We are so sorry! You have been told that your spring plays and athletic seasons are canceled before they have even started. Some of you are required to learn remotely while others no longer have the opportunity to access formal education.
Some of you are managing your own studies while supporting the homeschooling of your siblings, and others have picked up jobs in order to support your parents and guardians whose work has been deemed non-essential. You are managing all of this while your daily support structure, your trusted adults, have been unexpectedly stripped from you.
These new rules are something no other generation of students have experienced before, and this new normal is being delivered to you from adults who have never been in this situation. In this unfamiliar time, everyone must seek support from those they trust, and the same goes for you. Maintaining connections with your trusted adults is key to your health and happiness, now and always.
The good news is that even at a distance, these trusted adults are still here; you just have to work a little harder to connect with them. And, beyond your trusted school adults, there are many others wanting to help you, but not knowing exactly how. Below are ten tips for reaching out, maintaining relationships, and staying safe. Distance might make it different, but connection will always be key.
From our quarantine quarters to yours,
Brook & Ryan
Maintaining Connection Despite Distance
Create Your Surround Sound
Imagine you had a halo of speakers around your head that followed you everywhere you went. These speakers consistently blasted comments from your teachers, friends, parents and guardians, and those you follow on social media – what are the messages you are consuming? How has it changed recently? I hope what you’re hearing is that you’re worthy and you belong. If it isn’t, it’s time to choose positive peers and trusted adults who encourage you to be yourself and do your best. Self-isolation is a great time to clean out your closets, and your surround sound!
Understand the Impact
There is significant data suggesting that the presence of at least one trusted adult in a young person’s life, outside of their immediate parents or guardians, has a significant positive impact. Trusted Adults come in all forms, all ages, and for all durations of time. They can be aunts, uncles, grandparents, coaches, teachers, youth pastors, neighbors, employers, advisors, etc. What you can expect from good trusted adults is that they have a vested interest in your health, happiness, safety and success. Now, more than ever, it is important to find trusted adults you can rely on.
Adults can only go 50% of the way by checking in, being available, showing interest, and earning your trust. YOU have to go the other 50% to build the relationship and share what will help you the most. Now that we are operating at a physical distance from one another, you aren’t going to bump into a caring adult in the hallway. You are going to have to advocate for your needs and reach out.
Lead the Conversation
Because of the common school approach of “teacher asks, student answers,” our relationships outside of class time can easily take on this model. You have permission to ask the adults in your life how they are doing. You have permission to say “I don’t want to talk about COVID-19 today, did you watch any good shows last night?” The greatest tool for building relationships and creating connections is asking questions. You should work on leading the conversation, instead of receiving the conversation.
With less going on, there is less to talk about. The need for connection remains, so you must get creative about finding reasons for it. If you reach out to your coach, club advisor, teacher, etc. right now with an idea for leading a virtual community event with your group, they will be thrilled! Adults want to do something but are unsure of what young people want to do or are willing to show up for. Suggest something! Virtual bingo, talent show, dance-off, trivia, get creative!
What is the content that led to a connection between you and a trusted adult? Chess? Baseball? Science? Use that to create a challenge: How many pushups can you do in a week? What kind of science experiment can you film with household items? Biggest tower you can build with baking tools? How many t-shirts can you wear at once? Throw out a challenge to an adult you are missing and connect in a fun and competitive way!
Recognize Their Boundaries
Trusted adults don’t overshare or blur boundaries. If a trusted adult is connected to you through their profession, there are limitations to their work in order to protect them and you. If what you share with them causes concern for your health and safety, or someone else’s, they will be mandated to report – this is the same for virtual ways of communicating as it is in person. It is also important to note that these professionals should only be using the virtual tools assigned to them from their employer to be connecting with you.
Affirm Your Boundaries
Trusted adults have a responsibility to keep you safe. You should always check in with your gut on whether or not a relationship you have with an adult feels right. If it doesn’t, you should talk to a parent, guardian, or counselor. When connecting virtually one-on-one with an adult, make sure you are in a place where it can be observed or interrupted. Your attire should be the same as if you were meeting in person, and another adult should be aware that you are meeting.
Look to Old and New
Your surround sound does not have to be limited to the current people in your day to day life. If you went to a camp when you were in the 4th grade and you still remember one of the leaders and wish you could talk to them again, reach out. If there is someone you have observed from afar, and you love their approach to life, write to them and let them know they are a role model of yours. Adults are eager to help you – they just have to be invited to connect.
One way to connect with trusted adults is to thank them for all they have done for you. Right now people need to feel needed, they are seeking ways to contribute, and they want to know they are making a difference. Don’t you? Take the time to thank someone for showing up for you, and they will reinvest in doing just that. Then it becomes your turn to show up for the next generation. What have you done lately to support those younger than you? You have so much to offer! Never underestimate your ability or impact.