Set expectations. All three experts I spoke to said that parents should be clear about what the schedule is and what behavior you hope to see at the start of each day, whether it’s a remote school morning or a long trip to the park. “Being explicit and direct is kind of a must,” said Katharine Hill, a learning specialist and educational therapist based in New York.
It’s also worth acknowledging that each family has its own unique micro-culture, and what is expected in your house may not be what’s expected in their homes. “It’s a little bit of a misnomer that you have to have consistent rules across households. I don’t know two parents who agree on all rules and expectations even within the same home,” said Yamalis Diaz, a clinical assistant professor of psychology at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at N.Y.U. Langone. “The end goal is to teach the child what are the rules and expectations in this context.” That doesn’t mean you won’t have to remind kids what the rules are in your home — but the reminders will be easier if you have already created a foundation of expectations.
If there is a behavioral issue, you can always have a reset, and getting the children’s buy-in helps. For example, if the kids are acting up when they’re supposed to be participating in a remote class, you can directly name the behavior you’d like to see (for instance, “Let’s sit in our chairs and pay attention when the teacher is talking”) and ask the children how they plan to accomplish that behavior, Mx. Hill said.
Talk to other parents. If a child behaves in a way you don’t love, and your attempts to set boundaries and rules aren’t working, you’re going to have to communicate with their parents, Dr. Diaz said. She suggests being very specific about what the problem is, and gave the example of a child talking back with hurtful language.
If you tell a parent their child is “disrespectful,” in this scenario, “that suggests it’s a concrete characteristic,” Dr. Diaz said, and the parent might feel blamed for not teaching their child respect, which may make them immediately defensive. Instead, you can say something like: “‘I don’t like the language he or she uses,’ because then it’s the language that is the problem, not the child,” she said.