How often do you experience tantrums, meltdowns, and refusals in your home? If you’ve experienced more of them during at-home learning than before, so have most parents! The unexpected challenges kids have faced the past year contributes to behaviors, and can lead to an all-around stressful home environment. If you’re in this boat, finding proactive methods will be key in creating balance. Let’s talk about managing behaviors in your home!
What kids need most amidst the ambiguity of distance learning is exactly what they may be lacking: structure. There must be a clear delineation between what is “school” and what is “home”. Set up a table that is for school alone. Partitions around the table can aid attention. You may even try putting tape on the ground for where school starts and home “ends”. Create this space to resemble school as much as possible.
Visual cues can work wonders. Create a schedule for your child (visual or written, depending on their age), or use a token board to motivate them throughout their school day. Having different devices for different uses, and setting parent controls on school devices, helps a child differentiate between work and recreation. This will make work time more productive.
Along with structure comes consistency. Without it, the structures we set won’t mean much. Establish a clear routine that a child can count on every day, as close to their previous school routine as possible. The unknown breeds anxiety, and can lead to behaviors. When a child knows what’s expected of them will help them feel calm and work with a new environment. When we give children a clear and consistent routine that they can count on, we avoid the drama that comes with lack of certainty.
Behavior analyst, Rima Frederickson, advises parents to provide the same accommodations to children at home as they had in school (e.g. seating, fidgets, movement breaks, etc.) Children are at risk of regressing without the structure and social interaction that school provided in the past. Rima urges parents to help their child maintain the things they enjoyed doing in the past, even if it’s a modified version. Communication may look different these days, but it doesn’t have to stop! For example, instead of waiting to see a close friend, children can send letters or projects they’ve created in the mail.
Set aside time to teach children the play skills they will need when they return to their peers. This can be practicing eye contact, conversation tactics, or social awareness. Role-playing with these activities with a parent gives your child a safe place to practice for when they will be able to apply them again.
If you’ve established consistent structure within your home that resembles a typical social and academic setting for your child, and you still have concerns, seeking help from a professional is a healthy option! Gateway Learning Group has trained professionals who can establish a behavior plan for your child, and give you the results you’re looking for.
Watch Rima’s full interview here.