Spring for high school and college Seniors usually means experiencing the delight of “senioritis”, experiencing the remaining time you have with your friends for the last few weeks before graduation. It’s also a time of many major life events such as prom, graduation parties and ceremonies, and other local traditions. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many high school and college seniors are missing out on what they imagined being one of the most memorable times of their lives.
While school continues online for many and the ability to connect with friends via video chat platforms keeps us somewhat connected, it’s not the same experience seniors were expecting. If you’re a student, or the parent of a student, this is a difficult time. We’ve compiled a list of ways to help cope with having a senior year ended abruptly.
Allow for Grieving
Seniors are grieving their senior year being cut short, as well as the life milestones that are a part of this time. Parents should be sensitive to the loss their child is likely experiencing. Try to show empathy to your child and acknowledge their feelings.
Parents should allow themselves to grieve as well. After all, you may be missing out on the opportunity to see your child walk across the stage or take prom photos on the front lawn. It’s OK to be sad about losing these experiences from the standpoint of the parent as well. Be mindful of projecting your emotions onto your child, however.
Let your child take the lead on having conversations about their feelings during this time. Ask them if they need anything, but don’t force the conversation. Just let them know that if they’d like to chat, you’re available to listen. You cannot fix what is happening, but you can always have an open ear.
Many seniors may have anxiety about “what’s next?”. Will they start school in the Fall? Will they be able to find a job in the current market? These feelings are normal and should be validated. Remind them to shift their focus on what they can control in their lives and help them envision how they will be able to celebrate and move forward in the future.
Encourage Routine and Connectivity
Having a regular routine, even if your child isn’t completing any school work, is important for mental health for all of us during this time. Be flexible with them on creating a “schedule” for themselves, but encourage them to find time to be active each day, complete a task, or schedule times to virtually meet with loved ones and friends.
Young adults also need to lean on their friends. Encourage them to stay connected to their friends virtually with online activities, group chats, or even virtually watching movies together.
There are many ways you can still celebrate your senior if they’d like to do so (check with them first). You could have a small party with everyone who is self-isolating in your home, or have a mini-graduation via zoom in your backyard.
Consider different ways you can mark the occasion and go all out!
If you, your senior, or anyone else you are aware of is struggling, reach out to a friend, family member, or mental health professional. Remember that you are never alone. During this time, our office is providing Telehealth services in order to best serve you. Learn more here.