It’s Saturday morning and you’re trying to enjoy a nice quiet, leisurely breakfast with your better half and your toddler. Before too long, your perfect morning is taking a turn for the worse. Your toddler has had enough quiet time, and is getting restless. Soon, the restlessness turns into a tantrum. People start looking at you with looks of disdain. You’re only solution to quickly stop the escalation situation is to offload your smartphone for the noble purpose of keeping your child quiet!
It works. But soon, it becomes to go to method of appeasing your child, and before too long, you can’t go anywhere without keeping your child’s face embedded in a smartphone so he or she will behave. In the long term, it’s not a healthy solution.
So what can we do? Well the Art of Manliness have come up with a few ingenious yet simple ideas to help combat this dependance, and boost your child’s brain power whilst you’re at it!
Give these games a try next time you’re out, at least before resorting to the trusty smartphone.
1. Name That Tune
Hum a familiar song (“Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star,” “Old McDonald,” etc.), and see if your child can identity and name it.
2. What’s Missing?
This is a great one to do at the table at a restaurant. Take a few objects — a fork, spoon, and sugar packet, for example — and tell your kid to take a careful look at the collection. Then cover the items with a napkin, and remove one of the items without them being able to see which one (lift the end of the napkin nearest you for cover as you withdraw the item). Now remove the napkin altogether, and ask your child to name which item is missing.
3. Who Am I?
Pick an animal, and then let your kid ask questions to try to get at your identity. E.g., “Do you roar?” “Do you live somewhere cold or hot?” “Are you furry?”
4. Shape Hunt
Ask your children if they can see anything in their environment with a certain shape. “What do you see that’s a circle?” “What do you see that’s a triangle?”
5. What Is Different?
Divide a piece of paper into a quadrant. In three squares, draw the same shapes/pictures/pattern. In the fourth square, draw something different. So for example, you could draw dogs in three of the squares and a cat in the fourth, or a triangle in three of the squares, and a square in another. Have your kid point to the panel that differs from the rest. The more advanced your child, the harder you can make it; try doing 5 circles in three of the squares, and 6 in the fourth, or different patterns like XXOOXX in three squares, and XXOXX in the fourth.
Try these simple games and you’d be surprised at how much more rewarding it is to keep the attention of your child (and your sanity) without resorting to smartphones. The last thing you want to do is create a dependance on a device and use it as a scapegoat.