By Priscilla Dunstan
The snow has arrived and, as I write this, my family and I are cooped up in our New York apartment thanks to a “snow day." While the snow is very pretty and it’s exciting to have a day off school and work it also can become frustrating. Keeping our children calm and busy during these snow days can be difficult but with a little patience it can still be a wonderful family bonding experience.
Visual children will busy themselves organizing their room, closet and any other job you deem to give them as long as it is a clean job. They will shy away from messy activities like shoveling snow, or taking out the trash. They will find the inability to go and do their usual activities frustrating. So if they were planning on having a play date, set up a video chat so they can still enjoy that special time. They also can become rather pedantic and bossy about where things “should” go. Explain to them that at times like this, things need to be specifically organized for the purpose rather than in their usual places, snow boots and shovels will be at the door instead of in storage and as well as extra supplies in case the storm gets worse.
The tactile child’s usual boisterous ways will be a source of annoyance for all when cooped up indoors. Not only is it the mess and the noise, but the constant need for hugging and physical play that can wear thin during a stressful situation. Keep children busy by giving them activities and jobs to do; the more important the job the better. Counting out the candles, making sure the boxes of macaroni and cheese are organized, helping to carry water for the bathroom, folding blankets and making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are all easy and helpful jobs. For fun time, pull out the board games or a deck of cards, or design something you will build together after the storm such as a new dog house or a set of shelves to hold their doll collection.
Auditory children will be the ones complaining and whining. This is when you will be so glad that you kept their old iPods charged or that Fisher Price tape deck that uses batteries as they will enable you to either hand them the head phones when you need a break or give them the job of finding music the family can listen to. Perhaps now is the time to start a karaoke night or have mock TV shows. One of the really useful things about auditory children during a winter storm is that they are able to be in charge of the information radio and can be relied upon to listen and relay information about the storm, flood or power outages reliably.
What may surprise you about your taste and smell children is how well they will be behaving. While everyone else is at their wits end, they will be pleasant and helpful with all sorts of solutions for things to do after dark — even after being cooped up all day. They are family-orientated people and as long as those they care about are safe and sound, especially if with them, they will be fine. It is times like this when their strength appears and their usual sensitive demure becomes handy. They will be able to come up with creative ways to make the same meal for three days interesting, will be able to sort out the batteries for the DVD player and find the missing pieces for old board games. More importantly, they will inspire you with their good-naturedness.
Priscilla Dunstan is a behavioral researcher and creator of the Dunstan Baby Language and author of “Child Sense” and “Calm the Crying.” She currently works in New York as a behavioral consultant. Learn more about Dunstan at www.dunstanbabynewyork.com .