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Quaran-‘teen’: How to help older kids struggling with loss of activities and peer interaction

Connecticut Families

CONNECTICUT (WTNH) — “I think it’s important for parents of teens to recognize that some kids might really be grieving at this time,” said parenting expert Ruth Freeman, as older kids suffer from the loss of school, sports, field trips and pivotal experiences like graduation and prom.

And, simply, teens are missing their friends.

“In order to thrive, teens really do need a tribe in order to launch and go out in the world,” said Freeman, a licensed clinical social worker and founder of Peace At Home Parenting. “Their brain literally tells them to turn to their peers for soothing and connection.”

She is hearing from moms and dads that many teens are pushing back on social distancing.

“I think it’s important for parents to realize anger and non-compliance, sadness, all kinds of difficult behaviors and emotions may be happening and to try to understand that as a loss for kids, a kind of grieving,” Freeman emphasized.

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She advised parents to support teens the best way they can by being kind and firm, and to remember the “four S’s of parenting” from educator Dan Siegel. Kids — toddlers through teens — need to be seen, safe, soothed and secure, especially in a time of crisis.

“Start with, ‘I really understand that this is painful for you. I understand it’s distressing, and I’m the person delivering the bad message and you’re mad at me,'” she said, noting that parents should avoid the impulse to moralize or lecture. “Just say, ‘I get this is super hard. We all have to live with this. Let’s brainstorm some ways to make it easier for you. Do you have any ideas?’ They may storm off. That’s OK. You at least acknowledged it, made a connection and are there.”

More information and tips can be found online.

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