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Helping youths cope with COVID-19

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YOUTH and the teenage years is a fluid category and definitions vary greatly across countries and between differing cultures. Today’s generation of young people is the largest ever, with the majority found in developing countries.

As the days fade and we plough deeper into the year, the uncertainty of the future after the pandemic still looms over our heads. Burying our heads in the sand continually will not reduce the rampage of the virus as we are left with no choice but to face matters head on.

There is no avoiding the fact that the whole world is at war- we are just not fighting with guns and bullets this time.

  All sorts of activities and in fact life in general has been brashly interrupted by the hostile virus due to the lockdowns that we are now familiar with. Social distancing and self-isolation bring challenges for everyone but another group of people caught in the crossfire of this war are the youths (teenagers) and if the effect on them is not properly cushioned, there will be far reaching consequences.

  Being a youth or teenager is a long, slow process of growing away from your family. Yet, young people are suddenly being thrust back into the heart of their families, whether or not they want to be. Teens face a particularly hard time this period because they are to be forced to spend their entire time with their parents.

  With schools closed, they’re cut off from the people they care most about – their friends. The initial euphoria about dodging exams has been replaced by realisation of all the things they’re missing – the sporting events, the performances, the parties, the gatherings, the end-of-exams fun, the flirtations.

At a time when they want more control over their lives, they’ve suddenly got less. So how can this be helped?

  Routine is necessary if you’re not going to drive each other mad. Talk to teens about the need to find new ways to arrange their days. What do they need to do (learning, exercise, friends-time, down-time) and what do they need to do to make that possible? More structure should, hopefully, mean less boredom.

  While interviewing a Veteran journalist, Mr Victor Agusiobo, he suggested that this period affords all, the youths most especially, the opportunity to understand what they can give the society and how they can transform their strengths into money or fame, “It is often said that the best of minds get nurtured in inactivity and silence.

This period is a great opportunity for young people to introspect, think deeper, inwards and understand what potentials they have, what strength they have and how best they can utilise that strength.

 Life as we know it is an interplay of strength, dynamics of strength; what do you have to offer society and how can you convert that strength to your advantage”.

  “It’s understandable that teens will be sad about what they’re missing and it’s important to acknowledge their losses – to show them you know that these are not trivial things, and you appreciate that it’s horrible to have to do without them.

They may find it hard to think about the future. Reassure them that this period will pass. No doubt, they’ll be relying on digital tech more than ever before.”

 Mr Agusiobo also urged that youths should make use of the opportunities that their generation has provided for them through ICT. “They should think of  ways to carve a niche for themselves in this ever evolving society.

  “Teens should be encouraged to take control by structuring their days and setting themselves goals. Parents should put themselves in their shoes and try to see things from their point of view.

Accept that there will be times when they want to get away into their private space, and try to make that possible. Adults around should model good behaviour – if you are calm and rational, they will be too.

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