YOUNG ADULTS

3 Tools for Helping Sad, Disappointed Teens During Coronavirus Pandemic

Jun 2, 2020, 9:42 PM | Updated: Jun 3, 2020, 9:47 pm

EAGLE MOUNTAIN, Utah – Isolation and loneliness can bring out sadness in teenagers, especially during a pandemic. When an Eagle Mountain teen started feeling hopeless, her family, teacher and peers interceded.

It has led to resilience.

“Lots of blood, sweat and tears have gone into these,” said Paige Ford, age 16, a junior at Cedar Valley High School in Eagle Mountain.

She pointed to her bedroom wall which is decorated with posters from the drama club.

Ford was going to be the stage manager of her school’s production of ‘Bye Bye Birdie’.

“I prefer behind the scenes,” she said.

When the pandemic hit, all those plans went “bye, bye.”

“I was like, ‘Okay, yah, no, it’s not happening, and it really sucked for a little bit,” she said. “When you’re a little kid dreaming about high school and all the wonders and you’re watching High School Musical and you’re freaking out about what it all could be, this is not what you plan on.”

There is no vaccine for the disappointment teens are feeling.

“It can be such a challenge,” said Nate Crandall who heads a special program at Paige’s school that is focused on mental health. Students learn coping skills with peers and a teacher who becomes a life coach.

“What we’re trying to do is make sure that we, as a faculty and a staff, notice every kid in our building,” said Crandall, director of positive youth development at Cedar Valley High School.

He also has a master’s degree in psychology and suffered from depression when he was in high school.

Cedar High transitioned to online support during the quarantine.

Mandy Ford, Paige’s mom, said, “So as all of this crazy hit, and the sky started to fall, I like to say, that they knew that they could work through it.”

Crandall said, “It’s that resilience. It’s that ability to bounce back from those bad situations.”

Be Empathetic

He explains fostering resilience in teens begins with encouragement. “Be empathetic, and optimistic by saying things like, ‘I believe in you,’ and ‘I’m proud of you.’

“When kids realize it’s normal for them to feel bad, then they’re going to realize, ‘Oh, the other kids are going to feel bad, too,'” he said. “Now they start to look for some of these other kids and say, ‘Hey, I’ve been through that too, this is what helped me.'”

Equip Them To Handle Disappointment

Next, equip them to handle disappointment by learning good coping skills. “We talk about the things you can control: your attitude, your effort, how you treat other people, being unconditionally grateful,” Crandall said.

Teach them their value comes from who they are, not what they do.

Help them understand their value comes from who they are, not what they do.

“Sometimes, kids just need to understand bad things happen and nobody did anything wrong. It’s just, ‘That’s life.’ We have to deal with adversity. But how we deal with adversity is what really shapes us for the future,” Crandall said.

When Paige hit a rough patch, she and her mom took action.

“We sat down and kind of talked about it and just said, ‘Clearly, you’re not handling things well, so what can we change to set you up for success’”, Mandy said.

Paige found helping others made her feel better as well.

She made gift bags for the cast and crew and sent them a video pep talk.

“Right now sucks and like, that’s okay,” she said. “But don’t forget that there’s always the future to look forward to.”

Paige and Mandy said they are feeling positive and optimistic about the future.

“We’re starting to recognize when things are tanking again to make changes,” Mandy said. “Even if I can’t go out and do all the crazy stuff that I would do for my senior summer, I can do all that stupid stuff later after all this is done.”

Reframing this difficult time, as an opportunity for growth.

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3 Tools for Helping Sad, Disappointed Teens During Coronavirus Pandemic