Handling Kids’ Behavior During the Coronavirus Pandemic

What do you do when kids act up out of fear and frustration during a world pandemic? The American Academy of Pediatrics offers these coronavirus tips.

With everyone cooped up under the governor’s order and regular routines being destroyed, even the best behaved kids can start to act up, getting on your last nerve. To help parents manage frustrations, the American Academy of Pediatrics shares a few tips to help:

Help kids with their fears

Children who are old enough to follow the news may be afraid, for example, that they or their parents are going to die. Acknowledge the fear, and discuss all the things you are doing to stay healthy, such as washing hands and staying home to avoid germs.

You can also check out these tips to help kids feel safe during the coronavirus crisis.

Deflate the impulse to lash out

Ask yourself these three questions before doing or saying anything: Does the problem represent an immediate danger? How will I feel about this problem tomorrow? Is this situation permanent? Usually, taking the time to answer these will help.

Call a time-out

This discipline tool works best by warning kids 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 guide). Don’t yell or spank, because those are never effective discipline techniques.

Catch them being good

Notice good behavior and point it out, praising success and good tries. This is particularly important in these difficult times, when children are separated from their friends and usual routines.

Know when not to respond

As long as your child 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 also can teach children natural consequences of their actions. For example, if your child keeps dropping his food on purpose, he soon will have no more crackers left to eat.

Give them your attention.

The most powerful tool for effective discipline is attention. When parents are trying to work at home, this can be particularly challenging. Clear communication and setting expectations can help, particularly with older children.

Don’t forget self-care

Take care of yourself physically: eat healthy, exercise, and get enough sleep. Maintain connections to friends, family, and others in their community who can offer a critical support network by phone or video.

“During this time of understandable anxiety, give back and reach out to other parents when they need support,” says AAP President Sara “Sally” H. Goza, MD, FAAP, in a news release. “If someone calls you frustrated about a crying baby or screaming toddler, offer to help.”

Metro Parent Editorial Team
Metro Parent Editorial Team
Since 1986, the Metro Parent editorial team is trained to be the go-to source for metro Detroit families, offering a rich blend of expert advice, compelling stories, and the top local activities for kids. Renowned for their award-winning content, the team of editors and writers are dedicated to enriching family life by connecting parents with the finest resources and experiences our community has to offer.


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