Talking with children & youth about COVID-19

Limestone Learning Foundation

Click here for information on how to access mental health & well-being supports during the summer break.

Wellness Resources & Supports

As conversations around COVID-19 continue, and we begin to prepare for a new school year, children and youth may experience a range of emotions. As parents/caregivers and family members, the best thing you can do is maintain communication with your children and youth and to be patient and understanding.

Sometimes changes in behaviour or emotions are a sign that your child/youth need more support for their mental health. Here are some signs to watch for:

  • Changes in behaviour or emotions that seem out of proportion even with the current circumstances (e.g., angry outbursts, depressed mood, sense of panic).
  • The changes last most of the day, every day.
  • The changes last for a sustained period of time (e.g., more than a week).
  • The changes seem to interfere with your child’s or teen’s thoughts, feelings or daily functioning – for example, they may not do activities they normally enjoy, they’re crying more than usual, or they may not interact with you as much as they usually do.
  • Your child or teen tells you they’re feeling sad or anxious a lot.
  • If your child expresses thoughts of hurting them self or engages in suicidal behavior, seek help from a mental health professional immediately (see emergency protocols above and below).

Parents, family members, and other trusted adults can play an important role in helping children/youth make sense of what they hear in a way that provides developmentally-appropriate and factual information about the local situation from KFL&A Public Health, and helping children/youth to feel some level of control. We can also model for children and youth the importance of compassion, caring, and collective responsibility for the wellness of those around us.


  • Stay calm. Children look to us for how to respond to stressful situations. Think about ways to manage the stress you might be carrying (talking with a friend, going for a walk, focusing on gratitude, etc.) so that you can be at your best in supporting your children. If you are feeling overwhelmed or extremely worried, pause and take a breath before speaking with your child about COVID-19.
  • Keep it simple. The COVID-19 situation can feel overwhelming and complex. There is a lot of information coming at us at once.  You can help your child by breaking it down into more manageable parts and focusing on the things that are most important to them.  Having some language to help them to understand the situation, that you can repeat in calm ways, can help.
  • Listen. Let your child talk through how they’re feeling. Acknowledge their emotions and help to label them. You can say, “Yes, I can see you’re feeling worried” or “it is okay to feel angry that you can’t see grandma right now.” Some children may not easily talk about their feelings or have the vocabulary to identify and label different feelings. If you’re noticing different behaviour, you can say. “I wonder if you might be feeling worried, or sad?” and, “what might help you feel better?”
  • Keep information age-appropriate. Answer questions as factually as possible but keep responses age-appropriate. Balance the facts with reassurance. Your child needs to know that they, and you, are safe. Limit exposure. Avoid listening to or watching news coverage about the pandemic with young children around. Avoid having adult conversations about your own worries in front of children. Encourage older children to be aware of their social media use and to take breaks from this.  Help them to think critically about what they are reading on-line, sorting myths from facts.
  • Try to establish a flexible routine for your child. This might include a regular, but relaxed, time for waking and sleeping, and perhaps for meals and snacks. Some parents will be working from home and may have new opportunities to connect with their child during the day.  Playing and talking together can help everyone to feel more relaxed.  This can take some planning at first while new schedules are being worked out.  Watch for those natural moments when you can just be together and follow your child’s lead.
  • Be patient and understanding. You may notice behaviour changes in your child. Children react differently to changes in routine and stress. They may become frustrated more easily, or more emotional, or engage in things they did at a much younger age. Try to be understanding with your child, as they may just need more reassurance and calm during this time.


  • Be patient and understanding. Teens are dealing with less social contact and cancelled events. This can be upsetting. Try to be patient and understanding – try not to minimize their feelings. Instead, listen and express compassion.
  • Encourage balance. Some teens may turn to Netflix, social media or gaming as a distraction from the day-to-day reality of social distancing—this is to be expected and you may also find you’re looking for distractions yourself. Taking breaks from screen time is helpful. Try to encourage regular sleep habits. You could invite your teen to get outside for daily walks with you, or to do some cooking together.
  • Pause before talking. With so much news coverage and talk about COVID-19, over exposure is very possible. You can provide a break for your teen by not discussing the situation in front of them unless they want to talk about it.
  • Listen and provide reassurance when you can. Some teens may be worried about the health of their friends and family members, about the size of the pandemic locally and globally, or about lost class time and their ability to complete courses. If they express concerns to you, listen to their concerns and try to provide reassurance. For teens who are concerned about lost class time and completing courses, reassure them that school staff understand and appreciate their concern. Tell them more information will come and you’ll work through it together.

It's important to note that all of us are affected to some degree by the pandemic, and depending on our personal circumstances there may be more or less cause for concern. In any case, remember to pause, and take the time you need and deserve to rest and relax, to be with family and friends, and to do the things that help you to stay well.

Helpful Tip Sheets/Resources

If at any time a student or family is looking for resources in their community, they can call 211 or go online to find programs and services in your community.

Community-Based Mental Health and Addictions Services

  • Addiction & Mental Health Services KFL&A – No walk-in services are being provided at this time and all groups have been put on hold. All clients continue to have access to staff/their workers by phone. The 24/7 Crisis Lines will continue as usual.  
    • Crisis Line Numbers:
      • Kingston & Frontenac – 613-544-4229
      • Lennox & Addington – 613-354-7388

  • Kairos/Youth Diversion – Continued support via platforms of social media. Face-to-face contact will be offered in cases of crisis/emergency, but social distancing practices will be in place.

  • Kingston Health Sciences Centre
    •  Hotel DieuNo non-essential face to face contact, but support is still being provided via phone/ OTN as available

  • Maltby Centre - Providing treatment and therapy by telephone and/or video for children, youth and young adults up until 24 years of age. Starting on July 7, 2020, Maltby will be providing Mental Health Access which is a modified form of their Walk-in Clinic. Until the end of July 2020, that will be the only service that returns in-person.  Clients/families will be required to pre-schedule their appointment and in-person service will only be provided to new clients. Maltby will continue to offer a hybrid of services including the in-person service described here, as well as their full array of virtual services. Please note that they will be offering new clients the option to receive their initial visit in-person, or virtually over the Zoom platform. 
    • Crisis Numbers:
    • Monday-Friday – 613-546-8535 and let them know that your situation is urgent
    • After hours and weekends – 613-544-4229 and a service provider will help guide you to the right services

  • One Roof – Office at 426 Barrie St is closed. Youth Services staff will be working out of Home Base Housing Main Office at 540 Montreal Street, Monday-Friday 9 a.m.– 4:30 p.m. Telephone support is being provided at 613-776-9996.  

  • Resolve Counselling – All clinics and groups are postponed until further notice. Counselling services remain available by phone. For new client intakes call 613-549-7850 or email.

  • Sexual Assault Centre Kingston (SACK) – The centre is closed, but counselling services remain available to clients exclusively through video and telephone counselling. New referrals are being accepted through distance counselling and coordinators are available via 613-545-0762.  
    • Crisis Line - 613-544-6424 or 1-877-544-6424.
    • Chat and Text - 613-544-6424 Monday-Friday, 4-10 p.m. 
  • Lennox & Addington Youth Hub – Closed until further notice. Staff will be monitoring the Youth Hub phone number (613-308-9338) and email  and will respond to all inquiries in a timely manner.

  • Rural Frontenac Community ServicesYouth Hub and facilities are currently closed. Services are available by telephone between 9 a.m.– 4 p.m. Call Sarah at 613-532-3152.

  • Youthab - In-person appointments are being offered where needed 2 days/week (Tuesday/Wednesday) out of a temporary office at Family and Children’s Services, 817 Division St. These appointments are assessed based for need and will be triaged. Staff are providing regular check-ins via phone and providing resources through email.


Online Wellness Resources

  • Kids Help Phone – Children and youth can contact Kids Help Phone 24/7 from anywhere in Canada, via phonetextoronline chat.

  • Youth Mental Health Resource Hub -, School Mental Health Ontario and Kids Help Phone have partnered to create an online hub to help students take care of their mental health and look after one another.

  • Wellness Together Canada: Mental Health and Substance Use Support – free online resources, tools, apps and connections to trained volunteers and qualified mental health professionals when needed. 
  • Big White Wall – A free, anonymous online community, monitored 24/7 by trained professionals. Not intended for individuals in an emergency.

  • Bounce Back – A free online or telephone skill-building program designed to help adults and youth 15+ manage low mood, mild to moderate depression, anxiety, stress, or worry.
  • Moodgym – An online self-help program designed to help users prevent and manage symptoms of depression and anxiety.

  • Anxiety Canada - Free online, self-help, and evidence-based resources on anxiety, including resources specific to COVD-19. 
  • 12 Step Meetings - Online AA meetings in various formats, including email, chat room, audio/video, discussion forums, and telephone. 


Emergency Food & Meal Programs

  • Partners in Mission Food Bank, 140 Hickson Ave., Kingston – Open Regular Hours 8:30 a.m. -12 p.m., 1 -4 p.m. Please call 613-384-4534 for appointment. No walk in service.

  • Martha’s Table, 629 Princess St., Kingston – Providing take-away hot meals Monday-Sunday from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. 

  • Lionhearts
    • 263 Weller Ave., Kingston - Providing take-home meals every day 5 - 6 p.m.
    • 30 Alma St., Kingston - Providing take-home meals every day 6 - 7 p.m.

  • Lunch by George, 129 Wellington St., Kingston – Providing hot take-out meals or bag lunches Monday-Friday 11 -11:30 a.m.
  • KHealth Student Community Support Program: Offering grocery delivery and check ins. Call 613-817-7787 or email to request assistance.

  • Mutual Aid Katarokwi: Offering check ins, grocery/pharmacy/food bank box delivery. Leave a message at 613-665-2959 or send an email.
  • North Frontenac Food Bank, 14152 Road 38, Sharbot Lake. Call 613-532-8855 for appointment.

  • Salvation Army, 342 Patrick St., Kingston – Take-away prepared food baskets Monday-Friday 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.
  • St. Mary’s Cathedral, 260 Brock St., Kingston –Providing take-away light food/snacks Monday to Friday, 1-4 p.m.

  • St. Vincent de Paul85 Stephen St., Kingston – Providing bag lunches Monday-Friday 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Food Pantry available by appointment.

Emergency Shelter Options

  • In From The ColdIn response to keeping shelter clients safe during the COVID 19 pandemic, Home Base Housing has moved In From the Cold Emergency Shelter for homeless adults (25+ yrs) to 670 Maclean Court, the former location of Fairfield Manor East, off Highway 15 and off of Gore Road. The new telephone number is 613-777-1318. Anyone who leaves In From the Cold will not be allowed to return for a minimum of 14 days.
  • Kingston Youth Shelter – Relocated to 113 Lower Union Street so that social distancing can be practiced. Counsellors can be reached via email. The Family Mediation Worker and Prevention Diversion Worker continue to provide support to families and youth via phone, text and email. They are unable to meet with clients face-to-face until further notice.
  • Interval House – No changes advertised at this time

The Limestone District School Board is situated on traditional territories of the Anishinaabe & Haudenosaunee.