A question I get asked a lot is how to talk to teens about COVID-19. And this is an important question because teenagers in particular have the capacity for deeper and broader discussions about these topics and they may be particularly susceptible to the social effects of COVID-19. They may be experiencing greater social isolation if they're cut off from their friends at school or on teams. They may be experiencing higher sense of boredom. We're hearing a lot about boredom from teenagers, especially because they're cut off from the activities that they are usually involved in. And these are especially challenging and so it's important for parents to try to connect and talk to teens about these topics and their experience of COVID-19. The first step of talking, like with any other situation, is listening. So asking teenager what are they worried about, how are they experiencing COVID-19. Listening for what might be important to them. What are the losses that they're feeling the most? Is it the absence of their friends or particular friends? Is it a sport of something that they're not getting to play or the team that they're not getting to hang out with after school? Are there particular worries with summer or summer activities that they may not be able to do? What type of uncertainty are they having the most difficulty tolerating? If you have a senior, in particular, they may be having an especially hard time with graduation and the ceremonies that tend to go with that, the senior experiences of a class graduating together. So listening for particular disappointments and losses there can be especially important to discuss. And although parents often want to fix these, some of these losses can't be fixed. And instead, it's important for parents to validate. Validate the feelings of sadness, disappointment, validate the anger and upset, and normalize that these feelings we're all experiencing to some extent and they're very real and teens are able to express those in a safe way. Teens are also capable of discussing some of the broader issues that are connected with COVID-19. We know a lot of teenagers who are talking about health disparities and how COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting communities of color. So we know that there are areas of altruism that teenagers are naturally drawn to. And so having those types of discussions too and how they may have impact even from home might also be worthwhile when talking to your teen. Another question parents have is how to talk to teenagers who may not be taking the guidelines around COVID-19 as seriously as they would like. An important starting point for this discussion is to understand that teenagers' brains are wired for risk. They are experiencing large growth of development, neuro-developmentally, that make them more likely to take risky behaviors and to feel more rewarded by those risky behaviors especially if they have to do with their peers. So that's a starting point for parents to understand. Their brain is pulling for some of this. Now, what are some strategies that parents can utilize in order to help? So, number one: Is there a way to make a personal connection for them? Helping them understand how their behaviors and how complying with some of the safety recommendations-- hand washing, physical distancing, staying home and isolating-- may help someone that's important to them. Is there an older person who's at higher risk for COVID-19 like a grandparent or someone they care about? Is there someone in the family who's a healthcare worker or an essential worker who's working throughout the COVID-19 crisis? So, is there a person that they can connect this to? And by engaging in those behaviors, they can be reminded that when they do that, they help that person. It may not be about them, or even if they do get sick themselves, they're right. They may not experience it as badly. But if they can hold that personal connection in mind, that may make it more likely that they're going to engage in the behavior. Number two: We may wanna appeal to a teen's broader sense of altruism. Research tells us that folks are much more likely to tolerate and want to do things like quarantining if they know they are appealing to the greater good or a public health concern. And teens are known for this too. So if we can appeal to a teenager's sense of altruism, how they are helping their community, how they're helping folks in their immediate local community as well as the Bronx, New York, in particular, so appealing to their sense of altruism and how them washing their hands, staying six feet away, they're helping in this broader and bigger way. Now, the third potential strategy has to do with finding areas of autonomy for the teen. A lot of what we are all experiencing, especially teenagers, is loss of control. There is so much that we can't control in this crisis and for teenagers in particular, being able to exercise some autonomy-- Parents are telling them to stay home, schools are telling them to stay home and learn, other parents are saying that they can't see their friends, and so much of their lives is being guided by rules imposed by others. So if there's a way to find areas of autonomy that teens can decide some things for themselves-- negotiating on a bedtime or some other activities that they can do or things that they can decide for the family-- that might be the opportunity for teenagers to exercise a form of autonomy and control that they are not otherwise experiencing.