Coronavirus and the Challenging Child
5 reasonable tips to make lockdown more manageable and increase positivity in your home.
A huge mess. Multiple tantrums and power struggles. Feelings of stress, anger, and hopelessness and it’s only 9AM. Sound familiar?
Being quarantined with the kids home can be very difficult, but when you have a child who is extra challenging, it's even more difficult. Trying to get him or her to keep up with classes and homework is a nightmare. It could be that the misbehaviors, emotional regulation issues, difficulties with sitting still and focusing have gotten much worse during this time. So many parents are left feeling hopeless and totally drained. It is so easy to get stuck in a cycle of total negativity between you and your child.
Here are a few tips that will hopefully make this time in lockdown easier for you, your child, and your whole family!
1. Remember that this is a hard time for everyone…including your child! He or she is totally off schedule just like you are. Many parents have accepted that the house will be a little messier during this time, simpler dinners, and more piles of laundry. It is totally understandable. We to adjust our expectations for our children as well, especially the more challenging child who anyways struggles with being off schedule. Doesn’t he or she have an excuse as well? Yes of course there still needs to be proper discipline during this time, but discipline given with this understanding will be that much more effective.
2. Keeping the relationship strong trumps everything. Making sure that you come out of this time with your relationship intact is much more important that making sure he or she completes all of the given homework assignments. Yes homework and responsibilities are important, but not if it means ruining your relationship. There are ways to accomplish both. Try spending quality time each day with your child; play a game, read a book together, just talk, bake a cake together, or whatever works for you and both of your interests.
3. Avoid power struggles at all costs. If your child isn't listening, don't threaten, repeat over and over again in angry voice, or yell. Take calm action if necessary. If there is nothing you can do to get your child to stop or listen besides entering a power struggle, back down and then give a consequence in a calm but confident manner and do not respond to any yelling or complaining.
For example, you ask your child to do something and he says no. You ask again, he says no, and you feel your blood pressure rising and begin to yell or threaten. At this point, it would be best to just back down and not say anything. Sooner or later, when your child comes to ask you for something, you simply respond: I cannot respond until you clean up what I asked you to. If you see this leading to another power struggle, best to ignore and just calmly give a consequence, either on the spot or when you calm down. If it is a very young child, the consequence should be given right away.
4. Positivity does wonders. Yes, it is so hard to stay positive at this time, especially when your child is acting very negatively. But it's worth trying. You'll be shocked to see how much your positive mood and comments can change the whole atmosphere in the house. Try telling each child once a day something you love about them!
5. Your children are learning a lot about life from you especially during this time. They are learning how to respond to stress and fear. They are watching how we respond to being in a situation we do not want to be in, the fear of the unknown, and frustration. Grab the opportunity to respond to teach your children the invaluable lesson of how to properly respond to life’s challenges. Your children are in a different type of school now which can teach them real life long lessons.
As always, there needs to be a healthy balance of relationship building and discipline. It is especially important to work on the relationship building skills during this time because so many of us have been over focusing on disciplining. That said, the tests parents are being faced with are overwhelming and whatever you are doing is extremely commendable; you're all heroes. It's not simple to being a full time parent, teacher, and activity coordinator!
The coronavirus will come and go with God’s help, but the painful words and fighting will not pass as easily. Let’s try to use this time to connect to our children and be the example we want them to be.