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Resource centre - Toddlers & Older Kids
to survive waiting with toddlers
checkouts, airport terminals, paediatricians' waiting
rooms ... if you're a parent, you know about trying to
entertain kids when it seems time has stopped. Here are
10 easy ways to keep waiting times tantrum-free—and bearable
for both of you.
1. Keep Tiny Toys on Hand
It's easy to tuck away a few playthings in your purse
for those moments when your kids need to be occupied:
just about anything you might find in a goodie bag is
sufficient for distracting toddlers.
Easy-to-tote items include toy cars, small dolls, transformer-type
toys—even scotch tape or a roll of old address labels
can safely entertain your child for a few minutes. A small
cosmetics case can carry your little diversions.
2. Tell (or Read) a Story
A few good books (and good imaginations!) can make long
waits bearable, says Sherry Conway Appel, author of On
the Birth of Your Child: From Mother to Daughter.
• Keep a small book in the car to bring to waiting rooms,
etc. as necessary and read to your child while waiting.
• Make up a story as you're standing there, using elements
of the situation you're currently in: "Once, there was
a little boy who was king of all the post offices in the
• Have your child tell you a story.
3. Hand Out Healthy Snacks
What errand isn't made more tolerable by a handful of
yogurt-covered raisins or some mini-pretzels? Keeping
a yummy treat in your bag at all times may just spare
your child a crankiness explosion (or a low blood sugar
meltdown of your own).
Of course, this isn't the answer if your child isn't at
all hungry or if a sugary snack may cause more restlessness.
(Plus, keeping your kids busy with unhealthy snacks can
be a very bad habit.) Stick to healthy treats and distribute
them only in moderation—or desperation.
4. Draw or Colour
A mini notebook and a four-pack of crayons may be the
best dollar-store purchases you make. Unearth these as
you're waiting for your child's entree to arrive or your
oil change to be finished.
(Think your child is too young for crayons? Think again!)
5. Start Talking No goodies on hand?
Pick an object in the room and discuss it. How many leaves
does that office plant have? Which is the tallest bookshelf
in the room? Does he like that poster? The key here is
to get your child engaged in what is happening right then—not
6. Be the Tour Guide
Kids are naturally curious about their surroundings. Serve
as a tour guide, especially at a place like a restaurant,
and you'll occupy bored children. While waiting for the
food, go outside and look around. As you're walking together,
point out what you see: signs, bushes, sparkly sidewalk
cement, and so on.
7. Play a Game
Even this waiting room is full of "I Spy" fodder. When
(or if!) that game gets old, try "What/ Where/ Who Am
I?" for a version related to your child's favourite things,
places, and people. Describe just a few attributes of
his babysitter, play date pal, favoured pizza place, etc.
and see if he can guess correctly.
8. Get Laughing
Make silly faces at each other. Softly sing the words
to a song your child knows but sub in a wrong word: "Mary
had a little frog..." Or exaggerate where you'll go once
you're out of this bank lobby: to the moon, Cookie Monster's
house, etc. Your child will inevitably join in the goofiness.
9. Acknowledge the Wait
"Yup, this sure is taking a long time." Sometimes acknowledging
the wait and talking about how much you can't wait for
it to be over and get onto the good stuff can help you
bond with your child. Talk about how many other people
might be waiting for their number to be called, what your
afternoon plans together are, what to make for dinner—anything
to remind you both that this wait is only temporary.
10. Teach Patience by Being Patient.
Waiting is a part of life. You can actually use the instances
where you have to wait with your child as teaching moments.
"Many times parents try to help their children skip over
the difficult parts of life rather than teaching [acceptance],"
says April Masini, advice guru, author, and syndicated
Ask April columnist. "It's not natural for children to
be stimulated 24/7," she adds, but it is natural for all
people to be bored sometimes. Hold your child or let him
sit on your lap and just be quiet and patient together.
Courtesy - www.babyzone.com