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Back to School: Getting help for my good teen making bad choices during COVID

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Let's face it, since March parenting has taken on challenges that we have never experienced before, especially for those that have teenagers.

-Quarantine life

-Stay away from your friends (even nearby family!)

-Wear a mask

-Social distancing, as we start a new abnormal

-Mom or dad becoming their teacher?

-Online learning (the new classroom)

-Removed from their favorite activities or hobbies (dance, sports, etc)

Yes, teens are frustrated, stressed and even downright angry.

Mom and dad are equally frustrated and some are reaching their wit's end while barely holding it all together. As back to school is here, many parents are wondering how they will survive another 9 months!


Parents, you're not alone!

On a weekly basis parents are calling me about their once good teen that is suddenly becoming someone they don't recognize.

  • Defiance, disrespectful
  • Depression
  • Anxiety, stress
  • Lack of hygiene care
  • Vaping or other experimenting of substances
  • Sneaking-out
  • Self-harm
  • Suicide ideation
  • Internet addiction

The news always seems dismal whether it's on social media or your television - COVID is spiking (somewhere), and politics is nasty everywhere -- while the riots (rarely peaceful) are becoming what our young people are digesting on a daily basis.

What can parents do at home?

It's important to monitor your teen's mental health as much as their physical appearance.

  • Eating habits (weight gain/loss)
  • Sleeping habits (more/less)
  • Withdrawn, isolating themselves
  • Anxiety, stress
  • Self-injury

Giving them boundaries, especially when it comes to their devices, helps them get offline and even engage more with the family.

Is your teen still struggling - emotionally?

Getting help

Reaching out for local therapy can be exhausting. Pre-pandemic days, parents struggled to convince their teen to attend a weekly therapy session - now as we are living a social distance lifestyle, many therapists are resorting to teleconferencing.

This can be extremely difficult when you're dealing with a difficult teenager that will fight you every step of the way. We have to try - even if the parents continue chatting to the counselor to better understand the emotions their teen is experiencing.

Communication is key, but is it working?

I've talked to parents that are barely hanging on -- worried for their teen's emotional and physical wellness. How can you talk to a child that doesn't want to talk or be part of the family or seems to be sinking deeper into a hole of darkness?

This is very real, parents across the country are worried for their teens. These kids are struggling. Some teen's, before the pandemic, were already having issues of sadness or anxiety, COVID has only compounded their worries.

At your wit's end!

After you exhausted your home remedies, tried local resources and therapy -- parents often want to learn more about residential therapy. Is it right for their teen?

During COVID many therapeutic boarding schools and teen help programs have been filling up, with desperate parents searching for help for their young people. They do offer the emotional growth (clinical help) as well as academics they need during this trying time. Giving your child the coping skills to understand and handle the new normal, as well as the negative behavior they are exhibiting.

It can be daunting, especially with the confusion of the internet. I went through this years ago with my own daughter - without a pandemic. I felt completely helpless and alone facing this world of teen help while my daughter was escalating out-of-control. My once athletic, kind, compassionate and smart child drifted into a person I didn't know anymore. You feel helpless, hopeless and most of all - alone.

I frequently remind parents, learn from my mistakes, gain from my knowledge.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.