Expert says teenagers may regress and become more badly behaved in lockdown
Parents, if you’ve been tearing out your hair this year, you’re definitely not alone.
Not only have parents and carers had to deal with general overwhelming stress of life amid the coronavirus pandemic, but they also had to cope with a sudden increase in childcare demands (yep, sure, close the schools, no problem) and helping their kids stay sane in an absolutely wild year.
Another issue that hasn’t been chatted about as much is something parents of teenagers might be experiencing right now.
Have you noticed your teenager has suddenly become moodier, surlier, or quicker to get irritated?
Is their motivation slipping? Are they suddenly out at all hours? Showing you a lack of respect?
It might not just be the usual mood swings of teenagedom.
Dr Becky Spelman, of the Private Therapy Clinic, says that many teenagers are actually regressing in lockdown – meaning they’re going backwards in their journey to adulthood and displaying all the bad behaviour of their younger selves.
She reckons the restrictions of the pandemic are triggering a strange moment of reverting to habits that teenagers may have previously aged out of.
‘When we have too many rules placed upon us we start to rebel,’ Dr Spelman tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Essentially, it reminds us of our childhood, when we were told we couldn’t do so many things.
‘This means that teenagers will actually regress to acting a lot younger as lockdown will remind them of when they had less freedom.
‘When you place too many restraints on people, you get a bit of an elastic band effect where they completely rebel against the rules.’
Rebellion can come in many forms, whether it’s actually breaking the rules of lockdown and coronavirus restrictions, such as going to friends’ houses or faking a substantial meal ar a pub, or becoming ruder and tetchier.
‘For parents with teenagers this time is going to be particularly difficult because while pre-pandemic they may have had a very well-behaved teen, now they’re seeing their teens acting out because of all these restrictions placed on them,’ says Becky.
‘This will lead to them regressing and displaying behaviours they would have only displayed when they were much younger.’
It’s not just teens who are prone to regression, of course. Adults, too, might find themselves going back to their younger selves as a result of all the lifestyle changes we’ve had to make due to Covid-19.
The key is to know, first of all, that this regression is normal, and not a sign that your teenager is now a nightmare who will never be a decent human being.
Show your children (and yourself) some understanding about all the strange ways the strain of this year may have affected us, and work to tackle feelings of stress and restraint.
It can be helpful to give children a sense of control in other areas of their lives, when so much feels out of their grasp. Maybe you could give teenagers the task of sorting out the family dinner once a week, or encourage them to take on a project that will give them a sense of purpose in lockdown.
Remember that this year has been tough on all of us, and that this might manifest in different ways. Don’t blame yourself, go easy on your teens and yourself, and trust that they’ll be back to their normal selves soon.
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