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Getting Ideas from Teenagers during Tough Times....

Recently quite a few teenager friends, in the age group 16 to 18 years, came together a few times on internet chat to share the challenges they are facing now. The common thread that ran through what they were experiencing were:

  • When the lockdown was complete, till 3 May 2020, it was challenging but somehow managed it by making phone calls to friends and being in touch through the social media. We did miss meeting our friends but did understand the gravity of the situation and believed that it would lift someday not too far.
  • With the partial lifting of the lockdown things have become worse for us. While we understand the seriousness of COVID but what is getting at us is:
    • Some of our parents are going to work but we are to stay indoors
    • In our apartment complex we are not allowed to go to the terrace or come down while the ‘uncles and aunties’ go for walk along with their young children
    • Not being able to meet friends is rather sad – how much can we share on social media?
    • We have lost the sense of time as each day is the same – get up, help in house work, eat, attend on-line classes, connect with friends on the phone or social media and sleep – for the next day to begin and be the same!
    • I don’t understand why during vacation schools have decided to conduct classes – possibly to keep us busy. However, we have yet to get used to these online classes – they are so different from what we have been used to all these years. It is difficult for us to clarify our doubts.
  • While children poured out their frustration/anger/anxiety I, too, felt helpless that we could not meet face-to-face and promote further ventilation. One point that I did was to gently point out that this is not anybody’s doing and while one understands that life has changed too much and too suddenly, could we look at what we could do to change our responses – after all we have greater choice in how we can respond, rather than how things play out in the world.
  • This gentle nudge opened up new insights for me and the children, too, were amazed at how much they could do – rather than blame the circumstances. The suggestions that came forth were:
    • We can fix a routine – starting with waking up and sleeping at more or less the same time each day and set aside 30 minutes for exercise – indoor at present
    • Select some topics to read up on and share links with friends – someone suggested asking some questions (quiz format)
    • Supplement on-line classes from school with further reading on the internet – khanacademy and other websites till our teachers and we get used to the on-line format as none of us are trained to learn/teach online – the real classes were so much easier.
    • Enroll for online classes to pursue hobbies to explore and express our creativity – photography, art, craft, dance, music, chess and the like, given that we are saving so much time on commuting to and fro school and tuition classes
  • The near unanimous conclusion was: If we cannot cure, we have to endure – we can make the endurance more pleasant by moving away from complaining/blaming others to looking at what we can do to make the best of the given situation
  • Most of us felt happy to leave on an optimistic note and with a sense of empowerment!