For others, however, the restrictions and lockdowns have seriously affected their mental wellbeing. A survey of 144 colleges conducted in the fall by the directors of the Association for University and Student Counseling Services found a 57 percent increase in student anxiety and an 81 percent increase in loneliness compared to the first four weeks of autumn 2019.
“College kids have lost their work-life balance. Most of the sites are quiet, kids can’t party, they sit in dorms, hang out with a few friends, work, have nothing to look forward to, and no break from discharge, ”said Dr. Julia Turovsky, a clinician psychologist in Chatham, New Jersey “Parents may need to give them time to recover, hibernate, and rest, and not take it personally.”
The pandemic can be particularly challenging for children with a history of depression or social anxiety. “I always encourage parents to share the burden by providing their children with additional resources, such as therapy or online support, and by making regular medical appointments,” said Dr. Turovsky. “The pediatrician, internist, and gynecologist are good resources for looking for problems and providing guidance and recommendations, so parents should encourage their children to set them up.”
Get ready to negotiate.
Your child may come back expecting to hang out with groups of high school friends or, by the time they’re 21 years old, go to bars in states where they’re open. Discuss rules for socializing and remind them that safety is paramount.
Then let your child express their opinion and leave room for negotiation. “Some parents are okay with small groups hanging out in the basement, and others are comfortable with children forming a ‘group’ of like-minded friends willing to just hang out with each other,” said Dr. Turovsky.
Last summer, before their twins went to their freshman year, Laurie Wolk of Larchmont, NY asked everyone to make a list of three friends they would have come into the house with and whose parents Ms. Wolk might have talked to about the exposure. “It gave me comfort in knowing who was coming in and out and what risks I was taking,” said Ms. Wolk. The sooner you deal with the problem, the more time you have to make arrangements that work for both of you.
For example, when your child’s friends come to your home, you can ask them to wear a mask and keep a safe distance. But spending time with friends outdoors wearing masks while maintaining physical distance remains the safest plan. Fire pits and controlled outdoor gatherings will go a long way.