8 tactics to read to your fidgety kid

Prime pointers on getting your ants-in-his-pants kiddo to sit tight over a book!

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You probably won’t be surprised to learn that boys have a harder time sitting still than girls and the reason is a biological one. Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre, explains that one reason is that boys tend to prefer being active rather than playing a passive role in any activity.

That’s why you tend to experience more disruptions when reading to your son than you would your daughter. In boys, the mental images created from reading takes a while to form, unlike when they carry out a physical action. For example, a task like cutting a piece of paper into two brings about an immediate and visible change.

Another reason your son is restless when you read to him is because boys’ language abilities take a longer period of time to develop than girls. Because of this delay in development, Koh says, your little man has less interest and confidence in reading.  

However, reading to your child is an essential way to help him learn how to pronounce words and boost his vocabulary. Plus, his imagination and abilities in creative thinking and mental visualisation will also improve. Koh notes, “Reading will also help your child build his emotional awareness as they come across words to [identify] these feelings.”

“Boys need a role model who reads, so seeing their father or brother read will encourage them to do the same.”

Reading is an easy routine bonding activity that you or your spouse can do with your little ones together or individually. So that you will have an easier time reading to your tots, try these handy strategies…

1. Do something active prior to reading Koh says this gives junior an avenue to vent and release any pent-up energy. Simple activities like jumping jacks or running can discharge all their energy in a jiffy.

2. Drop hints on when the reading activity will begin Give your mini-me time to prepare for a change in activity by dropping reminders at five or 10-minute intervals.

3. Pick a quiet corner Remove all gadgets and possible distractions from the spot where you’ll be reading. Better yet, Koh advises you to make it a point to read together as a family. Even if your spouse may not be reading the same material, make sure he is reading something. “Boys need a role model who reads, so seeing their father or brother read will encourage them to do the same.”

4. Let them pick out the books When your child gets to select a story he is interested in, there’ll be a higher chance that he’ll stay and listen to it. Also, stock up on books on their favourite subject or plaything. For instance, if your preschooler is into cars, buy books on cars to increase the chances that he’ll pay closer attention. 

5. Don’t make him sit still If your child really can’t stop fidgeting, then get him to act out the story. Dress up in costumes to complete the adventure.   

6. Let him play with a fidget item Whether it’s squeezing a stress ball or holding on to his favourite teddy bear, allowing him to toy with something in his hands may free his mind to pay attention to your story.

7. Celebrate improvements with praise It shouldn’t matter if you’ve only covered three pages or managed to hold their attention for 10 minutes ― as long as there’s an improvement from before, offer encouraging and supportive feedback.

8. Don’t scold, punish or force your child Doing so might frustrate him and even cause a meltdown. Worse, it can even give rise to his dislike for reading.

Photos: iStock

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