Parent-Child Conflict During COVID-19

COVID-19 is a crisis.

The stress of exposure, paying for bills, helping your child with their homework, keeping your dog quiet during your meeting, and protecting yourself is overwhelming. As professionals, we have the added pressure of navigating what to say, when you don’t know what tomorrow looks like. If you haven’t heard it today, you are doing amazing and you are helping. Thank you. You amaze me.

Care for Yourself First

When crisis happens, self-care is more important than ever. Especially, as families are trapped inside their home together, it’s important to replace their frustration, anxiousness, and unspent energy in healthy outlets.

Share responsibilities
  • Take turns cleaning – plan out who cleans what and when
While you still need to protect yourself, get outside.
  • Take a walk.
  • Enjoy the fresh air.
  • Open a window to let the air in.
  • Start a new exercise routine.
  • Challenge your friends to a step contest.
  • Go for a drive. Be safe.
Listen to your body.
  • My favorite time of day is my coffee, but I have noticed since COVID-19 started that the extra jolt I get only makes it more difficult to focus on work. Switching to decaf has helped me feel more focused, less stir crazy, and I’m able to enjoy time with my family more.

Parent – Child Conflict

Handling parent-child conflict is another change parent(s) are being asked to make. At Huckleberry House, we’ve changed the advice we are giving as well. Our advice primarily focuses on creating solutions that work within the home. Which often means the parent and child need to find compromises / be willing to change. Here are some tips we give to parents:

Keep your child occupied. Give them tasks to help burn energy. When children have something to do, they don’t search elsewhere.
  • Have ‘kids make dinner’ nights or try new recipes together
  • Find fun craft projects or experiments to do with your child
  • Contest: Who can find the funniest YouTube video?
  • Find a book at CML Digital Library to listen to together
Get creative with punishments. Right now, taking away your child’s access to TV or their phone will most likely have the opposite effect parents want.
  • Add extra chores
  • Put them in charge of walking the dog
  • Find a relative who can take them for the weekend
  • Turn on parenting blockers, limiting the content they access
  • Call a family meeting and talk it out
Be consistent! Everyone in the world is losing their sense of security and consistency. Follow through on your words.
  • Help others by being focused on the present moment.
  • Identify what is within their control.
  • Be a witness to their experience. Normalize their experience. Acknowledge their strength.
  • Seek feedback on how you can support them.
  • Encourage parents to be consistent. If they set a boundary, they must stick to it. Teens who know their parents are not consistent, will act out to force their parents to go back on their words. Worsening the frustration and conflict.
Be responsible. Pick your battles.
  • Being consistent is important. But before you agree or say you are going to do something, consider if it is something you can do long-term.
  • Is this a big enough issue to start a fight?
  • Is this a power struggle with my child?
Talk with youth about COVID-19. Talk about the risks.
  • Share risks as appropriate for their age. We don’t want youth having nightmares or panic attacks. We want them to understand.
  • Teens don’t have the needed brain development to fully think out risks. Talk about risks in detail and make sure they understand what to expect. For example, COVID-19 can cause ARDS, this is what that is. This is what that feels like, sounds like, and happens to your body.
  • Share stats and information that match them.
  • Encourage them to think of others. For example, your friend with asthma – is at high risk. COVID-19 attacks the body’s lungs. If you have asthma, it doesn’t matter how old you are or how healthy you were before. Your lungs may or may not be able to get over COVID-19.
Explain the impact 1 person has on how long we need to remain inside for.
  • The more exposure everyone has, the longer COVID-19 restrictions will continue.
  • It’s not just about you. It’s about your family. Doctors and nurses who might have to treat you. People being able to go back to work. Still being able to use the COTA bus to get to work.
Watch videos to explain COVID-19 with them. Check out some of these videos.

How to prevent youth sneaking out

As COVID-19 restrictions continue, we are getting more calls about teens leaving their home to hang out with friends. Parents are then afraid to let their child return to the home for their own health. Unfortunately, previous respite options, such as Huckleberry House, must limit the children they can take in. Reserving their spots for children who truly cannot be at home or have no where else to go. Tips for preventing sneaking out:

Encourage healthy expression of frustration by all family members –
  • Frustration is a normal emotion that everyone experiences. By talking it out, each person has the opportunity to get it out, before it explodes.
Help parents find the right words
  • Parents need a someone to listen and help them make sense of what they are feeling.
  • Be an advocate for their child by providing them with resources and helpful suggestions on communicating with their child.
Encourage parents to take care of themselves – Maybe even find time to get away
  • Parents have a very difficult role. Help them parent, stay healthy, and stay sane through this pandemic by making sure they are taking time to care for themselves.
  • This not only helps them, but gives youth an adult who models healthy self-care habits. This helps them develop needed skills before they become adults.
Help youth find healthy and safe ways to hang out with friends.
  • Why? Social distancing guidelines were written to protect us and prevent the spread of the disease. But it doesn’t account for a teen’s biological pull towards being with friends.
  • Can their friends hang out 6 ft apart in your backyard?
  • Are you able to help transport them to leave mail or chalk messages for their friends?
  •  If you go to pick up free food from school, can they hang out together before or afterwards?
Target the real reason. Youth leave the home for a reason.
  • What do they gain?
  • Are they sneaking out to get away?
Give choices on chores
  • Would you rather do the dishes or clean your room today?
  • Would you rather get up early or stay up late to finish your chores?
Be aware that parents want change “right now” when in crisis. Respond with…
  • Identify what is within their control
  • Listen to their frustrations
  • Normalize telehealth services and their limitations
  • What are healthy coping skills? Ex. Put on headphones, Read a book, Bubble Baths, Scrap booking, Parenting Support Groups, Journaling, Support from friends

Huckleberry House is still here…

While how we operate has changed, we are still here. Still open. Still focusing on helping youth and their families. Staff are available via our crisis line 24/7/365. If families have an issue or need crisis intervention, have them call our crisis line to speak with an on-call staff member.

We are also offering consultation hours, live webinar training, and a resource library with worksheets. For more information, check out

Join us for Coffee & Consultation – May 1st – Get my ticket 

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Items we need:

Clothing and Personal Items

  • Underwear
  • Sweatpants (Youth M – Adult XXL)
  • Sweatshirts (Youth M – Adult XXL)
  • Shorts (Youth M – Adult XXL)
  • T-shirts (Youth M – Adult XXL)
  • Socks
  • Wallets
  • Earbuds

          Please note that we are unable to accept any used clothing items.

General Supplies

  • Composition notebooks/journals
  • Adult coloring books
  • Colored pencils
  • Art supplies
  • “Smell goods” (i.e. Bath & Body Works)

Toiletries and Hygiene Products

  • Deodorant
  • Shampoo and conditioner*
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Body soap*
  • Tootbrushes and toothpaste*
  • Brushes and combs
  • Ethnic hair care products

    The * denotes that the item must be in a full size bottle.

Misellaneous Items

  • Baby items
  • Pillows
  • Solid color twin comforters and sheet sets
  • Kitchen utensils, general cleaning and laundry supplies, picture frames
  • Non-perishable food items for youth outreach (crackers, cup of soup, fruit snacks, chips)
  • Gift cards from $5 to $25 for fast food restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations
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