Bored is the new exciting! Why you ask…, because being bored is an opportunity to use our imagination, be creative, and build competence.
So many children are spending much more time at home due to the pandemic. This has left many children and parents wondering what to do.
Teaching children how to extend their play will give both parents and children time to complete tasks, build competence, strengthen imagination, and foster innovation.
This may sound simple, but how do you start?
1. Set aside special time with your child. If you only have 10 minutes that’s okay Set a timer. Tell your child that for 10 minutes they will have your FULL attention. That means, no phone, no TV, only real focused attention. This time is for your child to decide what they would like to do with you, build, read, paint, play games, etc. This undivided attention will help your child feel connected with you when you step away to do something else.
2. Make a plan for solitary play. When the timer goes off let your child know that you have things to do now and ask them what they will do while you are busy. It may take a few tries while you work toward your goals of extending solitary play. It is worth it to put in the time now to work on this because you will be giving your child the gift of feeling at ease to play without constant external interactions. In addition, let your child know when you will have another special time together so they know what to expect.
3. Help your child extend their play longer. If after a short time your child says they are done, or they say what my toddler says, “I’m bored”, try suggesting an extension idea to the play they were working on. For example: If a child was building with blocks, ask them what else they may want to add, cars, animals, etc. This may take a few tries as they learn to grow their competence in playing alone.
4. Less is More! This phrase may sound counter intuitive, but here is why it’s not: When children have too many toys to play with they can become overwhelmed, and have less focus, causing them to move quickly from one thing to the next. Try one activity or toy at a time and add slowly. Blocks….animals, people.
Tip: Put some toys away in the closet for a while. Try rotating the toys that are available and they become like new again.
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