Positive Parenting: Grads Grief During COVID-19
2020 high school graduates were born just after 9-11 and are entering adulthood in the middle of a pandemic. This is without a doubt, two life-shaping events for most Americans. In this edition of Positive Parenting, we take a look at what parents should watch for as these teens prepare for their next chapter.
For high school seniors, there has been very little ‘pomp’ this year because of the ‘circumstances’. COVID-19 meant graduation outdoors with restrictions, spring activities didn’t happen, neither did prom.
“Everyone had bought their dresses. people had dates,” said 2020 graduate, Olivia Kisiday.
Parents, like Julie Manson, also felt the disappointment their children were going through. “I think as a parent, you know the milestones she’s missing out on”.
Some students are just ready to let it go, and for a new start, like 2020 graduate, Abbie Manson. “You want to close the book. You want to move on to the next chapter”.
Mental health experts say U.S. teens were experiencing alarming levels of anxiety and depression before COVID-19. Now they say kids have increased feelings of loss.
“What they are experiencing is probably not that different than grief,” explains the University of Michigan’s research scientist, Dr. Elizabeth Koschmann.
Koschmann is the director of a youth mental health intervention program. The program works with kids ages 8 through 18 by practicing coping strategies. It’s been successful in reducing anxiety and depression symptoms. Koschmann says parents should watch for signs if their teen is struggling with depression, like a change in personality. A teen may withdraw or sleep excessively. Parents should validate their child’s feelings of loss and support them in ways they can be social with peers. For example, using tech. Help them develop coping skills, like outdoor exercise.
“Model self-reflection and say, when I feel overwhelmed, I go for a walk or when I feel really lethargic and unmotivated, I force myself to go for a run. what are you doing,” Koschmann asked.
For an excellent resource for student wellness, click here.