The Parenting Center

Helping parents grow!


The COVID-19 quarantine will affect our children in a variety of ways, depending on temperament, family situation, and AGE. Young children may fare the best since they thrive on time with parents and siblings. School age kids are developmentally focused on their emerging sense of competency and identity. While the loss of school and activities can frustrate that sense of identity, they may also get some satisfaction from home-based projects and on-line schooling. The hardest thing may be missing their friends and finding enough to do.

Teens (and parents of teens) may have the greatest challenge. Teens are trying to establish a sense of independence, but how do you do that when you’re at home all the time? The peer group is especially mourned by adolescents, as those relationships are the place where they learn about themselves and others – and where they are most expressive. What we hear from parents is that this internal tension is, predictably, showing itself in teen irritability, lack of interest in activities, and disengaging from the family. It’s like typical teen behavior amped up! Here are some ideas for keeping teens engaged – from families like yours:

Insist on a routine, however minimal. Maybe they are in charge of creating their daily schedule but you have them include a couple of elements. One family says, “I have a rule that everyone spends 1 hour outside, preferably but not necessarily exercising.” Remember that schoolwork is not your mandate; it actually comes from school. You may have rules and expectations but you don’t have to take credit for the assignment.

People get a real, measurable boost from doing something for someone else, committing acts of kindness. What better time than this? Suggestions include walking a neighbor’s dog, mowing lawns, and tutoring (virtually, of course) a family friend on her math packet. The trick is providing guidance to these ideas without having them be your ideas. Good luck!

Some things may go over as shared experiences. Like meal times, some families have built in time to journal – which can be writing, drawing, or videoing; exercise – which can be led by different family members; and play games – again, rotate this idea so your teen has an opportunity to teach you something new.

Think about motivation and reward. There may be things your teen can do for money…or glory! One family says, “We keep a log in the kitchen of how many times she beats her dad in chess.”

Creating an actual product can be very motivating. One parent suggests having your teen make dinner by following recipes. Another pointed out that teens would be great at drawing rainbows and bears or creating treasure hunts for younger children. These are being shared on various social media platforms like facebook and Nextdoor.

However prickly they may be, remember to give your teen a smile, a pat, or a hug every day. Just don’t overdo it 😊

And if you have a good idea, don’t keep it to yourself!