700 Children's® – A Blog by Pediatric Experts

6 Tips for Working from Home While Caring for Young Children

Mar 30, 2020
Mom working from laptop sitting on couch while two kids color on the floor

Over the past few weeks, routines and structures have changed for millions of families across the world as schools have closed and many parents and caregivers are working from home. If you are among the families trying to balance childcare with remote work here are some simple strategies you can use to problem solve and plan ahead in order to avoid challenging behavior.

  1. First, set reasonable expectations or rules and go over them with your children before you need to use them. For example, if you need to be on a work conference call you might set rules that include play quietly in the living room until I am off the call, if you need help with something ask one of your siblings nicely, be helpful and kind to each other and use your inside voices. Make sure your rules tell children what to do instead of what not to do and keep them simple and enforceable.
  2. Next, make sure your kids have age appropriate and safe activities to keep them busy and engaged. What you provide will vary based on your kid’s ages and interests, but try to save the most appealing activities for the times that are likely to be a challenge.
  3. Make a plan for how you might reward your child for good behavior while you are busy. This can be as simple as looking at them and smiling or giving a thumbs up when they are on task or using a couple of seconds when the opportunity arises to give them specific praise such as:

    “I like the way you’re playing quietly while I am on the phone."

    Remember, children will do more of what gets them the most attention, so make sure you are noticing good behavior!

  4. You will also need a plan for how to manage challenging behavior when it happens. Use strategies that children are already familiar with and that work for you in other circumstances. If at all possible, deal with problem behavior right away.
  5. After your call or conference follow up with children about what went well and what they can work on next time. For example:

    “You did a great job of staying in the living room when I was on my call and were helpful and kind to each other. Next time remember to use your inside voices.”

  6. Finally, you can make these tips even more successful if you practice them with your children before you need to use them for an important call or to complete an important work task. Keep practice sessions short and focused on how you want your children to behave in the real situation.

For more support and strategies on ways to cope with children’s behavior at home, Nationwide Children’s offers free Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) classes, with a variety of topics including Dealing with Disobedience and Managing Fighting and Aggression with additional ideas to help your child (and you) manage challenging behavior. For more information email TripleP@NationwideChildrens.org or call (614) 355-8099.

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Kathleen (Katie) Roush
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700 Children’s® features the most current pediatric health care information and research from our pediatric experts – physicians and specialists who have seen it all. Many of them are parents and bring a special understanding to what our patients and families experience. If you have a child – or care for a child – 700 Children’s was created especially for you.