Parents' Emergency Box

What are the times when your child seems to desperately need you? Are you on the phone, cooking dinner, talking to a friend? 

When they want your attention when you are concentrating on something else -- when you need space and they are coming up with intriguing ways to get your attention -- these are the times you will want your "Emergency Box."

An Emergency Box is a place you can put things that children can do without a lot of supervision.

When you have the energy (this is early in the morning for Kirby), stock your Emergency Box. This can be a shoe box, a pretty box, etc. It may be your emergency box, but call it a "Surprise Box" or something else exciting for your child. Give it a label you and they like. 

Fill it with games and have it at the ready. Here are some things that will help:

  • Only use the games in the box when you cannot give the child your full attention. This keeps the games fresh and new.
  • Give them one game that you choose out of the box. Never give them the whole box. Choose a different game each time to ensure they don't get bored. Something is always new.
  • With littles, try to do phone calling, etc. when they are napping or down at night. Young children need our full attention as much as we are able to give to them.
  • If you are cooking, involve the child as much as you can. If you cannot, choose an Emergency (Surprise!) Game and put them nearby so you can see what they are doing.

Here are some games for the "Emergency Box":

  • Sink or Float. This one is for the kitchen on a towel on a jelly roll pan. Put a little tub of water on the kitchen floor. Gather up a bunch of objects and let your child test if they sink or float. The parent should keep a cup of items and give them to the child one-by-one.
  • Play-dough. It can be homemade.
  • Pipe Cleaner People Have a bag with people, and cloth, and ribbons. Tie the ribbons to the pipe cleaner person's waist to help them climb or fly. The child can act out stories you've read together.
  • Tennis Ball Puppet
  • Toilet Roll Puppet.
  • Matching Texture Game. (Fabrics and different materials - more to come in following posts!)
  • Mesh Scarves. (To practice throwing and catching.)
  • Sewing Cards
  • Pouring Games. (Rice, noodles, beans, water, sand, etc. - more to come in following posts!)
  • Have two little bowls, one with cotton balls (or colored pom-poms) and tweezers to move them from bowl to bowl. (This can also be done with a ice cube tray.) Here's a link to another tweezer game.

Play each thing with the child first to show them how to do it. Then let them do it as you are nearby doing something else (for example, cooking). Here is another related article from the archives entitled 20 Learning Games for When Mom or Dad is Exhausted.

Matching Games Galore
Building Character Game

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