Why too many Scheduled Activities, Excessive use of Electronic toys & TV are destroying your Child’s creative juices!

No, I am not saying Electronic Toys and TV is bad for your child! I’m saying there needs to be a BALANCE. During the early childhood years ALL SKILLS need to be given the opportunity to be stimulated and developed.Your child also needs downtime, just like you do – time to just BE and let his Imagination take over. Having time that is not filled with some form of entertainment will stimulate your child’s creative side and encourage Imaginative Play also referred to as Make-believe Play or Pretend Play.

A Word of Caution

Toddlers: Make-Believe or Pretend play boosts Creativity and Problem-solving skills

Toddlers: Make-Believe or Pretend play boosts Creativity and Problem-solving skills

A child who is continually entertained is a child who will grow up always needing to be entertained by some external source. This child will grow into an adult who will need constant entertainment and stimulation from someone or something else.

Why is Make-Believe Play important?

Make-believe play is more than just an enjoyable form of self-entertainment. It lays the foundation of developing a capacity for thinking broader about what else can be possible apart from what is in front of him. The ability to transform settings or objects into possible alternatives or even impossibilities is important for developing a child’s creative side and the development of problem solving skills.

Early opportunities for make-believe play are crucial in stimulating Imaginative thought. The better a child’s Imaginative thought processes the better his ability to Problem Solve.

Ideas on How Parents or care-givers can encourage Imaginative or Make-believe play.

  • Schedule time for Make-believe play. First, I would suggest you turn off the TV and put aside the battery operated and electronic toys for this period of time. TV can be used during your scheduled activities to broaden your child’s knowledge base about e.g. New worlds to travel to, New animals not yet encountered, different cultures all over the world etc. Used as a learning tool, TV can be a wonderful asset. Read more in my article “5 Ways to use your TV as a Learning Tool
  • Parents can encourage make-believe play by making toys available that stimulate imaginative play. Very young children needs more realistic toys that represent common objects in the home- dolls, kitchen utensils, pots pans, strollers, cars etc. As their thinking develops they are able to use less realistic objects in play e.g. building blocks, clay, pipe cleaners, empty boxes etc.
  • If you participate in your child’s Make-believe playtime you should always follow your child’s lead and discover for yourself HOW your child’s Imaginative mind works.
  • Take out blankets and make a fort in the living room.
  • Draw on blank paper instead of coloring books.
  • Give your child some empty boxes to play with and see how his imagination comes alive.
  • Make a treasure chest with old clothes, hats, shoes, teacups, pots etc.
  • Have a tea party with all the stuffed animals and dolls or go on a safari with all the jungle animals. Pretend to be animals.
  • Create a grocery store with empty containers like cereal boxes, plastic fruit etc. and pretend with your child to be the cashier or customer.
  • Go outside and explore. Act silly and let your child invite you into his pretend world.

There is an old saying – Too much of a Good thing is well, Not Good! I would like to promote BALANCE. Create a daily or weekly playtime schedule that includes all the different developmental skills, but leave just as much downtime for your child to have the freedom and space to just BE , IMAGINE and PRETEND!

Read more about How you can help your child boost his Problem Solving Skills in my next Article .Sign up below to receive it in your Inbox the moment it’s published.

Article by Delana Coetzee

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8 Activities to boost your Toddler’s Cognitive/Thinking skills

In my article “Why it is important to boost the development of Thinking Skills in early childhood.” I wrote that “Success during the formal education phase of a child’s life depends on STRONG Thinking or otherwise known as Cognitive skills. Subjects like Math, Science and Reading are neither inborn nor likely to develop on their own and they depend on the strength of underlying Cognitive skills.”

The great news is that weak Cognitive skills can be boosted or improved. Cognitive/Thinking skills that are considered within the normal range can also be strengthened to make the Learning Process easier. This can be done  through encouraging certain kinds of play activities during the early years of a child.

Always Take into consideration the Child’s Age and Developmental Stage as all children are unique and develop at their own pace.5356-OnTheGo-ColorBlast-Princess-LifestyleWithGirl

8 Activities to boost your Toddler’s Cognitive/Thinking skills

  1. Play with shape sorters and name the colors and shapes of the pieces every time the child handles it.
  2. Let your child build simple puzzles and allow him to do most of it without your help. Only help if he shows signs of frustration.
  3. Listen to different sounds and ask your child if he knows what makes the sound.
  4. Sing the alphabet song, or his favorite nursery rhymes or songs. Kids love songs with motions. It helps their memory and also promotes physical movement.
  5. Read books with simple pictures of everyday objects that he can verbally identify. This will help to build vocabulary and give your child a sense of accomplishment if he can name the objects.
    Read books with Simple Pictures.
  6. Practice numbers and counting whenever and wherever you can. Count toes, fingers, bananas, apples etc.
  7. Identify shapes and colors all day long as you did with numbers, e.g. “Let’s find your blue dress or the brown box is a square!”
  8. Give your child choices whenever you can. “Would you like grapes or a banana? Which dress would you like to put on the Pink one or the Orange one? Shall we read “the Velveteen Rabbit or the Ugly Duckling?

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5 Mistakes most Parents make when dealing with Toddler Tantrums and Tips on How to do better!

Mistakes most Parents make

  1. Judge Toddler behavior according to Adult standards and a Grown-up Perspective.
  2. No well-defined Boundaries or not being consistent in keeping them in place.
  3. Have No Structured daily Routine or Sleeping times.
  4. Don’t have a Nutritional Food and meal plan for Toddler.
  5. Immediately unleash harsh discipline because of unrealistic expectations for your Child’s Development Stage and Age.

How to do Better – Consider this:

 

  • The Foundation for an easier experience in the Toddler years, begin with a well structured and set routine during the Infant Stage. It is of the utmost importance to continue this routine through the Toddler years. Some parents ease up on daytime naps when babies enter Toddlerhood.
  • Toddlers are very busy and they NEED their Naps as most problems with Infants and Toddlers are food and sleep related. During those demanding Toddler years it is important that your Toddler continues a regular feeding and sleeping pattern. To avoid a full-blown temper tantrum due to exhaustion, it is essential that social activities be structured carefully as not to interfere with the sleep routine.

    Toddler Emotional Meltdowns & Tantrums

    Toddler Emotional Meltdowns

  • Set boundaries early on and be CONSISTENT in keeping them in place.A child learns more between the ages of 1 & 3 than at any other time of his life and with the rapid pace of learning new things, your toddler is likely to get very frustrated. Not being understood and being overtired is most often the cause of tears and Frustration in your Toddler.
  • Learn the art of Distraction. Making things FUN when strapping into car seat, getting dressed, brushing Hair and teeth, sure beats dealing with tears.
  • Do not judge Toddler behavior according to Adult standards and a Grown-up Perspective. You cannot expect toddlers to understand not to touch something that looks interesting to them, but is dangerous e.g. an electrical outlet. They are naturally curious and it’s their JOB at this age to discover the world around them. There is no OFF button on discovery for a Toddler.
  • Do not immediately unleash harsh discipline. Be gentle and consistent when setting boundaries. Try gentle methods first, like a hug followed by gentle requests or kind appeals.
  • Your toddler does not have a master plan to drive you crazy. He’s just going about his life exploring and enjoying the world around him. Do not judge your Toddlers motivations from an adult perspective but take it at face value – he does things because of an innocent need or want!

An understanding of the causes of temper tantrums will help to avoid tears and anger from both you and your child! Remember that your toddler is a child and has a lot to learn about life!

Article written by Delana Coetzee

Check out these fun games to teach kids about feelings and emotions.

Faces and Feelings: Develop listening skills and learn to identify feelings and facial expressions, while having fun playing lotto!

Hape – Eggspressions – Game of Feelings

If you have some proven ideas that would compliment this article, please share in the comments section below. We can all learn from one another.

Remember It takes a Village!

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What every Parent Must Know about Toddler Language Development!

Read with your child EVERY DAY to build vocabulary and nurture a love for books!!!

When we as parents focus on our toddler’s speech development, we mainly look at that development in the sense of Words Spoken. We also want  to know that our toddler develops within the NORMAL RANGE or even above normal.

Language Development is only one part of a child’s Communication Development. There are some general milestones that we can use as guidelines as to monitor our toddler’s language and speech development but there are other factors to consider. As this is a complex field of study , I would like to give first time parents just the bare basics as to put your minds at ease. Knowledge takes away the anxiety and helps you relax and enjoy the process.

First I want to bring to your attention that there are two kinds of speech:

  1. Expressive speech and
  2. Repressive Language.

Expressive speech (what we hear):

We can fairly easy evaluate Expressive speech. As parents and we can come to a conclusion as to whether our child develops within the normal ranges and whether we need to be concerned and call in the professionals.

Repressive Language (is the part we don’t hear but mostly see):

This is a very important part of the broader Communication Development in your toddler. Repressive language is not so easy to evaluate but with a better understanding of this concept we can also go far in evaluating our toddlers language development.

Language Development Milestones

Baby communication skills

Baby communication skills

I do want to emphasize that there is a WIDE RANGE in AGE at which these milestones appear which would be considered NORMAL. We can at best look at the Average Age for a particular milestone and then look at wider range it also covers. REMEMBER!!! All children develop and learn at their own unique pace. Do Not compare them – even in the same household.

The average age your baby/toddler will:

  • make sounds when talked to is around 3-4 months, but the wider range covers from 2 to 5 months.
  •  be able to say “Mama”, ”Dada” to is around 8 months, but the wider range covers from 4 to 12 months.
  •  be able to say one word to is around 12 months, but the wider range covers from 9 to 15 months.
  •  be able to say 4-5 words to around 18 months, but the wider range covers from 15-24 months.
  •  be able to say 4-5 words is around 18 months, but the wider range covers from 15-24 months.
  •  be able to put simple words together is around 20 months, but the wider range covers from 12-26  months.
  •  be able to repeat words are around 20 months, but the wider range covers from 15-26 months.
  •   be able to use pronouns like “me” around 24 months, but the wider range covers from 20-30 months.
  •  have a vocabulary of 40-50words is around 24 months, but the wider range covers from 20-30 months.

I REPEAT!! Make sure you take into consideration the wider range of ages for each milestone. If your toddler can communicate to you what he needs without using words, that is part of his repressive Language Development and it is part of the bigger Communication Development that is taking place. I will write more on that in another article.

Again! – Read Children’s books your child EVERY DAY to build vocabulary and nurture a love for books!!!

If you learned something new that is helpful, please share the article on FaceBook and Twitter. Also, Please share some of the Joyful and Funny moments you had while trying to figure out what your Toddler is trying to say to you.

 

Article written by Delana Coetzee

Children’s books

3 Incredible Toys that helps Kids express their feelings and emotions.

Play comes natural with kids. It’s their JOB! Using play to reduce stress levels in kids is most effective if the melt-downs are not caused by hunger or lack of sleep. Play therapy is just not only for therapists but can be used effectively by parents. With patience, gentleness and  through play, you will learn a lot  about your child’s behavior and what the root of their frustrations is.

Most of the time it is very difficult for kids to express their feelings of frustration or anger or just their feelings in general. Emotions imageThey do not have the vocabulary or communication skills to express these feelings.There are some excellent toy games or also referred to as Learning Toys that can assist parents in trying to understand what frustrates their toddlers.

Playful interaction  with your  child  will also help him to  learn to recognize his feelings and form a better understanding of it.
The following toys and games have been found very helpful and useful and were  rated very high by most parents and therapists.

 

Thoughts and Feelings: A Sentence Completion Card Game

 

Mad Dragon: An Anger Control Card Game

Feelings Flashcards

 

 

Please hit REPLY and join the conversation below, if you have found other toys and games that you have found to be very effective in learning about children’s emotions and feelings.

“Do what I SAY and not what I DO!” Disagree? Check yourself!

Kids are great mimic artists. Check your actions, Ask yourself, “What am I about to teach my child?

  • Expect your kids to follow your rules? What does it say to them when you park in handicap parking?

  • Expect your kids to follow your rules? What does it say to them when you drop them off in the school bus zone?
  • Expect your kids to follow your rules? What does it say to them when you eat where there is a “No Eating and drinking sign”?
  • You – NOT following rules in your community, teaches your kids its OK to break the rules or even the Law, when no-one is looking.
  • Following the rules yourself helps raising future law abiding citizens and it helps you to enforce rules at home.
  • Check yourself! About 75% parents say they teach their kids that lying is unacceptable, but admit to lying to their kids one time or another.
  • Although some lies might make our lives easier in the moment, they often backfire in the long run.

Now join the conversation and share in the Comments section below if you have more examples we can learn from or even if you do not agree at all.

 

10 Amazing facts about the benefits of play for kids

Unfortunately life is complicated and we are not all in the position to have the luxury to spend all day with our kids. Those who are so fortunate to have the time, will probably agreeimg_2059 that sometimes we also wished we had somewhere to go in the morning and leave the madhouse for a couple of hours. Well, that’s life …. 

There are situations though, where we do have the time but we get lost in the busy-ness of life.  We allow our busy lifestyle to steal time we could have, to enjoy the fun of playing or just being around the kids while they play.  Play is a simple joy that should be part of every child’s life and adults as well. Play is very important for healthy brain development in a child. It is through play that they explore the world around them and try and make sense of it.

 Play helps to:

  1. stimulate creativity and imagination
  2. build confidence  and new competencies
  3. allow toddlers to learn how they fit into the space around them
  4. let kids overcome fears and learn to control negative emotions through role play
  5. encourage kids  to share and resolve conflicts
  6.  practice problem solving skills
  7. develop decision-making skills through trial and error
  8. let kids discover their likes and dislikes and what they are interested in
  9. increase physical activity and builds healthy bodies
  10. develop leadership and group communication skills 

I have two Questions for you: 

  1. What or who most encourages the little child in you to come out to play? 
  2. What is your earliest memory of fun playtime and your favorite toys? 

Examples of 3 Types of  Toys

Educational toys target specific skills in different content areas for example recognizing colors,categorizing,sorting and sequencing of objects, Hand-eye-coordination etc.

Construction Toys: These are materials kids use to build things for example: Play dough, lego blocks, wooden blocks etc. and are excellent for improving fine motor skills as well as Cognitive/ Thinking Skills’

Games help children to develop longer attention spans and support their ability to take turns and follow simple rules.

Kids love the attention when you play with them. Below is an example of a Selection of Educational Toys which we  Bundled together. This Bundle includes  the Smarty Pants Set for Pre-Schoolers which will help parents with ideas, games and activities to supplement playtime with  kids. Playing with your children using these Educational Bundles  will help you as a parent to make educational activities part of everyday life.

Article written by: Delana Coetzee

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