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Communicating with my self-isolating teen

Communicating with my self-isolating teen

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Communicating with my self-isolating teen

I have an olderbteen daughter 18 who has always been introverted and a little socially awkward.

Last year she was accepted early into university but didn't do well. In February this year she lost her job when the business shut down.

For the past 4 months she has stayed at home only leaving her room to eat or use the bathroom. Some nights she'll be up all night on her computer or playstation then sleep all day. She eats but not regularly and in my opinion not well and not enough.

My husband thinks that as she is an adult, we should leave her alone to work through it herself as unless she asks for help she won't be open to anything we say or do.

But she looks awful and this lifestyle she is currently leading can't be good for her.

She shuts us out completely and won't talk to us anout what is going on and I am at a loss of how to help her move past this low period and get out and engage with life more.

Any advice much appreciated.


Re: Communicating with my self-isolating teen

Hi @kiwimama Welcome to Reach Out Parents.

Thanks for telling us what has been happening with your daughter. I'm sorry it has been such a struggle for you seeing your teen disconnect from things. It can be a pretty challenging time as an 18 year old, navigating change. It sounds like she finds comfort and security in her room and games.

Are you able to spend any time in her room with her? Even just sharing space and seeing what she is interested in. I think it's important to validate how she is feeling.

Does your daughter leave the house for anything, like shopping or coffee?


You can also tell her about the Reach Out forum for Youth or Kids helpline (1800 55 1800) if you think she may talk to a counsellor.




Active scribe

Re: Communicating with my self-isolating teen

She rarely leaves the house other than the occasional trip to the shops on her own.

She is a very introverted person naturally and has no face to face interaction with people outside of our immediate family and even that is minimal.

She doesn't seem to have any sense of direction and being a perfectionist, the university experience was a real blow to her confidence as in her schooling she was a straight A student.

Prolific scribe

Re: Communicating with my self-isolating teen

Hey there @kiwimama,


How are things going with your daughter? University can definitely be a difficult change for young people as it is so different from high school. Do you know if there are some things that your daughter would like to do? 


I was also wondering, aside from your husband and here, have you spoken to anyone else about the situation? Often talking to various people can help get other perspectives and ideas on what you can do. 


I am also going to tag in other members who may be able to provide some advice on the situation: 

@PapaBill @JAKGR8 @Angelmum @timmins @shawki11 

Parent Community Champion

Re: Communicating with my self-isolating teen

hi @kiwimama 


I can certainly relate to what you are going through.  I have a daughter who is at university and when at home lives in her room.  It is hard to see such a beautiful person isolate themselves.


I read she has "shut us out completely and won't talk to us about what is going on".  That is something that would make it even tougher.   Do you have a idea on how she is feeling about her life?   Is she happy with her devices in her room?  Some teens find it easier to connect via electronic devices rather than in person.


I wish I could find an answer to suggest, but in reality I struggle to get my daughter out of her room.  The only things I have found to work is to book things in advance with her as a family activity.  This done impromptu never seem to work and if left to herself she would never arrange anything.


Being in your room for long periods for a teen is not like it was when I was a child.  They are "connected" and entertained with modern communications and some are very happy there.


All I can say is continue to try to engage her, focusing more on listening rather than talking.   One day you might catch her in a chatty mood.  



Active scribe

Re: Communicating with my self-isolating teen

Thanks for the support.

We have the flu in our home at the moment and both my little daughter (8) and my older daughter (18) are down with it. Our daughter has been in a slightly better place emotionally this week. We disconnected her internet between 12am and 7pm last week and I think she has been getting more sleep as a result.

Unfortunatly, she now has the flu so we'll be back to square one when she recovers.

She hasn't been eating properly either so has lost a lot of weight. She assures me that she isn't deliberately losing weight but I'm wondering if it is just another symptom of her current emotional state.

I'm hoping that she will see how her unhealthy choices have contributed to this bout of flu and will start to make some positive changes.

Regardless of this, I will be taking her to the dr this coming week and getting things checked out.... Using this flu as the excuse to do so.

With her being so closed off it is hard to know what is going on in her head and how best to help her.
Parent Community Champion

Re: Communicating with my self-isolating teen

Yes, planning ahead is a brilliant suggestion. It works wonders with our kids and heaven forbid we decide to cancel. It also means we have to get them, they won't spontaneously come out of their rooms.
Parent Community Champion

Re: Communicating with my self-isolating teen

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It sounds like you are getting on the right track. This is such a struggle for many parents. I wish I could wave a magic wand. 

Reading between the lines, it seems like your daughter has taken a real blow to her self esteem/worth this year. Maybe there is something she can do to build it back up. Volunteering at an animal shelter is popular with introverted girls. Or working on the Rosies Van feeding the homeless.

Also as an older teen, she still needs to contribute to the family functioning system. She still has to do chores etc. especially if she isn't working or studying - maybe she should be doing more. Great podcast here.

Just hoping it gets her out of her slump. Good luck. Let us know how it goes. 


Re: Communicating with my self-isolating teen

Hi @kiwimama, how have things been going? How did the doctors appointment go? JAKGR8 provided some helpful suggestions here. I was wondering if you have asked your daughter how you can best help her when she is struggling? She might not know but it could be a conversation worth exploring with her. You could also add some options in to help her out. It is difficult when they seem to resistant to talking which is a common issue with adolescence/young adults. At the end of the day, we can't force them to share their feelings. This is where being there for her and letting her know of the support services available is very valuable. Has she sought any type of support before? It sounds like it is really difficult time for you and your family. How do you take care of yourself throughout all of this? We are here for you Heart

Active scribe

Re: Communicating with my self-isolating teen

I've had 3 kids down with the flu for 10 days including said daughter. The Dr weighed her and said she is a little underweight. She wants her to firstly recover from this virus and then have some blood tests and then go back to discuss the results and her general health & wellbeing.

As she has been so sick with the flu she has been much more open to me helping her. Over the past few days I have been establishing some better eating patterns with her and she has been trying to eat as much as she can manage while sick. I didn't see her weight at the drs but she did, and she seems to be trying to eat more and more regularly since then even though she is sick. I think it helps that I'm preparing her 3 meals a day while she's recovering from the flu.

Her mood seems a bit better too and she seems a little more open to me at the moment. Hopefully, she'll follow up with the dr in a couple of weeks and then we'll be able to think about what needs to happen going forward.

One thing I'm wondering about is who her online friends are as while sick she was too unwell to go online and seemed much more open despite being so sick. Now she's feeling much better she's back online playing playstation and seems a little less open again, but I could just be imagining that as it's only been today that she's been up to it.

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