Surviving Confinement With Kids: 6 Tips to Keep the Peace (and Stay Sane!)

Before we get into surviving confinement with kids…


What’s it about? Liam Stays Home (and Saves the World!) explains the coronavirus + social distancing to kids in a simple way, and emphasizes that we all play a crucial part in keeping the world safe. Have your kids embark on a super hero journey with Liam, go on some “top secret” missions right at home, and discover their own super powers in the process!


Thank you to everyone who celebrated with us on Instagram the past couple of days, and a big, big THANK YOU to everyone supporting this little passion project by ordering copies of the book + sharing it with your communities! ⁣This is such a new road for me, and you honestly have no idea how thankful I am for the support, no matter what you do!

The book is available on Amazon (in both Kindle + paperback versions), and we’re thrilled to be sharing it with you all. ⁣


Liam has definitely gone through many challenging emotions since confinement started. Sadness. Frustration. Anger. Fear. The list goes on. Most of our kiddos are trying to make sense of this new reality, and struggling to adapt to all of the changes thrown at them. I know my son isn’t the only child who needs positivity, hope, and fun right now.

On that note, I’ve gotten a ton of comments and messages asking me how I handle confinement with two boys under 4. It’s definitely a roller coaster, with some pretty big highs and lows. It’s not always rainbows and butterflies, but we have definitely learned a lot about our kids’ strengths, triggers, and challenges during confinement. We are gradually figuring out what works best for our family right now, and I’m happy to share a few of my top tips for a peaceful, happy confinement.

Here are my top 6 tips for surviving confinement with kids:

  1. OUTDOOR TIME. Whenever you can, head outdoors! If it’s raining, throw on some rain boots and jump into puddles. If it’s sunny out, grab the chalk, water toys, corn hole, whatever. Let your kids be loud, run around, and get that energy out. I always feel like going outside is a reset for my boys. They are usually always calm by the time we go back inside.
  2. LOTS OF BREAKS. I realized, during confinement, that my oldest, Liam, sometimes needs the freedom to run off and do his own thing. I have made room for a lot more breaks throughout the day now that I know this. It allows him to have some control over his day and teaches him to listen to himself if he’s feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated.
  3. REWARD POSITIVE BEHAVIOR. Here’s what not to do: constantly threaten to do something as “punishment”. When Liam started realizing we often didn’t act on our threats, his behavior got worse. If you can’t 100% follow up on your threat, then avoid threats at all costs. Also, I noticed that when we constantly respond to negative behavior, our kids start to realize it gets them attention and tend to replicate the behavior as a consequence of that. I find that rewarding positive behavior works a lot better for us – any time Liam does something positive, we make a big deal out of it and praise him. Since kids naturally want to please, I find this to be a much more effective discipline method.
  4. GIVE OPPORTUNITIES TO “FIX” BEHAVIOR. Liam and I read this amazing book called What Would Danny Do? that gives kids the opportunity to make the “right” (or “wrong”) choice, then see the consequences that follow. The book has 8 possible endings! Cool, right? We’ve started giving Liam opportunities to “fix” his behavior if he’s starting to make the wrong choices. I usually ask him “What would Danny do?” and give him the time to think of the “right” choice that will have positive consequences. Again, control is key here – your child thinks he/she is in control of the situation by making an important choice.
  5. PLAN ACTIVITIES/TOYS FOR THE TOUGH DAYS. I always store some activities/toys for the “tough” days. That can mean a rainy day, a rough day, anything. I always find that “new” things keep my boys busy for a while. Plan ahead so that you have that option when you need it!
  6. ROUTINE/STRUCTURE (WHEN YOU CAN!) Last, but certainly not least: structure! My kids thrive on routine. Although our schedule is a lot more flexible these days, I try to include structure throughout the day. For example, the boys always have a relaxed morning with a lot of free play, but when Noah goes down for a nap around 11:30, Liam and I start homeschool. Liam is a lot more cooperative, and accepts transitions more easily, when he knows how the day will go. He usually has one activity in the afternoons, like karate or yoga. We also make sure to include fun activities structured into our week like family movie nights and Sunday brunch.

What are your top tips for a peaceful, happy confinement?

Here are a few of my other posts on positive discipline below:




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Johanna Riehm teaches in the department of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College and in the department of English at Mercy College. She teaches courses in the history of communication, public speaking, and social media, as well as creative and technical writing workshops. Johanna’s work has been featured in Graffiti Literary Magazine, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Bangalore Review, Cactus Heart Press, and the LaMothe Review. She is working on her first longer work, a creative nonfiction novel called We Carved Our Names in Tamarind Trees.

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