Saturday, June 12, 2010

Mom's Super-Secret Magical (Toy) Weapons

I like to hide toys from my children. Not all of the toys, just a few good ones. I use them as my super-secret magical weapons. Some days I can't seem to get a minute to myself or a task accomplished. For such occasions, I keep a stash of tantalizing do-dads in our spare room guaranteed to please, or at least save the cat from another tail-pulling incident. If I'm in dire need of a shower, receive an unexpected phone call or can't seem to physically detach myself from a small person long enough to put the groceries away before the ice cream melts, that's when I strike. I break out one of my "secret weapons". I make a magical toy appear, seemingly out of nowhere and the party is on. This strategy works well for kids of all ages as long as the items are developmental and age-appropriate. Attention spans may vary, of course.

A few good ideas for the younger crowd: New board books, a small set of building blocks, musical instruments and a fun CD, coloring books and washable "oops"-free markers, toys with lights and sound.

For the older kids: Puzzles, simple (read: not messy) arts & craft projects, anything remote-controlled , board games, etc.*

An article on reads: "Redirection and substitution of positive parenting techniques that help children learn appropriate behavior and prevent disruptive behavior, while retaining their sense of exploration and discovery." I couldn't agree more.

I often practice redirection when little man throws a tantrum. I am equally gifted in the art of the "switcheroo": Replacing all the toys from time to time to prevent the dreaded toy boredom. I'm a regular Madame Houdini. However, instead of "Abracadabra" my magic words are, "HEY! Look what I have! It's a new _________" Truth be told, this is successful about 90% of the time but the odds are in our favor, moms. And for my next trick...

*For a more comprehensive list of age-appropriate toys, visit and search "Age Appropriate Toys"

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