ARE THE KIDS ALRIGHT? YOUTH AND THE COVID PANDEMIC
• November 2020 •
From Juan Navarro, Executive Director
Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Are the Kids Alright? Youth and the COVID Pandemic
Adults have this pandemic thing down. Personal protection equipment for the family, check. Zooming for school and work, check. And social distancing is our new normal. But what about the kids?
While young people are less at-risk than older people for severe physical health symptoms linked to COVID, they have experienced serious disruption in education and employment. Many young people are experiencing specific hardship due to:
- social isolation
- overexposure to family members who may be unsupportive or even abusive
- lack of athletics and other healthy social outlets
- broken ties to school and community supports and
- severe restrictions on the much-needed freedom to express independence and take healthy risks.
Anxiety and isolation have increased substance use among adults during the pandemic, and youth are also affected. Addictive substances can be more accessible to youth in some homes, and parental rules around substance use within the home can become relaxed. Intersecting factors, such as sex, gender/gender-identity, race, ethnicity, and intellectual or physical disability, as well as socio-economic disadvantage can exacerbate the vulnerability of young people. This is especially true for youth who are homeless, unemployed, low-income, and those affected by racial and social injustice.
We turned to Rachel Price, Youth Counselor at L.A. CADA, for her perspective: “The kids we’re serving at L.A. CADA are suffering anxiety and fear from parental concerns for meeting food and housing costs. At first, they were overjoyed to be out of school, but now they’re feeling alone and anxious”. Here are some tips from L.A. CADA’s Youth Department for helping young people weather the pandemic:
- Be the family model for calmness; watch your own stress levels
- Focus on what’s working: instead of looking at your child’s worrisome behavior, pay attention to what’s going right and reinforce it
- Create soothing spaces at home such as a makeshift fort with pillows and blankets
- Help kids connect to their friends and hobbies
Let’s work to enjoy this quality time with our youth while we still have it.
Find out more to: help kids during the pandemic
“Me, I went through recovery during the coronavirus epidemic. I had my baby at 16 and it was very stressful. I couldn’t cope with the pressure of going to school and all the things my daughter needs. So, I ran away whenever I could to live the life I lost; partying, dancing, looking for fun. By the time I turned 18, I was an addict. It wasn’t fair to my parents, because they had to take care of the daily needs of my kid. And also, the alcohol and drugs didn’t really help – I was still a depressed single mom with no job and no skills. I went into treatment for my parents, but once I got here, I knew I had to recover for me. We were worried that the treatment programs were closed for the pandemic, but L.A. CADA was open. I am proud to say I stuck with the program and I’m six months clean and sober. No way is it easy, recovery is hard work. But the payoff is really something. Today, I am a good mother to my girl, working to complete job training, and looking forward to us becoming independent. All thanks to my recovery!”
SPOTLIGHT – THE EVIDENCE IS IN:
Family Systems Therapy
Family Systems Therapy is an evidence-based practice that views the family as an emotional unit. It holds that our behavior is both informed by and inseparable from the functioning of our family of origin. It’s based on Murray Bowen’s family systems theory.
When families experience emotional difficulties, Family Systems Therapy can help. Family function or dysfunction is determined according to how well the family structure serves the developmental needs of the family members. Symptomatic behavior (addiction, anger issues, acting out, etc.) is viewed as a part of dysfunctional organization. Family Systems Therapy works from the belief that the family, supported by the therapist, has the competence to draw on inter- and intra-personal resources to bring about positive change.
Some of the things addressed in Family Systems Therapy are communication styles, patterns of family stress, coping, and resilience and their effect on the family and its members, as well as family assumptions (George is the athletic one; Thomas is the smart one). The therapist will help the family look at their current belief systems and patterns (adaptability, stability, connectedness, and relationships), helping the family to develop improved flexibility, connectedness, clarity, and problem-solving.
Learn about the evidence-based practice of: Family Systems Theory