Navigating COVID-19 with your teen

Parenting is tough, period…but during a pandemic, it’s even harder! If you’re living with teens, your parenting skills have likely been stretched a lot lately. Your teen may feel frustrated and disappointed about missed opportunities like milestone celebrations. So how can we support teens who want to test their independence during a very restrictive time?

Empower them!

  • Allow them to take control of the things they can.
  • Give them a chance to show you they can be responsible.
  • Listen to their thoughts and feelings. 
  • Show your teen their ideas are valued and respected, even if you don’t agree!

The more young people feel valued, the more likely they are to make good choices. This week take time to connect with your teen about their feelings around the pandemic.

Conversation starters:

1. Discuss how individual actions can affect larger community outcomes. 

Sticker on sidewalk next to pair of shoes says Stay Safe and Keep Your Distance.

Take it further:

  • What do they think about people not following public health restrictions?
  • Do they understand the importance of being truthful with public health if they test positive?
  • Reassure them that public health will not judge or punish them if they have been in close physical contact with non-household members.

Parent tip: Remind your teen that staying home and apart saves lives, and that they are an important part of the bigger picture.  These actions will help slow the spread of the virus and protect those most at risk.

2. How do they feel about the public health measures in place?

Mom and daughter in car wearing face masks.

Take it further:

  • How does your teen feel about wearing masks in public spaces?
  • As a family, find ways to support each other’s safety.

Parent tip: Share the facts about COVID-19. If they ask, share evidence-based websites and guide them to trusted sources of information. Reinforce the great job they have been doing at slowing the spread of COVID-19 with proper hand washing, sanitizing, masks, and physical distancing.

3. Ask your teen about physical distancing. How are they staying socially connected?

Teen girl lying on bed looking at laptop, smiling and waving.

Take it further:

  • What virtual activities can they can explore to lessen their feelings of isolation?
  • How can they use their time and talents to help someone else who is struggling with loneliness and isolation?
  • Acknowledge and celebrate milestones in new and creative ways.
  • When it’s safe to be together again, what are they excited to do?

Parent tip: Learn about different social media platforms and how they can be safely used to connect with friends and family. Visit Common Sense Media to learn about media and parenting.

4. Ask your teen how they are managing requests from friends to hang out in-person.

Teen boy in bathrobe lying on couch, wearing headphones and looking at mobile device.

Take it further:

  • Do they feel pressured to hang out with classmates? Or worried about being disconnected from their friend group?
  • How have they been coping with requests to be together in-person?
  • What would stop them from saying “no” to friends?

Parent tip: Saying “no” takes confidence and practice. Brainstorm how they can respond to requests from friends. For example: 

  • “Sorry, I can’t come to the park, I’m not allowed because of the strict rules right now, but let’s play video games at 7 pm.”
  • “I need to stay healthy for my part-time job.”
  • “I worry I’ll pass COVID to my family.”
  • “My parents will kill me!”

Remind your teen, you are also learning as you go.  No parent is perfect.  Everyone is trying to do their best in uncertain times.  However, one thing remains true, the days are much easier when we work together as a team.  Keep well and stay safe.

Worried about your teen? Connect with us. We would love to hear from you:

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000

Posted in Children & Tweens, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Child/Tween, Keeping Your Teen Safe, Parenting, Teen Brain | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Grandparenting during COVID….

Mother and daughter visiting grandparents in window during a COVID-19 pandemic

As I wake up to another beautiful spring day, I am filled with joy. Birds are singing; the flowers are blooming; and I have time to enjoy a cup of Chai tea before heading to work.Yellow daffodil flowers in the ground

And yet…and yet. I hear the birds clearly, because my neighbourhood is now quiet. I keep checking on my daffodils through the window, because I no longer travel 30 kilometres to work….instead I walk a few steps to my new office in my home.  And if I’m not careful, that cup of tea will be followed by another and another as I adjust to my new routine and try not to think about COVID-19.

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Posted in Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Child/Tween, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Teen, Parenting, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler | Tagged | 6 Comments

5 great ways to enjoy winter with the family!

I remember getting my kids bundled up for winter outdoor activities. What a process! First figuring out what activity to do and then telling myself – maybe more than my kids, that going out into the cold weather would be fun. Then getting them ready to go outside by putting on snow pants, boots, coats, hats, scarves and mitts, while they squirmed and said that they were hot. By the time we were done, I’d already had a workout and needed to rest!

Little boys sliding on sled in winter with helmets

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Posted in Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Child/Tween, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Teen, Parenting, Parenting Your Child/Tween, Parenting Your Teen, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Play, Growth & Development | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Do I really need to start talking to my tweens about vaping?

I feel like I’m in a golden age of parenting. My kids are in their tween years (defined as being between the ages of 8 to 12 years). The exhausting days of early parenting are far behind me. My kids are doing more things on their own and often surprise me by what they can do. Yet they still need me and I have lots of input into their decisions. Sure, their brains are still developing which makes for regular emotional outbursts leaving me to wonder at times, who are these children? But for the most part, I love it!

Two sisters hugging ages 9 and 11

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Posted in Children & Tweens, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Child/Tween, Keeping Your Child/Tween Safe, Parenting, Parenting Your Child/Tween | Tagged | Leave a comment

Edible Cannabis: how to protect your kids from unintentional poisoning

I’ll never forget the feeling of panic when I saw my 3 year-old holding a bottle of household cleaner. I left a cupboard door unlocked in the bathroom as I went to answer my phone. Fortunately, he only looked at it. At that time, edible cannabis was not on my list of potential safety concerns. If I were to have a young child now, that list would be different.

In Canada, the number of young children hospitalized after the ingestion of cannabis has increased since cannabis legislation. Between September and December 2018, sixteen cases of severe reactions were reported to the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program.

Girl's Hand Reaching For Cupcake On Kitchen Counter

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Posted in Babies, Children & Tweens, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Child/Tween, Healthy Eating for Toddlers & Preschoolers, Healthy Eating for Your Child/Tween, Keeping Your Baby Safe, Keeping Your Child/Tween Safe, Parenting, Parenting Your Baby, Parenting Your Child/Tween, Parenting Your Toddler & Preschooler, Play, Growth & Development, Play, Growth & Development for Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers | Tagged , , , , , , | 16 Comments