02.15.2016

Things to Do With Your Toddler Daily

I never would have thought that a toddler would be so much more work than a baby, but they need constant attention and always have to be doing something. Yes, we can put an iPad or tablet in their hands and leave them for a while only to hope that they entertain themselves long enough for us to get something done, but we should be doing so much more. 

There are a few things (five to be exact) that I have to do with my toddler daily to make sure that he is staying active and constantly growing: physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. They’re not hard things, but they are definitely important and I feel that we as parents should be the ones teaching our children and preparing them for life that will be full of struggles and hardships if you don’t put a little time and effort into being with them.

1. Imagination. I am a firm believer in not only letting your child have an imagination and be a child, but to participate in the adventures with them. I can’t tell you how many times I have been on a climb up Mount Kilimanjaro, or hidden in the Cango Caves of Western Cape, South Africa, become pirates of the Jolly Roger or just ridden horses on the prairies of Southern Utah. Clearly we imagined all these, but we had a blast doing it together.

Siblings are the best teachers. #gapkids #freshlypickedmoccs #littlepoppybows

A photo posted by Jason Dunnigan (@the_modern_dad) on


2. Reading. One of my favorite child authors, Dr. Seuss said,”The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” This couldn’t be more true. I know that when I read, I am taken away from the things that I am having to deal with at the time. I wasn’t always a big reader because I have always been slower at reading and so it didn’t entertain me, but when you read to your children it helps them want to read more and want to be taken to these places that only their imagination can take them. Some of my favorites for my kids are any of the BabyLit books, Goodnight Gorilla, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Going On A Bear Hunt.

3. Innovate. Growing up, my parents always had me playing with blocks, Tinker Toys and Legos. These got me to innovate and be creative, to use my mind in ways that weren’t always being used. I would create machines that would turn my lights on and off for me, a factory that made gum balls and entire cities that would be the future of all living — at least that’s what I told myself I was making. Innovation is a way to enhance the how of what we discover. It also reflects the deep and critical thinking process of what we have experienced in regards to learning. I may not be raising the next Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg, but I don’t want to ever hinder my children from thinking that they could become these people one day.

4. Communicate. We talk to our kids every day, “Don’t do that!”, “Pick up your toys!” or “What do you say?” But do we really sit down and communicate with them? I love to sit down with my son every morning before I leave for working asking him about his dreams. Yes, we make up half the things he probably dreamed about, but it’s always a fun conversation. Then, when I return home from work we communicate again and talk about what he did that day, “What did you do with mom and your sister today?” “Ummm…ball, laugh, hugs, games…” I love trying to find out what is on his mind and see the world through his eyes. I think the best, most rewarding thing that he said the other day, when he randomly started praying for me, my wife and his sister. We communicate with him on how to pray and it was one of those moments when you realize he is listening and soaking up all that we say, so be careful.


5. Be Active. Your toddler is going to do whatever you present them: watch tv, eat junk food, play ball, etc. Why not do something active with them. My son loves playing sports, I don’t necessarily love it, but I know it brings him joy so I can take a few moments out of my day to spend these precious moments with him. When it’s cold outside we love to play basketball in our house, kick the ball around the room or just chase each other making sure he’s getting warn out for naps. But once it warms up outside we love to go for walks, throw the football, soccer in the backyard and jump on the trampoline. These are all things you can do with your kids so they will know that you truly enjoy the things that they love doing. Plus, it’s great for both of you to get out and move a little.

The toddler years are critical because they are soaking up every single moment, why not make those moments memorable with you and your toddler by being an active parent in your toddler’s development. You will never look back and think why did I spend so much quality time with my kids, but instead you’ll think about all the fun times you had together. And those are the best type of memories.

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