SINGAPORE - Here are some tips from child behaviour expert Mark Dadds on how parents can work from home with children in tow.
He is a clinical psychologist from the University of Sydney and former PhD supervisor of Yale-NUS College Assistant Professor Jean Liu.
Divide up the house for different functions
• Limit different activities to different parts of the house, and try to define clear zones as adult only, child only, noisy rough and tumble areas or quiet activity areas.
• Put up a map of the zones on the refrigerator for all to see.
Brainstorm activities in advance
• Put up a schedule of planned activities to keep everyone busy from morning to evening.
• Choose a mixture of creative, learning and frivolous activities, mixed with regular chores for all to participate in.
Manage child behaviour
• Work out what child behaviours you want to see more and less of, and plan consequences for both.
• Positive behaviours like following instructions or playing independently should be rewarded with praise, cuddles, affection, prizes and especially your time.
• Negative behaviours like fighting, aggression and refusal to follow instructions should be met with clear consequences like the loss of a privilege or time-out.
• Give more attention to positive behaviours. Make sure rewards are fun, unpredictable and emotional, while discipline to correct negative behaviours should be boring, predictable and non-emotional.
Hold a family meeting on the above points
• Involve everyone, listen to your children's opinions and keep it fun - shake on it to confirm the family plan. The idea is for your children to buy into the plan and feel they are a part of the process.
Schedule in dedicated time daily for each child, as well as yourself
• Try not to get involved in refereeing children's fights.
• Treat the children as a team, and do not get involved in who did what.
• Reward them as a group for playing together, and apply consequences to them also as a group for fighting and not playing well.
• Based on the Premack principle of learning, people will perform a less favoured task to gain access to a more desirable task. Thus make access to more desired activities like screen time dependent on having completed chores and homework first.
Find parenting courses
• If the children are constantly fighting, arguing, throwing tantrums, whining and being non-compliant, such that you are having trouble managing them and your reactions to them, attend online courses that teach specialised skills in managing problem child behaviour.
• Think back to the positive reasons why you wanted children and a family. Forgive them for minor irritations, open up your heart and spend time with them.