If you’re reading this, you survived week one of being quarantined with your child/children. For some of you, you barely survived…which is why we are providing daily resources and tips to make this time as peaceful and useful as possible! Our hope is to help you turn this crisis into an opportunity of growth for your family.
To get started, here are the top five priorities for your child you can implement right away:
- Sleep: This is an excellent time for your anxious and exhausted child to heal. Ensure that your child has good sleep habits that include going to sleep and waking up at the same time each morning. Often, anxious people get wound up in the evening, resulting in a progressively delayed bedtime each night. For a teenager, who already has a later sleep-wake cycle than adults, this can mean an 11PM bedtime, which quickly becomes midnight and then 2AM. Before you know it, your child is up all night texting her/his friends and sleeping in until 2PM. Mitigate this by setting an alarm for 9AM and make sure your child is up by then every morning.
- Daily exercise: Pre-teens and teenagers seem lazy but they have a lot of anxious energy. This crisis means that your teen will be even more anxious. Go on a walk or ask your teen to take the dog for a walk for 20 mins twice per day.
- Nutrition: It’s hard to control what a teenager eats, but now that she is home with you, get rid of the sugar and ensure she is staying hydrated. Eliminate sugary drinks, candy, desserts, breads from the house. When our children are at school, we can’t control what they eat. Now that you are home with them, eliminate that source of poor behavior. Also, we find the number one reasons our girls have headaches (and frankly get grouchy) is dehydration. A human body needs at least 8 glasses of water per day. Track when your children are drinking water if you are at home with them, encouraging them to drink a glass of water every hour.
- Education: Get your child to read every day for at least 30 minutes and practice math with her/him daily. This will help them tremendously in the long run.
- Expectations: Set up a structure with built in expectations. The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child talks about using a reward system to teach your child new behaviors. For example, electronics would be offered as a privilege for doing the desired behaviors in your home. We recommend that you maintain access to phones, computers and devices and provide them when your child ‘earns’ that time. Finally, we recommended writing out a daily ‘routine’ or set up expectations that remain consistent that you could provide daily at breakfast. This list may start out short and grow as your expectations increase. This list could include:
- Get out of bed by 9:15AM
- Brush your teeth
- Drink a glass of water
- Eat breakfast
- Get dressed
- Take the dog for a 20-minute walk
- Drink a second glass of water
- Practice a multiples song for 15 minutes
- Unload the dishwasher
- Read a book for 30 minutes
- Drink a third glass of water
We’re here to help you! Even if you focus on one of these priorities a day and then string them together, you are starting somewhere. The point is to take action and do what you can. You are not alone in this!