Right now is a very hard time for us all. Even if you think the kids are not stressed, they perceive your stress and worry. Please try to take care of yourself. Take moments to recharge your batteries so you can be there for them. Please try to get yourselves outside, even if there’s bad weather. Please wash your hands regularly. Now, this brings me to what we all know - that we also need kids washing their hands, and avoiding touching their faces (nose, mouth, eyes, ears), and practicing social distancing. A tall order!
I am hearing from clients and friends alike that you are talking yourself blue in the face and your kids are still not mindful of what we know are good practices towards keeping you and your family safe right now.
I am a firm believer in changing kids behaviors with a few simple steps:
Clear expectations, praising the behaviors we want to see, and getting kids feedback rather than giving ours. It is not an easy transition to make from the way you typically give commands, reprimands and give feedback to your kids. My clients take some time to undo the previous negative ways of dealing with their kids. But once they can get used to this way of doing it, they are able to eliminate many, if not most of their kid’s negative behaviors and by this method, it gives them more time to enjoy the kids.
Using my method helps kids meet our expectations, and stops them from driving us nuts (much of the time, they are your kids after all, haha).
Say, “I’ve been hearing a lot of kids wash their hands when they first get in the house and they’re feeling proud of themselves because they are forcing themselves to do what they don’t want to do but they know they’re keeping themselves safe and their family safe, even if they don’t think this is a big deal right now. They are still proud of themselves that they’re doing what they think is absurd and ridiculous”.
“I would love to see you wash your hands when you first walk in the house. When I see you doing it I’m going to tell you you’re doing a great job. What are some other ways we can keep ourselves and our family safe? Yea, it would be great trying to avoid touching your face. What parts of your face does the virus love to find its way into? That’s right it’s your ears your eyes, your nose, and your mouth. We know keeping a 10 foot distance from friends is also really going to keep them and us enjoying hanging out for a very long time in the future”.
“When I see you avoiding your face, when I see you washing your hands when you first come in the house, and when I see you keeping a pretty safe distance from people who aren’t in our family I’m really going to start pointing out you are doing a great job. You’re keeping us all safe. When I catch you doing it enough times and I’m just going to feel like I want to give you a reward. What do you want to work to earn when I catch you doing enough hand washing, social distancing, and avoiding of your face?”
“Awesome, so you want to earn that — that sounds great! And what are you going to show me a whole bunch of times tomorrow and every day this week to earn that?” Encourage your kids to go over the safe hygiene practices that you just discussed.
Every SINGLE time you see your kids washing their hands when they first come in, when you see them avoiding their face outside, and you see them social distancing praise them. Name what you have just seen them do and praise that behavior. Tell them you appreciate that you know they think it’s annoying, but that they’re doing a great job keeping everyone safe. After you have reinforced this every day and every time you have seen it over the next few days start to point out that if you continue to see these actions you are going to be so excited to get that reward for them. Ask them how they are doing with this. Ask them how annoying they think it is. Ask them if they’re starting to get used to this and what they think about it?
Don’t let your guard down. This is not an automatic behavior for your kids yet. Mention it at night when talking is easy, mentioned it in the mornings before they leave the house. Reinforced every single time you see them doing these actions and within about two weeks you should have your kids practicing these behaviors you really want to see.
For specific plans that go beyond this, to learn this method step by step, and for any information please head to my website for parent tip videos and for the articles you’re finding in this fantastic parent resource magazine, www.AllisonCD.com