By Master Trainer Fatima Zaidi
The federal government and CDC released guidelines to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. As a result, millions of families will be home for quite some time, leaving parents struggling to find things to do with their kids while working from home. Juggling work and family is hard enough without COVID-19 around. Here are some general tips to keep in mind when you are planning your family time.
There is no academic emergency; home does not need to be a school
Most of us have never experienced anything like this. It’s important to acknowledge the crisis and talk about it with your children. It may be impractical to try to make home a school. If academic learning is difficult for your children, this may not be the time to focus on academics. Your children can still be productive by learning through play, helping around the house, and participating in family discussions. Think about the topics school doesn’t teach. Can you think of a fun way to teach this at home?
Offer screen time when you have important work to get done
If you are a parent working from home with kids, screen time may be a helpful tool to keep your children engaged so that you can get important work done. Be careful about how much screen time you offer: If screen time is available too often, children may become bored, sad, and frustrated (even when they keep asking for their screens).
To keep screen time effective, it’s important to only allow access during important work time or to help motivate your kids to help you around the house. Balance screen time with other leisure activities. Some children may not know how to interact with certain toys or leisure activities. It’s important to show them how to play new games and activities, learn to use things in an imaginative or unusual but fun way, or to show them the fun things you did when you were young. Chances are they may enjoy them too, and you can enjoy them together.
Our modern world asks a lot from parents. Professional development and family development both require a lot of patience and attention. If you wanted to focus on one goal, consider the value of building rapport. Building rapport increases compliance, which mitigates risky behaviors in adolescents and adulthood, increases the quality of life, and builds secure attachment. If you can only spare 15 minutes, spend that time playing with your children. Let your children show you how they have fun. Don’t instruct, don’t ask hard questions. “Play is the opposite of work;” as Shonda Rhimes stated in her TED talk.
So, take a deep breath in, empathize, and embrace the experience. Take this time to communicate respect and promote dignity by avoiding power struggles, paring down instructions, offering more choices, giving descriptive praise, and taking an interest in their interests.
Check out some of our other blog posts to help handle your kids at home: Escape Maintained Challenging Behavior and How to Make Reinforcement Effective.