Our teenagers, deprived of school and social contacts for months, chattering excitedly looking forward to find a little freedom. How should parents “manage” the déconfinement of their teens? Line Jomphe (LJ), a psychologist for 20 years in youth centres and in private practice and Kristel Tardif-Grenier (KTG), professor, department of psychoeducation and psychology, Université du Québec en Outaouais, we deliver their advice.
Q: How to approach the rules of déconfinement with our teens?
LJ You have to be clear on the instructions (follow the two meters, wearing a mask, washing hands) and also to be open. Without “scaring ourselves”, it is important that the parent may express a concern, speak to the “I” of his emotion. It is necessary that the child understand why the parent is trying to maintain the guidelines, so that they understand that yes, for a parent, it is worrying the situation that we are living in.
KTG A good avenue, it is to present the déconfinement as a privilege that we get collectively. If you want to keep it, there are specific rules to follow. And in my opinion, the rules should be presented as expectations. We should also ask our youth what he thinks to do, what precautions he will take to have contact with his friends. It is much more likely that teens embrace new behaviours if it comes from themselves, and in addition, it shows them that you trust their judgment. But nothing prevents us to come and improve their game plan.
Q Our teens are often very intense. How to succeed to keep their déconfinement progressive, as public health the application?
LJ For parents who have a court, it may be easier to organize things before the young people arrive. I’ve done it for me : I held my court with my chairs, the swing so that they can be all of two metres. They have fixed places!
Parents can also propose that they remain in the house for leave of the court to the teens, while keeping an eye on them from time to time. Because that’s what their lack teens, having time alone, for them, without their family.
KTG to go To progressive, we can ensure they go to a friend and see how it goes, how our ado complies with the rules and, possibly, one could see two friends, graduate. It may also be relevant to discuss with other parents of the group of friends of our young to find out how they manage it themselves, and to try to agree on similar rules. It is more likely that teens adhere to the rules if everyone applies them. Because it should not be forgotten that for teens, if a friend has less framing, it can have a ripple effect on other youth in the group.
Q Why is it important to continue to exercise some control?
LJ Because teens have magical thinking, even more than adults. They say “it won’t happen to me” and they will dramatize. I have many who tell me that this is just the old who catches it. But it should be clear and precise and tell them that they are not invulnerable, that person is.
KTG It is important to set boundaries for teens, it is safe, but they must feel that they are trusted. They are going to want then to want to keep that trust.
For the parent, it is about finding the balance between control and trust. I did a study with professors Isabelle Archambault and Véronique Dupéré, School of psychoeducation, University of Montreal, and we had access to 1251 texts written by adolescents in confinement. We see that they acknowledged the relevance of the measures requested by the public health. They respected him and were kind to it. I think we can trust them.
TO GO FURTHER
Link to the resource Tel-jeunes on the romantic relationships in the time of a pandemic :
Book for parents :
Parents of teens : the tolerance necessary to the need to intervene, in the Collection of the CHU Sainte-Justine for parents, Céline Boisvert, https://www.editions-chu-sainte-justine.org/livres/parents-ados-121.html