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Indoor activities to let kids use up energy

By Betsy Flagler
John Rosemond
Betsy Flagler, who lives in Davidson, writes the nationally syndicated Parent to Parent column.

If you and your kids are stuck inside because of bad weather, try changing your way of thinking. Watch how your child releases energy and uses creativity, and take notes.

Often, the more you push against your children, the more they will push back. And you will lose. Philosophies to consider:

• If a child is jumping up and down, he needs to move, not be told to stay seated. Try to alternate times to move with times to sit still, such as at the dinner table. An indoor mini trampoline helps exercise the brain as well as the body. No trampoline? Take an old crib mattress or couch cushions and allow jumping. Even crab walks and pushing against a wall to pretend to knock it down are good workouts.

• Be tolerant of some indoor noise and commotion. If you can do that, your children are more likely to agree to be quiet when it’s time to settle down. Use a child-size indoor tent or fort made out of blankets and boxes to give your child a place to retreat. Enjoy that calm time.

• With tasks and playtime alike, expect your child to go a notch above what you think he can do. Carrying groceries, opening and holding doors, cleaning low kitchen cabinets and carrying books up the steps all help your child use energy.

Without additional expenses, here are ideas to keep children busy:

• Offer bubble wrap. The snap, crackle and pop is irresistible. Play a game of self-control where your child resists the urge to pop for several seconds, then stomps a sheet to her heart’s content.

• Make sculptures with biodegradable packing noodles. Get a damp sponge and press the noodles onto scrap cardboard or a paper plate. When slightly wet, the noodles stick together. The key is to let your child make what he wants without interfering.

• Reuse wrapping paper or newspaper comics to practice folding, taping or even wrapping holiday or birthday packages. Adults are stingy with tape, but kids love the sticky magic of it. Send a toddler on a floor-cleaning mission with a piece of tape in her tiny grasp.

• Give your child cups of different sizes to trace around. In a way that is not overbearing, suggest a pattern where the circles overlap, then show your child how he can color in the spaces to create a design.

• Color pasta with food coloring in baggies, spread it out to dry, then let your child string it into a necklace or bracelet.

• Cut snowflakes out of folded paper together.

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