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  • How can I get more involved with my young niece and nephews?

    Posted by alyssa-silva on April 8, 2024 at 10:54 am

    I have a niece and two nephews who are all under the age of 7. The oldest is approaching an age where he’s starting to understand my condition at a basic level. So sometimes, I’ll ask him to help me play games like Bingo or Uno, where he can move my Bingo tokens or hold up my cards for me. He loves helping out! I also read to them every once in a while.

    That said, they’re active kids. They want to play, and I want to play with them. However, it’s just not always feasible with my limited mobility.

    What are some creative ways I can be more engaged with them? How can we have even more fun together?

    alyssa-silva replied 2 months ago 9 Members · 16 Replies
  • 16 Replies
  • mike-huddleston

    April 9, 2024 at 2:04 pm

    This is a tough one, Alyssa. I’m much older, so my 4 nieces now range from 19 to mid 30s. My 8 nephews now range from about 20 to early 40s. When they were in the range you’re asking about, I was still ambulatory and able to be more involved. I was no longer able to run, but could stand and throw a frisbee or play catch with baseball/glove or lacrosse sticks. I’ve been in the chair since 2015, so most of them were already older by this time. As they’ve gotten older, we go to baseball games and dinner, etc., but that type of activity may not serve an under 7 year old very well.

    So, my suggestion would be to think through things you can do, even if those stretch you slightly – slightly – out of your comfort zone while still being safe for you. Like, are you comfortable going to the movies? If so, maybe go to a movie with one or both of them. Do they like to play sports of any kind? If so, maybe watching them play games or practice and encouraging them might work. I think seeing you in different settings will be helpful to them and to you.

    Please let us know how your relationship with them progresses.

    • alyssa-silva

      April 10, 2024 at 7:31 pm

      Great ideas, Mike. I also put a little extra pressure on myself when I can’t physically do the things they enjoy. After reading what you had to say, I realized I’m more involved than I think. I go to their sports games, read to them, take them shopping with their grandma (my mom), etc. Sometimes, I just feel like I’m not doing enough!

  • Gimpygod

    April 10, 2024 at 12:46 pm

    I have not been able to move since before I can remember & played with my niece and nephew when they were little regardless of the disability. Here are some ideas:

    1) face rock, paper, scissors. I would stick out my tongue for scissors ✂️, puff up cheeks for rock, and not move at all for paper.

    2) if you can drive your chair give the little monkeys rides, safety is for boring people!

    3) read to them and they can turn the pages.

    4) pay attention to what there imaginary game is and join in. I was usually the store owner, safe place where they could not get tagged or eaten by zombies or sharks 🦈 whatever.

    I got more when those get old

    • alyssa-silva

      April 10, 2024 at 7:32 pm

      These are so creative!! Thank you 🙂

  • deann-r

    April 11, 2024 at 1:16 pm

    That’s such a fun age. My nieces loved wheelchair rides. For some reason they enjoyed house tours. I’d pretend I was the train and call all aboard. We’d come up with fun names for the rooms. For example the living room was the room of life. It was always fun when we got to the bathroom, ha ha. Eye spy was a good game too as well as hiding a treasure and playing hot/cold to find it.

    • alyssa-silva

      April 12, 2024 at 9:31 am

      Eye spy! That’s such a good/easy game for me to play with them. I’m so far removed from my childhood that I don’t remember all these games.

      I’ve been trying to offer them wheelchair rides, but they’re afraid lol. When my cousins were little, I was a “bus driver,” and I’d drive them to imaginary places in my wheelchair. They loved it. I have to keep gently trying with my niece and nephews. I think they’ll eventually warm up to the idea.

  • kip-troendle

    April 11, 2024 at 3:03 pm

    I had fun tying a wagon behind my chair and pulling them around for rides. I would also turn my speed down and allow them to drive my chair slow and safe. I think this educated them as well.

    • alyssa-silva

      April 12, 2024 at 9:32 am

      I’ve been wanting to try this! What did you use to tie the wagon to your chair? Was it secure?

  • eric-ovelgone

    April 16, 2024 at 3:34 pm

    So…my niece, when she was young was probably the most active energetic kid on the planet. To give you some idea …she is an acrobat and currently got accepted to a school to train for cirque du soleil. She literally was upside -down walking on her hands more than she sat. No human alive could keep up with her…and, much of the time, it was up to me and my father to look after her while her mom and dad worked. My father, her grandfather’s general idea of babysitting was to take her to McDonald’s playground so he could eat a burger while she ran around, or turn the tv on.

    Kids mainly just want someone to watch what they do, praise them when they do something like a cartwheel and generally be proud of them. Just being there, paying attention and being present is usually all they need. Another tip…I had a stand in…a Stuffed Bunny…who did the physical games in my place. So Sunny Bunny would bounce on the trampoline in my place as i cheered a safe distance away and occasionally spoke on behalf of the poor stuffed bunny being trampled on as the future acrobat was landing on it’s head. Seriously …get a stunt bunny. Give them challenges, like avoid the lava floor or run around the outside of the house a few times until their tired and their energy is at a manageable level, then pull out the board games and computer games . On a nice day, go for a ride through the neighborhood as they walk beside your chair.

    • alyssa-silva

      April 20, 2024 at 3:33 pm

      It’s so cool that your niece got accepted to train for the Cirque du Soilei. Makes sense that she was very active as a child.

      You gave me some great ideas to try. After reading everyone’s comments here, I think I’m overthinking how I interact with the kids. Today, my nephew played Wheel of Fortune on the TV for hours, lol. He controlled the remote, and I told him what letters to pick and taught him how to spell different words. It was so simple, and we had so much fun together.

  • susana-m

    April 29, 2024 at 9:31 pm

    Aww, I love that age.

    My sister and I are close in age so we grew up getting creative in our play.

    If they’re nervous about riding on the back of your chair, get a very long belt to secure them.

    Once they start getting skateboards and skates, they hang on the back of my chair and I’d drag them around.

    Eric is right, kids want us to see them. The best thing you can do is be there and support their adventures. Listen to them, ask them their opinion, ask him what they want to do.

  • rian-dindzans

    May 6, 2024 at 2:57 am

    I essentially won the worship of a gaggle of 3-6 year olds last summer during the family reunion. They got a huge kick out of me explaining how my wheelchair works when they asked, me narrating their acrobatic antics, playing along with their improv jokes, and especially when I drew with my iPad. I took art requests because their mom didn’t want them using it independently lol. It was hard to understand them sometimes but if you ask for specific clarification they don’t seem to mind much.

    It’s so easy to overthink and feel like you’re not good enough, but when that happens, remember to take their smiles and laughter at face value. They wear their hearts on their sleeves at that age. Kids are creative, and they love coming up with ways to include the people they like! So if you find yourself at a loss again, maybe they’d enjoy making a new game centered around what you can do. You’ve got this, and it sounds like you’re already a huge, positive presence in their lives! 🙂

    • alyssa-silva

      May 10, 2024 at 9:45 am

      Thank you for the great advice @rian-dindzans ! I think I’m just overcomplicating things but your words remind me that I’m doing my best and better than I think. I just love them so much that I want to do everything I can to be the best auntie ever!

  • RudeboyArt

    May 7, 2024 at 4:04 pm

    Wow, lots of good suggestions here! I think you already came to this conclusion but I bet you’re already more active in their life than you realize. Just being there for them, especially at sports events and such makes a huge impact. I would also caution you on being to hard on your self, there’s a lot of things you just simply wont be able to do. But with those things comes the opportunity for great conversation when you see them next.

    A few things I would suggest (although a couple of these do depend on your level of dexterity) are arts and crafts (don’t worry about your artistic ability, trust me it doesn’t matter). I don’t do it nearly enough now days but painting was a wonderful way for me to escape reality for a while. You can even find places that have ready made pottery (as simple as plates and mugs or as complex as trinkets and statues) and you can skip the mess of painting at home.

    Another thing that everyone loves is flying drones. I again don’t do it nearly enough but drones are so much fun. Find a first generation DJI Mini, I imagine you can find them for $100 or so now days and they come with GPS functionality so they are super easy to fly. You can set them up to display on an second ipad or something so everyone can watch as someone else flies. You can set up a simple course in the front yard. The possibilities are truly endless.

    Then there are always the amazing fall back activities, video games and movies. With being able to rent movies on the fly with Prime Video or YouTube, it’s super easy to rent a movie for $3, order some popcorn and fun bags to put it in off Amazon, your imagination is your only limitation.

    Just remember to have fun and be in the moment when you do get to spend time with them!

    • alyssa-silva

      May 10, 2024 at 9:49 am

      @RudeboyArt thank you for your words of advice and the reassurance that I’m doing the whole auntie thing well. Again, these are great ideas and ways for me to get involved with the kids. I’m amazed by all the creative ideas shared here. I clearly need to use my imagination a little bit more!

  • susana-m

    May 9, 2024 at 9:09 pm

    RudeboyArt, well played, “Just remember to have fun and be in the moment when you do get to spend time with them!”

    It’s easy to overthink and get tangled in the current limitations Instead of being open to the possibilities.

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