Twelve Talks to

Have With Teens

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Teens in Jefferson County report lots of worries about the new coronavirus (COVID-19)-- ranging from worries about the effects on our community and the health of family members, to feeling sad about their loss of daily social activities and wondering if prom or graduation ceremonies will be canceled.

 

Teens are faced with having to adapt to rapidly-changing events, closed schools and changing social interactions, while understanding their own responsibility in maintaining a healthy community.  

 

We asked Jeffco teens what worries them about COVID-19. Here’s what they said: 

  • Not seeing friends

  • The stress of online schooling 

  • Being stuck at home in quarantine 

  • If prom, graduation, sports, etc., get canceled

  • Family members getting sick

  • A lack of jobs for teens

  • A lack of school meals

  • The collapse of the healthcare system

  • Facing racial discrimination

  • Not being able to travel to see family

  • Parents losing income

  • The impact on elections and voting outcomes

  • Widespread fear and how people are handling it

  • A lack of groceries and other supplies

  • Uncertainty about the future

 

As a parent or guardian, it can be hard to know how to talk with teens about COVID-19, particularly when we are anxious and don’t feel as though we have all of the information ourselves. Nevertheless, engaging with our teens in dialogue is important for everyone’s well-being. Be sure to remind them that we're all in this together and even though it may be quite some time before the pandemic is over, it will resolve, and life will get back to normal.

How are you feeling about what’s happening with COVID-19? 

Conversation starters

  • Talk about coping. Mention that you are glad they are exercising, helping around the house, schoolwork, projects, keeping up with friends, calling relatives, etc., then follow up with a question.

  • Always admit that you might not know the answers-- and then talk about finding information from reputable sources.

Ask Yourself

  • Are you (still) validating how hard this is for your teen? Tell them directly that it’s legitimate to feel disappointed about missing out on time in high school, special events or other activities. They may feel a full range of emotions from worry and fear to frustration and anger. 

 

Things to do

  • Maintain or create a flexible routine with your teen that includes school work, chores, online socializing, meal times, fun family time (games? movies? baking?) and time outside.

  • Help others. Brainstorm concrete ideas about what you could do to help others in the community. We are all in this together! Could you donate canned food to an organization that needs it? Could you FaceTime relatives or friends to check in on them? Could you help spread valid information sources on social media? Vist HelpColoradoNow for volunteer opportunities or to donate (supplies, money, blood or time).

  • Make plans to deal with boredom: Like all of us, teens may get a little restless after a few days at home.  Here are some ideas to help combat boredom: 

  • Go outside! This could include: going for a walk or run, playing with a pet, bike riding, stargazing, reading in the shade, or hiking. 

Help

 

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Recommended Resources for Accurate Information

It’s very important to encourage everyone, including your teen, to access accurate, up-to-date information from reliable sources.

 

Taking Action in your Community

Reduction of risk factors, and improvements in protective factors, can happen on multiple levels-- within an individual, among friends and family, by adjusting systems in places like schools or businesses, and on the policy level for towns, counties or states.  When improvements happen on all levels, our teens are most likely to thrive. Here are some policy and systems you and/or your teens might be able to influence:

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  • Do your part-- and encourage others to by posting these messages on social media:

    • Wear a mask & watch your distance​

    • Get a COVID-19 vaccine when it's your turn

    • Wash your hands often

    • Get tested & stay home if you're sick

    • Be kind to your neighbors

    • Support local businesses

  • The amount and content of health education Jeffco students receive (including information about disease prevention) varies by school. 

Smiling Teenage Boy
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* Healthy Kids Colorado Survey 2019, Jefferson County data; **Jefferson County CTC Youth Town Hall data 2019 & 2020.

 

This project was created by the Jefferson County Communities That Care coalition and is housed within Jefferson County Public HealthThis resource was developed with funding from a Communities That Care grant from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, a grant from Community First Foundation and a Drug-Free Communities grant from the Office of National Drug Control Policy and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The views, policies and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the grant providers.