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Managing the Crazy: How to get better behavior out of your children during quarantine

Managing the Crazy: How to get better behavior out of your children during quarantine

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During this chaotic time of Covid-19 it can be very difficult for families to find peace and a sense of normalcy. But take heart parents. It is possible! In an effort to #makeprogresstogether while we all have a little extra time at home, we want to share some tips on how to utilize behavior analysis to bring a little more peace to you, your home, and your child’s heart.


1. Behavior Specific Praise

How often are you praising your child for the things s/he does well? With the hustle and bustle of our days, it can sometimes be easy to forget to simply praise your child for the things they are doing RIGHT. The things you want to see MORE of.

When you praise:

  • Be SPECIFIC: Be sure they know the exact thing you are praising them for.
  • Be DESCRIPTIVE: Describe what it is that they did so they are set up to do it again.
  • Be IMMEDIATE (or as immediate as possible): Research supports the immediacy of praise. The quicker to the event, the more likely they are to make the connection.
  • Be FREQUENT: Praise the behavior you want to see MORE THAN you talk about the behavior you don’t want to see.
  • Be CONSISTENT: Have you praised for that exact same thing before? Do it again! The more, you praise, the more they are learning.

2. Visual Schedules

A picture schedule is a series of pictures that show the sequence of activities that a child can expect to happen within a period of time. There are many different ways to construct picture schedules; however it is important to stick to these rules.

  • Time Timer

    Use a timer! Designate ‘time periods’ for each activity, and give 5/3/1-minute warnings to help with transitions. We are especially fans of the “time-timer”.

  • Make a plan for ‘moving on’! When your child is finished with the task, how will they manipulate the schedule to show that the task is ‘all done,’ and it’s time for the next one?
    • Examples: Moving a velcro piece over, crossing it off with a pencil or dry erase marker?
    • They may need to be taught how to do this, but over time independence is the goal.
  • Reinforce your kids (and yourself) for completion.
    • Did your child successfully complete an item on the schedule? Provide them with a 5-minute break! (continue to utilize the timer during this time)
    • Did you and your family get to the end of the day and get to 8 out of 10 items on the schedule? 9 out of 10? 10 OUT OF 10?? Reinforcing your kids for following the schedule will make them more excited and ready to follow the schedule again the next day.

3. Task Analyses

Think about the tasks that you ask your child(ren) to do each day. Sometimes that task may be so big that a child just shuts down or engages in problem behavior. Take a step back and think about all the small parts of the task. Can your child do each of the small parts?

  • For example, hand washing:
    • Can they turn on the water, use the soap dispenser, use a towel to dry?
    • Thinking about each small step is how we set children up for success. Break tasks down into smaller, more manageable steps and help them complete each step by providing praise and prompting (as needed) along the way.

4. Social Stories

For children who are older or higher functioning, a social narrative can be a helpful way to prepare for change and give direction on appropriate behavioral responses. A social narrative tells a story about the way events are likely to unfold in a new situation, emphasizes relevant details and how a child should respond.


Behavior change requires diligence, faith, and a whole lot of grace! Don’t forget to check out our ‘parent consult’ service on our website! As you work through problem behaviors in your home during this time, we want to help remotely in any way we can.

Have questions or want to learn more? Email us or visit our website and we’ll be happy to help.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Huntsville Behavior Associates provides ABA therapy, parent training, and school consulting/training in Huntsville, AL and surrounding area. We are committed to excellence, truth, fairness, stewardship, and celebration. 


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