I applaud the 5 to 6 year old that was sitting in the same waiting room as I was. I couldn’t help but overhear her non-stop talking to her daddy and I was also impressed at how she managed to entertain herself despite the odds. She dangled her legs, she slid on and off the couch and she never stopped talking. You see, this child was repeatedly told to remain on the couch and wait with nothing to do for 45 minutes. She succeeded, but for some reason, I felt very bothered.
Most people would say “kudos” to dad for keeping his child corralled. I admit, the child wasn’t running around the waiting room or yelling or throwing things. I should also credit the father for patiently acknowledging and answering the child’s questions even though he was busy on his phone.
So why am I writing this article? Well, basically I needed to do two things. One is to vent and the other to give otherwise caring parents some tips.
First, my vent: Yes, I’ve been there as a parent, unprepared for my day, running and dragging kids around on errands. Nobody is perfect, but usually most parents recognize their error and supply a waiting child with an improvised “toy” or something to keep them occupied. They may even walk around with their child outside to keep their busy child moving. It is hard enough for adults to wait in waiting rooms, hence the magazines and smart phones. What would be wrong about allowing a child a bit of freedom by walking around a small room? Would it have required supervision from the parent? Yes, of course. The child in the waiting room asked to look at a magazine. The parent said, “no”. Again this is bad because? Oh, yes, it might require supervision from the parent since there were no kid friendly magazines. Oh, the most important piece of information, I waited an hour and this child waited a good 45 minutes like this! How unfair to the child who had nothing to do while dad had his thing going on his phone.
Ok, whew, I got that out of my system! Now, to stay positive and hopefully help, here are some tips:
Number one, If you find yourself in a rush out the door and forgot to bring your child anything to occupy themselves, then calmly set your agenda aside and be ready to find ways to entertain your child. Do not simply enforce that your child stay seated with nothing to do for longer than 15 minutes.
Number two; bring your child a book of some sort. It can be a summer reader or it can be what I call a “brain candy” book such as a joke book, mad-libs, magazines or crosswords. It wouldn’t hurt to read along with your child or just listen to them read and point things out.
Some other good ideas: Rubik’s cubes, puzzles, I-Spy books, coloring books, cards, or just plain paper and markers. All these can fit in a backpack the child brings along.
Number three, if there is a way to mute the sound, then as a last resort, allow your child to bring one electronic game. This is a good time for that kind of game. The most modern idea I’ve heard is to buy apps for your i phone and allow your child to play the games while you wait.
Finally, if your child gets antsy from an especially long wait, take him around the room and walk for a bit. This will help release some energy and help your child to wait out the rest of the time.
These tips are sure to make you and your child’s waiting room time more pleasant and at the very least might help to keep the internal peace of a Teacher or Child Development Specialist from biting her tongue. We are out there watching!