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Top tips to keep kids busy and avoid a strop

Being a parent can be great fun. It's also 24/7 and can be tiring and sometimes stressful! Let’s face it, coping with challenging behaviour can get you down. But help is at hand – we’ve  got tips from parents across Scotland to help keep the kids happy.

From dealing with strops at the shops, to top tips for reducing screen time a wee bit, ways to keep them busy while you get on with things to to ideas for those "I'm bored" days, we hope you find something to make your life a little easier.

Need more time?

Feel like you never have enough time to get anything done? Here are hints and tips from other parents to keep the kids busy while you get on with things. You can find more tips for keeping toddlers and older children happy here.

Tip #1: Tick, tick tick off that checklist

Get them to write their own checklist of what they need to do every morning – like have breakfast, brush their teeth, brush their hair, and get dressed. Then get them to tick it off as they do each thing. Go through it together at the end of the day and ask them questions about what they wrote.

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Tip #2: Bunny hops

In a rush to get somewhere with them? Set your phone timer to 2 minutes or play a short song on your phone. Get them to bunny hop, star jump, and skip. How many can they do? What moves can they make up? Get them to keep a note of how many they did each day and add that up for the week, then the month.

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Tip #3: Jungle adventure

Asking them to write a list of everything they'd take to the jungle is a fun way to keep them busy while you get on with things. You could throw some crazy ideas in there too to make them laugh – how about a sink plunger? The telly? Or granny?

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Tip #4: World records

Always late for school? Time them getting dressed – then challenge them to beat it. How much faster are they each day? If you have more than one wee one, you can turn it into a race!

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Want to avoid a strop at the shops?

It's happened to all of us – the dreaded "supermarket strop". Here are some fun supermarket games you can play to keep them happy as you go around the aisles. You can find more shopping games here.

Tip #1: Carrots and custard

Spotting everything in the shop beginning with 'C' can help keep them busy. What’s the most unusual item they can find? 

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Tip #2: Bargain hunt

Asking them to help find all the items less than £1 on your list is a fun way to keep them entertained.

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Tip #3: Supermarket challenge

Tell your child what you’re looking for, then when they find the item you can read the name and check the price together. You could also try challenging them to see if they can find a cheaper alternative.

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Want to unstick them from their screens?

There’s nothing wrong with your kids spending time on their screens. Chatting to their friends online, playing games, watching videos and reading are all great ways for them to socialise, relax and learn things too! But just as they need a balanced diet of food, they also need to play in different ways too – indoors, outdoors, with friends and with you. Sometimes they need to burn off energy while playing, at other times they’ll benefit from some peace and quiet.

So if you’re keen to  get them off their screens for a bit and into the real-world, here are some tips to help. You can find more tips for unsticking them from their screens here.

Tip #1: Swap the iPad for a play bag

Want to avoid those strops while you’re out and about? It’s tempting just to pack the iPad, but how about asking them to pack a special play bag instead? Does teddy want to come? What games do they want to play? If you’re in a rush, you could just grab your free P1, P2, or P3 Activity Bag as you’re running out the door!

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Tip #2: Toy talk

After they've gone to bed, set up little scenes with some of their toys for them to wake up to. You could write a little message for them from the toys. Try giving them mini missions to do the next day, like drawing a picture of their toys. The novelty factor of this should keep them off their screens for a bit.

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Tip #3: Poster play

If they’re pestering you to watch their favourite film AGAIN, why not try poster play? Getting them to make a poster of their favourite film or book is a fun way to keep them busy. 

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Tip #4: Portrait gallery

Most kids love drawing their close friends or family. Get them to think about what everyone looks like and the clothes they usually wear. When they’re finished, help them to write down everyone’s name under the picture. You could even put the pictures up on the wall to create a family gallery. Why not try your hand at drawing and include a portrait of them?

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Need time fillers before tea?

You're not alone if you drop off a happy kid to school - and a very tired and grumpy one returns home to you! Here are a few tips to keep you both happy before dinner.

Tip #1: Spaceman shopping list

'What does a spaceman do?' Lots of kids are fascinated by space, and the idea of walking on the moon. You could chat about space travel, and watch some YouTube videos together, or watch interviews with astronaut Tim Peake. Asking them things like 'What would you take into space?' can lead to some really funny conversations about your child’s priorities in life! Keep them busy by writing down five things they’d like to take into space on their rocket ship.  

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Tip #2: Ready, Steady Recipe

If they're excitable after school, channel some of that energy by getting them to give you a hand in the kitchen. Get them to pick a recipe and give it a go together – with them helping to read the recipe and weighing out ingredients. Stealth maths alert!

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Tip #3: Word Wonder

Pick a letter, set a timer and see many words they can write or say beginning with that letter in the set time. Or make a list of 10 things – girl’s name, boy’s name, animal, country and so on – and see if they can think of an example all starting with the same letter. Alice, Alex, alligator, America…

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Being a parent is the best job in the world, but it can also be one of the most stressful. There will be days when it all feels a bit too much. To help you manage the challenges ahead, Parent Club has some tips on coping with being a parent and keeping calm with your wee one so you can build a rewarding relationship together.

Gif of animated character getting frustrated

Gif of animated character getting frustrated

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Last updated: 16 Nov, 2020