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How to help your children handle FOMO!

As the spectre of further lockdowns looms, you can bet young people are going to want to make the most of every social opportunity going.  But what about those who haven’t been invited, or aren’t able to go because of family commitments? We speak to Alicia Drummond, our in-house Mental Health Expert and founder of Teen Tips and The Wellbeing Hub, about how to handle FOMO (the fear of missing out)

FOMO is the feeling that you are missing out on something incredibly important that others are experiencing right now, and it is the curse of adolescence.  Of course, it always was, but it’s different now because they can see their friends having fun in real time and know when they have been excluded, so what can we do to help them manage FOMO?

I suspect we all recognise that pang of jealousy and sadness we get when we realise we have been left off a guest list, so it shouldn’t take much imagination to understand how they might be feeling.  The quickest way out of any feeling is straight through the middle of it, so allow them to feel whatever they are feeling by showing empathy.  You might say something like, ‘I guess you are feeling upset or annoyed that you haven’t been invited, I am sorry.”  Too often we then follow up with a “but”, “but I am sure we will have a fun time with your cousins” which is unlikely to go down well even if they love their cousins.  Let them feel the disappointment, and only when the worst is over, ask what they think they can do to help themselves move on.

Challenge them.  How does tracking that party online, or comparing yourself to others make you feel?  Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result – it doesn’t happen.  They won’t be able to avoid the occasional FOMO moment, but they can learn how to manage them.   Here are a few tips they might find helpful:

  • Acknowledge how you feel and reassure yourself that these feelings will pass.
  • Ask yourself, would you have invited the host if you were having a party, 9 times of out 10 you wouldn’t have.
  • Chances are your thoughts might turn to why you haven’t been included which could make you feel even worse. If this happens, remember that thoughts are not facts they are the story you make for yourself and you have the power to change the story.
  • Take time out from social media, it will feel really challenging at first, but it will bring you relief.
  • Focus on what you can do, rather than on what you can’t do.
  • Try to find the positives in the situation – does it give you more time to do something you enjoy, or spend time with other people who are important to you?
  • If you have had to refuse one event to go to another, focus on where you are, rather than on where you are not.
  • Remember that not everything you see on social media is accurate.
  • FOMO can make us feel helpless because we can’t do anything about it, but there are ways to take back our power:
    • actively try not to care so much.
    • Remember that we don’t always have control over what happens to us, but we always have the power to choose how we respond.

Remember that your thoughts, feelings, and behaviour are all connected and if you change any of them, the others will change too. For example, if you are feeling sad, do something different.  Get creative, get active, listen to music, spend time with others, meditate, dance, cook, play a board game – it doesn’t matter what it is, just do something, and do it wholeheartedly if you want to leave those feelings of FOMO behind.

The wealth of resources available within The Wellbeing Hub help parents support their children through adolescence and gives them the skills and knowledge to meet their social and emotional needs. It’s a live and interactive web-app which parents can subscribe to individually here or they can refer us to their child’s school so the whole school community can benefit. Contact us for more information.




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