Talk to your teens about social distancing

ESCANABA –Being away from friends, extended family, and social activities can be hard on teens and kids. Many communities across the nation, including our own, are seeing teens still getting together, in person, to socialize. Teenagers may feel that social distancing rules do not apply to them, as data shows that COVID-19 is less severe for their age group. However, it is important for parents and caregivers to reiterate that youth can be carriers of the virus, even if they don’t feel sick. Taking a car or bike ride with friends, hanging out at the park or playing games is against the social distancing guidelines and against the law with Governor Whitmer’s Shelter-In-Place order in effect.

Parents must keep their teens and kids home while the Shelter-In-Place order is in effect. Talk to them about the importance of social distancing in an age appropriate way. Ask them what they already know about the guidelines and ask them what questions they have. Stick to the facts, be honest and use terms they understand.

There are several tips the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have outlined to help teens and families during this difficult, uncertain time.

1. Stay calm. Be mindful about how you talk about the pandemic. Your children will remember what you say and how you say it. Talk to them in a calm and reassuring manner.

2. Children and teens benefit from having a schedule. With schools closed, the daily routine is different. Adding some structure will help the days feel more normal. Following meal, school and other activity schedules will help keep boredom at bay.

3. Consider what your children can control and provide them with choices. Can they choose which school work to do first or which to save for last? Can they choose what’s for dinner?

4. Plan family activities. Taking a walk or a hike or riding bikes (with people who live in the same household) are great ways to get out and get active without having physical contact. If you go to parks, keep kids off of communal equipment (stuff that lots of kids use, like jungle gyms) and maintain at least six feet of space between your family and others.

5. Ease up on screen time restrictions so kids and teens have more time to talk with friends and extended family. They can still be social, just in different ways.

Help managing stress during this unprecedented time is available. Local counselors and therapists may be available via telephone or video. You can call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text “Talk With Us” to 66746. Stay Home. Stay Safe. Save Lives.


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