Teenagers have been going through a mixed bag of emotions; the loss of expected hopes, dreams and expectations, elation then perhaps deflation at not having to sit their exams that they’ve worked so hard for, the sadness of missing out on the right of passage of finishing school, no high school proms, and not having their friends around them. Their sense of community has been taken away from them. Until education resumes for them, they may have very little sense of purpose. 
Supporting GCSE and A Level Students Through Lockdown
By now, they have probably settled into a daily pattern of behaviour. Some might stay in bed until the afternoon and stay awake until the early hours, others might be gaming and isolating themselves. While these actions aren’t harmful in themselves, they can become harmful if your teenager ‘keeps busy’ with them for the long term, as their actions are distracting them from dealing with how they’re really feeling. 

Offering Support - Not Solutions 

While it would be all too easy to tell them to be grateful for what they have got, try not to. It’s very important to acknowledge their losses and be present and give them the time to talk uninterrupted. You may need to encourage them to ‘open up’ about how they’re really feeling. 
 
Start by telling the truth about how you feel about your situation, for example ‘I’m worried about work and if we’ll have enough money to cover the bills and food." This will enable your teenager to share their true feelings with you. 
Do tell them that you can’t imagine how they must be feeling right now about their situation. 
Recognise that what they’re feeling is emotional, not intellectual. Feeling sad and scared are normal and natural responses. 
Remember that everyone is unique and there is no right or wrong way to feel. Allow them to share their emotions without judgment, criticism or interruption. 
Listen with your heart, not your head. They don’t need fixing; they just need to be heard. 
Be Patient. Give them time to form their own opinions. 
Don’t say "Don't feel scared," as fear is a normal and common response to this situation. 
Don’t say "Don't feel sad." Sadness is a healthy and normal reaction to the loss of their lives as they know it. 
You don’t need to be strong. It gives them the message that they must be strong too, which means they will hide their normal and natural feelings. 
Don’t compare their lives or situations to others in the world. Comparison minimises their feelings. 
Supporting students through lockdown
Learn more about how to comfort grieving children and youth and guide them through tough times - order your copy of When Children Grieve as a paperback or audio book from our online shop. 
About the Author 
Maria Bailey
Maria Bailey is an Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist and looks after media relations for Grief Recovery UK. She has spent her career working in public relations. Maria now lives by the seaside in Devon with her family and dog, and is a school governor and preschool chairman. 

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Tagged as: Global Events, Schools
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