Parenting toddlers can be…a lot. So much about them is changing and growing right before your eyes and it’s a full-time job just to keep up. Here are some insights to common parenting toddler questions to help you with your 1-3-year-old.

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Games & Activities For Toddlers

Concentration/Memory

Older children can use the whole deck of 52 cards, but younger children may want to use fewer cards. The object of the game is to find matching pairs. Players take turns turning over two cards and letting all the players see them and study them. If they are not a matching pair, try to remember what and where they are, then turn them back over. If they are a matching pair, that player removes them from the table and keeps them, and then has another turn. When all cards have been removed from the table, each player counts up the number of cards they have collected. The player with the most cards wins. Here’s more detail.

Just Add Water!

There’s something irresistible about water to kids. It doesn’t have to be a giant splash pad to get their attention either. Gather a few tupperware containers of varying sizes, fill them with water and set them on top of a towel on the floor or table. Pull out their favorite waterproof(ish) toys and let them have at it. Done.

Taking Your Toddler Shopping

Don’t leave the entertainment in the car, especially the things that have clips. Think about what you attach to the stroller. The shopping cart seat is pretty much the stroller of the store and this is the only age where it really comes in handy. You want to have things that will keep their hands and eyes occupied that also can’t be repeatedly dropped on the floor. Also, if your store has the shopping cart with the car, get it!

Introducing Your Toddler to a New Sitter

Get to Know the Babysitter

The best way to help break the ice between your little ones and the new sitter is to break the ice between the two of you beforehand. Building your own relationship with the sitter will make it easier for you to introduce them to potentially nervous little ones.

Talk About the New Sitter Before the First Day

Adults like to have information on any new people we’re about to spend time with. Kids are no different. Before the scheduled sitting, talk about the sitter with your little one. Share their name, what they’re like, and other tidbits you learned during your interviews. Then spend some time talking about things they might like to do together.

Build-in Time For Walk-Throughs

On the day of the sitting, make sure you build-in time to walk-through the routines and any extra details that’ll be helpful (where the games are, kid-friendly snacks, art supplies, etc.). Don’t ask a new babysitter to arrive the moment you need to be walking out the door. That timing stress affects everyone involved. For first sittings, plan to spend up to 30 mins getting everyone introduced. You can even get the kids involved. Sometimes, a task (like showing the sitter where the games are) will help break the ice with a new person.

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Don’t Draw Out the Goodbyes

Once the new sitter is settled into the house, don’t prolong the goodbyes. At this point, you’ve done the work to make sure you and the sitter are comfortable and set to move on. Nothing throws a wrench in that work like long, belabored goodbyes. If it’s the first time you’re leaving a little one with a new sitter, this might be the hardest part, but it’s important to keep it brief. A quick, confident goodbye sends signals that everything is, and will be ok.

Have Things They Love Handy

Setting things and activities your kids love out will help make the goodbyes quick. For babies, that’s lovies and pacifiers. For toddlers and older kids, it’s the activities they love to do, but don’t always get the chance to do. Think about some of the things that need supervision. i.e. science experiments, play dough, games, etc.

When a sitter is new, it’s good for you to take some extra steps to help them build a bond with your kids and guide them toward things they’ll like to do together. A good sitter will start to learn and plan fun activities on their own, but that takes time and knowing who you’re planning for.

Is My Toddler Ready For an Allowance?

This is the age when they’re really into everything you’re into. There’s a reason why toddlers would rather play with your keys rather than the plastic toy keys. They’re becoming aware of the objects that are important to you. Your keys, wallet, phone, remotes, and utensils all fall into that category. While they are too young to understand the concept of money and what it does, you can begin to give them opportunities to start interacting with it.

Get a piggy bank. Give them your daily spare change and begin a ritual of having them put it into the bank. Set a marker for when the bank will be opened (like a birthday). Count the money together and show how that money can be used to purchase something. At a high level, this starts to highlight the foundational work of money management in its most basic form.

How to Talk to Your Toddler About Disabilities

Life for toddlers is simply encountering everything. Whatever is nearby is getting their immediate attention. Sounds, objects, people—everything. Language development is also growing, which leads to learning the names of familiar people and objects. This is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how to meet someone new and introduce yourself.

Take a cue from these parents of kids with down syndrome. Hesitancy to interact out of sensitivity just makes things weird. Say hello. Introduce yourself. Ask the kid their name. Just like you would with any other kid. It’s that simple. And when you do that with your toddler, they’re not learning that kindness is only reserved for certain people. Kindness is for everyone.

How to Talk to Your Toddler About Bullying

Of course at this age, toddlers don’t exactly understand the concept of bullying. Most of the time they’re just starting to realize that other kids even exist. That said, it’s a crucial place to start instilling behavioral expectations in a child.

Biting, for example, is a very common behavior in toddlers. They’re processing their place in the world and how to navigate it with little to no words. It’s important to be thoughtful about how you address behavior like this. Here’s a recommended script from the National Association of Education of Young Children you can use as a model.

  1. Move quickly and get down to the child’s level. Address the child who did the biting first in a serious, firm tone. “No biting. Biting hurts. I can’t let you hurt Melanie or anyone else.” Then offer a choice: “You can help make Melanie feel better or you can sit quietly until I can talk to you.” Take steps to help the child decide and act on their choice.
  2. Now turn to the child who was hurt and offer comfort and support “I’m sorry you are hurting. Let’s get you some ice.” If both toddlers agree, let the child who did the biting help in comforting.
  3. Once the child who was bitten is feeling better and has moved on, return to the child who did the biting. Address them in a calm, firm voice but maintain eye contact. Try to find out what happened that lead to them biting. Repeat “biting is not allowed” to solidify the statement into a rule. Identify the feeling(s) that made them bite: “You felt angry. You bit Melanie. Biting is not allowed.” In simple sentences tell them how they can process their anger in different ways.

It sounds simple enough, but in a busy life, it can be easy to push these seemingly small things aside in an effort to get on with the day. Make a conscious effort to prioritize these moments. Turning them into teaching moments will lay the groundwork for the bigger conversations and choices ahead.

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