Many argue that nothing is more important than your child's social and emotional health. In fact, young children's learning is closely tied to caring relationships. Raising a child who is confident, emotionally healthy, and able to work and play well with others is critical to her later success in school and in life. Building confidence, fostering a keen sense of self, and emotionally connecting with your child are invaluable to your child as he grows into an independent adult. Toddlers like to do things themselves, but they still need the security of having you close.
Children at this age have discovered where "me" starts and "you" ends. That's why looking at "me" is so interesting. Help your child identify her own facial parts by looking in the mirror to find eyes, nose, mouth, hair, etc.
- Pretend to look happy or sad. Have your child imitate and make up other expressions.
- Help your child develop good feelings about himself by talking about his facial features in flowing, positive terms - "You have beautiful brown eyes, you have one wonderful round nose, you have great looking brown skin," etc.
The hardest thing for young children is waiting. Yet, their average day may require lots of waiting - waiting in the grocery store, the doctor's office, for the bus, riding in the bus or car, etc. Carry a small bag equipped with some interesting toys and activities to help pass the time!
- Sing songs that include your child's name.
- Walkers like to dump and fill so bring along a juice can with several objects your child can fill it with (i.e., cars, large crayons, etc.).
- Talk about putting things in...and taking things out.
Helping out can be great fun for young children. Your child feels good when she performs a valuable role in the cleaning up process. Your child will not be able to accomplish a task as you would, but will still enjoy the "grown-up" feeling that comes with helping!
- Try not to expect a job perfectly done! (You may not want to enlist your child's help when you are feeling hurried.)
- Older toddlers can help sort laundry to learn about same and different and things that go together. Ask her to find all the pants - "clothes that go on our legs." Thank her for helping!
- Point out a messy table to your child. See if she can problem solve to get it clean.
Toddlers like to touch, look and listen. Make sure the place you visit allows for safe exploration. Your child can likely understand the word "no" - but it is more fun for you and the child if you focus on what she CAN do in new situations. (Talk about it ahead of the visit to the new place.)
- Reinforce your child's positive behavior - "look how patiently you're waiting!"
- Help your child identify his own feelings. Are you excited? You look so happy!
- Ask your child questions about what he is seeing.
GOING FOR A WALK
Children enjoy even the simplest activity when the focus is on them!! But, be sure to pick a time for your walks that can be relaxing for you, too!! Toddlers need lots of opportunities and space to try out what their bodies can do.
- Label your child's achievements. Look at you climb!
- Expand on what your child says. If your child says "ber," respond to her by saying something like "Yes, that's a bird. Is that a blue bird?"
- Provide the opportunity for your child to get out of a confined stroller and walk or run in a safe area.