Do you have teenagers who are keen to meet up with friends but worry that their friends may ignore social distancing advice? Linda, a Clinician with Jigsaw has some advice for Kayla, a young teenager who finds herself in that position.
Ask Jigsaw: Friends not social distancing
I met up with my friends today and it was a bit underwhelming. It was great to see them but it also made me very nervous. First of all there was 7 of us, but the thing that stressed me out the most was the lack of social distancing. A few of us tried to at the start, but it got so difficult especially when some friends kept trying to get close to me. This really annoyed me and when i confronted them they brushed it off and said ‘a sure we will all get it at some stage’.
I understand that some of them are not in tune with irish news and it could be down to innocent ignorance, but its impossible to convince them to even try. Some people in my family are at risk, so social distancing really matters for me.
At the same time, I get serious Fear Of Missing Out when it comes to passing on hanging out, so I dont know what to do now. Any ideas on what i should do?
Also Id like to say a massive thank you for doing all the work you guys do, it means so much as a young person to have a place like this to fall back on when i need support:)
Look at the plan for raising restrictions and have a think about what you can and can’t do with your friends.
LInda, the Jigsaw Clinician replies to Kayla:-
Firstly, thank you for your kind words about our service. It’s our aim to provide support for young people like you, so it means a lot to hear that you can rely on us.
It sounds like you’re in a tricky social situation and I’m sure that many of us will face similar situations, if not now then in the future.
Know your boundaries
As you’re aware, the current restrictions in place are for the safety and wellbeing of everyone. They are the guidelines we have to live by to protect ourselves and others. I can understand your frustration as your friends break these rules. Check with yourself about what you’re comfortable with. Look at the plan for raising restrictions and have a think about what you can and can’t do with your friends in advance so you can be clear about where your boundaries are. Remember, you can still keep in touch with out seeing people face to face if you decide to wait.
Agree in advance to challenge those who flout the guidelines, and to walk away if it continues.
Get others on board
Often in groups, we follow the lead of one or two people. When you are in the group it can be hard to be the one person who stands up and says something is wrong. Try speaking individually to a few of the people involved to highlight your concerns and the reasons why social distancing is important to you.
Using assertive communication, you can explain how you feel when people don’t stick to the guidelines. If possible a few of you can agree in advance to challenge those who flout the guidelines, and to walk away if it continues. It is easier to tackle if a few of you are united, rather than feeling you are the one being ‘awkward’.
It’s about respect
It’s not okay for our friends to put us, or our loved ones, in danger. When people break social distancing rules by coming too close – this is exactly what they are doing. Mutual respect is the foundation of friendships and something that we all deserve.
We need our friends now more than ever, and of course you will feel FOMO if you stop contact. Thankfully, if our friends follow social distancing rules, we can still hang out without harming anyone. Your friends should respect your choice and if they don’t, it could be worth considering meeting individual friends that do.
Linda, Jigsaw Clinician
If there is a young person in your family who has a question for Jigsaw they can contact them here https://jigsawonline.ie/young-people/live-group-chats/
Great support for the well being and mental health of young people and for their parents/guardians is available from Jigsaw https://jigsawonline.ie/