For Parents

Conversation Guide: CRISIS

If anxiety and stress were prevalent before COVID-19, for some these realities may be even more pervasive now. Here's a guide provided by Parent Cue that provides some great building blocks for conversation with your Middle Schooler or High Schooler.

by Blaire Telford on April 02, 2020

Crisis: Parent Conversation Guide

middle school

Your middle schooler is changing--their rapidly changes bodies and brains make everything extra...let's say...interesting, and sometimes extra challenging. When you add to that a global crisis (like a pandemic) or a local crisis (illness of a friend, family financial strains, death of a loved one)--this time in their life can be even more challenging than it already is. During this time, your goal is to consistently affirm your middle schooler. 

Strengthen their resilience. Support and affirm their ability to thrive through the difficult things they might experience. Here's what that might sound like... 

  • "I hear you. Tell me more about that."
  • "What was that experience like for you?"
  • "When you're ready to talk, I'm here."
  • "Help me understand." 
  • "What do you wish I knew about all of this?"
  • "This really stinks. It's bad. I'm so sorry." 
  • "I'm not trying to fix it. I just want to be here for you."
  • "I don't think I have an answer, but I can sit here with you..." 
  • "How are your friends handling this situation... What about you, how does it make you feel?"
  • "It might be helpful if you talked to someone besides me. Would you be willing to meet with a small group leader/counselor/coach?"
  • "Scary things happen in the world. It's okay if that worries you/makes you afraid. You can always stop, pray, and ask God to give you courage."

Listen, reflect back, empathize and reach out if you need assistance with anything. 

High School

With teenagers it seems that pressures increase along with their responsibilities. The potential for them to experience a crisis--whether from their own decisions or from the actions or decisions of others--also increases. Add on a pandemic, with the unknowns and uncertainty that accompanies it, in addition to some of the missed experiences (like prom or graduation), and this potential is likely their reality right now. 

Teens will tend to go to others in their circle fo support, like their peers and even social media. They may not come running to you, certainly not like they used to. So, when crisis happens, initiate conversation. 

Encourage without adding pressureSee your teenager for the adult they are soon becoming, and offer more hep if they need it. When you come alongside them instead of trying to fix things for them, or adding more pressure, it helps them to open up to you and not shut down. 

Here are a few ideas of what to say to enter into their world so that you can offer your support and show them how much you believe in their potential: 

  • "I'm listening. Tell me about that when you're ready." 
  • "How are your friends handling this?... What about you, how are you processing it?" 
  • "What's this experience been like for you?"
  • "It seems like you might be feeling         . Does that sound right?" 
  • "This is how I'm doing, how are you feeling?" (Putting words to your feelings may help them put words to theirs.)
  • "I don't have all the answers. It might help if you talked to someone besides me. Would you like me to help you connect to one?"
  • "You may not feel like you have what it takes to get through this, but we (me, your small group leader, your friends) will sit with you until you can make your next step."
  • "This is incredibly disappointing. I'm so sorry this isn't going the way you had hoped. It's okay to be upset, confused, or angry with all of this."
  • "When you're ready to talk it out, let me know. I'm here for you...and so is God."

Listen, reflect back, empathize and reach out if you need assistance with anything. 

*** Involve professionals, counselors, as well as your ministry leader, as needed. 

Tags: listen, talk, teen, crisis

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