Toddlers grow and develop at their own pace. According to Cathy Malley, a Cooperative Extension Educator with the University of Connecticut, many toddlers strive for independence, but don’t possess the necessary skills to perform certain tasks or express themselves, which can be frustrating for both the child and the parents. Use games and fun activities to enhance your toddler’s cognitive, physical, social and verbal development.
Help your toddler develop his social and emotional skills by playing a game of “Follow Mommy.” Stand your toddler in front of you and instruct him to mimic all your motions, much like the game “Simon Says.” For instance, stand on one foot and tell your toddler to do the same. Do a silly dance move and encourage your toddler to mimic your movements. You can also provide your toddler with simple instructions, such as “touch your nose” or “touch Mommy’s elbow.” Keep the movements simple and if your toddler is having trouble, help him by pointing at the body part first.
Performing Simple Tasks
Provide your toddler with simple one- or two-step tasks to help build his verbal and motor skills. For instance, instruct your toddler to pick up his toys and place them into a plastic tote or toy box. An older toddler can handle removing his coat and hanging it on the back of a chair or a low hook. If your toddler doesn’t quite catch on, keep repeating the instructions before intervening. If he cannot figure out how to complete the task, it might be too complicated. As your toddler matures, create more complicated, multistep tasks, such as organizing spoons in a drawer or sorting the family’s laundry.
Zero to Three provides parents with a fun activity to build motor skills while sparking the child's imagination. Cut out two or three large green circles from poster board. Toss the circles around your living room or outside, weather permitting. Instruct the toddler to hop from one lily pad to another, just like a real frog. While the toddler is jumping, ask him to describe what he’s doing and explain that this is how frogs move. Allow your toddler’s imagination to take the lead by asking him to give himself a froggy name and a simple story to go along with the game. For instance, the frog could be searching for a princess to kiss or heading home to his Mommy and Daddy frog after day care.
Spark your toddler’s imagination and improve his social skills by organizing a dress-up playdate. Invite three or four toddlers and provide them with plenty of clothing to play dress-up, including jewelry, dresses and everything else they need to put on a show or simply have fun. Zero to Three also suggests that parents help a toddler host a teddy tea party. Allow your toddler’s imagination to lead where the dress-up pretend play and tea party goes, but feel free to engage your toddler with a variety of questions. For instance, ask about which cookie is the teddy’s favorite or if the teddy lives with his Mommy and Daddy, just like your child.