Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

5 Ideas to Keep Kids Occupied During the Witching Hours: Without using Electronics for Entertainment

by:Dyan Eybergen

When my boys were young I use to pride myself on "only" using the electronic babysitter of TV and videos for the Witching Hour: that time between 5 and 7 pm, when the wheels seem to come off the cart for every child and their behaviour. It was often convenient to plop them in front of the Disney Channel so I could get supper on the table and prepare for the evening's bedtime routine. It wasn't the only source of entertainment I resorted to with my children; but I admit, I used it on many occasions in that space of an hour or two. That was a long time ago when all we had to contend with in the fight against the use of electronics was the television and VCR. Nowadays, it's not uncommon to see toddlers using iPads in the grocery cart or gaming on mom or dad's cell phone in a restaurant.

According to the American Accreditation Health Care Commission (URAC) too much screen time can make it hard for children to fall asleep; can raise a child's risk of attention problems, anxiety, and depression; and can increase the potential for weight gain and obesity due to inactivity. The URAC'S guidelines suggest that children under the age of 2 should have no screen time at all and children over 2 should be limited to 1-2 hours a day.

Here are 5 ideas for keeping kids occupied (and out of trouble) during those Witching Hours:
  1. Get the children involved in domestic activities. Even a toddler can help put napkins on the table or move a dust cloth across a coffee table. It may not be as efficient as you would like but it is a practice in teaching helping skills and increasing self esteem.
  2. Give your child age appropriate puzzles, Lego®and crafts to work on where they can foster their imagination and express their creativity.
  3. Put on some music and encourage your child to dance and sing or play old fashion musical chairs or name that tune.
  4. Insist on quiet time where your child can curl up on the couch to look through picture books/photo albums; practice counting or identifying colours and shapes,or look out the window and cloud/star gaze.
  5. Listen to books on audio.
Parent modeling will go a long way in teaching children how to entertain themselves so evaluate how much time you are spending in front of your electronic devices. For more ideas on how to keep children entertained during the Witching Hours and beyond, check out the article: 50 Things to do Instead of Screen Time in Calgary's Child Magazine.



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