As a parent of two young boys there have been many times when parenting has become very challenging. How I wish I could have pulled a rabit out of my hat!. Perhaps you are waiting in a long line at a restaurant, a long car or plane ride, or maybe an extra long wait at the doctor’s office. For me it is now easy to recognize the signs of an impending tantrum and when I d it is time to dig into a supply of items and ideas to keep the kids busy, entertained, and reduce the chances of a blow out. I know people with children of special needs, and this idea can be especially helpful. You will want to have items on hand that you can use to distract your child or take their mind off the immediate problem. A special needs child is normally less able to amuse themselves during a long wait and a parent needs to be quick and creative in finding something that will distract and amuse their child. A little planning will help you when that time comes. Here are some ideas that may help get you through these situations and keep everyone calm and happy:
One parenting tip I heard about a long time ago is the ABCD’s for distracting children. What are the ABCD's? Simply to Amuse, Bribe, Comfort, and Distract. You should be able to pull something out of your little bag of tricks quickly to avoid a meltdown or ease a stressful situation. Having resources available will allow you a quicker reaction time and possibly a scene in a public place. I consider myself very good at amusing and distracting. Knowing how to juggle I can usually find three objects and keep my kids distracted. They like it best when I bounce something off my head or drop something, I don't know why, but it proves that you don't have to be an expert at something, you just have to make the effort and have a little fun with your kids. Play around and find something that works best for you.
Another recommendation is to keep a small bag filled with items that you will keep in your pocket or purse for emergency situations. The idea is to think small. You need items you can easily carry and have on hand always. You may want to fill a small bag or your purse with some suitable snack items for the age of your child. Dry cereal, raisins, animal crackers, and hard candy are all great to carry with you. You know which ones are right for your child.
One simple item you can carry that will keep your child amused is a pencil and small notebook. You can personalize the notebook by putting their name on it and having it handy during stressful times or long waits. Every child I know loves to write with a pen and a notepad or piece of paper! Colored pencils are great to carry, not as messy as crayons but they still give bright colors. These will help your child with their stress levels and, by the way, help yours too!
If you are caught unaware or find yourself in a traffic jam with no little bag of goodies, try letting your child look at your photos. Nearly every parent will carry a set of photos with them and pictures of themselves and other members of their family fascinate most children. What to do if you exhaust the photo option? If the child is older, let them count your coins, help them group them into categories, and teach them a little about money while you are amusing them.
Other items you can carry with you that are small and effective distractions are toy cars; puzzle books, stickers, flash cards, and a doll or favorite toy. Small items to distract and amuse may be a great help in keeping your child under control while waiting for long periods of times.