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Parents need to have a host of ways to quietly entertain kids so that adults may interact without interruption. I have raised two girls and fully understand that kids like attention and stimulating activities. However, kids need to learn quiet time activities that allow parents the time to have adult conversations.
Although the ability to quietly entertain kids can be useful in many settings, I believe it is essential for interactions at the physician’s office. As a practicing Pediatric Ear Nose and Throat physician for 30 years, I can honestly say that with the increased use of electronics, it has become more difficult for parents to get children to participate during visits. Kids have become addicted to screens, and it is important for parents to be aware of potential long term health complications of excessive electronic device usage.
I witness some of the most brutal, unruly tantrums when parents take away cell phones or turn off the volume on tablets. The meltdowns have blown my mind! I previously discussed my concerns about the need for electronic device manners for children. It is vital kids learn to use electronics responsibly and put them away as needed. Parents need to implement strategies which teach kids that their devices will be taken away, turned off or shared with siblings from time to time.
To create a collection of activities which quietly entertain kids, each parent should decide what is most interesting for their children. Several quiet time activities should be discussed and practiced at home. Kids will learn that in certain situations, they will be required to entertain themselves with quiet activities that do not include talking to mommy and daddy. Your children will learn the behavior expectations you have for them after you spend time teaching them.
Many parents have explained to me that their children need the volume for music and games. I sincerely disagree with this idea. We teach our kids acceptable behavior, such as being quiet in the library. In this digital age, we need to make sure toys and other items are maintained which quietly entertain kids.
We must teach our kids that there will be times that they are not able to talk to parents when they want nor turn up the volume on electronics.
Sometimes, I feel a bit silly for writing this post, until another young mom looks at me and asks me to wait while she explains to her child that the physician needs them to turn the volume off. Seriously? The physician needs the volume down? No, mothers and fathers need the volume down so they can hear what I am trying to say!
Have you ever apologized to others for the volume being loud on your child’s electronic device? Have you ever apologized for your child having a meltdown when you put away the phone or the tablet? If so, this post is intended to help you.
I am not suggesting anything difficult. I am suggesting that you create a plan, then start teaching and using the plan at home so that your kids are used to the situation where quiet time activities are needed. Despite all the technology at home, make it part of your daily routine to do activities which quietly entertain kids.
Once your kids understand their options when quiet play time is needed, you need to remind them when they choose to be disruptive. Eventually, they will learn your body language and Eye Speak which should remind them of your behavior expectations.
My top 10 suggestions for activities that quietly entertain kids
1. Electronics with NO sound.
Electronic devices are an invaluable addition to our lives. Adults and teens frequently use headphones, but most parents simply turn up the volume on the device for younger kids. The awesome uses for electronic devices are too numerous to list. But electronic etiquette is required.
If you cannot turn the volume off, you should consider buying children earphones which limit the volume. This volume restriction is important to avoid noise-induced hearing loss. Toddlers may not be as receptive to headphones so you might consider a fleece headband earphone which may resemble headwear they already own.
I am an ear doctor. So…at some point during the visit, the headphones will need to be removed. In addition to teaching your kids to use devices where the sound is not heard by others in the room, they will need to learn to have no sound!
I highly recommend working on this quiet time activity right away. Although using earphones are helpful, children should also learn to turn off the device or use it without any sound at all. It is irritating to everyone around you when your child has the volume up on their electronics. Please consider only having the volume up when in a private location.
You might also consider how your child can be quietly entertained if the device loses its charge. You may not be able to recharge in the physician office. Also, many kids have become dependent upon electronic games and apps that use the internet. You need to be sure your child can function without these common luxuries.
A tried a true activity. It stimulates the imagination and is an activity that will be needed throughout life. Why not use downtime in the waiting room or exam room reading a book?
It is very rare that I see young kids reading from actual books in my office. There is nothing wrong with tablets, but they are not the only way to read. What if the battery runs out? Go old school and carry some regular books.
I remember the good old days of having baggies full of crayons. And feeling like I hit the lottery when restaurants gave out free, unbroken crayons. Again, it is rare for me to see kids with crayons or colored pencils in my office.
Coloring and drawing can be done anywhere and improves your child’s fine motor skills and dexterity. And need I remind you that it is quiet.
Simple plastic puzzles, like mini Rubik’s cubes, are also a good way to pass the time. Younger kids might be entertained with a simpler Pyramid Cube. Great for dexterity, logic, concentration…and a quiet activity.
5. Quiet book
One of my fellow mom bloggers made a home-made quiet book. If you are artsy, this can be something you work on with your kids as a home activity. Then, when you go out, carrying the special book has additional value.
Carry around a sketchbook so kids can draw or color. Children in my office end up writing and coloring on the papers that I had to parents. These papers actually have a purpose but they are often destroyed before the visit is over.
Go to your favorite bookstore and get a book with unlined paper. Let their imaginations fill the pages.
7. Write in a journal
My children were required to write a journal from elementary school through middle school. I know, mean mommy! But this requirement to write one page on any topic of their choice helped them become very good writers for high school and college.
I love seeing backpacks and homework out when kids come to see me after school. I understand that some parents want to give their kids a rest since they just left school. For those parents, please have another activity to quietly entertain your kids.
9. Sticker book
I may be dating myself here! I know kids still love to get stickers, so look for a sticker book with vinyl pages. Kids can them rearrange stickers in any way they wish. It is also a nice way to collect stickers from different places.
10. A Dr. Momma Original: What I Learned Today Game
This idea is fresh out of my brain! An original Dr. Momma game. I confess that I daydream about this idea every time I experience an electronic device meltdown in my office. I suggest you create some version of my game where you teach your kids to pay attention in the office. Then, on the way home, each thing they can tell you that they learned earns points for a treat or prize.
Electronic devices are an invaluable part of our lives; however, they require charging and often need the internet. When these two things are not available, you need to ensure you have other options that quietly entertain kids.
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