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Keeping My Daughter "Busy"

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    Keeping My Daughter "Busy"

    Hello everyone! It's been several months since I've checked in, although I've still been following most threads. We had our baby girl back on July 13th and there were a few challenges with her birth. She was 10lbs 6oz, got stuck coming out, has Brachial Plexus Palsy (Erb's Palsy), and receives therapy. The good news is she can now move her arm (it was completely limp at birth) and she's making great progress. The other good news is that you guys are great and the advice you gave me to help encourage my now 6 year old daughter how to color was perfect. Thank you!

    Ok so I'm writing because I need ideas on what "to do" with my 6 year old daughter while I do things like cook or nurse the baby. I have a 5 year old son who is like her big brother and although they play well together there are many times when he's just playing by himself and she doesn't have anything to do. I can give her puzzles, games, dolls, whatever (not all at once of course) and she'll play but it often doesn't last long and then she ends up wandering around or begging me for my phone or the iPad (which we use for Gemiini - a therapy program). I sometimes let her use my phone to look at our pictures and family videos. I recently got ABC Mouse at a great discount because I was hoping that at least she and her brother could do something educational when I'm not fully available. However, I don't want them on that all the time either. The bottom line is that she seems to need my attention 95% of the time everyday and it's wearing on me. Do I just need to get over myself and suck it up or are there other things I can give her to do? By the way, I have lots of file folder activities but she either needs my help with them or if it's too easy she often won't want to do it, perhaps it's boring to her. If the activity is not too easy but a slight challenge she will often give up if it seems slightly too hard. Does that make sense? She likes to play with the teddy bear counters but after a while she's just sitting there sorting them over and over so I don't want to leave her to herself with that. Oh...She does like super easy toddler-style puzzles but they're too easy for her so I don't like her playing with them anymore....hoping she will want to challenge herself. I'm hoping to come up with a rotation of activities that she can do independently... this would be done while I'm working with my son, nursing the baby, or anytime she seems to need something to do. Oh... let me add that she loves books and can sit with a pile of them for a while but sometimes I think she wants to do something different. Maybe I should create a daily basket of new books?
    I'm sure I'm leaving out some information but I'll stop here for now. Thanks in advance for any help!

    Re: Keeping My Daughter "Busy"

    Hello, Nia!

    Yes, the electronic options are not ideal for a 6-year-old, so rotated baskets might work well. She sounds sweet, so she might appreciate baskets of books selected just for her. Tie a pretty ribbon on each one. You might gather them by theme: science & nature, people & cultures, favorite storybooks, new storybooks. One day each week, perhaps Friday, you could give her a big basket of those toddler puzzles. Set a timer, and give her the expectation to stay in the assigned area with her basket until the timer rings.

    You might create two such time periods each day. The afternoon period might be rotated bins with something more active, such as non-messy crafts like wikki sticks, a bin of duplos or legos, large paper dolls, large beads with strings, lacing cards.

    All of this will take some time to establish initially, but she will benefit long-term in so many ways. You will be creating a lovely habit of enjoying active leisure time. She needs this; so do you!

    A tip: If you think she feels a little insecure being by herself for 30-45 minutes, you could "reward" her independent time afterward. Have a little routine of sharing a cup of juice or taking a walk, as she tells you about her special time that day. "What was your favorite book today?" "Show me what you made today." This need not take more than a few minutes and will give her something to look forward to. Just remind her that this is always after her timer rings.

    I would not worry too much about her desire to enjoy easy activities. Those toddler puzzles might be soothing in some way. If she enjoys them, she may still receive some benefit of part-to-whole, visual discrimination, problem-solving, fine-motor dexterity, and other pre-academic skills inherent in puzzles. My daughter can read exquisite George Herbert poetry, and she loves poring over her favorite book of opera synopses. Yet sometimes we hear her giggling over an old Boxcar Children book.

    If you have not seen this, the third video in this series explains how to provide challenging material during teacher-guided instruction, and how to give only truly independent work during independent time. Look for "Sweet Spot" in the title.

    Good to hear from you!