Lockdown Life is Hard: 6 Tips to Make it Easier

May 13, 2020

As a mom living this whole lockdown/ quarantine/ stay at home life, I find I have less time than ever. The science of behavior is more important for parents than it has ever been. It truly can save our sanity and help our kids be their best selves!

Leanne Page

Mom and BCBA

As a mom living this whole lockdown/ quarantine/ stay at home life, I find I have less time than ever. The science of behavior is more important for parents than it has ever been. It truly can save our sanity and help our kids be their best selves!

Here are 6 quick tips to help you increase connection, turn things positive, and prevent problem behavior in your homes right now. 

  1. Be a good model. 

With our whole family at home all the time now, it's easy to forget that little eyes are watching. Little ears are listening. Want to talk about the latest Covid numbers in your county with your spouse? Maybe wait until the kids aren't right there with you to listen to this.

Frustrated with how others aren't following the stay at home orders? Maybe air this frustration out loud after the kids are in bed. Stressed and so over doing home school/crisis school tasks? Again - do the kids need to hear you say this out loud?

Know your audience. When you need to vent, send the kids outside to play. Send them to another room to do something fun. They are dealing with all this stress right now, too.

Be a good model - even if you don't feel like it. Then you can air your frustrations with an adult - your spouse, partner, via phone of face time - when the kids aren't right there hanging on every word.

 

  1. Rearrange your physical space. 

Stuck at home for what feels like forever? Change things up to keep it interesting and somewhat less boring. Just rearranging things can prevent problem behavior chains that have been happening! Win-win!

Ideas to change up your environment:

  • Toy rotation. Clean out toys. Put some away up high and out of sight. Every week or so, switch them out.
  • Build a fort to play in, read in, do school work in. Leave up for up to a week. Take it down and do it again in a few weeks.
  • Rearrange furniture. It makes "new" play areas and keeps things feeling fresh.
  • Put away art supplies so you only get out a few at a time. Mom controls access to the art supplies, play-doh, etc. Then when you get them out- do it for intentional activities. Make it exciting! Put away art supplies so you only get out a few at a time. Make it exciting!

 

  1. Tell me something good. 

You try to come up with fun and different activities to keep your kids entertained in the midst of self-isolation, quarantine, lockdown, whatever you call it. And do your kids thank you and tell you how wonderful you are and that the hard work of planning is totally worth it?!

No? What? They aren't constantly covering you in praise and adoration?

Here's an idea to help with those seemingly ungrateful attitudes. Model gratitude. Every day say out loud the 1 thing you are most thankful for today. Maybe do this at the dinner table, breakfast table, in the middle of play time- whenever!

You can say "Tell me something good" and then start by saying your own thing.

Let "Tell me something good" become a family tradition by doing it every single day.

There's all kinds of research about practicing gratitude. I already shared above how being a good model is important. Model gratitude. Now is the perfect time to start.

 

  1. Errorless Learning

One easy tip to keep things on track: use errorless learning. That means preventing errors.

Example:
If you need your child to speak respectfully, jump in and model/demonstrate what to say before the grumpy/sassy back talk even comes out of their mouth.

Mom: "I need you to finish this assignment, then you can have free time."
Kid: starts grumbling, rolls eyes, whining noises, etc.
Mom jumps in: "Yes ma'am."
Kid (even if it's begrudgingly): "Yes ma'am."

Model and prevent errors when you need to!

Learn more about errorless learning here.

 

  1. Give lots of little reinforcement throughout each task. 

Now that we are doing home schooling or crisis schooling, one of the biggest issues parents are complaining about is this: struggling to get through school assignments.

To avoid power struggles, we've got to find a way to keep our kids on task to actually complete their school work!

One quick idea: give lots of positive reinforcement DURING school work time, not just at the END.

As they are working, give a high five, a pat on the back, a smile, a praise statement, a compliment, etc. You don't need to stop them mid-task and give a reward like candy or screen time, but some good praise and attention along the way can make a BIG difference!

Don't wait til the end to give good reinforcement. Give little bits throughout and then a bigger reward when the whole school task is done.

Increase the positives. Decrease the power struggles. It can help all of us right now!

 

  1. Do the rewards together. 

If you are using positive reinforcement, you are giving rewards and GOOD stuff when your child listens to you. But can we also use this to increase connection? How about you DO the GOOD stuff together?

Instead of giving your kid a reward and walking away, join them for a few minutes. That's where the relationship building magic happens.

Examples to try:
--Play a favorite board game as a reward
--Free time- mom plays for the first 5 minutes, then gets back to her work
--Reward of getting to stay up late- 10 extra minutes WITH mom or dad reading together

You don't have to give up all your nonexistent free time. Just a few minutes can make a big difference! Do the reward WITH your child. In behavior science speak, you are pairing yourself with reinforcement which then makes you more reinforcing to your child.

Real talk: do fun stuff together. Give the best things as rewards for listening to mom. Build connection and build up the behavior of actually listening to mom at the same time. Boom.

 

This at home life is no joke. The stressors are everywhere. Give yourself and your kids a lot of grace. Behavior speak, give extra chances and more positive reinforcement. We got this! 

 

Leanne Page is a BCBA, parent coach, mom, and best-selling author. You can find more behavior tools for parents at ParentingwithABA.org. Her newest book Enjoy Parenting is available on Amazon


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