By Nadine Briggs and Donna Shea
As social coaches, we have a front-row seat in observing how children, teens, and their families are all managing these unprecedented times. There are some kids and teens who are, thankfully, going with the flow, and a few who are screaming out for help. The rest have good days and bad days and the bad days might include tremendous frustration or ugly crying.
I (Nadine) had a teen girl in our online group who was experiencing tremendous anxiety. She couldn’t contain her frustration, stating, “I want this to be over!” and “I want things to go back to normal!” Make no mistake about it; this situation is taking a toll on the mental health of young people. She needed understanding, empathy, and compassion at that moment. She also needed strategies to calm down, which we did together.
Then she asked me, “Miss Nadine, how are you doing handling quarantine?” Her asking that question is a big deal. She is not one to ask about how other people are doing, but it was an opportunity to share a slice of my life. She followed up with, “do you find it hard?” So we talked, she stayed after group to talk even more. I shared how I handle quarantine, and we developed a plan for how she might handle it as well. We agreed that this is a tough situation, but we can also focus on the things that are going well. We discussed that we were grateful for the technology so we could still see each other weekly. I shared that I play Word with Friends with my sister and son. I have a hobby that I try to keep up with even if I’m not always in the mood. I told her that I like to do random acts of kindness, and I try to stay in touch with my friends. We discussed going for walks and finding things that make us happy, such as cheerful music played loudly. Everyone has their way of coping, but a key component is sharing, discussing, and leaning on each other. That is exactly how we “keep on keeping on”, even when every day feels like Blursday.