Children are just that: They come to the planet with an exquisite package, totally devoid of hypocrisy: Inquisitiveness, impatience, zest for adventure, basking in the freedom of expression of emotions – whether happiness, sadness, disappointment or selfishness, they blatantly make it public.
… And we rush to teach them that we actually are social animals and not as free as animals (ought to be). So tension and embarrassment grip us during certain moments, (of course with the child for company). Some such are while
visiting or receiving friends and relatives,
standing in queues,
waiting for our turn, say at the Doctor’s clinic or at the airport.
Here are a few tips to keep your child happy and busy even as he improves his power of staying focussed and his concentration.
For children up to 2 years, you may play the ‘guess-the-song’ game. Is your child used to listening to lots of rhymes and little songs? Fine then. While standing in the queue, as you hold him close to you, hum in to his tiny little ears those rhymes that would usher in untold delight on that cute little face. Your child would be quick to find it – he would gesture or even dance aptly! Pat him encouragingly before you go on to the next round of humming. After a while, you do the gesture (blinking eyes – to imitate ‘twinkle twinkle little star’, co-ordinated swinging of the hands for ‘rock-a-by-baby’…) He will do the guessing, and you will join him in enjoying.
Relating an interesting story would work wonders and keep the child thrilled and quiet.
For those of you who have cultivated the habit of reading to the kids, carrying new books in the hand bag will always be a guaranteed entertainer. In fact, such children ( who are used to listening to stories or other interesting books of his age), would actually look forward to such occasions where the parent would have undivided attention and all the time in the world only for him .
For the 3+ age group, we can recommend several Word-games: The ‘Five-things-game’ for example. You name a familiar topic – ‘Park’ for instance. Your child needs to list five ‘things’ connected to it. ’roundabout’, ‘swing’,’slide’, ‘see-saw’, ‘parallel bars’ could be his guess. If he stops with 3 or 4, you will help him complete and also to improve his vocabulary . You can go on with ‘Bathroom’, ‘school bag’, ‘zoo’, etc, depending on the child’s age.
‘Animal Kingdom’ is another game that you can improvise. It is a quizzing game where you would ask the child, ” Which sea-animal looks like snake, but isn’t one?” If the little brain doesn’t offer ‘eel’ for answer, give it to him yourself and draw an invisible eel on his palm and speak briefly ( and softly, lest you disturb others) about it to him.
If the venue permits you, make the child stand near you and ask him to execute your rapid commands: ‘Touch your head’. ‘Lift your right arm’. ‘Swing your left leg’, ‘Blink your left eye six times”. Keen concentration and fun-filled giggles are net results.
This is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen two known languages. Take the ‘Translation game’: Make it a rapid-firing one so as to make it lively: As you call out – say- ‘tree’, ‘ear’, ‘house’, ‘sugar’, ‘stove’ etc in your mother tongue, the child should go on with the translation in the selected known language. You need to know them both for certain.
You may choose to count the odd-number-cars and the even-number-cars. Share them between you two – odds for him and the rest for you. Teach him to look for the last digit of the number plate. His eyes would scan for 1,3,5,7 and 9. And he is learning to enjoy math!
Well, sky is the limit, you would agree. You may go on with more subjects and topics with simple games.
Should we call it the ‘joy of living’ or the ‘joy of parenting’?