This post is sponsored by The Allstate Foundation. All opinions are my own.
As we navigate this new world, we all experience emotions that are new and overwhelming. But imagine what it feels like for teens who are still learning how to manage their emotions during the COVID-19 crises?
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) is more important now than ever.
As teens are in isolation, missing milestones, and socializing mostly through technology, parents, teachers, and school counselors must take on the role of SEL teacher for the youth in their lives.
While there are many facets of SEL, two that stand out during times of crisis for students are self-management and social awareness. In fact, I’ve utilized both of these branches of SEL to help guide teens through challenging times.
And I can think of no better time to deploy these tools than a pandemic.
Let’s take a dive into each of these skills and learn how you can begin implementing SEL to help the teens in your life today.
Teaching Teens Self-Management During COVID-19
If you have teens at home during the pandemic, you may have witnessed a rainbow of emotions…from impatience, loneliness, frustration, fear, and anxiety. In fact, you’ve probably picked up on a few FOMO-based fears as well.
The self-management facet of SEL teaches teens to manage their emotions by deciding how they will react to how they are feeling.
Often, teens feel out of control, helpless, and overcome by emotions but by implementing a strategy of questioning, you can help your teen take control over their emotions constructively.
In doing so, you are helping your teens make room for more options and not just a dead-end one-size-fits-all solution to their problems (or catastrophizing).
The Allstate Foundation’s free ‘Happy, Successful Teens’ SEL Parent Guide lists questions you can use in moments of high-intensity stress with your teens.
As you read through these questions think about when you might use them with your teen.
In asking these questions, you’re giving your teen time to think about how they’re feeling, and more importantly, time to talk about their emotions.
The guide also demonstrates productive ways to practice positive reinforcement when you notice your teen coping with their feelings in a good way, and without prompting from you.
Social Awareness During a Pandemic
Teens are experiencing a different kind of social life than the ones we experienced as children.
Isolation and quarantine have brought a new parental fear to the surface as well, and that’s the social aspect of social and emotional learning.
So, how can we help our teens cope with the lack of socialization, not to mention the increase in the perceived need to use technology to socialize?
Again, the solution comes down to listening more than lecturing, according to The Allstate Foundation’s guide. Because when your teen feels heard, and understood, they are more apt to keep talking.
In turn, this can help them work through their feelings of isolation.
If your teen is acting out and frustrated, talk with them about their feelings, and in the case of COVID-19, express your understanding…because right now, nothing is quite normal for anyone.
It can also be helpful to guide your teen through social media drama by implementing specific time slots throughout the day to check social media.
And feel free to give some of the responsibility to your teen by allowing them to help create time-management rules that make sense to them. Let them chose timeslots, or frequency, for example.
Then, when drama rises up, implement social awareness SEL activities to help them problem solve and practice empathy with others. You might be surprised at how naturally this comes to them.
Because of these new uncharted territories, it’s more important now than ever to take the time to insert SEL in our teachings and interactions with the teens in our lives.
And when things do get back to normal, their Social and Emotional development will not have been stunted, and in fact, it can be even better than if this time-out had never occurred in the first place.
For more tips about SEL implementation for teens, download The Allstate Foundation’s free ‘Happy, Successful Teens’ SEL Parent Guide.
This post was written as part of The Allstate Foundation and We Are Teachers
SEL Parent Guide campaign, and sponsored by The Allstate Foundation. All
opinions are mine. The Allstate Foundation empowers young people—and those
that guide and teach them—with social and emotional skills to build character
and transform lives. Learn more at www.allstatefoundation.org