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Pandemic Burnout: Your Tween Is Over It and So Are You

Tips to help your tween push through the pandemic.

Key points

  • Both parents and tweens may be experiencing pandemic burnout.
  • Tweens take their cues from their parents, so modeling calm and positivity is important.
  • Reconnecting with the outside world, and with the natural world, can help tweens feel upbeat and energized.
Source: JackF/iStock

It is hard to believe that roughly a year ago, the world as we knew it changed completely. As we patiently wait at the precipitous of the return to relatively normal days, many of us feel fatigued and overwhelmed.

The good news is that kids are generally resilient. Once the immediate crisis passes, they are likely to bounce back. Of course, this is great news. The flip side of this, however, is that as most parents of tweens come to realize, they live and feel in the moment. So, while this too shall pass, the immediate future may feel bleak and miserable. As you know all too well, cranky can be contagious, which is part of why you may be feeling terrible also.

Or maybe your tween has become defiant and at times angry. He is sick of following rules established to ensure safety during the pandemic. You can certainly relate. You have all hit the proverbial wall, steeped in pandemic burnout. It’s time to reset and refocus.

Pep in your step can easily rub off on them.

The quickest way out of the chaos is to fake it until you make it. This means counteracting your tween’s crankiness with a positive attitude and lots of charm. Focus on the things your tween can do. Sit down with your tween and find things she can look forward to daily, weekly, and in the near future. Visual aids can be helpful in encouraging hope that there is much to look forward to in the upcoming days. Towards this end, ask your tween to work with you on creating a family calendar that includes upcoming events.

Reconnect with the outside world.

The pandemic provided us all an opportunity to concentrate more cohesively on family life. As the world begins to reopen, however, it is important to reach out beyond the inner circle whose comradery you have come to depend on. Don’t be surprised if you sense some resistance from your tween. The cocoon he has built during COVID has become quite comfortable.

Yes, you can and should reaffirm your authority.

The good news is that your tween is young enough that you can still step in to set some social time up. Don’t hesitate to arrange play dates. Work with other parents to set clear parameters in place to ensure safety. Don’t ask her if she wants to meet up with friends, set it up and tell her when. As schools begin to open up full-time again, barring any specific health issues that would prohibit your tween from returning, insist that she go back. While your tween may initially experience anticipatory anxiety, chances are she will successfully tolerate her distress.

A little out and about goes a long way.

Encourage your tween to expend some energy. Go for a walk, ride a bike, jump, dance, or play. Once your tween gets his juices flowing, he is bound to feel the endorphins kick in. Send him outdoors to enjoy better weather. Join him on a walk. When you and your tween commune with nature, you are sure to feel the cloud of COVID lift if even just a little.

As a result of the readjustments required during the pandemic, both you and your tween may feel hopeless, helpless, and burned out. It is important to recognize that there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel. Your tween looks to you for reassurance and guidance. Time to dust yourself off, take a deep breath, and a big step forward. Change is coming but it is up to you to lead the way.