Spending time in your child’s world is wonderful. But it’s an even better experience for both of you when you can truly embrace the joy and freedom of playtime.
7 TIPS ON HOW TO PLAY WITH YOUR TODDLER
You both benefit when you play together. Play is how you help your child develop in many ways, from language skills and motor skills to social skills and emotional skills. Play tightens the bond between the two of you. And toddler play is a simple, endless source of fun and joy. Enjoy these moments before they grow up.
Knowing how to play with a toddler doesn’t always come naturally to grown-ups. It’s as if, with our busy adult lives, we’ve forgotten how to live in the moment and enjoy ourselves. But with a few smart tips, you can focus on what truly matters:
Time for undivided attention. Give playing with your child your undivided attention. Sure, sometimes you need your child to play without you. But providing your full one-on-one attention to your toddler signals that you value her. Before you play, turn off devices and gadgets, put down the phone or laptop, turn off the TV. Take a break from multitasking to engage fully in playtime.
Put fun first. These are fun times. Child’s play at this age should just be about the pleasure of the experience. Resist turning every interaction into a learning opportunity, say, by quizzing about colours or giving lectures. Much of what toddlers learn happens naturally as you talk, engage, answer questions, and simply do things together.
Tune in to your child. Even before your toddler can speak well, her facial expressions, gestures, and sounds will make it clear if she’s receptive and having a good time or not. Listen to all signals. Watch her expressions. Kids connect and take in more when they feel responded to and secure.
Watch and learn. Learn how to play with your toddler. You might suggest the activity or toy but then watch what your child does with it. There’s rarely a right way to play. Let her show you a new way or her way. Every child is unique.
Ask questions. Another way to avoid taking over while still keeping your toddler engaged is to ask, rather than tell: “What will happen next?” “Where did it go?” “What did the bear say?” Engage totally with your child.
Patience at play time. Toddlers love to do things “again, again!”. Repetition is how they learn new ideas and master new skills. Stick to the game as long as your toddler isn’t tired of it.
Just go with the flow. Be a little silly when you play with your toddler; blow bubbles, roll on the grass, dance. When you’re having fun, you can be sure that your toddler is too.