Helping teens and tweens maintain mental well-being throughout the pandemic

The demands of COVID-19 have been difficult for everyone. For teens and tweens, there has also been a fair amount of loss. Beyond missing out on major rites of passage, this past year has also meant the loss of everyday experiences, connection with friends and independence – at precisely the time in their lives when all of it is so important.

As parents, here are a few ways we can help them through this challenging time.

Connect and show empathy

Mom and daughter dancing in kitchen

We are living through a historic period of prolonged stress. Remember to set compassionate expectations (for yourself as well your kids). Show your teens that you’re genuinely interested in their experience and want to understand their thoughts, feelings and behaviour. Acknowledge and validate them. How you manage this experience with them can enrich your relationship long into the future. The empathy that they experience from you now can lead to resilience and healthier relationships in adulthood.

Keep communication open and honest

Dad and son washing dishes

Share information in a way that is calm and factual, correcting any misinformation along the way. Reinforce public health messaging, make yourself available for conversations and be open about your thoughts and feelings too.

Promote healthy habits

Family eating and laughing at dinner table

Healthy coping has a lot to do with healthy habits. You can help by role modeling and creating an environment that makes it easier for everyone to follow through.

  • Stay connected and maintain social networks
  • Follow a routine as much as possible
  • Try to eat well, stay active, allow for down time and get good sleep
  • Get as much sunlight, fresh air and nature as you can
  • Find ways to keep busy and productive (this can include giving to your community or others)
  • Keep your mind stimulated
  • Do things that tap into your creativity
  • Set limits on media consumption

Practising these habits regularly can have a powerful impact, so ask your kids for their ideas about how to build them into their lives. Your teen or tween may also be a great support to you in establishing healthy habits for yourself! Remember to go slow and be kind to yourself and each other.

Give them space and encourage down time

Person sketching artwork with chalk

Living in tight quarters makes the need for time alone even more important. Encourage your teen to take time each day to unplug and spend some quiet time unwinding. This can help to rejuvenate, allow for creative expression and do wonders for a relationship!

Find ways to have fun with each other

Brother and sister laughing and baking cupcakes in kitchen

As important as it is to have time alone, so is the quality of your time together. This pandemic has given families an incredible opportunity to connect with each other like never before. Use this time to find things that you enjoy together. Show that you’re curious and interested in your teen’s life and ask their opinion about things. Enjoy this extra time together!

Help them develop healthy coping strategies

Girl practicing yoga

The prolonged stress of this pandemic can lead to negative thought patterns and impact mood dramatically. Check in with your kids regularly to see how they’re doing. Validate their experience and if needed, help them to reframe. Some practices that can be effective in strengthening coping skills include:

  • Focusing on the things that are within your control
  • Practising gratitude
  • Mindfulness, prayer or other spiritual practices
  • Meditation
  • Becoming aware of and challenging negative thought patterns
  • Working toward positive, achievable goals

Get help if needed

Boy at window looking at phone

If you are concerned about your child, be sure to get help. Here are some excellent resources for teens/tweens:

If you find yourself struggling or need resources to support your child, HaltonParents is here for you. We’d also love to hear your thoughts and experience with this topic!

Connect with us.

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 Tanya Melykuty, RN, MSW

During the many years I've worked as a nurse, I've spent a lot of time working with young people. This work has included a focus on mental health and wellbeing, as well as working with schools, parents and students to help build healthy and connected school communities. As a parent myself, I'm grateful to continue to learn and share as part of the HaltonParents team.
This entry was posted in Children & Tweens, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Child/Tween, Emotional Well-Being & Mental Health for Your Teen, Healthy Eating for your Teen, Keeping Your Teen Safe, Parenting, Parenting Your Teen, Teen Brain, Teens and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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