Quarantining with Teenagers

As you know, parents everywhere are trying to just figure things out, a lot of this is trial and error. While parents are feeling the shift, so are the kids and teens. Parents with teenagers, hang in there! As a parenting expert, guidance counselor, a licensed educational psychologist AND raising two teens myself, I completely understand the struggles we are all facing. I’m constantly implementing positive parenting techniques more now than ever. Here are a few tips that you can also do yourself!

Positive Parenting Tools

1. Parent by example. (AKA: Model what you expect) Think of your teens like a copy machine who will mimic everything you do. If you make poor choices in behavior, you are giving them permission to act in the same ways. Check-in with yourself, and don’t lose it in front of them.

2. Children need positive attention. If they do not receive positive attention from family, they may choose to seek out negative attention. This is because negative attention is still attention, and any attention is better than being ignored. Remember to communicate with your child. Love and care are the greatest healers.

3. Set clear limits on your child’s behavior. Sit down and have a family discussion on the family rules in your home. Let your child know what the consequences will be if they break the rules. Rules should be few, fair, easy to follow, enforceable, and positively stated


1. If you feel like you’re getting the cold shoulder while at home around your teen—make family time for meals. Even though you might feel disconnected at times from your teen, you are creating a space for when she is ready to have a dialogue

2. Are your teens allergic to questions? Teenagers want questions driven by genuine interests. Ex: try not to ask, “SO, how was your day?” Instead, ask, “How’s it going in algebra, I know you were not loving your unit last week.” Honest questions get honest answers.

3. Validate and emphasize what they are going through. It’s not easy being a teen and missing social events, seeing friends in person, and doing activities such as going to the mall.

Social Media 

1. Just because your teens are at home more, doesn’t mean they should stay on their phones more.

2. Create digital rules and include the use of their phones.

3. Be open. Don’t check your teen’s phone in secret. If they find out, which they will, you will have a hard time gaining trust back.

4. Be clear from the onset you will be doing random checks. This allows for speed bumps. Teens are impulsive and the reminders help with decision making. For example, remind them about the negative effects of posting something based on peer pressure or ganging up on a chain of negative comments.

5. Digital technology gives teens a way to build and maintain friendships when they are not together but talk to your teens about the permanent mark they are leaving online. They might think they can erase a comment or picture, but it doesn’t fully disappear.

6. Unplug where there are opportunities for social skills an in-person connections

Dealing with Disappointment with Grades and Remote Learning

1. When boys fail a test, they have a tendency to cope by balancing external factors like, “The teacher doesn’t like me” or “The test was dumb.”

2. In that same scenario, girls tend to explain failures internally and permanently. For example, “I will never be good at..” or “I’m dumb, I’m not smart at math.” Even though they may have gotten A’s on four starlight quizzes and one B!

3. Focus on what is called a growth mindset verse a fixed mindset. In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great.

Reena B. Patel (LEP, BCBA) is a renowned parenting expert, guidance counselor, licensed educational psychologist, and board-certified behavior analyst. Patel has had the privilege of working with families and children, supporting all aspects of education and positive wellness; recently nominated for San Diego Magazine’s Woman of the Year



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