How to handle pandemic behavior

Written by: Kelly Perez


Stomping, slamming, screaming, tears, tantrums — these may be only some of the behaviors parents are witnessing at home right now. It is not an exaggeration that times are very hard for families; parents are doing their best to juggle their lives amid this crisis. But when children are acting out, it only adds to the impossibility of the moment. What can parents do to lead to a happier household? Be S.M.A.R.T.

Stay Positive

In difficult situations, when you are able to stay calm and positive, your child is more likely to be receptive to your help and easier to manage. When you remain positive about your child and the difficulty she is experiencing, it is easier to find constructive and creative solutions to help her regain her happiness and equilibrium (as well as yours!). Best of all, a positive approach causes your child to feel positively about herself and your relationship.

Model Kindness

Guidance and kindness are not mutually exclusive. When you guide with kindness, children will develop an internal compass based on compassion toward themselves and others. Their day to day choices are based on a desire for positive outcomes and positive relationships with others. An inner compass based on positive self-esteem is the most effective tool children have in being able to make good choices (personal, social, academic) throughout their lives.

Acknowledge Feelings

Make yourself available to hear your child’s feelings and try to understand his experience - especially when he is unhappy and struggling. This is how he will come to feel unconditionally loved and lovable. There are times he may not be able to have what he wants, but even when he is struggling and out of sorts, he learns that he can always have your positive regard and understanding. By taking his feelings seriously, you help him understand himself, trust your relationship, and instead of acting out his feelings in negative ways, learn to turn to caring relationships for comfort and support.

Regulate Behavior

It is always important to step in to manage your child’s unsafe, immature, or out of control behavior. You teach your child healthy self-regulation by intervening to change the behavior (despite your child’s complaints or protests), while remaining firm, yet compassionate and understanding. Let your child know the reason for your guidance without “arguing” or expecting him to necessarily agree or understand why he can’t have what he wants in the moment. Keep in mind that the most important thing your child wants is to feel lovable and loved by you, especially when he experiences disappointment or frustration.

Time-In Together

It is always best to offer solutions to problems that bring you and your child closer (“time-in”), rather than isolating her or withdrawing your kindness and understanding. Your love and approval builds her positive self-esteem, and teaches her that problems can be resolved within a caring relationship, instead of isolation or with negativity and force.

In order to provide such “smart” care and love, it’s important that parents make time for themselves as well. Put on your child’s favorite movie or game (a little extra screen time is worth it), and take that time so you can connect with your spouse, call a close friend, or read your favorite book. Try to avoid doing the laundry or paying the bills and do something that brings you joy and happiness. When parents take care of their emotional needs and are recharged, they in turn are better able to respond to their children.

All parents love their children and want the best for them. All children desire to be happy and to have a close relationship with their parents. During these very challenging times, children look to their parents on how to manage their sad, frustrating, or other unhappy feelings. By following the S.M.A.R.T. guidelines, parents help their children navigate through these emotions, guiding them to feel better and creating a happier household.


The Natalie G. Heineman Smart Love Preschool provides a play-based curriculum founded on the Smart Love philosophy of child development. Our approach is child-centered, focusing on social and emotional development. We help foster happy, curious, and confident learners—the best foundation for school success. Our unique program provides a gentle transition into school, leaving behind potty training and separation anxiety.  We offer Parent & Child programs, ‘Playschool’ for 2s & 3s, Preschool, and Kindergarten for children 12 months to six years old. Smart Love Preschool is located in Logan Square at 2222 N. Kedzie Blvd. Please visit our website, call 773-665-8052, ext. 1; or email us at to learn more.


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Posted on April 23, 2020 at 11:31 AM