10 ways you can help in your toddler’s development

Not all children develop at the same pace. Some start walking as early as 8 months, others only take their baby steps after one. Some babies are born with teeth, some don’t get them until they are a year plus. The same happens in the development of their senses. You don’t have to panic if your child does not keep pace with some other children.

However in general, 15 to 18 months is an important time for your toddler socially and emotionally. Your child will start shaking, throwing, banging and dropping things. Your child will also begin to show empathy. Your child can understand how others feel and recognize when you get upset or might start crying when someone else is crying. At this stage, your child might also try to climb the stairs if he/she is already walking, say a few words, hug you and follow some simple instructions. In other words, your child will be active, curious and wanting to explore.

Your role is important in your child’s development

1. Give positive attention

Show your child you love him/her. Lots of hugs, cuddles and kisses are good for your child’s emotional growth. Gradually, your child will learn to return the emotions with similar actions.

2. Encourage everyday skills

Teach your child to use a spoon, drink from a cup or to pick up the things that he/she drops. This involves both gross and fine motor skills and helps your child think of what he/she is doing

3. Encourage your child to explore

Allow your child to use his/her fingers and hands to explore different textures like feeling a gritty surface or a soft texture. Let your child walk barefoot on different surfaces.

4. Play with your child

No matter how busy you are make sure you find time to play with your child. Let your child build blocks, put pegs in a basket or kick a ball around. Include both indoor and outdoor games. Playing together not only improves bonding but it is also an important way for your child to figure out how things work. Movement also helps your child in building muscle strength and lay the foundation for more complex movements.

5. Talk and ask questions

Talking about and naming everyday things like toys, body parts and household items help develop your child’s language skills. Keep asking questions such as, "Would you like a carrot stick or an apple?" or "Would you like mummy to read to you?" as you perform the actions. This will help your child build his/her vocabulary. It is also good to put words to your toddler’s gestures. When your child points at a flower, you can help by saying, "You are pointing at a red rose".

6. Create safe challenges

Let your child climb over a stack of pillows with your supervision. Once he/she has learned a new skill like throwing a ball, set up a basket for your child to toss the ball into.

7. Read to your toddler

Encourage your child’s talking and imagination by reading together. Tell stories, recite nursery rhymes and sing together. All these will go a long way in developing your child’s language skills.

8. Keep repeating

Doing things over and over will help your child figure out how things work and help him/her become a good problem solver. It may be boring to you but it is an important practice for your toddler.

9. Help your child develop empathy

This is the stage where your child is developing a sense of self-awareness with his/her own feelings, thoughts, likes and dislikes. Gradually Valuee13 will learn other people have their own feelings, thoughts and preferences too. Talk to your child about others’ feelings, “Lina is feeling sad because you took her doll. Let’s give Lina back her doll and then choose another one for you”. Suggest how your child can show empathy. “Let’s give Bob a hug, he has hurt himself and is crying”. This will help your child imagine how another person feels.

10. Stay calm

At this stage your toddler can be a handful and test your patience, especially when he throws tantrums. Whatever happens don’t lose your cool. It is all part and parcel of your child’s growing up and there are a lot of things he/she may not be able to fully grasp yet. Your child needs your patience and understanding. Remember, children have a tendency to imitate what the people who care for them do. So when your child sees you staying calm and not giving up when you face a challenge he/she will keep trying as well.

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