Today I wanted to discuss a specific concern: How can I help my teenager stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic as restrictions are lifted?

First, I’d like to review some information regarding teenage development that may be relevant to discussing safety precautions & good decision making.  

Our brains are not fully developed until we reach the age of 25, so at different ages we have different abilities. Adults use their frontal cortex (the area that helps us to reason & to think before we act) to guide their decisions, and are thus less likely to act on impulse.  

Teenage brains, however, utilize the amygdala (which is an area that allows us to make instinctive reactions) to make choices, which can lead to risk-taking behaviors, responding more impulsively or aggressively, and not thinking through consequences.  

Also, we know that it is typical for teens to desire to spend more time with friends than with their families. 

During this time they are growing to be more autonomous and their social interactions are vastly important at this stage of life. 

Keep these differences in mind when discussing safety and socialization with teens.

When initiating this discussion, make sure that your teen is educated about COVID-19 and prevention from a reliable source, such as the CDC.

Engage them in a problem-solving conversation in order to identify safe ways of socializing with peers and other positive activities that they can engage in as well.

Empathize with them and recognize that less friend time may be hard on them emotionally, and discuss positive means of coping with their emotions. Although your teen may be responsible and independent, as a parent, it is your job to create rules and guidelines to help keep them safe.

Be clear about what you expect in regards to safety, and what the consequences will be if these rules are broken. In addition, be sure that you are setting a good example for the behaviors that you would like to see from your teen; if you are taking risks when being social, it will be hard to hold them to a standard of safety.

This is a challenging time for all of us, so please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need support. I can be reached by calling the Telluride Medical Center at 970-728-3848, or if you are a patient of Telluride Medical Center, by messaging me through the Telluride Medical Center portal.

If you are experiencing a mental health crisis, please call The Center for Mental Health’s crisis line at 970.252.6220.

Be well,

Lindsay Wright

Lindsay Wright | Behavioral Health
Telluride Medical Center