The challenge of a waiting room

Sitting in a waiting room with small children can be a nightmare. Not only are we, as parents, feeling tense and impatient, but our children often pick up on our irritations and start playing up.

So what can we do if we are stuck in a waiting room and need to keep our children entertained?

Prepare a ‘waiting room’ bag

Take a bag with a selection or the following items:

  • Toys, such as mini versions of your child’s favourite characters, cars, trains, figures, dolls, action figures, building bricks etc.
  • Snacks
  • Drinks
  • Books
  • Travel games
  • Electronic hand-held games
  • Comics
  • Colouring crayons/ pencils / pens and
  • Paper, notebook or colouring book
  • Magnetic drawing board or mini whiteboard and dry-erase pens
  • Doctors kit
  • Favourite cuddly toy or blanket
  • Portable DVD player and headphones (if you have one!)
  • Portable CD player with favourite music or book on tape
  • Sensory items such as a glow wand, vibrating toy, feather or piece of fluffy ribbon
  • Quiet games to play

Bring out a new item each time your child gets bored

12 ways to keep your child entertained

  1. Play. If there are toys provided in the waiting room, find one that your child would enjoy. Alternatively, get down to your child’s level and give a running commentary on everything your child does with the toys. Children love this!
  2. Read. If there are books, get your child to read to you. If they can’t read then read to them. It’s best to be animated and engaging – your child will love you for it. If you can add silly voices or sound effects, everyone else in the waiting room will be thoroughly entertained!
  3. Invent a story. Make up a story where your child is the hero or heroine. Bring in the names of your child’s friends as characters in the story. Add in a theme if you can such as good triumphing over evil, small outwitting big, etc.
  4. Tell a story in turns. Make up a story with your toddler, where you start the story and you take it in turns with your child to add  each subsequent line
  5. Play ‘can you guess?’ Tap out the beat to a song or nursery rhyme on your leg and see if your child can guess what it is. Afterwards, it’s your child’s turn
  6. Electronic games. Consider teaching your child to play a game on your mobile and let them have a go. If you are really organised you can do a Google search for the best apps for toddlers or children, and get them installed on your android phone, iPod or iPad
  7. Word games. Play a word game such as I-spy, 20 questions. You can get your child to think of something and see if you can guess what it is using 20 questions where they can only answer yes or no. Or ‘I’m thinking of a word that rhymes with….’ Older children enjoy the game where they think of  ‘My five favourite…’ (Celebrities, pop songs, TV programmes, teachers, friends, things to do, etc.)
  8. Action songs. Play finger rhymes and sing action songs such as this little piggy, Hickory Dickory dock (move your fingers up and down their belly like the mouse) Round and round the garden, etc.
  9. Reminisce. Talk about a favourite holiday destination or a place your child loves and remember all the things you enjoy about it.
  10. Counting games. Play counting games such as how many panes of glass in the window How many blue chairs? How many babies? How many tiles on the ceiling?
  11. Pen and paper games. If you have a pen and paper play noughts and crosses or devise a little treasure hunt where you write or draw a list of items and your child has to spot them.
  12. Copying games. Play ‘Do as I’m doing’ and pull silly faces or touch parts of the body and your child has to copy you. Make it harder by creating a sequence of actions that your child has to remember.
The author:

Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

Need help now? Ready to explore whether investing in some tailor-made parenting sessions would be right for you and your family? Book your FREE 20-minute call with Elizabeth here