Could the COVID pandemic press pause on young adults learning life skills?

Virtual classes for college students are more than just frustrating young adults during the pandemic. There are possible long-term effects delaying certain life skills could have on 18 to 25-year-olds.

COVID quarantine and social distancing could be pressing pause on “adulting” for 18 to 25-year-olds. The term, meaning to behave like an adult, became popular in 2014. It’s used in reference to doing mundane tasks like laundry, cooking, and basic knowledge of finances.

“This stage of life is really an opportunity for our young people to experience what it’s like to be independent,” said Erin VanLuven, a licensed clinical social worker at Kaiser Permanente Mid-Atlantic.

VanLuven says many of those life skills are learned by trial and error when transitional aged youth head to college or move out of their parents’ home for the first time.

“These young people don’t have a skillset to live on their own yet,” she explained.

With most college courses starting online and dorm move-in days postponed, there’s a chance that type of growth can be stunted and mental health issues magnified.

For parents with teens or young adults living at home longer because of COVID-19, listen to their frustrations but let them grow through this process.

“I think the pandemic poses a different way for us to teach the skill sets but it’s still there. Kids that can’t go to the dorm can still be taught how to do things at home that they would have done on their own, right? And sort of gift them the opportunity to sort of take care of themselves in that way. And then if they’re struggling, have a conversation about it and maybe provide advice if they want it, or not, let them wear dirty clothes. That’s up to them, right? Those are some of those natural consequences,” she suggested.

VanLuven said growing adult skills include mental health; making sure to focus on wellness before it becomes mental illness. According to a report released last week by the CDC, U.S. adults reported higher adverse mental health conditions linked to physical distancing and stay-at-home orders.

“Our populations in the country are suffering. But also, we haven’t developed a lot of great coping skills in the generations that we’ve raised,” said VanLuven.

She said this is the opportunity to change that for the better.


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