COVID -19 Series: Middle Family Communication
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April 20, 2020

Fostering Positive
Family Communication

Fostering Positive Family Communication
The COVID-19 pandemic and the public health response to this crisis requires us to spend more time together in our homes and have disrupted our routines. Many are also experiencing financial uncertainty, disruptions in mental health services, and other stressors. In moments like this, families may experience greater levels of stress, anxiety, and social isolation, which, in turn, can increase conflicts between family members. They also provide us with opportunities to connect with each other and practice self-care. 
(2020. Rhonda C. Boyd, Ph.D., Children‘s Hospital of Philadelphia.)

Assessing your Teen‘s Emotions
Through Shared Activities

Try to stay attuned to how your teen is feeling and experiencing this crisis.

Talking with each other is a good way to explore these issues.

Share an activity with them. Shared activities can distract our attention from the crisis, while at the same time connecting us emotionally.
Select activities that generate relaxation, joy, and are aligned with their interests.

Ask them for recommendations which will help them feel competent and empowered.

Try not to get disappointed and upset if your teen does not want to participate. This is an opportunity to let them know that you look forward to doing things with them because you enjoy their company.
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Routines, Expectations and School 



Routines are important for our well-being. Try to set an alarm to wake up, eat together, and make plans for each day. Developing a routine for each family member may help set times for shared activities and eliminate negotiations and conflicts. Routines provide a sense of grounding and mastery that is important to well-being. 


Try to maintain clear behaviour expectations of your teen, such as chores and social distancing with their friends, during this time.


Caregivers working from home or looking for employment online may struggle juggling these tasks and their added teaching responsibilities. Families are also facing disparate access to online learning resources, the technologies needed to implement those, and the support available to these families. Remember that this is happening to many other teens and families, and that it is not your sole responsibility to solve it. Focus on things you can address and leave the rest. Reducing family conflict should be a priority during this crisis. 
Strategies to Maintain
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Grace & Space

A lot of cooped up time can bring out the worst in everyone. Each person will have moments when they will not be at their best. It is important to move with grace through blowups, to not show up to every argument, and to not hold grudges and continue disagreements. Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through this.

Safety & Attachment

Expect behavioral issues in children, and respond gently. We are all struggling with disruption in routine, none more than children, who rely on routines constructed by others to make them feel safe and to know what comes next. Expect increased anxiety, worries and fears, testing limits, and meltdowns. 


Lower expectations and practice self-acceptance. We are busy working under fear and stress. This is not the time to expect excellence. Instead, give yourself what psychologists call “radical self acceptance”: accepting everything about yourself, your current situation, and your life without question, blame, or push back. 
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Space is at a premium. It is important that people think through their own separate space for work and for relaxation. For children, help them identify a place where they can go to retreat when stressed. You can make this place cozy by using blankets, pillows, cushions, tents, and “forts”. It is good to know that even when we are on top of each other, we have our own special place to go to be alone.
Try to focus on emotional connection.We are going to be living for a bit with the demand of meeting work deadlines, homeschooling children, running a sterile household, and providing entertainment. We are all truly doing the best we can in a challenging situation.
Reach out for help—your team is there for you.  Your children‘s teachers and related service providers will do anything within their power to help, especially for those parents tasked with the difficult task of being a whole treatment team to their child with special challenges.

Helping Children and Teens Cope with
Social Isolation during the COVID-19 Pandemic


Social connections support wellness. Appeal to altruism and remind them that they are being helpful by staying home.

Disappointment is natural. Try not to take it personally when your kids blame you as a parent.  You might say something like, "I don't blame you for being mad because I said you can't go to your friend's house.  It's not easy to be away from them for so long and you miss them."
Validate feelings first, then provide realistic information in a positive way.

Encourage online social connections.
Allow teens to make their own choices about daily activities.
Losing your cool?  Take a few deep breaths. Take a break if needed and say, "This is for me to calm down."      BC Children's Hospital
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Click the button below for a comprehensive list of Community Services and their availability during the pandemic.




First Nations Health Authority 
First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day  enables members of BC First Nations to make virtual appointments. The intent of the program is to enable more First Nations people to access primary healthcare closer to home.

Aboriginal KUU-US Crisis Line Society 
24/7 crisis line serving the province of B.C.
Toll-Free: 1-800-588-8717
Youth Line: 250-723-2040
Adult Line: 250-723-4050
Learning Resources

BC Numeracy Network  
Free Indigenous movies online CBC  
The Ministry of Education site contains excellent information on learning at home and resources for families
The Greater Victoria School District provides learning opportunities for elementary, middle and secondary age students.
TedED - Parents can sign up for grade specific daily lessons on any subject imaginable.  Fun and engaging!
BCTF - Aboriginal Education Teaching Resources
Indigenous Educational Resources

  Learning Resources for Students with Complex Needs

Food Resources for Families 

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