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Tweens, Teens and Young Adults in the Coronavirus Crisis

In this crisis, teens and young adults sent home from college pose different challenges for families than young children who need to be occupied and reassured. For starters, families are reporting problems persuading their older children to comply with social distancing rules. Combine the teenager’s innate sense of invulnerability, their intense focus on peers, and the fact that the virus is less likely to harm them, and you may get a lot of pushback.

This week, childmind.org talked to their experts about this and other issues affecting teenagers and young adults, including those who are depressed or anxious, disappointed about missing important milestones in their lives and worried about their futures.

Supporting Teenagers and Young Adults in the Coronavirus Crisis

Tips for parents with older children at home. Read more.

Self-Care in the Time of Coronavirus

For parents, prioritizing your own well-being benefits your whole family. Read more. 

Tips for Communicating With Your Teen

Keeping the parent-child relationship strong during a tricky age. Read more. 

The Power of Positive Attention

How to use it (instead of negative attention) to change behavior. Read more. 
 
We’re all in this together and it’s OK to ask for help. For local mental health support, go to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Colorado

Rocky Mountain PBS’ New 24/7 Kids Channel + The White House’s Cool Remote Learning Resources

 Rocky Mountain Public Media (RMPM) is providing educational resources for children across the state who have been affected by school closures through its Rocky Mountain PBS (RMPBS) stations and digital presence at rmpbs.org. In response to needs expressed by educators and caregivers, this initiative will provide all students with access to free educational resources at home, both on-air and online, regardless of their broadband access. 

RMPBS will be offering STEAM-focused content on-air from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., for ages 6 and up. These programs include History Detectives, NOVA, Nature and other quality PBS programs and documentaries focused on science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics. For children ages 2 and up, RMPBS will be offering programs like Wild Kratts, Peg + Cat and SciGirls between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. The entertaining and educational PBS KIDS programming will continue to be available all day on the 24/7 PBS KIDS subchannel or the free PBS KIDS Video or Games apps. For information about how to access channels based on location, visit http://www.rmpbs.org/channels/

Rocky Mountain PBS is partnering with Denver Public Schools, and is seeking to work with other districts statewide, to curate complementary resources for on-air programs, including lesson plans and teaching guides from accredited teachers. The resources will be available online at rmpbs.org and on the free PBS Video app. 

Rocky Mountain Public Media continues to be a trusted source for educational content and information as the community seeks resources and support related to coronavirus. For an overview of current programming, resources and initiatives, please visit http://www.rmpbs.org/covid19/

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Here’s a cool announcement from the White House Historical Association!

During this difficult time, the Rubenstein Center for White House History offers a wide variety of educational resources for learners of all ages. Content includes classroom resource packets, reading lists, virtual tours of the White House, short educational videos, historical essays, and a digital library of White House and presidential images. More content will be added in the days ahead so stay tuned

Resources for students and families navigating learning from home; Colorado schools closed through April 17

This week, Gov. Polis took the unprecedented step of suspending in-person learning in public and private schools across the state from March 23 to April 17 as part of the statewide effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. His executive order directs Colorado school districts and the Charter School Institute to make every effort to provide alternative learning opportunities during this time while taking into account the needs of local communities. The order also directs the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) to issue guidance to support P-12 school systems in developing and implementing plans to assist families and students in accessing alternative learning, providing free and reduced-price lunch and breakfast, and offering waivers for instructional time as appropriate.

Before the announcement about statewide school closure, CDE announced a pause on 2019-20 statewide assessments (the Colorado Measures of Academic Success) and accountability. “With the extraordinary actions we are taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s clear that we need to press pause on our CMAS tests this year,” Commissioner Katy Anthes said in a press release. “Students and educators need to feel a sense of stability and normalcy before state tests can be administered and produce valid results. This also means we plan to pause our school and district state accountability system as it relates to state assessments for a year.”

CDE is working with the College Board on possible solutions for the administration of the PSAT and SAT tests in high school. The Department will continue working with schools and districts that are already identified for improvement to help support instruction.

The Children’s Campaign is committed to working with CDE, other advocacy organizations, and our community-facing and youth-serving partners to ensure that students have equitable access to remote learning opportunities, nutritious meals, and other services to support their health and wellbeing while out of school.

In the meantime, we hope the resources below may be a helpful starting point for students and families that are navigating uncharted learning-from-home waters.

Curated learning resources to support students out of school:

COVID-19 resources for parents, families, and those working closely with children:

Leslie Colwell, Colorado Children’s Campaign

I Wish My Teenager Would Panic a Little More

I’m seething just a little bit as I write this, and my poor keyboard is getting the brunt of my frustration.

I have been addicted to my social media feeds over the last couple of weeks, so I’ve seen many articles about how to help our kids get through this unprecedented time. Suggestions for how to get your younger children to stay on track now that schools have moved online, tips for activities that will keep them busy, and how to talk to your kids without panicking them have been all over the news and social media.

What I need is an article that helps me panic my kids.

I have three teenagers, one of whom is home from college. She came home for spring break on March 9th and I suspect that she’s here for the rest of the semester (although her college hasn’t communicated that quite yet). We went through what many teens are experiencing: disappointment with canceled activities and the abrupt end to her freshman year in college. 

But that’s moved on to, “Hey! The rest of my friends from high school are home from college, too!”

Being a mother to an 18-year-old during a quarantine is a little difficult; they’re legally adults, but you still hold the majority of the power. While I can say, “No, you can’t do that” to my 14 and 16-year-olds, that’s a little more difficult with someone who has lived across the country on her own for the last 6 months.

As many of us have experienced, I’ve fluctuated between feeling like I’m overreacting to feeling like I’m not reacting enough. I’ve done what the experts say as far as preparation, but when it comes to reigning in the kids and how much social interaction they’re allowed to have…that’s been more of a grey area for me.

However, it’s about to turn more black and white.

I’ve talked to other parents and asked what they’re doing (although I wish I had more confidence to just say, “This is what we’re doing”) and most seem to be in agreement.

So, why did my daughter just get home from a trip to buy a guitar with two of her friends?

I had given them permission to go through a drive-thru and have lunch at someone’s house. The next thing I know, they’re walking in the door with my daughter’s new purchase with little smiles on their faces like, “We know you won’t like this, but we did it anyway.”

And that’s when I started beating on my keyboard to write this blog.

I looked at those girls – those church-going, straight-A, amazing young women – and said, completely stunned, “I’m about to use a word I never thought I’d use about you three. You’re being selfish.”

I’ve tried to find the balance between being supportive and understanding about all they’re missing during the spring semester…and wanting to shake them and say, “Do you realize there are real problems going on out there? That you’re worried about a sorority formal while I’m watching the economy tank? That by doing what you’re doing, you could prolong this isolation even more?”

From the conversations I’ve had with other parents, I don’t think I’m alone in this. Yes, I want my children to feel safe and secure, but I’m starting to think they also need a wake-up call about what’s really happening. I think that they need to understand the bigger picture. At the very least, I think they need to have their car keys taken away.

Or maybe that’s just what’s about to happen in my house.

Catherine Tidd is the author of Confessions of a Mediocre Widow and the owner of Social Seed Marketing. You can read more of her blogs at www.CatherineTidd.com

 

This can be our finest hour

 

They say in Wuhan you can hear the birds singing

Lockdown

Yes there is fear.

Yes there is isolation.

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.

But,

They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

The sky is no longer thick with fumes

But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

People are singing to each other

across the empty squares,

keeping their windows open

so that those who are alone

may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland

Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

Today a young woman I know

is busy spreading fliers with her number

through the neighbourhood

So that the elders may have someone to call on.

Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples

are preparing to welcome

and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting

All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

To how big we really are.

To how little control we really have.

To what really matters.

To Love.

So we pray and we remember that

Yes there is fear.

But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

But there does not have to be disease of the soul

Yes there is even death.

But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic

The birds are singing again

The sky is clearing,

Spring is coming,

And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

And though you may not be able

to touch across the empty square,

Sing.

– Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFMMarch 13th 2020

Parent’s Guide to Colorado’s Coronavirus Outbreak: Keeping kids busy, school closures and more

Governor Jared Polis issued an executive order closing all of the state’s schools to in-person learning from March 23 to at least April 17 to guard against the spread of the coronavirus and said that we “will limit all mass gatherings to no more than 10 people for the next 30 days unless otherwise extended by the executive director of CDPHE.”

We recently shared these COVID-19 articles:

Children’s Hospital Colorado Answers Your Top Questions

 50 fun things to do when you’re stuck at home during the Coronavirus outbreak. 

What CAN I do during a time of social distancing? 

Incredibly helpful online resources for students and families navigating learning from home

125+ ideas for online learning and fun for kids of all ages

If your children need to stay at home due to the outbreak, HealthyChildren.org suggests trying to keep their days as routine and scheduled as possible. Here are a few tips that can help:

  • Establish daily schedules. Expectations should be clear about when teachers and students need to be logged on. A full day in front of a screen is a lot for kids and teachers, especially for families who may be sharing one device. Many schools are choosing two check-in times – a morning meeting and an afternoon check-in – and then allowing families flexibility about how they organize the at-home school schedule.
  • Address the emotional toll. Check-in with your child, especially those who are less comfortable with digital tools to see if they need any help or someone to talk to. Being sequestered at home can be isolating and exacerbate the fear of dealing with a global crisis. Taking time to check in about feelings of anxiety is just as important as checking on academics. 
  • Keep an eye on media time. Whenever possible, play video games or go online with your child to keep that time structured and limited. If kids are missing their school friends or other family, try video chats to stay in touch.

For younger kids:

  • Read books with your child. It’s not only fun, but reading together strengthens your bond with your child AND helps their development.
  • Make time for active play. Bring out the blocks, balls, jump ropes and buckets and let the creativity go. Play games that kids of all ages can play, like tag or duck duck goose. Let your kids make up new games. Encourage older kids to make up a workout or dance to keep them moving.

Talking to children about C​​OVID-19

There’s a lot of news coverage about the outbreak of COVID-19 and it can be overwhelming for parents and frightening to kids. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents and others who work closely with children to filter information and talk about it in a way that their child can understand. These tips can help:

  • Simple reassurance. Remind children that researchers and doctors are learning as much as they can, as quickly as they can, about the virus and are taking steps to keep everyone safe.
  • Give them control. It’s also a great time to remind your children of what they can do to help – washing their hands often, coughing into a tissue or their sleeves, and getting enough sleep.
  • Watch for signs of anxiety. Children may not have the words to express their worry, but you may see signs of it. They may get cranky, be more clingy, have trouble sleeping, or seem distracted. Keep the reassurance going and try to stick to your normal routines.
  • Monitor their media. Keep young children away from frightening images they may see on TV, social media, computers, etc. For older children, talk together about what they are hearing on the news and correct any misinformation or rumors you may hear.
  • Be a good role model. COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate and neither should we. While COVID-19 started in Wuhan, China, it doesn’t mean that having Asian ancestry – or any other ancestry – makes someone more susceptible to the virus or more contagious. Stigma and discrimination hurt everyone by creating fear or anger towards others. When you show empathy and support to those who are ill, your children will too.

Parents: Take care of YOUR mental health!

  • Relax your body often by doing things that work for you—take deep breaths, stretch, meditate or pray, or engage in activities you enjoy.
  • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do some other activities you enjoy to return to your normal life.
  • Pace yourself between stressful activities, and do something fun after a hard task.
  • Talk about your experiences and feelings to loved ones and friends, if you find it helpful.
  • Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking; consider keeping a journal where you write down things you are grateful for or that are going well.

Stay Informed

Families are encouraged to stay up to date about this situation as we learn more about how to prevent this virus from spreading in homes and in communities. Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment should be your go-to source for the most updated information. 

And most importantly, remember we’re all in this together. Don’t hoard, look out for your loved ones and neighbors (especially those who are elderly) and remember that this, too, shall pass. 

Coronavirus: Children’s Hospital Colorado Answers Your Top Questions

With the new coronavirus in the spotlight for media attention and public concern, Children’s Hospital Colorado asked one of their experts to answer parents’ common questions about the respiratory illness.

Here’s what Chris Nyquist, MD, an infectious disease specialist and Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control at Children’s Hospital Colorado, had to say.

What is this new coronavirus?

The clinical name for this new coronavirus is COVID-19. It was identified as the cause of a respiratory illness outbreak first detected in China in December 2019. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 cases in the United States.

The illness that it causes has been named COronaVIrus Disease-19 (COVID-19). This is a new virus that has not been previously identified in the human population. Early studies suggest that it likely originated from a bat virus.

What are the signs and symptoms?

The most common coronavirus symptoms are fever, cough, muscle aches, tiredness and shortness of breath.

People develop symptoms 2 to 14 days after exposure to COVID-19. This is called the coronavirus incubation period, or the time from when a person is exposed to when they have symptoms.

Most people will get better within a few weeks, but those with a severe case of the disease may take a month or more to recover.

How many cases of coronavirus are there in Colorado?

All confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Colorado will be reported by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environnment (CDPHE).

A video just for kids

It’s normal for children to have questions or to feel a little anxious about COVID-19 and the new coronavirus. Our experts are here to help.
 
From encouraging elbow bumps with friends to singing hand-washing tunes with siblings, here’s a kid-friendly video about the coronavirus.

If you or your child has symptoms that could be coronavirus and need to be seen by a doctor, call your doctor’s office or the ParentSmart Healthline (720-777-0123) to tell them about your symptoms. If your child is experiencing a severe medical emergency (e.g. trouble breathing, seizures), call 911. Do not go inside unannounced into a doctor’s office, emergency department, hospital or medical facility since COVID-19 is highly contagious. When you call the doctor’s office, they will give you information on how to proceed in order to protect other patients and visitors.  Go to Top Questions About COVID-19  for additional information.

How Colorado school districts are preparing for the coronavirus threat

Colorado school districts have pledged to work closely with local public health authorities to keep students safe as federal health officials expressed mounting concern about the spread of coronavirus cases.

In general, districts plan to keep schools open unless public health authorities tell them to close. Some districts said they’re working on ways to continue instruction if schools close, but it’s not clear yet what that would look like — or if it will ever be necessary.

Centers for Disease Control officials said in a news briefing Tuesday that spread of the virus in the United States is inevitable and urged agencies, including school districts, to prepare plans to help slow the spread. Those could include dividing classes into smaller groups or closing school altogether. Those steps are not necessary yet, but school districts should be prepared to put such measures in place, officials said.

 

 

 

-Chalkbeat Colorado, Yesenia Robles 

NICU Moms: It is OK to Grieve

NICU moms are strong. They are warriors. They hold it together and fight for their baby, keeping watch over them as often as possible. 

But NICU moms are in pain. The pain comes not just from delivery, both vaginal and C-section. The pain comes not just from swollen ankles and swollen, well, other bits.  The pain comes not just from the headache you get from Pre-eclampsia or Magnesium infusions and the pain of an empty heart because your baby is not in the same room as you. The pain comes, in part, from grief.

Being pregnant and having a baby is a miraculous process. I never knew how much I could love someone I had never met until I had a miscarriage. We had been trying to get pregnant for about a year and I remember crying tears of joy when I saw the positive pregnancy test. I fell in love with that baby, the idea of that baby, the dream of bringing that baby home, the dream of holidays and traditions with our baby – I fell in love with motherhood the minute the pregnancy test was positive.  I spent 4 weeks imagining the life I would have after I brought my baby home. And then my world was turned upside down when I lost my baby at 10 weeks. 

When a mother finds out that her pregnancy is derailed, regardless of the reason (miscarriage, prematurity, congenital anomalies, traumatic delivery),  it is OK for her to grieve. It is necessary to grieve. It is important to grieve. 

I intentionally titled this post Its OK…”  The worst phrase someone can hear when grieving begins with Its OK”. 

 “Its OK – you can get pregnant again.”

”Its OK – your baby is going to be fine.”

”Its OK – I know you are a fighter and so is your baby.”

Well, quite frankly, no. It is not OK. We dont all know we can get pregnant again. We dont know that everything will be fine when our baby is critically ill. Stop telling us Its going to be fine” and Its going to be ok”. Because you dont know that. And I dont know that. And it is scary. It is ok to feel bad; to feel overwhelmed and scared to breathe. Be sad. Be mad. Be angry. And grieve. Grieve the loss of the normal” pregnancy you wanted. Grieve the loss of having a healthy baby that stays in the room with you and goes home with you. Grieve the ideal breastfeeding journey you were striving for. Grieve the loss of the dreams you had for this baby at this time.  In order to create new dreams for your growing family, you need space to grieve what you anticipated. 

Going through medical school, Id learned there were 5 stages of grief, but it wasnt until I lost my pregnancy that I lived through them.

1. Denial. The first phase is Denial – it helps us survive the grief.  When you start to cramp and bleed at week nine but convince yourself you are just tired or dehydrated. Those first hours after being admitted to Labor and Delivery at 24 weeks with pre-eclampsia, when the doctor tells you that you are going to have a premature baby, and you just know you are going to stay pregnant for another 10 weeks. Those days after you rupture your bag of water at 7 months but try to convince yourself that you just peed. That is denial. Denial lets you control the pace at which your grieve. You get small hints of grief, small moments of panic and then stuff it away with denial.

2. Anger comes next. It is a necessary stage of healing. We direct our anger in different directions – sometimes it is directed at spouses and family, sometimes at the doctors and nurses caring for the baby. Parents can feel anger towards God and even towards their baby.  That anger is ok. You are ok. It is ok to be angry. Anger shows how intensely you love your baby. Often with grief, it is as if you are completely disconnected from the world and the people around you, giving you a sense that you are floating, lost in space. Anger gives you a sense of connection – when you are angry, you are connected. 

3. Bargaining. As the anger fades, and the feelings of grief begin to settle in, the third phase rolls in – bargaining. Bargaining and guilt go hand-in-hand. If only” and I promise” statements fill our brain. If only I hadnt worked out so hard once I found out I was pregnant, I wouldnt have lost my baby. If only I hadnt gone on vacation I wouldnt have delivered early. If only I hadnt gotten so stressed out at work I would have stayed pregnant longer. I promise if you fix everything and make life normal,” I will… Bargaining and guilt hold us in the past preventing us from moving forward. 

4. Depression comes next, moving our brains out of the past and into the present. We have to face the reality of our loss. The loss of the dream. The loss of a healthy child. The realization that life will not be the same. Depression is a natural part of grief, not something we just push through”. We need to feel and acknowledge what we wanted in order to accept where we are. 

5. Acceptance. And that brings us to the final phase of grief – acceptance. Acceptance is not about saying we are ok” or fine”. It is not pretending that everything is as it should be. Acceptance is about living and moving forward with your new reality: Finding routines for splitting your time between the NICU and at home with other children. Finding routines for being with your baby and working so you can save your maternity leave for when your baby comes home. Creating new dreams that are built upon your new reality. 

For me, grief was not linear. I tried to stay in denial until it was ripped away from my grasp.  I would bounce between anger and depression – and then depression settled on me and held on for a long time. Just as I thought I was moving into acceptance, anger would pull me right back and I would be grappling with anger and bargaining all over again.  But my friends and family stuck by me and supported me and eventually, I found my way out of grief, into acceptance, and able to move forward with trying to have the family I wanted. I wont lie – it was hard, really hard. I was scared. What if I lost another baby? (Which I did.) What if Im not strong enough to do this?  But I was strong enough. I braved the next steps, and now I have three healthy children! I am so glad I didnt quit on my dream to have a family. 

Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

— VICKI HARRISON

Both Christie and Katie had babies in the NICU in the last 5 years. They shared their stories with me.

When I heard from the doctors that my baby might not make it to delivery, my way of dealing with it was to pretend that wasnt true. I kept taking bump pictures as if we were going to make it to term. That was my grieving process at the time, complete denial. This is my last bump picture before delivery – you can see my swollen eyes from crying. – Christie, a NICU mom 

Katie writes a lovely recounting of her experience in the NICU, holding her son for the first time, that illustrates the denial and fear that often start the grief process in the NICU: 

Chris and I didnt realize how serious this second surgery was, giving truth to the saying ignorance is bliss.” It was unthinkable that our son was already going to have his second surgery and he was only one week old. The gravitas of the situation became real to us because we were allowed a significant moment before the surgery: we were allowed to hold Tim. I had never cradled my week-old son in my arms. The gesture took me by surprise for a number of reasons. Its an instinct to hold ones baby, yet I was terrified to hold my fragile son and had to be reassured by our primary nurse, Jill, that I could do it. But deeper down, I was afraid it would be my first and last time to hold my son.

Jill moved all the tubes and wires and gently positioned Tim in my arms. It was the first time I felt connected to him outside of my tummy. I was overwhelmed by our embrace and didnt want to let go of him. I was crying so hard my tears were falling on his face. I never felt so alive to the impossible preciousness of each second I had with him. And finally, finally, I felt that bond that mothers feel, that I had been missing. Its hard for many mothers to understand, but NICU moms can relate; I was scared to get attached to him.

For moms in the NICU, moving through grief allows you to accept the reality of holding your baby once a day while they are still less than 2 pounds. It is accepting the little victories of getting central lines and breathing tubes out. It is accepting that you will be an advocate for your childs health.  Moving through grief and processing your grief allows you to enjoy the little moments of joy and big milestones with your #MightyLittle.

Anna Zimmermann is a pediatrician and neonatologist working in Denver, Colorado taking care of sick infants in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU). She has started writing about parenting in her new blog MightyLittles. While writing about all of parenting, one focus is honoring the memories and bringing light to the feelings mom’s have while going through their NICU journey.  You can connect with her at www.mightylittles.com