The Busy Parent’s Guide to Nurturing your Toddler
Here are some secrets to raising toddlers the right way! These are surprisingly effective ways to handle the child's behaviour and enhance her knowledge...
Every parent can relate; there’s always something to be done, groceries to be picked up, phone calls to return, mail to be cleared. Yet in the midst of this never-ending to-do list, is also the desire to ensure we’re spending quality time engaging our little ones.
If you’ve ever wondered whether you’re doing the ‘right’ thing to nurture the kiddo, save your energy – we’ve come up with a list so you never have to second guess yourself, leaving all that time for your child instead!
Raising Toddlers: Engage their senses
Children learn through their five senses. This explains why they try to eat and throw everything.
The whole idea is that each time they explore using their senses, new neurological pathways are being created, allowing them to make more sense of the world around them, and also boosts their mental ability to learn more things in future.
Sensory play is a great way to ensure your child is getting that cognitive stimulation to satisfy their curiosity for learning.
For babies who are still learning how to crawl, parents can introduce sensory bottles. Bottles are filled with water, glitter and coloured beads and are placed in front of the child, just out of their reach, to encourage them to crawl towards the bottle.
For older children, parents can hide smaller toys in trays filled with oats, for a scavenger hunt or perhaps fill plastic bottles with rice, beans and sand to create musical shakers.
As they get older, you can make a pair of each shaker and have your child match them with a blindfold on. Homemade or non-toxic painting is also a great activity to include in your repertoire too!
Raising Toddlers: Work with them on their feelings
Parents often get both nervous and frustrated when their child starts throwing tantrums and having meltdowns.
The truth is that stressful situations like these aren’t avoidable. But they can be managed so that it’s a learning experience for both parent and child, hopefully shortening the phase whilst helping your child develop emotional literacy.
For younger children who are not able to articulate their feelings, parents can help them to do so by acknowledging their feelings. “Don’t be upset” or “you’re being naughty” is hardly helpful, and instead belittles your child’s feelings.
Instead, let your child know that you see him feeling angry because he wanted to continue playing instead of going to bed. Explain why he has to go to bed now, and offer a solution such as bringing the toy to bed with him or letting him have his toy first thing tomorrow morning.
For children who are able to speak, in addition to the earlier steps of recognising their feelings and offering alternatives, parents can work through their feelings but describing how anger looks like; his face feels hot, his hands are sweaty and his heart is racing very fast.
This helps them identify the physical cues with his emotions. Slowly, he will develop his own emotional ‘library’ and will be able to tell you how he is feeling. Parents can also ask the child why he is upset, and work together to find a middle ground which you both can agree on.
Raising Toddlers: Help them gain confidence
One of the great joys of learning comes when you’ve mastered a particular task. It feels both satisfying and adds a great boost to your confidence to try even more new things.
It’s the same for children. So, if you want to encourage your child’s love for learning, help them gain confidence in their own ability. This means giving your child space to fail at a task, and giving your child time to figure things out and not rushing in the solve the problem for him.
Children enjoy the process of getting things done, it’s not only about the end goal for them. Where you come in would be to ensure the task they are attempting is safe and age-appropriate.
For example, if a child is trying to learn how to feed himself, make sure the utensils are child-appropriate so that it is within their means to manipulate.
When playing with your child, perhaps a toy block fell under the chair. Let your child explore the many ways he might be able to retrieve it. Resist stepping in until you see his attitude towards this problem-solving change (i.e giving up or getting frustrated).
In allowing them to develop their confidence, we continue to allow them to foster their love for learning and also builds a healthy self-esteem.