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

About Carolyn Wilkie, RN

For most of my nursing years I have been out in the community supporting new parents on their fabulous journey into parenthood! I love working as part of the HaltonParents team. I have 2 awesome boys, who continue to amaze me everyday. So glad we could connect.
This entry was posted in Children & Tweens, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Child/Tween, Keeping Your Teen Safe, Parenting, Teen Brain and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Navigating COVID-19 with your teen

  1. Great, great tips. Love the conversation starters. Thanks!

    • Carolyn Wilkie, RN says:

      We really appreciate you reaching out and taking the time to share this with us. Super happy you found the conversation starters of help. Take care. ~Carolyn, RN

    • Carolyn Wilkie, RN says:

      Thanks very much I am glad you found the conversation “starters” helpful ~Carolyn, RN

  2. Deszpoth, Cheryl says:

    Good morning Haton Parents,
    Excellent job on the blog Carolyn and team!
    It’s been nice seeing you and working with you again ☺
    Cheryl

    Cheryl Deszpoth, RN, BScN
    Public Health Nurse
    Healthy Schools & Communities
    Health
    Halton Region
    905-825-6000, ext. 3639 | 1-866-442-5866

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  3. Janet Siverns says:

    Excellent blog that digs down into the real things motivating teen behaviour during the pandemic – lack of control, fear of repercussions for not following health unit rules, fear of being singled out by their peers, fear about the future. My favourite suggested question: How can they use their time and talents to help someone else who is struggling with loneliness and isolation? What a great thing to ask!

    • Carolyn Wilkie, RN says:

      Thanks Janet, we appreciate your thoughts. I am glad some of these discussion points resonated with you. Carolyn, RN

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