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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.

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 to start a conversation

  • ​Ask direct, but open-ended questions, such as:

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

    • What do you see as your role in preventing the spread of the virus? #DoingMyPartCO

    • What can you do to help protect the rest of our family and any other people you are around?

    • I have been taking a lot of walks, partly to cope with my own worries. What are you doing-- or planning to do-- to cope with anxiety or stress? 

    • Now that school is closed and we all need to engage in social distancing, what are some ways you can spend your time?

    • What are your plans for socializing? What are your ideas for getting some exercise? 

    • What questions do you have about COVID-19? Even if I don’t know the answers, maybe we could do some research together. (See recommended resources, below.)

    • How can you tell the difference between “hype” or “myths” and real information? (See recommended resources, below.)

Quick tips

  • Validate 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.)

  • If your teen is actively resisting taking recommended precautions and/or is arguing with you about following the rules, consider sharing this article from a University of Colorado professor about Flattening the Curve.

  • Check out 5 Ways to Help Your Teens Manage Anxiety About the Coronavirus for ideas on managing worry.

  • Hold a family meeting to talk about the rules of the house during this crisis. The Boundaries page has some ideas for navigating these conversations.

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

 

  • If you or anyone in your family needs support dealing with feelings of isolation or anxiety, or any other mental health concerns, please immediately contact Colorado Crisis Services which provides confidential and immediate support, 24/7/365 on the phone 1-844-493-8255, text (text TALK to 38255), or chat online (http://www.coloradocrisisservices.org).  You can call/text/chat about anything in your life that you feel you need help with or want to talk about. 

  • For general questions about COVID-19, call CO HELP at 303-389-1687 or 1-877-462-2911 or email COHELP@RMPDC.org, for answers in English, Spanish, Mandarin and more.

  • If you or your teen are concerned because your teen vapes, consider sending them this article about why quitting now is a good idea. Resources to help your teen quit are available on the Vape and Tobacco page.

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.

 

Other Recommended Resources

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