Twelve Talks to

Have With Teens

COVID-19

Teens in Jefferson County report lots of worries about COVID-19-- ranging from worries about the effects on our community and the health of family members, to getting the vaccine, wondering if prom or graduation will be canceled (again), if school will go remote (again) and what the "new normal" will look like.

 

In March of 2020, 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 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. 

How are you feeling about going back to "normal?" 

Conversation starters

  • Send your teen articles or videos, then ask them what they thought about it. Here is one about vaccine safety and testing.

  • 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.

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. 

    • If you think they’d be open to it, share this coping strategies ideas page with your teen or complete it together. (Note: some ideas may need to be adapted to comply with current recommendations for social distancing.)

 

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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.

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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:

    • Get vaccinated-- and encourage others to get vaccinated, too

    • 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.