My young teenager is spending too much time in his bedroom during this pandemic. He has many interests: longboarding, motorcross, cooking, acting, weight lifting, drawing, and building computers, and he loves to make others laugh. He also really likes his phone and video games. When school was in, even though he didn’t like getting up at 6 a.m. or homework, he loved seeing his friends and going to football games, school dances, and school plays.
He is also a bit of an introvert and keeps a very small group of friends. He has one best friend and has lost contact with most of his friends during this pandemic. I have noticed that our relationship has improved during all this time with him out of school, but most days he chooses to spend his time alone in his room on his phone or playing video games. I have no choice but to work long hours every day. I would love to foster his interests. It takes a lot of persuasion to get him out of his room. I’ve talked with a lot of other parents who are also worried about their young teens spending so much time alone in their rooms during this pandemic.
I would love your insight on how working parents can foster young teens’ interest and guide young teens toward a healthy mind, body, and spirit during this pandemic.
Kelly M., North Carolina
A structure for his day is probably a good idea here, one with activities that engage his body, mind, and spirit before screens come on. For example, maybe he does a workout, reads a good book, and does some chores.
You also are well within your right to limit his screen time because he is still young, and it is in his best interest. Of course, the way you present this to him is important; listen to his side, perhaps negotiate some things, but stay firm on what you believe is best for him. He cannot fault you for setting firm and loving boundaries.
With limited screen time, he will have to choose between boredom and exploring other interests. Hopefully, he will surprise you both with a new passion or skill level and you can both get excited about his accomplishments.
As for spending time alone, I would not think this is necessarily a bad thing as long as he is not all day on screens. As an introvert, this may be very enjoyable for him, and he may be learning about how he is when away from peer influence. But if your mother’s intuition tells you that something is amiss, then listen to this and investigate.
About helping foster his interests, maybe you can talk about which ones he might want to develop in the coming year, and if a significant budget is involved, he can do extra chores to earn it. He will better appreciate what he has worked for—and this, of course, is good for his body, mind, and spirit.
How can I help my 10-year-old only child granddaughter make friends? Because of her parents’ work, she has had to move around to different schools and neighborhoods, not spending more than two years in each place. This also means new neighborhoods. While she’s not shy, she seems to be having problems connecting with other kids. Any suggestions and/or books you could recommend? I pray your column will be very successful.
Susie C., Ohio
If it’s not shyness, what other internal or external factors may be getting in her way? Perhaps start by observing her. Does she seem happy, or is something weighing on her? Is she willing to talk with you or her parents about her feelings?
If nothing seems amiss, it might simply be that making friends will take some more time. At 10, children are much more self-aware compared to 7- and 8-year-olds, and social interactions can be more complex. Perhaps she is also the kind of person who prefers deeper friendships, which can take more time to develop.
As for external factors, the zeitgeist of this year is not very open and welcoming. With high anxiety, mask requirements, social distancing, and many activities being canceled, the social environment is not ideal for making new friends.
If she has encountered another child whom she would like to know better, maybe her parents could arrange a get together with a special attraction such as an art project, crafting, or baking, or maybe a fun outing or workshop.
This may also be a good time for her father to give her some special attention, as fathers play a very important role in building self-esteem in their daughters. The book “Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters” by Dr. Meg Meeker has more on this.
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June Kellum is a married mother of two and longtime Epoch Times journalist covering family, relationships, and health topics.