How To Help Your QuaranTEENS Cope With The Circuit Breaker In Singapore

Teenagers aren’t made for isolation and they might become withdrawn or depressed during this period.
22 April 2020

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All across the world, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced families to change their day-to-day lives.

Here in Singapore, we’re going through a circuit breaker period – now extended to 1 June – in order to flatten the rising rate of infections. During this time, Singaporeans are advised to stay home as much as possible, and that includes your ultra-social teenagers and tweens aged between 13 to 18 years.

While younger children may relish the extra time spent at home with their siblings and parents, older kids may struggle. Social distancing will be especially hard for those in Secondary school and Junior College who will miss their friends due to being quarantined at home. As a result, they could become irritable, withdrawn and even depressed due to the circuit breaker.

There’s even been new terms coined to describe these home-bound group of kids, known as QuaranTEENS and QuaranTWEENS. How can parents help their older kids right now? Here are ways to make this scary and uncertain time easier for them:

1. Refrain from Criticism

Teenagers are desperate for independence and can at times deliberately challenge their parents to see how much they can get away with. This behaviour is completely normal, especially during trying times like now. Try to be supportive and refrain from criticising your adolescent as they traverse this bumpy phase.

2. Spend Time Together

You may be content to let your teen do his or her own thing but spending some time doing an activity together not only fosters closer bonds, it also gives your child some semblance of control over their lives. Start by simply asking them what they would like to do. Watch a movie? Make some Dalgona coffee together? Learn a Tik Tok dance? This is the time mama!

3. Change Your Screen Time Expectations

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During times of crisis, it’s advisable to relax your screen time expectations for your teen. Forget the recommendations for awhile and let them go online as much as they need to, for access to online learning, social media, and other tools that will help them stay connected with their friends and classmates.

4. Maintain Structure

Maintaining a routine will help your teen cope with isolation. This includes setting a definitive sleep schedule for them, asking them to maintain hygiene by showering everyday and changing into fresh clothes, as well as having at least three square meals a day. It’s also important that your teen helps around the house by completing chores to teach them about responsibility.

5. Watch for Signs of Depression

Isolation, uncertainty, and loss of routine can lead to depression. Check in with your teen’s emotional well-being and let them know you can talk with them about anything. If you are worried about depression or anxiety, consider talking to a medical professional about next steps. The Institute of Mental Health has a dedicated Child Guidance Clinic exclusive to young patients.

6. Show Them the Love

Your teenager might not act like they need it or want it, but they need to know to know you love them, care for them and respect them. When your teen knows you are emotionally available to support them, you may just see a welcome change in their behaviour.

By Natalya Molok, Text adapted from The Singapore Women’s Weekly / Additional reporting: Bauersyndication.com.au, April 2020

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