Engaging Teens Without Provoking Them
Updated: Jul 21
The latest addition to our PARENTING DURING A PANDEMIC series is an interview with Bainbridge High School Curriculum Support Specialist and Humanities teacher, Emily Eigen. Drawing from 20 years of experience teaching tweens and teens in both private and public schools, Emily lends insight on how to connect with our kids during the Stay at Home mandate.
What's pressing on your mind related to parenting during a pandemic? Raisiing Resileince would love to hear from you. Engage with us via social media or email us at email@example.com.
How do we get teens to listen and take this seriously without evoking fear/anxiety?
Teachers know that kids understand and retain the knowledge they create better than the information we tell them. Ask them what they've heard on the news rather than telling them all the NPR or CNN stories you've been listening to. When we lecture, they tune out. (Some teachers are really good lecturers and can keep their audience enthralled. Most parents just provoke rebellion.)
How do we help teens understand why they can’t physically hang out with their friends without provoking them?
As parents, we know that scare tactics aren't ultimately effective. Don't say, "If you go meet up with your friends, you'll kill your grandparents." Instead, ask how they're dealing with how weighty each decision seems to be. Isn't it mentally exhausting?
Why do some teens seem so apathetic about this?
Don't forget that they feel more than we see. Just because they may appear cavalier doesn't mean they aren't freaking out. We need to help them feel safe and hopeful.
How do we encourage a more positive response?
Model the response we hope to see. Share your thought process: "I'm thinking about dropping by your grandparents to pick up that book I wanted to borrow, but I went to the store today and am worried about exposing them to anything. What do you think? Is it worth it?"
How can we connect with teens during this time?
Allow for news-free time. This is really important. Play a game. Watch a silly movie. Forget about the outside world, together, sometimes. It's for our sanity.