Stressed With Your Child’s Online Classes? Try These Tips
At a recent webinar, I was inundated with questions about online schooling during this COVID pandemic.
My son screams and has tantrums before each class, I don’t know how to handle him
Please help with my daughter’s attention. She doesn’t look at the screen when the teacher talks to her
My son does not enjoy online school. He resists attending sessions
I use food reinforcers to keep him sitting during online class. Is this okay?
She runs up and down the passage during her classes. Should I force her to sit down?
I know this is concerning for you as a parent.
Your life style has changed. You’re putting in the time and effort to take your child through the ‘online school day.’
I can imagine how tired you get at the end of the day.
I commend you for all your efforts. These are unprecedented times. You’re doing much more than expected.
And none of us know when this will end.
Can we shift focus to look at what your child may be going through?
Your child is uncertain about what is going on. The routine has been disrupted.
You and I as adults have been affected by this pandemic. We’re uncertain about what the next day will bring. Why should it be different for your child?
From going to school and interacting with other children and teachers, to sitting at home facing a screen, is a huge change.
Or your child could be facing an issue, such as this:
Today she was hiding her Marathi book. I went and told her to open and she was dodging. Then I figured out the numbers were in Marathi and she didn’t know the page
– A Concerned Mother
His teacher asked him to write something. He couldn’t as he struggles with writing issues. So she asked him to type instead. He got even more frustrated and started typing gibberish. He had a huge tantrum after that.
– Another Concerned Mother
Your child could be feeling uncertain. Your child could be feeling incompetent.
Your child could be struggling.
Here’s how you can help:
1. Physical activity
I can’t stress enough, the importance of physical activities.
Running, walking, biking, yoga, will help tremendously.
Since the lock down has eased, it has become easier to step out.
Note: Please take all precautions when stepping out with your child.
Otherwise, we can still find indoor exercises to do with our children.
2. Work on Regulation
When I started the RDI Program, my son was 17 years old.
Till that time, Mohit was on the ABA Program. I had practiced discrete trial training and Verbal Behavior for 13-14 years of my life.
When I tried simple Regulation cycles with ball play or Frisbee play, I deliberately slowed down. It was quiet, there was no bombardment of words, the pattern of throwing back and forth was predominant.
My mind was occupied in observing Mohit’s state of regulation. If I observed slight dysregulation, I would go back to a simpler throw to get him organized. Doing this for 10-15 minute frameworks, had an incredibly calming effect on me.
I felt I had just come out of a state of meditation. Here’s a graphic to help you remember.
You can even implement a regulatory activity in between sessions, to help your child cope through his/her classes.
I’ve written an ebook on regulation. It’s packed with ideas and illustrations. It will help you build up regulation in your child.
3. Reconsider gadget time
Spending some time every day on a tablet is absolutely fine. The problem arises when children spend all their time on a tablet.
Online class also happens through gadgets.
Here are some side effects of prolonged gadget use.
• Lack of interest in real-life practical events
• Lack of focus or concentration on any other task
• Poor time management and eating habits
• Behavior issues on the rise
This has a direct impact on your child.
Some parents have reported that their children spend too much time on their gadgets, just to get through the day.
Limit your child’s time on his/her tablet. Use parental controls and set time limits on usage.
4. Connect emotionally
It’s important to set aside time to connect with your family.
I myself spend a lot of time on online meetings etc.
But the most joyful part of my day is when we get together as a family to just hang out and talk about how the day went.
Sometimes, hang out with your child without any agenda.
You can even play fun family games. It’s a great way to bond.
5. Know your limits- do what you can comfortably
A friend recently shared how she had categorically told her son’s teachers that he would not be attending online classes.
She felt he was getting nothing from it. They had relocated to their farm house during the lockdown. She felt he was much more engaged and learning from real life activities at the farm.
That’s a brave decision. Many families fear not being able to get back into the school system, should they take such a drastic step.
Find a middle ground.
Can you have an arrangement with the teachers for your child to engage in a few sessions that are useful to him/her?
What you give your time and energy to, is important.
The most important tip is to take good care of yourself.
Then you’ll be able to take care of the family.
And yes, if you build your child’s competence by applying regulation techniques, you will not have to use food reinforcers.
Feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
Kamini Lakhani is the founder and director of SAI Connections. She has been providing services in the field of autism for more than 25 years and is the authorized director of Professional Training for RDI in India and the Middle East. She is also the mother of a young adult with autism.