Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"Waiting" with Children

I'm a little behind on my posts right now.  My apologies.  I come today bearing a gift,  however.  That makes up for it,  right?

In my experience,  waiting for an appointment,  waiting for food to arrive while at a restaurant,  or waiting for that seemingly never-ending process of taking pictures at the end of a family event with children  (who may be ill, hungry, tired, or feeling very energetic) can be relatively unpleasant. But, since those situations can be expected and planned for the pain can be mitigated. Pack a backpack with a few favorite toys, books to read/look at, puzzles, etc. and you and your children are good to go! Don't get me wrong, I know that learning to "wait" without "entertainment" is necessary. But I also know that children are not little adults. Patience is not a virtue that can be expected into perpetuity for a 2 or 4 or 6 year old. 

A couple of weeks ago I had dinner with a couple of friends and 2 very young children (under the age of 3).  The dinner went amazingly well. The children sat in the booth with us, remained quiet and appropriate at the dinner table for around 2 hours. How? The magic bag, which had a few crayons, a few trains, a few sheets of stickers and some rubber toys (among other things) and some fun adults. Every parent has figured out the magic bag... though I gotta tell you, I had forgotten all about stickers. They are magically time-consuming (and taking them off and sticking them in appropriate places is a great fine motor activity!).

 But what happens when the wait is unexpected (flat tire, traffic jam) and you have nothing prepared, or you (gasp) forgot the magic bag? Waiting with children with nothing to do can start to feel like torture after a bit. But I've found a magic list that requires little or no prepared materials!  Terri Mauro at About.com wrote a wonderful list of 101 Time Wasters that looks fabulous! There is SOMETHING on that list that will work with almost any child. I especially liked #90 Be mirror images and #87 Go on a "hike" with your two fingers walking over your child's arms, shoulders, and head (Describe what "he's" doing and maybe even draw a face and clothes on the "hiker" if you have a pen handy!).

Take a look at that magic list and let me know what your favorites are. Do you have any activities that you think should be added? I think I'll throw in a task analysis for shoe tying in the next post (that'll help with #13).