It is not just adults who get depressed by dismal weather—children struggle with it too. It can quickly get boring for them being stuck inside, especially when they would much rather be frolicking around outside. In keeping with the maxim ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable toys’, find out here how you can keep small children occupied on rainy days.
The most important tip first: very young children in particular tend to reflect the moods of their parents. Even if you are fed up with the bad weather yourself, try not to show it; stay laid-back and cheerful. This is the best basis for a relaxed day spent playing inside.
Variety is the spice of life
But what kinds of toys do small children like playing with the most? Anything that engages their senses in a variety of ways. Providing a range of different stimuli will also help your child’s development. Running around and conquering new spaces through physical play is important, but playing quietly also serves a purpose. It enhances fine motor skills and your child’s ability to concentrate.
Here are a few examples:
- Interactive books and books that promote motor skill development encourage interaction between parent and child
- Musical instruments and items that make sounds train hearing and coordination
- Toys that can be pushed or pulled help the child to move more securely
- Building blocks, cuboids, spheres and triangles stimulate structural thinking in the child
- Jigsaw puzzles and items that can be pushed into shaped slots improve memory and the ability to concentrate
You should also let your child play quietly on their own. Start off with the two of you and give your child time to get into the flow of playing. Move away as soon as you realise that the game can be played without your intervention. But avoid intervening right away if something doesn’t work immediately. This way your child will learn to tolerate unpleasant feelings as they play, and will gain confidence in their own strengths.
You should, however, stay within earshot, so that your child can test out their own independence and at the same time feel safe.
Parents can also expect their child to get bored sometimes
Parents are not their children’s full-time entertainers. Children who play alone get to know themselves better. They discover their inner nature as well as their own imagination, and in the process come up with stories that they become absorbed in acting out. Some children, however, need a little time to work out how to play by themselves. Ignore their whining, and don’t succumb to the temptation to provide short-term entertainment with computer games or television.
Plan ahead—there are bound to be other rainy days soon
One option is not to offer your child the same toys every day. Children love variety. Put the toys away for a time; then they can be rediscovered after a while and become interesting again.