This year will be a significant year in defining our Teen’s Values System. Do you agree?
Actually why only children, this year will be a defining or rather a re-defining year for all of us. All of us or re-evaluating & re-calibrating our values, life goals and priorities. We are at a juncture where some of the basic things that we had taken for granted have become a luxury, and we are deriving happiness from these. I call this Back to Basics living, and maybe our world needed someone to press that “RESET” button & COVID19 came to rescue. But this is not about us. We will talk about our kids and how they have coped up with this unique situation that they had not & I hope not will see again in their lifetime.
While on the face of it, children and adolescents may appear to be less at risk for severe COVID-19 symptoms. But the pandemic has significantly disrupted their lives and their routines. There is an interesting article by experts at Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health, which made me realise what my Teen may be going through (https://hub.jhu.edu/2020/05/11/covid-19-and-adolescents/) during these times. The anxiety & stress brought about by social distancing norms & Lockdown can be unnerving & depressing at the same time.
However, being a firm believer in the theory of every incident in our lives has a purpose (https://my-ripple-effect.com/life-lessons/), I have realised that this pandemic is here to give us some life-lessons which we probably have been ignoring. These learnings will help our teens imbibe a set of values that will help them sail through any other crisis that they may face in their lives.
7 Lessons Learned during the Coronavirus Pandemic & how it will impact our Teens
For my teens, their Spring Break transitioned to the Lockdown & online schooling. And this continued right into their summer vacations like most of the kids worldwide. Therefore nearly four and half months of complete social distancing with their friends, whether school or condominium. And we all know how vital this association is especially for teens. Their entire social ecosystem got disrupted, thus leaving them emotionally insecure and alone. For my girls, this transition started with shock, disbelief, rejection and some stressful moments. Slowly they moved into the acceptance zone. And surprisingly, after maybe a month they accepted the reality and have made the best of it. This is not a small thing for teens as they are at a level of maturity where they can comprehend what is happening in the world, analyse and have solid opinions.
So here are the lessons they learnt, which I feel will enrich their Values System.
1. Never Take Things For Granted
I think I would have used this line a zillion times with my kids during their growing up years. And especially during their teenage years. But this pandemic has opened our eyes to this reality like none other. Our everyday routines have got disrupted. Whether it is going out for grocery shopping, visiting our family or friends or even stepping out for a walk. My elder daughter was so upset initially that she could not go to a shopping mall. At the same time, my younger daughter could not do her daily evening swimming sessions with her friend. Believe me; these can be trivial for us but not for that age group. Suddenly there was no difference between weekdays & weekends except online classes. They remained in the same house with the same faces day in and day out. After being through this, when I asked my daughters recently what is their biggest lesson, the first thing they said was ” not to take things for granted “. Whether it is their everyday routines, distant family or friends and the most surprising answer was “School”. Yes, they miss school because they had taken for granted that school will be there always.
Important Value learnt – “Be Grateful” for what you have always.
And this is just the first one in the list of values. Read on for more.
2. Embrace Change
Could we have ever imagined that most of us will be sitting at home doing all our work? Well, maybe some of us have been doing this; therefore, we can still digest it. But online schooling was unheard of. This is a significant change for both academia and the students. While it may sound convenient, but this transition was not smooth. It’s difficult for kids to sit in front of their laptops for 8 hours and concentrate. School is not only a medium for imparting knowledge but also a platform for interaction with fellow students, bonding and a lot of extra-curricular activities. Suddenly all this stopped, and the only source of communication with the outside world is the digital platform. How ironical that now our teens are more glued to the screens than they were earlier. The only difference is that now they have a stamp of acceptance.
So here the acceptance curve was positive initially, and then it moved down south as monotony set in. There were no regular fun breaks with friends, no running across the corridors and no sports or drama rehearsals to hang around with friends. That’s where my husband & I stepped in and tried to play various roles to cheer them up and make them accept this change which was here to stay. We decided to inculcate in them the habit of living in the NOW & deriving happiness in small things available to us through our Flagpost Theory approach.
I must say we did well as a family and started accepting this “New Normal” positively. Again embracing any change that life throws at you and learning how to thrive in it is a big life lesson for our teens and teaches them the values of “Adaptability” & “Flexibility”.
Interconnectedness is a big word with a straightforward meaning – a worldview which sees oneness in all things, no true separation deeper than appearances. What happens in one part of the world is no longer isolated there and has the ability to impact the whole world. The impact can be both positively or negatively. Covid19 started in one part of the world, and within a few months, it had engulfed all the countries. Our teens experienced something like this for the first time. Till now they and even we had only heard & read about the World Wars, which lead to massive destruction worldwide. There have been numerous other disasters like tsunamis, floods, terrorist attacks, but they were isolated to a country or a cluster of states. But a pandemic like this has spared no country, religion or race.
Covid19 has proved that we are no longer isolated and secure in our cocoon, and any event in any part of the world can have a ripple effect on the others. A great lesson indeed, which teaches us two essential values of “interdependence” and “mutual co-existence”. These will be the mantra now going ahead. “I” will be replaced with “We” and “They” with “Us”.
Did we ever pay attention to this aspect before?
4. Every Cloud has a Silver Living
As my girls started setting down in the “New Normal”, they realised that there were so many positive side-effects of this pandemic caused Lockdown. First of all, they get two extra hours of sleep in the morning 🙂 which for teens is a big thing. No more getting up early morning & rushing to school. Any break time in the class was an opportunity to raid the fridge for a quick snack, plus they could eat hot meals. Most importantly, they got to let out their frustrations immediately after the class and go back with an open mind to the next lesson. But on a serious note, as a family, we got so much of time together even though it was in between classes. It has been nice to have them around and sharing snippets of their day.
I think another realisation has been that there are so many things that can be done online & where you are, does not matter any more. My elder daughter has resumed her training sessions with her trainer in India who started online classes & the younger one moved to online guitar classes. So now the schedules can be flexible to suit everyone’s convenience. Isn’t that a huge plus?
Another lesson learned, another value lived- always look out for the positives hidden in the apparent negative.
5. Make Use of Time Available On Hand
Suddenly all of us have so much time on hand even if we are working from home. We are not going out as much and not socialising at all. Therefore it was an excellent opportunity to encourage our teens to pursue any hobbies, desires and dreams without any distraction but within the current constraints. And we were in for a surprise. Our younger one came up with her card magic website (https://sites.google.com/cis.edu.sg/magicformillenials/home?authuser=0) & started her magic tutorial sessions – her long-standing passion. And she thanks the pandemic for this opportunity. As a matter of fact, this learning was shared by her & she wanted me to include this point specifically. My elder one continued with her passion for dance & workout with so much time on hand.
Again an important value learnt – Make the best use of the time available with you.
6. Financial Frugality
I think this is by far the most critical life lesson that our teens have or will have to learn. Today’s Teen is well informed and well connected to fathom what’s happening to the global economy & how it is impacting the common man. I came across this hear wrenching article which talks about the US (https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/24/the-big-money-lesson-kids-will-learn-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic.html), but the story is no different around the world. People are re-looking at their priorities. Some of them have faced huge losses in business or have lost their jobs.
Our Teens now understand the importance of savings for a rainy day. This was a mere proverb for them till now. Financial discussions are now more fruitful and instilling in them the values of saving and being thrifty.
Amazing, Isn’t it? But wait till you read the last one.
7. Health care workers – Our Real Heros
Of all the lessons, this one is probably my wishful thinking. However, its something that I would want for my teens. Every Teen had an idol or a Hero. They try to imitate their styles, looks, habits & want to be like them. Nothing wrong in that and we have all gone through that stage in our lives. I would want my teens to re-define their definitions of a hero. A hero should not be the one who looks good only on screen. A hero is a good human being and works selflessly for the betterment of others. And in today’s times, our biggest heroes are our healthcare workers. I am not saying that our teens aspire to become doctors or front line health care covers. But they can undoubtedly imbibe values of selfless service with courage that these individuals have displayed during these troubled times. The ability to look beyond oneself & help others out is a mark of a true Hero.
So as we move into the second half of this pivotal year, let us hope the scars of this pandemic will heal, and the human race will emerge out stronger lead by our younger generations. This generation will be more aware, empathetic & compassionate to their entire ecosystem, which will include the environment and people around them.
I would love to know your thoughts and what values did your teens learn or imbibe during this pandemic.
This year will definitely be a crucial year for our Teen’s Values & will help shape them as an Individual.