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  • Writer's pictureSMILE

COVID-19 Tip Sheet #4

Tips to Help Your Child Navigate Their Time at Home

Derived from SMILE's FB Live Video Behavioural Support for Kids by Bridget Doan, N-Paeds, Masters Nursing, Restorative Yoga Therapist and Aliya Rahim, BCBA, Ph.D. Candidate

Tip 1: Stay active even at home

  • Physical activity is essential for all children and youth.

  • Physical activity allows kids to let off some steam.

  • Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your child’s physical ability.

Tip 2: Get some fresh air

  • Spending time outside is important and beneficial for everyone’s health.

  • Try to regularly schedule some time outdoors and make sure to stick to that schedule.

  • Walks, bike rides, scooters are all great ways to get your children outside and moving.

Tip 3: Keep a regular routine

  • Setting a routine is helpful because when kids know what to expect, it tends to reduce challenging behaviours over time.

  • Try to start off with activities that your child prefers.

  • You can tell your child when to transition from one activity to the next so you are still able to instruct the child to transition.

  • It is important to include your kids in the routine making process.

Tip 4: Communicate on your child’s level

  • Children often use behaviour to communicate their needs.

  • Communication looks different for everyone (verbal, written, singing, pointing to pictures, etc.).

Tip 5: Don’t be afraid to reinforce good behaviour (in the right way)

  • Reinforcement and bribery are often misunderstood.

  • Bribery is when you give someone something and then you ask them to do the behaviour you asked.

  • Plan ahead when using an external reward to help get the task done so it can’t be overdone.

  • Use tokens as it allows bridging the reward instead of providing instant gratification.

  • Make sure that your rewards are sustainable and not costly!

Tip 6: Plan for transitions between activities

  • Transitions go hand-in-hand with routines and potentially with reinforcements.

  • Children with different developmental diagnoses may find it more difficult to transition between activities.

  • Every child transitions differently. Not all kids transition the same.

  • Timely transitions are essential for functioning.

  • Always plan transitions ahead of time, especially for a preferred activity to an unpreferred activity.

Tip 7: Get a bedtime routine going

  • Poor sleep impacts all components of behaviour and your ability to do everything else.

  • Avoid or limit caffeine and be mindful of food items/beverages that contain caffeine.

  • Offering regular balanced meals that are based on the four food groups/balanced nutrition is important for sleep.

  • Carbohydrates and/or sugar-heavy meals will have a negative impact on your child’s sleep routine.

  • Sleep routines are essential and should be a series of 3-4 activities that the child likes along with some important activities before bed.

  • Instill a clear routine that should be as consistent as possible every night.

Tip 8: Take care of your mental health

  • If you’re going to make a behaviour change in your home, you should restructure the environment and know the emotional toll the change will have on you as a parent.

  • You must be certain before making a change that it's the right change for you, and for the family.

  • Keep an open line of communication with your family/friends/partner to be your best self because you need to learn to prioritize your own needs.

  • Remember it is okay to take a break when you need to!

Tip 9: Take online schooling at your child’s pace

  • It is best to check if the schoolwork your child is completing is enriching him/her.

  • If you find that schoolwork is causing your child stress, give your child a break from the task at hand.

  • Ask your child's teacher which tasks are most important so that you can reduce long exposures to technology.

Tip 10: There is no perfect

  • Use these tips as guidelines and don’t feel like you have to follow them strictly!

  • Do the best you can do and be sure to give yourself a break because you don’t want to impact your mental health negatively.

To watch the full Facebook Live, click the video below!