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Monday 7 August 2017

5 Ways to Encourage Your Toddler to Discover and Learn

As your baby grows into toddlerhood, she will become very curious about her environment. She can walk and even run so she’ll be fully immerse in her surroundings. She will not only want to know but also to explore what goes on around her. She’ll want to experience how things are and also how they work. 

Your toddler will poke and pull and bang and crash things. She’ll want to know what’s on top of the shelf, what would happen if the cat’s tail is pulled, how many times she’ll have to drop the spoon until mum stops picking it up and so on.

At this stage, allow your child to explore and learn about her world. This is the time when she will be the most curious. Don’t dampen her thirst to learn and discover. And yet, your toddler won’t know her limitations. She will be testing her boundaries. She’ll also not know the dangers that comes with the unknown.

Parents, your job at this stage is to allow for your child’s exploration within safety and acceptable guidelines. Below are five ways you can do this.

1. Ensure a safe environment.

Put away all your breakables. Make sure there are no sharp objects around. Small items that can fit into a child’s mouth should be packed away. Power sockets and doors should be locked. When all these things are safely away then you will have peace of mind to let your child explore. 

This is not to say that you don’t be on your guard, for toddlers tend to always find ways to climb up things and pull and push things down. You’d still need to have close supervision but at least you don’t have to worry too much about it all the time.

2. Allow freedom to explore.

Don’t keep your child on a tight leash. Some parents are so afraid that their child will hurt themselves that they don’t allow their child freedom of movement. They then inadvertently pass their fear onto their child so the child then becomes afraid of trying new things or leaving their parent’s side. 

At the other extreme of keeping a child on a tight leash is that the child might rebel and try to run away to play and explore at every opportunity. The problem with this is that sometimes you won’t know where your child is. The other problem is, who would want their child to get away from them?

3. Provide diverse experiences.

The more your child experiences things the more she’ll learn about the world. Providing diverse experiences will keep her curiosity alive. Let your child experience sand play, water play, sensory play, nature play and block play, to name a few. Provide different environments – go to farms, parks, beaches, nature walks, kinder gyms and indoor play spaces.

4. Redirect a no to a yes.

One way to dampen your child’s spirit of curiosity is to say no all the time. Instead of saying, “No, don’t go there!” redirect your child to “Play here!” Give your child an alternative way of doing things instead of not allowing her to do something. Instead of saying, “No, don’t drop that phone” redirect her to something that she can drop such as a soft ball.

5. Set Rules.

Set rules so your child will know what she can and cannot do. She can stand on the ground but not on tables and chairs. Your child is still young so choose only a few rules that are important and not have a long list of them.

Toddlerhood is a time of exploration and discovery so please allow and nurture your child’s curious spirit.

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