The intervention I want to talk about today isn’t a specific game, so I am writing in a different format than I usually do in this series. For more telehealth interventions with kids, check out my resources page. Also, details about the client interaction that I describe below have been changed for privacy, but the spirit of the story is in tact.
Since March, I have gotten much more comfortable holding online sessions with kids, but in the beginning one of my biggest struggles was holding their attention long enough to have a productive session. In my office, kids can run around, and I can just follow them. If a child disengages or shuts down, I can get down on the floor and join them at their level. But when I’m on camera, I can’t move or even control what I am looking at.
Early on in my work from home life, I asked a child if we could talk about the difficulty they were having engaging with me on Zoom. I asked what might help them focus, and they said (this is paraphrased), “I’m sorry, Dr. Amy, but before our meeting I was watching Godzilla, and that’s just more interesting than you are.”
They were absolutely right; I’m not as interesting as Godzilla.
So I asked them to wait a moment, went on Google Images, found a picture of Godzilla, and made it my virtual background. It was magic! Suddenly our meeting was much more interesting.
If a child is struggling to pay attention, I’ll ask them where they would rather be and find an image that matches that, or I will find a background of their favorite television show or a special interest they have. Some kids have used the virtual background for imaginative play and will tell me that I need to be in jail, or my house is on fire, and I find a background that fits that. I’ve done sessions on the moon, at the bottom of the ocean, in a cave, and at Disneyland. This is definitely one of my favorite Zoom tools for telehealth with kids.
What tips or tricks have helped you keep kids engaged in Zoom sessions?