Your March Break dream: the two children and one toddler are all playing nicely and quietly together in the living room. Joey is busy with a creative craft project, while oldest brother Michael is reading little Lizzie a story…ahhh, sweet bliss…
Not so much. Here are six tips to make the March Break (and every day) less stressful:
- Allow your child to experience a healthy amount of boredom. If you constantly rush in to alleviate that boredom, your child won’t be motivated to learn how to find ways to entertain himself.
- Don’t make the mistake of assuming that it’s your job to be a full-time, live-in entertainment director. One of the most important things you can teach your children is how to find their own fun—how to figure out ways of entertaining themselves.
- Don’t have too much stuff around. Children, like adults, can be paralyzed by too many choices. And organize the play materials that you do have on hand in a way that makes it easy for your child to see what options are on the play menu.
- When your child comes to you and says, ‘I’m bored,’ don’t solve the boredom problem for him. Instead, help him to develop skills for dealing with that problem. Say, ‘Hmmm’ and see what he says next. Encourage him to think about what he feels like doing. Does his body feel like moving? Do his hands feel like creating something? Does his voice feel like singing? Do his eyes feel like looking at or reading a book? Do his ears feel like listening to music? Over time, he will learn to go through this process in his own head when he is looking for ways to entertain himself.
- Make it possible for your child to engage in a variety of different types of play: creative play, imaginative play, motor-skills activities (both gross motor and fine motor), play involving other children. Also think about ways to minimize the amount of help your child needs to seek from you. (If a toy or puzzle is stored in a frustrating container, transplant it to another, easier-to-open container, for example.)
- Finally, don’t forget to spend plenty of one-on-one time with your child. You’re not trying to ease out of your all-important role as your child’s first teacher. You’re simply trying to encourage a healthy balance of independent play and learning with a parent or other adult.
March Break is meant for fun—for you and your child. Be sure to schedule plenty of that.