Valentines Day, any day it snows and school is not canceled, the day before a major vacation, all of June…These are the days it’s important to appreciate the fact that what stresses out teenagers are not precisely the same things that stress adults–or if they are, the feelings of teens are way amped up compared to the rest of us.
Valentine’s Day might be among the most stressful for teenagers. Sure, some kids are in relationships. Some kids will take the opportunity to declare their overwhelming adoration to the kid who sat in front of them in physics all year. And some kids will simply feel invisible, and like they will remain invisible for all of high school, and perhaps even beyond. Loneliness is a thing. It hurts and it has a weight of its own. Pushing through that can be difficult.
So..what to do if your kid is particularly glum today and particularly distracted about homework and other responsibilities?
Validate. You don’t have to ooze compassion, just say yeah I get it. Maybe have something nice for dinner. And go easy on the usual routines, chores and homework expectations. Feeling lonely or left out or disappointed weighs on kids and makes them irritable. It’s a good day to tread lightly, even if he failed his math midterm last week and says it’s just a stupid Hallmark holiday.
And if, on the other hand, your child walks in the door with a dozen red roses, remember excitement is a thing too! A distracting, heady overwhelming feeling that also requires validation. Positive and negative feelings both require processing and transition time. Teens take longer to transition from an emotion-fueled state to a state that is more neutral and conducive to work. Expect a bumpy landing when they pull in the driveway, and give them space before addressing the academic and household concerns of the day.