Boredom is often what results in poor behaviour outside the home or when travelling.
Keep your children engaged to avoid trying times
Trying Times with your kids
So much of Parenting is about being a step ahead of your children, anticipating in advance what will make a difference in keeping boredom at bay so you can stay cool! Redirecting their energy, using distraction before the meltdown and using humor all work in reducing tension before it builds up to a meltdown!
Provide entertainment for car journeys for children
Children get bored and stressed on car journeys; so pIanning ahead by bringing something to amuse them can really pay off! I recall using the library for CD’s so we always had great stories to listen to while travelling on long journeys, Charlotte’s Web and Goodnight Mr Tom were big favourites as I recall! Build memories with singsongs and games of I spy, or who sees the first car registration plate for an unusual year etc.
Proactive not Reactive Parenting
Remember, if children are fighting in the car to ‘Take an action for self; not against the child’. Therefore, if possible pull over; take the keys out of the ignition and tell them that you cannot continue as it is not safe for you to drive with that behaviour. Set them up with a distraction and redirect their energy so you can continue the journey.
Managing children in Cafes and Restaurants
Children love to explore and see what is under the chair, behind the chair and how things work as that is how they learn. Therefore, before expecting them to sit still try to find a space to run around or find a child friendly place to relax. Try to remember to bring a toy, small puzzle, cards or some colouring materialsso you get to enjoy your coffee stop while your child is fully engaged. Children get bored sitting still so make it easy for them to be in a confined space by giving them something to do.
Managing children in the Supermarket
A visit to the supermarket can be less tiresome when you involve the child in some way. Think of a game that you and your child can enjoy while shopping. If they are old enough to walk up the aisle, give them something to look for to bring back to the trolley. Perhaps, if they find everything you ask them for, they get to select a small treat at the end. A focus like this or weighing the vegetables should make your shopping more enjoyable! If however, their behaviour is unacceptable, you may have to give them a choice and a consequence and allow them to choose. ‘If you choose to run around, you are choosing to go in the trolley, you decide’. However, all parenting works better when we focus on the positive rather than the negative, therefore giving them a board with pictures of food they have to find is best as it keeps them fully engaged.
Helping children with Tidying up & Getting Dressed
Children love games so I recall that I used ‘I bet I can beat you picking up this Lego! Let’s see who can pick up the most pieces!’’ I bet I can get dressed and do my make up before you’re dressed; do you want to race!’. Just ensure that you allow them to win the game though. Children love a challenge and a bit of fun especially while learning a new task. Criticism however drys up their energy and enthusism to learn so don’t forget to tell them what they have done right or to reward with a star chart sticker.
Toy sharing a problem for your children?
Seek first to understand, then to be understood as children respond better when they have a sense of feeling understood and heard and it literally take the heat out of the situation so it diffuses more easily. Learning to share is not easy for chidren and they need our help and compassion when teaching them this new skill and how to conflict resolute. Distraction is key and re direct their energies to diffuse the situation. Remain separate to the conflict yet acknowledge their feeling ie ‘So, you both want to play with the tractor? How can you share without fighting? Shall I help you to take it in turns? If you cannot share, we need to put it away till you find a way to share it’.Allocate a shelf for toys that they are not ready to share; you may need to limit the number of items though!
Be Proactive; not Reactive with your children
And finally, remember children are never bold, behaviours are bold and much misbehaviour is the result of a lack of stimulation and boredom, so be Proactive not Reactive!