1. Show and tell. Teach children right from wrong with calm words and actions. Model behaviors you would like to see in your children and teens.
2. Set limits and give consequences. Have clear and consistent rules your children and teens can follow. Be sure to explain these rules in age-appropriate terms they can understand. Calmly and firmly explain the consequences if they don’t behave. For example, tell your child that if she does not pick up her toys or if he does not close the video games, you will take them away for the rest of the day. Be prepared to follow through right away and, remember, never take away something your child truly needs, such as a meal.
3. Hear them out. Listening is important. Let your child or teen finish their story before helping solve the problem. Watch for times when misbehavior has a pattern, like if your child is feeling jealous or your teen is feeling misunderstood. Talk with your child about this rather than just giving consequences.
4. Give them your attention and catch them being good. The most powerful tool for effective discipline is attention—to reinforce good behaviors and discourage others. Remember, all children want their parent’s attention. Children need to know when they do something bad—and when they do something good. Notice good behavior and point it out, praising success and good tries. Be specific (for example, “Wow, you did a good job putting your dishes in the dishwasher!”).
5. Know when not to respond. As long as your child or teen isn’t doing something dangerous and gets plenty of attention for good behavior, ignoring bad behavior can be an effective way of stopping it. Ignoring bad behavior can also teach children natural consequences of their actions. For example, if your child keeps dropping her cookies on purpose, she will soon have no more cookies left to eat. If he throws and breaks his toy, he will not be able to play with it. It will not be long before they learn not to drop the cookies and to play carefully with toys.
6. Be prepared for trouble and redirect bad behavior. Plan ahead for situations when your child might have trouble behaving. Prepare them for upcoming activities and how you want them to behave. Sometimes children misbehave because they are bored or don’t know any better. Find something else for your child to do.
7. Call a time-out. A time-out can be especially useful when a specific rule is broken. This discipline tool works best by warning children they will get a time out if they don’t stop, reminding them what they did wrong in as few words―and with as little emotion―as possible, and removing them from the situation for a pre-set length of time (1 minute per year of age is a good rule of thumb). For your teen, you might point out that she is upset and needs some time to gather herself. Suggest 15 or 20 minutes of time to calm down so the 2 of you can resume a more constructive conversation.
8. Make chores a family activity. With more time spent at home, every family member can pitch in for household chores. A few tips: make it fun, show appreciation, and remind them that when you all work together you create more time for the things they enjoy.
9. Take a break and set up educational screen time. Try out different activities like KET’s Learn from Home, this list of virtual tours of museums, zoos, and national parks, and yoga, mindfulness, and relaxation online videos that are designed specially for kids of all ages.
10. Get outside. You and your family can enjoy the outdoors safely while practicing physical distancing. Whether you can get outside by yourself or with your kids, take a walk, play tag, take a breath, and clear your head.
Students across Kentucky are headed back-to-school and, whether that is virtually or in the classroom, families should feel supported and be equipped with the tools and resources they need for a successful school year. Here are tips for a good start to the new school year:
-The CDC’s decision making tool is designed to help parents and caregivers weigh the risks and benefits of their options.
-Review considerations on how students can return back to school safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
-Find up-to-date resources and information on Preschool through 12th grade education via the Kentucky Department of Education.
-For families with younger children, check out these tips for identifying safe child care.
-Implementing routines for morning, meals, after school, homework, playtime, and bedtime, establishes expectations and helps lessen anxiety.
-Try these homework, free time and bedtime routine tips for teens. Remember, things don’t always go as planned- take a deep breath and figure out what comes next.
-No matter how your family is working and learning during this time, it’s important to build in time to transition and decompress.
-Maintain family bonding time, and try to keep children connected with friends.
-Don’t underestimate the power of play!
-Try these fun activities for children and teens.
NON TRADITIONAL INSTRUCTION
-To make learning at home easier, check out these five tips.
-Create a weekly schedule that works for your family and your child’s individual needs.
-Celebrate “focus wins”.
-Kids who think and learn differently may struggle with live video lessons but there are specific ways teachers and families can help.
-View Tips to Make Virtual Learning a Success (or Less Stressed!)
AT HOME OR IN SCHOOL
-Check in with your child. Point out the positive aspects of starting school and create excitement about the first day of class.
-Ask what your child is nervous and excited about school starting and if there is something that they hope to learn.
-Check out the website of your child’s school to access helpful resources and information.
–Build a parent-teacher relationship with open communication.
-Identify ways to help your child focus.
-Children returning to traditional instruction after a longer than usual summer break may experience After-School Restraint Collapse.
-Greet your children with a smile, make sure everyone washes their hands, and give your children a hug.
-Go for a walk or bike ride.
-Have a light snack.
-Provide time for independent play, like watching TV, playing video games, doing a puzzle, or allowing another activity of your child’s choosing.
-For distance learners, consider packing up school supplies daily to mark the end of the school day and create a playful dismissal tradition.
Keeping kids safe is an adult responsibility and everyone can play a role in creating supportive environments for children to grow and families to thrive. Educators and other child-serving professionals can build strong connections with families during this difficult time. Here are tips to prioritize child safety and well-being:
All Kentucky adults are mandated reporters of child maltreatment. Review information on the signs of abuse and neglect–especially for children 4 years and younger— and how to report if you believe a child is experiencing maltreatment.
Check out this NEW resource for tips for recognizing abuse while virtually interacting.
While video lessons become the norm for distance learning, this format can be challenging for kids who learn and think differently.
-Review 5 ways students may struggle and how to help.
-For students that may be uncomfortable or embarrassed to turn on their camera for video calls, encourage them to get creative with their background–they can create a virtual background for free with Canva or download one from this curated list for kids.
Regardless of whether students return to school in person or via distance learning, schools should be equipped to address the social, emotional, and behavioral effects of the ongoing pandemic. The Kentucky Department of Education released a “Trauma-Informed Toolkit” to assist schools with their approach in helping students cope with trauma.
Supportive adults can always be on the lookout for the overall well-being of children in their lives and connect them with needed resources.
As students and their families are presented with an abundance of new situations, challenges, and potential stressors this year, it’s important to validate feelings and share options for mental health services:
–Guide to mental health services in Kentucky
-Locate a Federally Qualified Health Center near you
-Check out a list of low cost, sliding scale Kentucky Mental Health Clinics
-Find private practice therapist near you via Psychology Today
In the event of a mental health crisis, contact a local Suicide Hotline or Crisis Center.
As families continue to work and learn from home due to COVID-19, parents and caregivers also have the responsibility of keeping children safe from everyday hazards. Here are a few important home safety reminders:
Studies show that teaching kids about gun safety, or to not touch a firearm if they find one, is not enough. Parents can reduce the chances of children being injured by practicing safe storage and other important safety rules
The most dangerous potential poisons in homes are medicines, cleaning products, liquid nicotine, antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, pesticides, furniture polish, gasoline, kerosene, and lamp oil. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers tips to prevent and to treat exposures to poison for young children and for adolescents/teens.
INTERNET SAFETY TIPS
Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky shares an internet safety toolkit for parents and caregivers to keep kids safe online, including resources on uncomfortable conversation starters, signs of risks online, cyberbullying, and more. Find more internet safety tips at KidsHealth.
Whether you are a professional or parent (or both), how you take care of yourself impacts how you can care for others. As we all deal with the uncertainties around us, it’s important to recommit to self-care strategies that work for you. Remember, self-care is for all ages and looks different for everyone.
During stressful moments, focusing on breath allows you to take a moment to shift into a relaxed, calmer state. Check out these breathing techniques and mindfulness and meditation practices.
Exercising regularly can help you feel better, function better, and sleep better. Take a walk each morning, do yoga during a lunch break, take a virtual workout class in your living room, or play tag with the kids in the backyard.
Good nutrition is an important part of leading a healthy lifestyle. Your food choices each day affect your health — how you feel today, tomorrow, and in the future.
Social distancing does not mean social isolation! Whether it’s a text, phone call, FaceTime, Zoom call, or a socially distanced walk in the park, find time to stay connected.
It’s OK to seek professional help when you need extra support. If you are tasked with helping others through the pandemic, be on the lookout for symptoms of compassion fatigue, burnout, and vicarious trauma.
“We face many, many choices—all of them seemingly bad right now. I feel like I’m on a sinking ship, trying to bail myself out with a sippy cup, and I bet a lot of other parents feel like they’re on their own sinking ships…And even though I still struggle, I make a daily effort to care for my overall health and happiness. That effort is self-care.” One parent journals her pandemic parenting experiences and encourages each of us to identify self-care practices that keep us afloat.
What about self-care for kids?
Healthy routines build coping skills and mindsets that promote resiliency as children develop. Try out these activities to build good habits that last into adulthood, including getting healthy together as a family, encouraging creative expression like writing, art, music, or dance, prioritizing play time, and cultivating positive social skills.
Discussing the Facts and Coping with the Realities
Our current situation can be hard for adults to understand and even harder for children. Your child will likely come to you with many questions and concerns about their new normal. Help ease their stress and worry by following recommendations from CDC on helping children cope during emergencies. Contact your child’s doctor, nurse, or clinic right away if your child is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).
The CDC recommends that children, as well as adults, wear face covering when in public, which can be scary and confusing for kids. Helping them get acclimated to wearing masks and seeing their loved ones wear masks can be an important step in keeping your family safe. To normalize the experience, your family can make masks together, wear them around the house, practice putting them on dolls or stuffed animals, or draw pictures about it. Remember, children under the age of 2 should NOT wear a mask.
Dealing with Grief
Many individuals, including children, are currently dealing with the grief of losing a loved one to COVID-19. How do we stay healthy and connected while practicing safe physical distancing and dealing with the anxiety of losing a loved one added to what we were already experiencing during the pandemic? Review helpful tips for your family to cope with grief in a healthy way.
Finding New Ways to Play
Playtime with friends looks much different for kids due to the pandemic and guidelines to remain physically distant. But, that doesn’t mean your kids have to stay indoors or limit social interactions! Check out these remote playdate ideas and these suggestions for healthy-at-home activities.
It’s more important than ever to make sure families are staying connected with their community to prevent social isolation.
-Call, send a text, or video chat with a parent or caregiver to see how they’re holding up and let them know they are not alone. Join a virtual parent support group or start one of your own.
-Drop off a care package or ‘activity box’ that includes things like art materials, notebooks, chalk, bubbles, cards, activity books, family games, and reading books.
-Set up time to virtually play, read a book, or go over homework assignments with a child in your life to give their parents or caregivers a break and allow them time to connect with another supportive adult.
Access Family Support Benefits
Review the Kentucky Benefind website for information on available benefits and how to apply, including Medicaid, food assistance, child care, and more.
Ask Congress to Support Kids and Families in Pandemic Recovery Efforts
As federal leaders debate the next pandemic recovery package, Kentucky kids and families are looking to Washington, D.C. for a number of policy changes and investments. View Kentucky Youth Advocates’ Action Hub for more information and to take action.
Look for any bruising on a baby who is not yet pulling up and taking steps; bruising to the ears, neck, torso, buttocks, or genitals of any child under four years; unexplained injuries on children of any age.
Look for an increase in nightmares and/or other sleeping difficulties, withdrawn behavior, angry outbursts, anxiety, and not wanting to be alone with a particular individual(s).
Children are afraid to tell about their abuse because they feel ashamed, don’t want the abuser to hurt them, don’t want to cause stress for their caregivers, or don’t want their abuser to go to jail.