It is possible to amuse your Toddlers whilst stuck in the car and avoid stress for all the family. Try these games and distractions and enjoy the ride.

Playing games in the car will normally stop your child getting bored and agitated. A good one that you can play with him, is ‘the snooker game’. You ask him to spot the colours of cars in the order of the balls played in a game of snooker. You start with white, then a red, then yellow, and all the way up to black. Have you ever noticed how few yellow, brown or pink cars there are on the roads? In fact there are hardly any pink ones at all. You can keep this game going for as long as you need to. It will keep your child amused for a long while, as well as distracting you.

Another game you can play is looking for the type or make of car. For example a Volkswagen Beetle, or an Aston Martin DB9. If you want the game to last a little longer for your child, then choose a rare type of car. If you want your child to find it quickly, choose a more popular model. There are many variations on this theme that you can use depending on how creative you want to be. For example, it could be marques of lorries, buses, vans or even caravans and trailers.

If you prefer to play more educational games with your child, you can play ‘Capital cities of the world’. This game is both interesting and educational for you and your child and keeps him focussed on fun learning instead of getting frustrated because he is bored in the car. Start with very easy ones such as the Capital city of England or Scotland. You call out the country and your child has to guess its Capital city. Once he gets used to some of the answers, you can progress to other more difficult ones from European or South American countries. You will be amazed just how much knowledge your child will pick up and retain.

As you know, the car can be a very challenging environment with your small child. Occasionally if the games don’t work, you can start singing songs together. This will work well for you and can be used as a means of passing time between two points on the road. If it is fifteen minutes until your exit, you can devise a game for all of you to sing songs, one after the other and you can all give marks out of ten. For example, between two junctions on a Motorway, suggest to everyone in the car to sing an agreed song or nursery rhyme, until the second junction is reached. There must be no exceptions, and everyone must join in. Let your child choose the song as soon as the one you have chosen is finished.

You will see that time passes very quickly like this and it is very good for strengthening bonds between you and your child. It also reinforces your child’s sense of doing fun things with you. Remember you want to have really good fun with your child, and that is an important part of your relationship together! For example, while going under the Dartford Tunnel, you and your child could sing “10 little ducks went swimming one day”. The goal would be to finish the song exactly at the moment when you leave the tunnel. Your child will be enthralled.

You can also invent stories to tell to your child in the car. He will be captivated. For example, you could invent a story about ‘The Wicked Witch of Gott’ (this is a totally made up name). She is an old witch who sits at her window watching the children go to school. If somebody pulls a face at her, she will cast a spell and that face would become permanent on the child who pulled it. You can only get your normal face back if you go up to the Witch’s house and apologise to the Witch in person (nobody wanted to do that). The only other way to get your normal face back is if the wind changes direction. You can adapt this story with different characters and draw it out or shorten it depending on the length of time you are in the car. This will be subconsciously teaching your child to be polite and not to pull faces at people, also to respect others who are different.

Your child will love stories which are told by you, so you can be very creative with them. For example, you could invent one about a family of dinosaurs and its prehistoric adventures, with each dinosaur representing one member of your family. You can let your Toddler choose who is what dinosaur, then you can recount a story which you can make up as you go along. If you let your child choose who you are, you might find that you always end up being the Brontosaurus! I wonder why……

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What can you do to make your Toddler understand that she mustn’t be rude? There is a very effective strategy.

It is normal that your Toddler behaves badly when she doesn’t get her own way, but it can be very frustrating for you and her mother. How often does it appear that she is just winding you both up more and more until you are at breaking point. You just want to shout at her or even smack  her to get her to behave. Of course this might work in the short term, but it won’t be a solution in the long term and will not help her understand that her behaviour is not acceptable.

You might say that if you shouldn’t shout at her, what can you do? It is a little like with a Teenager, withdrawing privileges will often work, particularly if it is something your child really loves. Maybe you go to the park on Saturday afternoons and she is able to go and play on the swings, or you go to the children’s farm once a month where she can see all the animals. This will certainly work, but there is also another strategy which has a more immediate effect and works very well.

Your Toddler will certainly have a favourite cuddly toy, who she always sleeps with and who she loves completely. If she is rude and aggressive with you, or her sibling, you can take away her cuddly toy. You can explain to her that if she behaves like that, her cuddly toy has told you that he doesn’t want to stay in her room. He doesn’t want to spend time with a ‘nasty’ girl, who isn’t nice to people.

She will soon learn that she has to behave properly and after a few occasions of doing this, you will find that her behaviour will change. Of course, then you will have to overcome the next challenge and we all know, there are plenty of them with Toddlers!

What is the most enjoyable period for you during your child’s growing up years?

When you have your first child, everything is brand new from when she is born to when she leaves home. You experience everything first with your eldest. But if you have more than one child, it is only then that you can then start to evaluate what period of your children’s lives is the most enjoyable for you as a Father.

For me, and many dads I have spoken to, this a very interesting question, as sometimes it appears that your child’s growing up years seem to go by all too quickly. All you can then do is look back and say “that was good”, or “I didn’t particularly like that”, without really appreciating it fully. So when do you really have a chance to look at which part of your child’s development is the most enjoyable experience for you?

You might think the joy of having a new born is the most enjoyable, as everything is new, and you are learning literally, every day. Or when your child becomes a Toddler. He is so sweet, apart from those ‘terrible two’s’ tantrums. But hey, they are not too frequent are they? Or it could be the Primary School years, pre-puberty, when you are the ‘apple of your child’s eye’. Then again is it the Teenage years? Probably not, as your child is changing so much physically and mentally, unless you love to see how she handles these challenges and still remains reasonable.

Then when they finish Secondary School and are officially adults, at least in age. Maybe you can start to discuss rationally with them, now they are going off to University or going out to work. Or is the final stage of childhood the most enjoyable for you, when they leave home, but still need you as an advisor or confidante?

When do you think the best period is then? I think it is actually all of them, each part of their growing up period is different, as each child is and therefore your child will react and respond to you in a different way at whatever stage of his life he is at. So you should make the most of whatever period your child is in and enjoy it to the full with him, even if you have to handle the odd sleepless night, sudden tantrum, or unexpected and unwarranted teenage explosion. Every part of their childhood is enjoyable, but like many things you live through in life, sometimes you don’t always realise it while it is happening.

 

What can you do when your child has a tantrum? Don’t be afraid to call their Bluff!

When your child is a Toddler you will know how often tantrums occur, and sometimes at the worst possible moments. These can be very inconvenient as you know. So when it happens don’t be afraid to call their Bluff!

When my son was throwing a tantrum and refused to listen to reason and kept saying “I’m leaving home, I hate this house!” (Of course he didn’t mean it), I had to find a strategy that could calm everything down. He was three years old at the time and kept saying “I don’t want to live here any more”.

I picked him up and escorted him to his bedroom, and found his little suitcase, and started packing it for him, telling him what he would need when he left home. Gradually he calmed down as he watched me packing his bag for him.

I then walked him to the front door and opened it, put his suitcase outside and said “there you go, good luck!” He became more and more sheepish as the episode unfolded, and as he stood in the doorway, the tantrum was completely forgotten about, he then apologised and said he didn’t really want to go.

He was very well behaved for many weeks after that, and when he threw a tantrum again, I only had to remind him that I would go and get his suitcase, and he calmed down immediately.