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Simple Games That Can Boost Toddler Development

Playtime is an imperative part of toddler development. For it is during this time when toddlers discover and understand themselves, the people around them and the world. Here are some fun toddler games to try.

Hide and Seek

Just as he liked peek-a-boo as a baby, your toddler will love to play simple games of hide and seek. Take turns hiding under the bed sheets or use a pillow to cover your face. To make it more exciting, you can gently prod your little one as he hides. When he is using a big bath towel to cover himself, say “I wonder if this is a leg or an arm?”. Games like this help educate your toddler that just because he cannot see something, it does not mean it is not there.

Let’s Pretend

Toddlers love to mimic their mommy and daddy. Play a game of make believe or do a role play by dressing each other up as a doctor, dentist or construction worker, using finger puppets, big cardboard boxes to become houses, trains and planes, toy gadgets (e.g. telephone and remote control) and housekeeping items (e.g. toddler-sized mop or vacuum, wooden toy tool kit, etc.). Do not forget to talk about what you are doing as this will help your toddler with his language skills. Do different facial expressions (be happy, sad, confused or worried) as well so he can learn about feelings and emotions while developing his imagination.

Stop Dance

Play interactive songs that allow your baby to do particular actions such as stomping like an elephant, tiptoeing so he will not disturb a sleeping lion or hopping like a kangaroo. After a few seconds of dancing, hit the pause button and make sure your toddler stays still, and resume playing the music. Not only is this game fun and easy, but it also enhances your toddler’s imagination, develops his sense of rhythm and builds up his stamina.

Clap Me Happy

By now, your little one can hold his hands open, but it may take some time before he can clap on his own. Clap them together for him or let him hold your hands while you tap them together. Sit him facing you on your lap or on the floor and sing clapping songs like Pat-A-Cake, Miss Lucy Had A Baby and Miss Mary Mack. These will improve his language skills as well as his hand-eye coordination.

Catch The Ball

Toddlers love playing with balls. Use a soft, foam ball to play catch. Both of you sit on the floor facing each other with your legs apart and toes touching, and start rolling the ball backward and forward to each other. This game promotes arm muscle strength and dexterity.

Block Party

Use his stacking toys to make simple patterns such as a square or a rectangle and encourage him to copy it. Help him stack all the blocks together to build a tower or allow him to make his own pattern. Sorting games will help boost your toddler’s problem-solving skills.

Little Treasure Hunter

Spend some time outdoors and give your toddler a short and exciting excursion. Go for a walk together and take his toy pail with you. Let your toddler collect small objects that interest him such as a huge stone, pine cone and dried leaves he found in the park or some seashells and sand he gathered during a trip to the beach. He will enjoy filling and dumping items in the bucket and at the same time, he gets to practice his hand movements. Being outdoors exposes your toddler to different places which helps him learn new concepts and vocabulary.

Make the most out of your toddler’s playtime by playing these simple games that help enrich his development. Both you and your toddler will have so much fun to even notice that he is learning.

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How Make Believe Enhances Toddler Development

The impact of pretend play to children is so powerful. They get a lot of benefit from playing make believe. By understanding these benefits and working on to promote this type of play in toddlers, you help fuel the process of building various skills that are imperative in honing toddler development.

Benefits Toddlers Get From Symbolic Play

It Helps Toddlers Discover Their Talents

When toddlers are at play, everything and anything comes to life. A simple cardboard box can be transformed into a mini playhouse, play dough’s can be molded to fun animals or into a ginger bread house and socks into sock puppets with googly eyes. Possibilities are endless. Role playing unleashes the imaginative side of toddlers which ultimately helps them discover their personal aesthetic tastes at a tender age. Furthermore, make believe encourages toddlers to explore, observe and discover new things. A toddler who is fond of constructing objects may have the skills of an architect, while a little one who loves to tinker with colors, papers and blank canvases may be a brilliant painter in the making.

It Serves As A Representation of Real Things

To you, a block is just a block. But for your toddler it becomes anything from a burger to a pirate ship. Symbolic play obliges your toddler to think abstractly which helps him become an imaginative problem solver. While this may not seem like a major developmental milestone, but the capability to think metaphorically is crucial in learning language, sounds and math. When your toddler plays make believe, he uses toys that he can utilize in a variety of ways. This is how your little one comes to recognize basic thinking and academic skills (e.g. numbers represent amounts and letters stand for sounds).

It Helps Toddlers Acquire Confidence

Sense of self is essential to help toddlers properly develop. Playing in an open-ended manner enables your little one to play in almost any way he likes. This encourages safe expression of feelings which promotes the development of healthy behaviors. As a result, your toddler learns how to channel his frustrations productively promoting creative thoughts and new ideas which gives him self-esteem. Once he has this, he gains good understanding of himself which helps him better articulate with others.

It Enhances Language Skills

Make believe allows your toddler to experiment with words and voices. As your energetic toddler babbles to his stuffed animals and robots about his playtime plans, your child is gradually reinforcing his vocabulary and practicing speech. This is very beneficial as he grows older and starts to be more cooperative with other children since it minimizes petty fights and tantrum displays because he knows how to clearly express his queries and wants.

It Boosts Problem Solving Skills

When role playing, your toddler gets to utilize his brain. He encounters different scenarios which helps him understand things and come up with ways to resolve such problems. His brain is constantly thinking as your toddler spins scenes in his head. For example, he is playing with stacking toys. Naturally, he becomes curious so questions like what he wants to construct, what he needs to do in order to keep the blocks in place and how he will recreate the blocks in case it falls down plays inside his head. The more he becomes stimulated, the better exercise his brain gets which helps him become a fast and rational thinker.

It Builds Social Skills

Toys limit your toddler to play on his own. But with role playing, the more toddlers participate, the better. A simple story telling at your village playground or a puppet show in your house is an excellent way to help your toddler mingle with his peers. Not only do children get entertained but the exposure your toddler gets allow him to adapt, adjust, listen, share and respect other kids as well.

It Teaches Toddlers Proper Behaviour

By permitting your toddler to play with imaginative play sets and other forms of dramatic play toys, you are giving him the aptitude to grow his basic thinking skills. This enables your little one to learn how to use his senses to discover things and also how to efficiently manage problems. Make believe is an effective approach in assisting him in recognizing good behaviour from bad behaviour and in making important decisions.

Playing make believe need not require expensive and modern toys. Most often, it is the simple items like hats, blankets, clothes, socks, toy workbench tools and teddy bears where toddlers can learn best.

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Toddler Development – Helping Children With Special Needs

A toddler that needs special care need not be treated like a handicap. With a little help, learning basic skills and getting proper toddler development can be achieved. All it takes is your guidance to help him build self-confidence to give him the freedom he needs to properly advance.

Choose A Skill Your Toddler Can Work On

If your toddler requires special care and attention, it is important for you to teach him basic self-help skills. Select the easy ones first as your toddler can be easily overwhelmed. You can choose to train your toddler how to brush his teeth, dress on his own, tie his shoelaces or eat by himself. Remember to practice a single ability first, never teach him two skills at the same time since this will only confuse him. Together, practice the skill slowly. Just take it one step at a time and never pressure your toddler to perfect it instantly. Show your toddler proper execution. Encourage him to carefully observe you do the skill before you let him demonstrate it on his own.

Create A Step By Step Plan

Since toddler’s with special needs function and comprehend slower than normal children, it is best to teach him in a step by step manner. If you are trying to train your toddler how to make his own bed, break down the tasks into steps (arranging the pillows, folding the blanket, straightening the bed sheet and placing the comforter) and draw a chart. Have him put a check mark on every task he has accomplished. In this way, your toddler feels a sense of accomplishment which ultimately encourages him to do much better next time.

Maximize Play Time

Playing is the way young toddlers learn. Having ample play time is essential to early childhood development regardless of your toddler’s special needs. Allow your toddler to do the activities he likes. Let him run around your backyard, play with kids his age in your neighborhood’s playground or doddle whole afternoon. The more your toddler gets to play, the faster he can learn things on his own. Plus, the exposure he gets from playing is perfect for boosting social interaction and is an excellent start to make friends.

Music Therapy

Studies have shown that music is an excellent remedy for toddlers who have difficulty hearing, moving, responding, seeing or thinking. Play different kinds of music, from nursery rhymes, interactive songs to classical, jazz and ballad. It is entertaining, motivating and it permits your toddler to productively express his anger, stress and depression. The stimulation it gives increases his cognitive development which helps fine tune your toddler’s fine motor and motor skills, dexterity, eloquence and self-alertness.

Give Constant Affirmation

Sometimes, a toddler with special needs long for security. Increase cuddle moments. Kiss, hug, pat and smile together. Use positive and soothing words. Constantly credit your little one even with the littlest things. Comment on how he looks so handsome in his button down polo and khaki shorts ensemble, his new haircut or his drawings. Affirmations serve as building blocks which inspires your toddler to nurture his abilities inspite of his condition.

Praise and Challenge

The best way you can help boost your toddler’s development is to give positive reinforcement for every job well done. Say for example you are teaching him the alphabet, commend him whether he memorizes it flawlessly or with errors. After which, challenge him to do it again until he perfects it. By repeating the action, he is able to retain his learning’s and be more aware of his mistakes.

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Toddler Development Checklist Guide For Parents

The toddler period is one of the most enjoyable stages of human life wherein eating, sleeping and playing are the three most important activities. However, a child continues to progress day by day and for parents, noting changes in their tot’s overall condition is important. Thus, it is essential for parents to come up with a toddler development checklist to let them know what to expect.

For every toddler phase of a child, parents must come up with a toddler development checklist guide that fits accordingly to the age range of the toddler. It is important to base the list with the toddler’s age in order to focus on every aspect making it easier for the parents to spot red flags that can delay a tot’s development.

Toddler Development Checklist Guide

For parents, a toddler development checklist serves as a guideline to help them know how their toddler should be growing. This also serves as a basis for them to point out certain problem areas that may need special care. But, do keep in mind that a toddler’s progress vary from child to child so do not be alarmed when certain areas have not yet started to develop. Here is a checklist guide covering different toddler skills ranging from four months to five years old.

Four to Five Months Old (4 – 5 months old)

  • Cries when hearing a sudden noise (startle reflex)
  • Whole body movement (shakes head, waves arms and kicks legs)
  • Starts to understand language
  • Mimic’s expressions and sounds
  • Eyes follows every moving person and object
  • Stops crying when carried
  • Makes sounds and smiles when being talked to
  • Begins to thumb suck
  • Rolls from front to back and back to front
  • Clutches a person’s fingers
  • Turns around when called by name (own name recognition)
  • Lifts and turns head towards the source of a new sound
  • Plays with hands and feet • Starts crawling on the floor
  • Starts to love playing • Starts eating soft solid foods
  • Picks up every item seen • First tooth starts to grow

Six Months Old (6 months old)

  • Cries less when waking up in the middle of the night
  • Curious with sounds and voices
  • Needs lesser support when sitting
  • Likes to put things inside the mouth (way of exploring)
  • Loud laughing
  • Laughs a lot when tickled or when hoisted in the air
  • Loves to make sounds (bangs all objects)
  • Likes playing games with adults (closing and opening of hands, twinkling of the eyes, peek a boo, etc.)

Seven to Eleven Months Old (7 – 11 months old)

  • Starts to enjoy bath time (especially playing with bubbles and rubber ducks)
  • Can raise self into a sitting position (no need for support)
  • Tries to crawl up the stairs
  • Starts liking toys
  • Loves to look at picture books and enjoys story time
  • Gets emotionally attached to people especially with the mother
  • Likes looking in the mirror and smiles when seeing own reflection
  • Prefers playing than sleeping
  • Eats more meals in a day
  • Starts to feel wary towards other people (especially with strangers or new faces)
  • Responds by making word-like sounds
  • Begins to walk with support

One Year Old (1 years old)

  • Pulls self in a standing position while holding on to a solid furniture
  • Loves to run around the house
  • Can eat more solid foods with ease
  • Requires less assistance when eating and drinking
  • Starts to utter short words
  • Begins to doodle on every available area of the house
  • Starts to learn how to say no
  • Recognizes music and dances along with it

Two Years Old (2 years old)

  • Refers to things by pointing fingers
  • Knows how to throw balls
  • Able to walk without any assistance
  • Forms simple words and makes it into a phrase
  • Learns how to kick without losing balance
  • Starts to make friends as playmates
  • Still reluctant to share and take turns
  • Ready for potty training

Three to Four Years Old (3 – 4 years old)

  • More imaginative during playtime
  • Capable of dressing and undressing oneself
  • Loves to dance and sing
  • Converses well with people
  • Begins to write the alphabet in a crooked manner
  • More inquisitive
  • Learns how to resolve simple conflicts
  • Can distinguish right from wrong
  • Talks nonstop about little things
  • Likes to take small responsibilities (feeding pets, helping with the laundry or putting toys back into its place)

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The Top Ten Stages of Toddler Development

As a parent, you may wonder about the development stage of your child. Most often, you tend to worry about whether or not your toddler is getting the progress that is expected. A toddler’s physical, mental, emotional and social growth may be ahead or behind other peers of his age. Generally, every child goes through the following stages of toddler development.

Physical

1.) Body Development

There are a number of changes a toddler goes through during the development stage. Although it is far different from the changes of a teenager going through puberty, still these slight transformation is noticeable. For instance, your child’s baby fats might now fade away and little muscles start developing especially in this time wherein physical activities are present and your toddler’s energy level increases. Every part of the body is in proportion with other parts. The arms, head and legs for example become balanced with the body.

By the 12 or 14 months he can now start walking on his own. As he reaches the age of 2 he can slowly eat, drink, climb up the stairs, jump, run and tiptoe on his own. Locomotion starts building up. Meals are taken more frequently as well especially when your toddler is very active making his metabolism fast.

Cognitive or Intellectual

2.) Object Permanence

By the age of 2 or 3 he now learns how to adapt with the things and people around him. As an infant, he may easily forget faces, toys and people. But, during this phase, your toddler has the perception that things continue to exist even when they cannot be seen, heard, or touched. He becomes more opinionated, gets easily attached and begins to make memories. He learns fast and is more articulate.

3.) Peaked Curiosity

The toddler stage is probably one of the most enjoyable parts of a parent and child relationship since children this age are very conscious and curious with their surroundings. Expect your child to always say the words what and why as every little detail can catch his attention.

4.) Artistic

Doing arts and crafts is the favorite pastime of toddlers. So take advantage of it and let your child draw, paint, color, arrange blocks and solve jigsaw puzzles.
Communication

5.) Improved Verbal Skills

Your child’s words become clearer, hence, becoming more talkative. He can now comprehend a number of words and adapt adult words as well. The ability to combine a number of words grows each day. Words like – mommy, daddy, no and why are the most common.

Emotional

6.) Make Believe, Mood Swings and Freedom of Expression

Your child may demand to do things on his own as he feels like he is an adult or he likes imitating you, your husband or the people around him. Mood swings, tantrums and loud expression of thoughts occur recurrently. Instilling discipline is important because this is the most crucial stage of toddler development since he can bring this towards his teenage days to adulthood. Playing make believe and being wrapped on his own little world also happens.

7.) Sibling Rivalry

Very present during toddler stage, rivalry between children is normal especially when your kids only have little age gap letting expressions like fear, jealousy and affection be expressed.

Fine Motor

8.) Coordination and Strength

Fine motor skills are developed such as preference of using the left or right hand. He can now pull cabinets, twist doorknobs, push chairs and other strength related activities.

Social

9.) Interaction

Playtime is the favorite of toddlers. In this stage, your child only wants to play from day to night whether it is by himself or with other kids his age. Most often, he may prefer to go to the playground and make friends.

10.) Wants Full Attention

Kids always want to be in the center of attention with their playmates and adults. Thus, toddlers are very friendly, articulate, talkative and hyper to grab the audience’s interest.

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Understanding Your Boy’s Toddler Development Milestones

As a parent, expect to learn over and over again. You think you may know everything there is to know about parenthood or with your child, but the truth is – every day is a surprise. You stumble upon something that leaves you completely clueless. Such is the case of raising a boy. Having an adorable toddler gives absolute happiness, as a baby you may have not encounter any difficulties raising him. But what happens when he starts to grow up and develop? How do you deal with it?

Generally speaking, it is a fact that girls mature faster than boys. Maybe this is the reason why it is easier to raise young girls than boys. Boys will always be boys and understanding the toddler development of little boys require more effort. They have their own ways so parents must be extra patient in order to communicate with them well.

A Boy’s Toddler Development Stages

Toddler development milestones of a boy is not really focused on the physical aspect but more on the emotional, intellectual, motor and social aspects. That is why, you have to spend more time with your little tyke to understand and relate to him better.

Physical

During this phase you might figure out that your boy perspires more than girls since boys are generally more hyperactive and plays rough games. Aside from that, haircut is also a necessity since little boys are not expected to grow long manes. Another physical milestone your boy goes through is the building of muscles. At an early age, maybe between ages 4 to 6, your child’s muscles will slowly form. Legs, limbs and stomach become more firm due to the running and other physical activities he does. He tends to eat more meals in a day since his metabolism is fast due to the rigorous games he plays. Circumcision also happens depending on what age the parents want the boy to be circumcised.

Motor

When your toddler reaches 12 to 24 months, expect him to be very involved with physical activities. Usually, he is more interested in drawing or tinkering with objects. For example he may tend to destroy the parts of his toy car and then reassemble them back, assemble his building blocks or slide on his own. By three years, he can dress and undress himself.

Cognitive

Your toddler may have a short attention span, thus, he may get bored easily with his toys or with routine activities. Concentration can be a problem as well especially when he starts going to school. His mind may wander around, prefer to talk with his seatmates or mess around. This is a normal condition for your little boy so disciplining him is required. However, scolding or hitting him whenever he is wrong is not helpful. It will only encourage him to do foolish actions. Instead, talk to him in a calm yet authoritative manner. This allows him to open up allowing you both to communicate freely while maintaining the respect.

Emotional

Your child’s personality starts to form during his toddler stage. He can be an introvert or an extrovert or he can be a bully. Guiding your boy in molding his personality can help him a lot in filtering the positive and negative traits of the people around him. Boys can be bullies so assist him along the way. Teach him what is right from wrong but also allow him to make mistakes and fix them on his own.

Social

Friendship is a big word for boys. As your little boy grows, he carries out his friends as well. There is no gossip, tattling and meanness. There is no drama involved. So when your boy gets into a fight expect a punch, wrestle or tumbling in the ground to happen and then five minutes later they will be friends again. Everything is cleared out. However, there are some cases where your toddler may become too violent or hot-headed. Address this immediately and point out why it is wrong. If you think he needs professional help, then go and see a doctor.

As your little tot grows, it is also expected for you to build your toddler’s self-esteem as this conveys that he is worthy of your love. For mothers, being a role model to your child is important as this allows him to learn how to treat a woman rightfully. While boys are prone to hide their feelings, they still need all the affection, attention and care from their parents.

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