Supporting Your Teen Through COVID-19

By Ottawa Public Health January 28, 2021

The COVID 19 situation can be challenging for many of us, and particularly those of us who are also parenting and helping our children with school. 

A recent report from Ottawa Public Health (October 2020) showed that in the two weeks before the survey, 79% of parents who did not think they handled the day to day demands of raising children well, rated their mental health and emotional well-being as fair or poor.

If many parents are feeling that their mental health is not as good as before the pandemic, it makes sense that many of our teens may also be feeling more stress with so many changes in their lives.

There are things we can do to help our teens get through these times. And the good news is that the resilience and coping skills they learn now will help them later in life as well.

1. Realize that your teen may experience many different emotions

This is not a normal situation, and it is normal for your child to feel different emotions right now. Take a few minutes to ask how they are doing and look for changes in their behaviour.

  • Are their emotions a lot stronger than before? (e.g., angry outbursts, depressed mood, sense of panic)?
  • Do the changes in behaviour or emotions last most of the day, every day?
  • Do the changes last for a sustained period of time (e.g., more than a week)?
  • Do the changes seem to interfere with your child’s or youth’s thoughts, feelings      or daily functioning?
    • For example, they may not do activities they normally enjoy, they may cry more than usual, or they may not interact with you as much as they usually do.
  • Does your child or youth tell you they’re feeling sad or anxious a lot?


2. Help your teen to find ways to deal with stress and be more resilient. 

Try some deep breathing or meditation techniques together or try practicing gratitude and being thankful by focusing on things that can help you feel good. Try to write one thing you are thankful for every day and refer to this list if you are having a bad day.

3. Be patient.

Try to keep calm with your teen and help them to understand the current situation as best you can. But realize that you may also be feeling stress and pressure at this time. Be patient with yourself and look for supports for you and your teen.

4. Maintain a healthy routine.

As much as possible, keep a similar routine to the one that you and your children had before the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, try to go to bed and wake up at similar times every day and try your best to get at least 8 hours of sleep a day. Try to make sure everyone in the family gets some exercise as well. Being outside and getting some fresh air can help us all feel better.

5. Focus on things you can control.

We cannot control the pandemic or what others do, but we can help our teen think about what they can control. 

  • We can control what we eat and put healthy food into our bodies
  • We can control how much time we spend watching the news or on social media
  • We can wear a mask to protect others
  • We can wash our hands frequently
  • We can help others
  • We can try to control our thoughts and use positive self talk

6. Build in some fun into the day.

Make sure to have fun with your teen every day. Balancing school, work, and other pressures can be overwhelming. Take breaks and have fun with your kids. Try a board game, dance or sing together, get outside for a walk, or build a snowman.

7. Stay connected with loved ones.

Even if your teen may not be able to visit their friends and loved ones in person at this time, it is important to stay connected. Call, text, video chat or stay in touch through social media.

8. Seek support if you need it.

Remember that these are very unusual times. We are all doing our best to manage. Be kind to yourself and your family.

If you need to talk to someone about your stress and concerns, please reach out. There are many resources available:

Services and Resources for Parents and Caregivers

Services and Resources for Children & Youth