Updated: Apr 23, 2020
Your child doesn’t want to do their online schooling and demands you stop your work on the computer and play games with them instead.
What’s going on inside? Your child’s normal daily routine has been disrupted by COVID-19 and online home schooling is very new and very different. The predictable structure provided by their school timetable and classroom procedures contribute to a child’s sense of calmness and security. At school, your child also spends much of their day learning with and working alongside others. In addition to learning new cognitive skills, children are using and developing their social engagement system/skills to help them manage any small stresses the classroom task creates. With online home schooling, the routines that provide children with boundaries and a sense of security and safety, and the people who provided them with a sense of connection and safety, are no longer there. Without these your child might be feeling uncertain about what is expected of them and unsure and frightened about their learning. These strong emotions can trigger the stress response system (fight and flight) causing them to feel anxious and less able to listen or think through their actions or consequences of their behaviour. They may appear more confrontational and aggressive or fearful and unable to engage with you and others. Some children might respond and try to reduce their stress by using their social engagement system. Their behaviour will aim to keep you close to them, wanting to know what you are doing and engaging you in endless conversations or asking many questions. For more information about the stress response and social engagement system see 'Our Emotions, Brain and Stress'
HOW TO EMOTION COACH
Step 1: Recognise your child's feelings and empathise with them Notice what emotions might be lying beneath the behaviour your child is displaying. Behaviour: Your child keeps asking you to do things with them, asking random questions and is not concentrating on their online learning tasks which need to be submitted but are still not completed. Their voice is whining and insistent. Their expression looks pained and a little sad. Emotions: Your child might be feeling insecure and/or anger about having to learn in a different environment, sadness about missing their friends and the connection and safety provided by their interactions with others. They may also be aware of your anxiety and stress levels. Step 2: Validate and label the emotion your child is feeling What you might do and say: ‘I’ve noticed you’ve asked me to play games with you quite a lot this morning and you still haven’t finished that first online learning task. I’m wondering if you’re feeling that it’s hard to settle down to learning and concentrate on a weekday at home with the lessons on the computer. It must feel really strange not doing your Maths with Ayesha and Jacob, I know you all work well together in Maths’. ‘I’m finding working at home really strange too. It’s hard for me to keep concentrating on what I need to be doing. I’m used to having Jo opposite me and I can ask her any question that comes up as I’m working and have a cup of tea and chat about things’. Step 3: Set limits (if necessary) What you might do and say when your child is calmer: ‘With online learning for you and home working for me, we both need to get our work done, but also have some time to play and be with others’. Step 4: Problem Solve What you might do and say when your child is able to think through things with you: • Helping your child to impose some structure and boundaries within this new environment ‘How about we come up with a plan so that we can both get our work done but also have time to play games and chat?’ and/or Do you think we could make a work timetable at the beginning of the morning and make times for you to play some games with me and for me to have a cup of tea and a breather?’ and/or Maybe we could use the timer to help us know when the work parts of the day are over’ and/or • Helping your child to use engage their existing social engagement system ‘Maybe we could set up a Zoom call with Ayesha and Jacob so you can go through and check the Maths you have done’. Read more about Emotion Coaching