapist at Sacred Heart Medical Center, she works with all age groups to help patients dealing with loss and/or trauma. She also specializes in adolescent development.
In the midst of a global pandemic, Anderson said she’s been noticing an increase in stress that families are feeling.
“Whether it’s financial stress, school-based stress,” Anderson said. “But for most people, it’s the stress of increased isolation.”
While isolation can be mentally taxing for anyone of any age, Anderson believes the effects of isolation can be more intense for teenagers.
“(Adults) are in a different developmental change, so I think it’s possible that teens may be feeling that isolation more acutely,” she said.
So, what can teenagers and families do?
Well, a lot, according to Anderson, who gave parents the following tips:
Remember: Teens are in a unique developmental stage of life.Anderson: “(Adults) are in a different developmental change, so I think it’s possible that teens may be feeling that isolation more acutely.”Respect: Believe in your ability to be a good parent.Anderson: “So, parents, get ready to dance between showing up for your teen and respecting the fact that your teen may not want to be around you very much.”Reach Out: Don’t be afraid to ask a professional for help.Anderson: “Especially in the form of counseling. That can be a helpful, I think buffer, for what we’re dealing with right now.”
For teens, Anderson recommends staying physically active.
“If our body can move and sluff off some of that energy, it’s possible that our brains may be able to come back online and do more problem solving. So, honestly, it sounds really trite, but physical activity is huge right now,” Anderson said.
Anderson also recommended using social media in a positive way. She noted the high amount of negative content, which can be mentally harmful when it’s ingested constantly.