Sunday 18 September 2011

A minimal stress morning

(Goblin is 23 months)
Over the last three days Goblin has had croup. He has been really miserable and hasn't wanted to do anything except snuggle and watch TV. 
Today he seems to be on the mend and is wanting to play. But he's still really tired and grizzly which means he's getting easily frustrated. Unfortunately he tends to show frustration by lashing out, hitting me or Hublet with toys. Its not his fault, he doesn't know how else to express that he's feeling awful. But as I don't want to be bruised, or have to tell him off, I set out to find activities he could play that would be the least frustrating for him. 

We started with a tea party. Goblin likes pretending to pour cups of tea and I make the noise of dolly slurping which he thinks is really funny. He has trouble distinguishing between reality and play so I have to make sure we only play with empty cups or dolly ends up covered in juice. The tea set we use is from Agros and was really cheap. I like it because it packs away into the giant tea pot. Unfortunately it only comes in bright pink but Goblin doesn't seem to mind. 

When Goblin started to show signs that he'd had enough of the tea party I quickly packed it up before he got frustrated and threw things around. Instead I produced a toy he has had since he was quite young. Its a farmyard pop up toy. The switches, button and dial are quite stiff so take a bit of work to manipulate, but Goblin gets a lot of satisfaction from being able to work them and get the animals to pop up. When I first bought it I thought he'd grow out of it quite fast but he shows no sign of doing so. Its good for fine motor skills and animal naming. And most importantly today I know he can do it without too much effort so he didn't get too stressed. 

After about ten minutes Goblin decided to play with his train set. I wasn't sure this was a great idea because he can get quite annoyed when the trains fall off the rails. I helped him put the track together because that is definitely a source of frustration when he can't manipulate the sections to slot together. And then I just kept a close eye, popping the train quickly back onto the track when it fell off. This kept him busy for ages. 
The train track which is from Tesco comes with some wooden trees, people and animals. Goblin likes the trees. He went rummaging in the box and pulled the trees out one at a time. I pointed out that they were Green trees, and counted them. We found twelve. Goblin doesn't recognise numbers as a sequence but he knows the names of some of them. He really makes me chuckle because if I start counting he will try to join in but says the numbers in a random order. He quite likes the number four. I have never heard him say one. 
He played at arranging the trees. This is a great activity because he needs to make them balance and not knock them over (he didn't do the line in the photo). 

When he'd done with the trees, Goblin pulled the pingpong balls and tongs off the shelf, but I knew that he wasn't in the right frame of mind to play. If he gets frustrated when trying to tong the balls he ends up throwing them all over the room. So I distracted him with another old favourite - sticks in a parmesan cheese shaker. I made this ages ago. I think Goblin mastered getting the sticks through the holes when he was about 14 months old. This is interesting given that he isn't great at puzzles which is a similar skill.  To make the toy you just trim the spikes off some kebab sticks and dye them with food colouring (although you don't need to dye them). The parmesan cheese shaker came from the pound shop but you can just buy a full one from the super market and empty the cheese into a jar. I knew he could do this activity without too much stress but I was interested to see that he still enjoyed it as we haven't played with it in some time.
But after a while he did start getting a bit throwy. So I took out a tub of foam letters. I figured if he needed to throw something around these would be the least dangerous. I was quite excited because he seemed to recognise the foam letter B from the internet cartoon we watched yesterday. We spent some time looking at  'Starfall' yesterday. 
I am impressed how well it holds Goblin's attention, and he can do some of the easier puzzles like separating upper and lower case letters. I think its a great way of introducing small children to letters in a fun way.
Hublet and Goblin had fun stuffing all the foam letters into Goblin's baby grow. When they ran out of letters Goblin moved on to his cars. They stuffed so many in that he looked like a sumo wrestler.

And by then it was time for Goblin's nap. A successful morning of activities with an ill little boy without too much stress and frustration.  Hurrah!

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