Take five deep breaths and then consider the cause of your stress,” “Are you actually feeling overwhelmed by their questions, or are you too busy or exhausted to manage their request? Ask yourself if there is something you can do right now — is the anxiety within your control or out of your control? Do you have the bandwidth to help your child right now? Maybe you need to finish your work or eat dinner first.”
These same guidelines apply when it comes to remote learning. If your child is uncomfortable speaking up in a virtual classroom, talk to their teacher and ask to work up to real-time participation. They might start by sending the teacher ideas ahead of time and just listening during class, with their camera and microphone off. Then they might work up text chatting in real time or talking to the class while still keeping the camera off. Going slowly, trying different strategies and giving your child plenty of time to practice can help ease the challenges of this new format.
You might remind your child of the rules or the schedule when they’re having trouble sticking to them, but it’s best not to spend a lot of time scolding or arguing. Positive reinforcement doesn’t have to be complicated. It might be a reward like extra screen time or a special snack, but it can also be a high five or an enthusiastic “Good job letting your brother have his turn on time!” Especially for younger kids, even small bursts of attention and affirmation from parents can really help siblings follow the rules.
- What is positive attention? The idea is that for children, parental attention is so powerful that whatever behavior we pay attention to will increase, even if we’re telling them to stop. Essentially, rather than chiding them for what they’re doing wrong we want to catch kids doing right. It’s a simple shift, but one that goes against centuries of parenting norms and takes some practice before it becomes second nature.
- Labeled Praise. ”Instead of saying “great job!” or “I love how you’re doing that,” try to spell out exactly what they are doing well. For example, you could say “I love how you are sharing your crayons with your sibling” or “it’s awesome that you finished your homework before asking to use your tablet.”