Don’t Go Insane: Managing Your Children’s Behavior While Everyone is Home
Is your house currently a multiple grade level classroom, a cafeteria, a gym, an art room, a science lab, a library, a music room, an office for you, and a conference call location for your partner? We get it. This is a challenge.
In the meantime, we hope the following suggestions and resources are beneficial for helping navigate why your child is doing what they’re doing – and how to not go crazy on top of it all. Here are some suggestions for promoting engagement and appropriate behavior so your family stays sane while spending all your time under one roof.
- Look at behavior as communication. Behavior is anything anyone says or does. It is influenced by and affects the environment. All behavior serves a function. Your child may be too little or not understand how to ask for what they want appropriately. Try to think about why your child is doing what they are doing. Are they trying to get your attention? Are they trying to escape from or avoid something? Do they want something or some activity? Does it feel good, like spinning or dancing? If you view behavior as communication and try to figure out what your child wants, it will help you better understand why your child is doing what they’re doing.
- Find an appropriate replacement behavior for challenging behavior. Once you figure out the function, teach your child how to ask for what they want in a way that works for your family. If your child is screaming and yelling for your attention, try to teach them how to ask in a regular voice for you to play with them. If your child is hitting every time her brother steals something from her, teach her to tell you so you can take care of it. You may have to brainstorm when you are calm and practice when your child is not upset but it will pay off in the long run.
- Attend to your child. Comment specifically on what they are doing. For example, “That’s a pretty color blue you are coloring with.” Focus on your child, and avoid using your phone or other electronic device. If you are already attending to your child, then they are less likely to display challenging behavior.
- Praise the good stuff. If you see your child doing things you like, then praise them for it. Behavior-specific praise is best so they know exactly what you like. For example, “Great playing with your toys” or “Nice sharing with your sister.”
- Give effective instructions. Try to limit the amount of instructions you give to your child. Is what you are asking them to do necessary? Make instructions simple and specific – and then follow through! If you follow through on all the instructions you give, your child will learn that you say what you mean and that they need to do what you ask in order for your family to better function.
- Stick to your normal daily routine as much as possible. The more you can provide normalcy for your child the better. Wake up, get dressed, and eat breakfast as you would any other day. Go to bed around the same time.
- Give your child a schedule. Children are used to following a schedule at school. A list of activities for the day can prompt engagement and provide structure during this confusing time. You can include specific leisure activities, meals, hygiene, homework, and even family time. Write a list of activities and the time your child should start the task. You could even use pictures of the activities and a timer to signal the length of the activity. If printing is not an option then try a picture folder on a phone or tablet.
If you enjoyed these tips, check out our Purposeful Parenting online webinars and our other blog posts! Follow us on social media for more updates, tips, and resources! Please share pictures and ideas from your houses with us on social media! Also, let us know what you need to get by! Let’s create a supportive online community!