Guidance for parents and guardians (COVID-19)

Parenting can be challenging under normal circumstances and it may be especially difficult during this uncertain time. Daily work, home and school routines have changed. Adjusting to these changes can be hard for children, teenagers and for you. Here are some tips that the World Health Organization recommends to help.

Create a flexible but consistent daily routine

Make a schedule for you and your children that has time for structured activities as well as free time. This can help children feel more secure and be better behaved. Children or teenagers can help plan the routine for the day (World Health Organization). Children will follow this schedule better if they help to make it. You can try scheduling time for exercise in each day. This helps with stress and kids with lots of energy at home!

Keep it positive

Children and teens are much more likely to do what we ask if we give them positive instructions (World Health Organization) and lots of praise for what they do right. For example, say the behaviour you want to see and try using positive words when telling your child what to do. For example, try saying “Please put your clothes away” instead of “Don’t make a mess”. Praise your child when they are behaving well.

Spend one-on-one time

Each day, set aside time to each day to spend (World Health Organization) with each of your children. Ask them what they’d like to do and turn off the TV or put down the phone during this time. Try reading a book, dancing to music or cooking your favourite meal!

Keeping calm and managing stress

This is a stressful time (World Health Organization). Try to take care of yourself, so you can support your children. A good way to get some quiet time is to set up activities that your kids can do on their own that encourage creativity. Remember, you are not alone, reach out and connect with other parents. Talking to others can help ease stress.

If you need more advice, local parenting services are available online at

Physical (social) distancing for kids

You might be wondering how to talk about COVID-19 and physical distancing with kids in a way that will be reassuring and not make kids more worried than they already may be.

You can reassure your children by talking about all the things they are already doing to keep themselves safe and healthy. For example, hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette and not touching their face. Remind them that by staying away from other, they are helping to keep themselves and others healthy. This also means no playdates and no sleepovers.

Support your family’s mental health during COVID-19

Your children probably have a lot of questions about COVID-19, or why schools and activities have been cancelled. Don’t be afraid to chat with your children. Give them space to share how they’re feeling and be supportive by letting them know you’re there to listen.

Pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding during COVID-19

We want to support you to make the best decisions for you and your baby. We encourage all breastfeeding mothers to continue breastfeeding, for more information the following resources from Health Canada and SafelyFed Canada may be helpful. You can also visit our breastfeeding section for more general breastfeeding information.

For other breastfeeding services available in your community, visit or call Telehealth at 1.866.797.0000 for 24/7 breastfeeding support.

Remember, we are here for you. If you have questions about breastfeeding or feeding your baby, call to speak with one of our public health nurses at 705.522.9200, ext. 342 (toll-free 1.866.522.9200).

This item was last modified on May 11, 2020