Since we have all been spending more time at home with kids, the BEABA team asked Certified Parenting Coach Kacie Ellis to dish on some of her expert parenting tips for life in lockdown and how to best manage the little ones during this time.
Easy ways to keep kids entertained while at home?
Getting outside to play is always a great way to entertain kids. Go for a walk, have a picnic in your backyard, explore nature. We love collecting things we find in nature and doing crafts with them when we get home. I share a lot of crafts on my Instagram and blog. We also love to turn on music and have dance parties.
What about keeping them calm?
To help keep kids calm at home, I’d suggest giving them opportunities to get their energy out. And like with everything, kids learn by watching us. So, if you want your child to be calm, model what being calm looks like.
How to balance work with teaching?
Many parents are now having to wear several hats at once (parent, employee, teacher, etc.), so it’s important to give yourself grace. You are now doing the job of 3+ people. That’s a lot!
When working from home, there are going to be times when you need your kids to be calm and quiet so you can hop on a conference call for work. To help increase your chances of well-behaved kids while you’re working, make sure that you are taking time out of your day to give your kids your 100% focused attention. Even just 5 or 10 minutes of your undivided attention will improve your child’s behavior and make it less likely that they will misbehave during inappropriate times to try to gain your attention. Children have a need for your attention (whether good or bad, attention is attention to a child), so if you can fill that need with appropriate behavior, they won’t need to misbehave in order to fill their need of attention from you. It can also be helpful to take them on a walk or turn on music beforehand so they can dance and move and get their energy out. Or have a special toy that only comes out when you need your child to stay calm and quiet.
Most importantly, make sure that you are taking care of yourself and making self-care a priority. Find some way to nourish yourself (see this post for ideas). When you make self-care a priority, you will have more patience to take on the stress of all the different hats you are wearing.
Any advice for teaching your children about what’s currently happening?
Be honest, yet age-appropriate. Saying nothing doesn’t protect children. They already know something is different in their day-to-day life (whether that’s no school, no library storytime, mom and dad home more, etc..), so it’s best to have open and honest communication about it while being aware of what’s age-appropriate for your child. Young children especially can’t fully grasp what this all means, and we definitely don’t want to scare them. Let them know that there is a germ that makes some people really sick and that we need to do our part in keeping everyone safe and healthy by staying home and washing our hands. I wouldn’t recommend telling young children that people are dying from this because it will cause them unnecessary stress and they will worry more than needed.
Schedule or no schedule during this time? Do you think one is better or more beneficial? A schedule is very beneficial to kids; however, it doesn’t need to be a strict hour by hour schedule. Think of it more as a rhythm or routine, an order in which things occur. Children aren’t in control of many things in their lives, and a lack of routine can cause them to feel even less in control. A schedule provides them with security and predictably. They can expect what’s next to come, so it gives them a sense of control. It reduces anxiety, provides independence, and builds self-esteem.
An example schedule of what our day looks like is:
Tips for getting kids to stop touching their faces?
This is a tough one because aside from keeping them in a straight jacket (which I don’t recommend), we don’t have full control over them touching their faces. The best thing you can do is to be proactive. Wash their hands after they touch anything that might be contaminated so if they do touch their faces, they most likely won’t get sick from it. And when they do touch their faces, stay calm and in a neutral tone say, “I can’t let you touch your face” and help them to move their hands away from their face. If you have a big reaction to them touching their face, you will give that behavior a lot of power and they will be more likely to do it again. Wash their hands, expect that they will touch their face, and stay calm when they do while helping them to stop touching their face.
You can check out more parenting content from Ellis on her website Element of Ellis.
At BEABA, you can catch more advice from Kacie over on our blog, “Tantrums & Discipline: Advice from a Parenting Coach.“