Helping Kids/Teens Cope with Missed Milestones

Updated: Jan 22

The coronavirus pandemic…It has overturned classes, school & extracurricular activities, not to mention major life events and celebrations.


The coronavirus pandemic…It has overturned classes, school & extracurricular activities, not to mention major life events and celebrations. It means no Graduation festivities. No birthday parties. No gatherings to celebrate accomplishments. Children are mourning the loss of these missed milestones and experiences. And it is not just graduating students experiencing missed milestones. There are also sporting games, music recitals and school plays our kids looked forward to participating in, with their families present to support them. Their new reality is to practice physical distancing and connect with peers & family virtually.


It may now be challenging to find a summer job or go on a family vacation or visit college campuses. These other fun activities may be put off indefinitely and our children/teens need extra support to manage their feelings and find alternative ways to connect with their friends, family, and school community. Here is Behavioral Therapeutics advice on how kids & teens can deal with the unexpected losses of these missed milestones and other life events.


ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR FEELINGS

Children may express feelings of frustration, sadness or disappointment knowing they still may not be able to experience life as they once knew. Acknowledge their feelings and reassure them that it’s OK to feel sad about this situation. Allow them time to grieve the missed milestones and celebrations. At the same time, recognize that some kiddos ~ such as those who are more introverted or experience anxiety~ may not be affected by the changes.


BE HONEST

This is a time where everyone is experiencing collective loss and disruption of one’s sense of safety. This is a time of great uncertainty, so it’s important to talk with your child/children. Start by asking them how they are feeling today. Ask if they need help with creating ways to celebrate milestones in creative and unique ways! They may be looking for answers that you don’t have and it’s OK to tell them that you are unsure. Ask your kids to help you search online for information about COVID-19 or fun family activities.

Sharing your feelings and the steps you take to cope can help bring some normalcy to the current situation. Be cautious of oversharing; however, as your child/teen may worry if they sense that you are stressing about the current situation too. Reassure them that it’s OK to feel sad, anxious, even angry about this time.




“Social connectedness can reduce feelings of isolation and stress.” Marlowe Gelmon


BUILDING RESILIENCE

Children/Teens are resilient and can build upon past adverse experiences to help them cope. The losses and missed milestones from COVID-19 can build their resilience and their ability to cope with future challenges. Talk with them about past challenging experiences and how they overcame them. Encourage them to apply those steps now. Building resilience may not be easy, but it can help you move forward during times of adversity.


PROMOTE SOCIAL CONNECTEDNESS

Encourage kids to connect with their peers and use social tools such as FaceTime or Zoom. Older kids/teens may find talking with friends, a school counselor, or a coach


PROMOTE SOCIAL CONNECTEDNESS

Encourage kids to connect with their peers and use social tools such as FaceTime or Zoom. Older kids/teens may find talking with friends, a school counselor or a coach can help them cope and manage their feelings. You can also schedule game nights or a time where you can cook a meal together.

Social connectedness can reduce feelings of isolation and stress. BE PATIENT… You may be eager to talk with your child and provide a solution but, give them space to process their feelings at their own pace. Teens in particular, may not want to talk at a time that’s convenient for you. At the same time, it’s important for parents to be there when they’re ready to talk. If they don’t want to talk, suggest journaling as a way to help them put their feelings into words.


CELEBRATE ACHIEVEMENTS

You can still honor and commemorate your child’s achievements and important milestones. Brainstorm with your teen creative ways to celebrate missed events or participate in the school activity. It may be that you stage an at home graduation with family over Zoom. You can also have them perform their part in the school play with other classmates. While these activities won’t replace a missed event, finding ways to honor their accomplishments can help them cope.

~ Marlowe Gelmon BEHAVIORAL THERAPEUTICS

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