So your 16 -year -old son is isolating more and more during quarantine and is fearful of the outside
world. Not socializing, what do you do? Well, we're gonna talk about that today on Tips on Teens.
My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I specialize in
helping kids, teens, and families live happier lives. I lead two organizations, the Group
Practice Teen Therapy Center and the nonprofit 501c3 organization, Child and Teen Counseling,
both here in Woodland Hills, California. Every Wednesday at noon, I jump onto Facebook Live
to answer your parenting questions. Let's jump into today's. I have a 16 -year -old son that
before the pandemic used to go out and socialize with his friends. Due to the pandemic, he wasn't
able to see his friends much. I've noticed that when his friends asked him to hang out, he would
come up with an excuse not to go, and now he's lost touch with many of them. I've tried to encourage
him to make new friends, but he seems to be
afraid of leaving the house. I'm worried he is isolating too much and becoming fearful of the
outside world. How can I help my son venture out and make more friends without being so fearful?
Great question, thank you for the topic. There's a lot going on here. First, I would encourage
you to make sure that you're a safe place for him to talk about what's going on with him. What is
he afraid of? Is he afraid of being judged? Is he afraid of his friends won't accept him back?
Hopefully his friends would accept him back. I see oftentimes friends do. But I wanna know what's
going on there because we all have this judge inside of our head, right? And for teenagers, it's
very loud and often a very belligerent judge. You know, all the worst things we can see about
ourselves is front and center. I'm stupid, I'm ugly, this, you know, all the horrible things
that we think about ourselves is right there and it's just constantly in his head, right? And
for his 16 -year -old brain, he may be unconsciously
projecting that out into the world. So everywhere he goes, he feels everyone's watching him
and judging him. In fact, if he's been isolated and hidden for 15 months, it may seem very real
to him that, oh my gosh, I go to the grocery store, everyone in the store is looking at me. It's
not rational and it's not real. And he may in some way understand that, but he just can't get past
that. So it may be something that you may need help with, a therapist to help process some of those
anxious feelings and those symptoms of anxiety, maybe even group therapy. It's hard to find
groups for teen boys. I do run one. So if you're local in the Woodland Hills area, I do run a group
called The Guys Group, focused on teenage boys struggling with self -esteem, needing more
social support, but that may not be in your area. So what I wanna do is, again, help him reach out
to his other friends, but also at home, we wanna make sure he doesn't just isolate into his screens.
If he's on his Xbox or his iPad or
his computer or his phone, 16, 18 hours a day, it's not helping him. He needs fine time out to get
out of that. So you may need to set some structure around that so he's not on a screen. You may need
to set some boundaries and guidelines that you can follow as well. So for example, let's say
from time X, time Y, you say no screens. But if you're there on your computer or your tablet, your
phone, he's gonna see that as incredibly, there's a lot of hypocrisy going on. So instead, set
a time when all of you can be off screens. So you can sit and hang out and play a board game, make
dinner together, go to the beach, go wherever it is. It doesn't matter what you're doing, it's
that you're doing, that's important. Make sure that he's socializing with you and feeling
comfortable and safe with you. If he's refusing to do that, again, getting a therapist involved
can be helpful. Another thing, he's 16. He could go do some volunteer work somewhere. It's not
as fun as a video game, I get it. He can
also get a job. I think a summer job or high school jobs for kids are fantastic. They're great
ways to learn skills that you'll never learn in school. Customer service, how to be on time,
how to multitask, in different ways than school can ever teach you. Having that job at that yogurt
shop or that clothing store or the grocery store or movie theater is gonna teach him so many valuable
life skills and job skills, he's just not gonna learn a math class. And I think that's really
important. Also, it helps him learn how to manage money and it gives him a sense of something
to do. It's too late to get him to summer camp. Summer's already started and they're all full.
He's not in any other social engagements. He's not in school, so it's hard for him to just meet
people. But if he's working at the local burger shop, there are other teenagers there he can
start talking to. There's a lot of options for you. Don't try to do this alone. Get help, get other
cousins involved, aunts and uncles, find
other people to engage with him. But again, it's getting him off screen sometimes, so he has
to do something else. Anyways, that's our question for today. Thank you very much. I'm gonna
be off Tips on Teens the next two weeks. I'm gonna be out of town for a little while. But I'll be
back in mid -July answering your parenting questions. So please email us your questions at
tipsonteens at teentherapycenter .com or direct messages right here on Facebook. We love
your questions. Again, my name is Kent Toussaint from Teen Therapy Center and Child and Teen
Counseling. And I'll see you in a few weeks, guys. Bye -bye.
Has your teen become increasingly isolated during quarantine? How do you help them get their self-confidence back?
There’s a lot of potential answers to that question. If you’re a safe place for your teen, you can help him/her overcome their own self judgement which is probably inhibiting them. Therapy and other social support is available. We give you some ideas in this Tips on Teens video. Here’s the question:
“I have a 16-year-old son that before the pandemic used to go out and socialize with his friends. Due to the pandemic, he wasn’t able to see his friends much. I’ve noticed that when his friends asked him to hang out, he would come up with an excuse not to go and now he’s lost touch with many of them. I’ve tried to encourage him to make new friends, but he seems to be afraid of leaving the house. I’m worried he is isolating too much and becoming fearful of the outside world. How can I help my son venture out and make more friends without being so fearful?”
Check out our Tips on Teens video about back to school anxiety after COVID.
Clinical Director Kent Toussaint answers your parenting questions every Wednesday at 12:00pm in our weekly segment Tips On Teens on Facebook Live. Have questions about parenting kids and teens? Send them to: TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. We love to hear from you!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.