Homeschooling Tips from a Behaviour Therapist

April 23, 2020 by Hannah
Image Behaviour coach Jessica B offers tips on how to cope with COVID-19 and get your family into a great space to homeschool. She highlights some of the ways that behaviour coaches can help with in these unprecedented times including reducing “tech-rage” and how to deal with the “no, I don’t want to!”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are practising social distancing and schools have closed from Friday, 20th March. As a result, many families have had huge changes in their schedules, impacting their home and working environments. As households have had to become self contained due to Social Distancing parents are encountering a range of issues that have magnified due to this unprecedented time. Behaviour coaches can be excellent people to turn to and help families adjust to this change in routine. 

A behaviour coach helps you to look at current behaviourally challenging areas for your family and child. Typically these are focused around recent changes to routines and boundaries in parts of you or your child’s life. Behaviour coaches then evaluate these problems to help identify where the barriers are and offer a range of scientifically validated techniques to help reduce or remove these barriers and put in place positive replacements.

Behaviour coaches offer the support, broad understanding of child development and most importantly an extensive toolbox of techniques to solve issues around homeschooling and working from home during COVID-19. They have extensive experience in supporting more challenging home environments and hence have a unique insight into how to help calm the chaos. 

Common areas a behaviour coach helps with are: 

  • Managing a household with children and parents now at home together.

  • Managing small children and “tech-rage”

  • Helping parents with the “no I don’t want to” daily struggle. As parents are working from home they do not have time to help children with their work. 

  • How to create harmonious sibling relationships

  • How to handle tricky and stubborn behaviour

  • The “nag free” solution 

Here we are going to zoom in and look at two of the most common issues that behavioural coaches are helping families with during COVID-19.

Tech Rage

Smartphones and tablets are inherently tricky items to navigate in a typical situation. COVID-19 has compounded this issue for many parents. With the range of education apps now available on these devices they can be great tools for learning, Toddlers and young children however do not have the skills to be able to identify between relaxation time and educational time. This results in “tech-rage”, the meltdown when you remove a device from a small child!

There are steps out there to help reduce this from happening, and the more you stick to the rules you set up the easier it will become for your child to separate from their device when you ask. 

Before you hand over the iPad

  • Set rules and stick to them, even if that means sitting out tantrums in the early days. Every time you give in to a tantrum demand, it makes the next tantrum when you say “no” longer. 

  • Tell your child when iPad time will end before you start.  Let them know first they will have iPad time, then they will have movement time, you can draw a diagram to help explain this to young children

  • Show them when in the day they’re going to have the iPad to reduce nagging behaviour.

Ending iPad time

  • End iPad time with warnings, countdowns, and at natural transitions, or with timers.

  • Transition into another enjoyable activity or section of the day. Part of the reason children have tantrums around iPads is that we often get them to stop a highly enjoyable activity and move to a less fun or no activity at all. Children are not yet able to regulate their emotions around this drop in enjoyment.  

  • Praise your child when they end the iPad with no meltdown. 

No, I don’t want to!

This is a common enough issue in many houses, before the complication of COVID-19. However, one simple consistent trick, used by your whole house can help reduce the constant stream of “no, no, no” in your house.

Premack Principle, or “Grandma’s law”, is the idea that first your child does something non-preferred (a sheet of homework), followed by something preferred (arts & crafts). Arranging the activities consistently in this order, and making sure we as adult are consistent in our promise increases 

  • Make sure you use the same language each time, ideally “First we will do one homework sheet, then we can have art time!”, or “Now we’re doing homework, next we can have art time.”

  • Always follow through on your promise, even if your children no longer seem interested or become caught up in the non-preferred task! This builds a trust between you and your child, and as this trust builds you will encounter less “no” and more listening. 

  • Make sure the amount of effort they put into the non-preferred task is balanced by an equally valuable preferred activity after. 

About the author: 

Jessica B is a professional behavioural therapist and a coach who has a well established practice in London. Typically she helps her clients with social skills, behaviour challenges and expressive language delays. To get in touch with Jessica, you can click through to her profile and book a session with her online profile
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