Your toddler is a very smart and very active little human right now. She is most likely getting into EVERYTHING and starting to demand her way. At this point you’ve probably saved her life about half a million times as she’s tried to stand on tables, climb on chairs, and run into the parking lot.
Am I right? 🙂
This is the lovely world of toddlerhood, and while you love your little one, you’ve most likely found yourself counting the hours til nap time every once in a while. Our littles right now are in a very crucial stage of development, and we as moms need to be proactive. I’ve found that it’s quite easy to just let your child wander around during the day and follow you as you do laundry and make important phone calls. However, our toddlers need more than just our reassuring presence-they need us to teach and train them. After all, this is why we stayed home, right?
Training our kids begins at birth. It’s my conviction that kids come into the world pre-programmed by God with an ability to be taught and trained. In other words, they come to us already ready for us to teach them! However, as I found with my first daughter, you may not know exactly what you’re supposed to be teaching them. That’s why I’m here to help you. 🙂
Here are 12 easy things you can start teaching your toddler today. In a few months, they will be pros, and you can move on to teaching them other things!
Say please and thank you
My 19-month old likes to demand stuff now. She will whine or whimper for her food, water, milk, crayons, etc. So before I give her anything, I always require that she say please first.
We had a fun little episode a few weeks ago where she was demanding her food. I kept telling her to say please (which I know she understands) and she wouldn’t do it. She kept whining and demanding it. So, I kept putting it back on the table. She’d whine for it, I’d offer it to her and tell her, “say please”, and she’d get mad. So back to the table it would go. This cycle continued for at least 15 minutes. Finally, she said “peez” and I gave it to her with a huge “GOOD JOB!!” and lots of kisses. She clapped for herself. It was the cutest thing!
What I would have done in the past is just give it to her if she was whining. My assumption would have been that she didn’t understand, or maybe that it would have been too much to require her to ask. However, I really proved, even to myself, that children really are smarter than we think.
I suggest starting by requiring your child to say please for everything she’s asking for. If she wants to get out of her crib, wants water, food, etc., tell her “say please”. As you stay consistent with this, you’ll see that she starts to say please on her own. To teach her to say “thank you”, make sure you thank her for anything she gives you. My daughter began to automatically say thank you for things when we did this.
Take diapers to the trash
This is part of our morning routine everyday. I change my toddler and then tell her to go put her diaper in the trash. We’ve actually been doing this for months, so I can pretty much tell her to put anything in the trash and she’ll do it!
This is the beginning of teaching your kids to be responsible for things that are theirs. If you always pick up after them and take care of their things for them, you are setting them up to be irresponsible and lazy. And none of us want that!
If this is not something you’ve incorporated yet, it’s actually really easy to do. Just show her where the trash is, and let her toss it in! And don’t forget to tell her what a good job she’s done!
Put dirty clothes in the hamper
This is one of my tod’s favorite things to do. Right after I change her dirty clothes, whether it’s in the morning, during the day, or at night, I will send her to take those clothes to the hamper. It’s almost like a game to her, but again, it’s teaching her to be responsible for her things.
You’ll probably have to do a lot of monitoring here because my tod now likes to put all clothes, even clean ones, into the hamper. She opened her sister’s dresser drawer last week and just starting filing up the hamper with clean, folded clothes. She’s not quite figured out yet that it’s only dirty clothes that go in there, and I’m not sure she even knows what dirty clothes are yet. But she’ll get it right over time, and as she grows, it will just be a habit!
First time obedience
This is huge. You don’t have to wait until your kids are 3 or 4 to start training them to obey the first time. To read more about this, check out this post.
Eating with a fork/spoon
This can be a bit tricky, as your tod will most likely not want your help in doing this. She’ll probably try to put the spoon in her mouth upside down and get upset when she can’t pick up things with her fork. Patience is key. Give her the opportunity to do this at every meal, if possible, and gently guide the fork or spoon. Always remember to cheer her on!
I recommend purchasing plastic toddler utensils for this. When they master it, you can move them up to regular silverware.
Drinking from a cup
Again, this will take patience on your part! Be prepared for her to spill on herself by either putting a bib on her or just knowing that you’re probably gonna have to change her clothes.
Start by putting just a little bit of water in a cup. Give her a chance to do it herself, with gentle guidance. Applaud her efforts to do it, even if she spills most of it on herself. Your encouragement will go a long way, and she will be a pro before you know it!
As you go through your day, make sure you engage your child in conversation. Show her things and tell her what they’re called. I can’t emphasize enough how much this will impact her vocabulary.
People are always surprised at how much my toddler can communicate. She knows a lot of words, even if she doesn’t say them very well (she says “boop” for book lol). It’s not a difficult formula…just develop a relationship with your child by talking to her and telling her their names.
Helping with laundry
My toddler loves to help me do this, and even understands when I say “go put these on sissy’s bed”. Her desire to help me even further solidifies my conviction that kids are ready and willing to help and be trained if we would only train them!
You can let your child stand on a stool to toss clothes into the washer, have her help you transfer clothes into the dryer, and help her get clothes out of the dryer. By bringing your child alongside of you, you are teaching her to help with family responsibilities. You will be glad in the long run when you are reaping what you’ve sown 🙂
Counting, ABC’s, and colors
There must be a reason we learned a lot of things through rhymes when we were younger. I still remember songs to this day that I learned in elementary school…and that was over 20 years ago!
I sing the ABC song with my daughter and while she is still trying to say all the letters correctly, she definitely knows the tune. There are a bazillion opportunities everyday to teach counting and colors to your toddler. Count the steps she walks up at the playground. Count toys, clothes, fingers, toes. Describe the color of plates, forks, clothes, toys, etc. It really is endless!
This one will be easy as toddlers love water! If I didn’t monitor my daughter well, chances are I’d probably find her in the bathroom most of the time playing in the sink.
This is a very good opportunity for you to teach proper hand washing technique. Take it from me…I didn’t do a very good job of this with my older two and I’m having to retrain what I did sloppily the first time. Teach your tod how to lather and wash hands well, then rinse and dry off-then give her a hug for the great job she did!
All I have to say is “let’s pray” and my daughter will put down whatever she’s holding, put her hands together, and squint her eyes. Prayer is the most important thing we can teach our children to do. It’s what Jesus paid for-for us to be restored to a relationship with our Heavenly Father.
I recommend starting your child’s day with prayer. When she first wakes up, just take a minute to teach her to get on her knees and say a simple prayer. She will understand that “amen” means that the prayer is finished. If you do this, you are developing a habit in your child that will grow with time and guidance into a blessed prayer life.
I know you’re probably thinking that this is a little too much for a toddler. I personally don’t think so, and I think that the earlier you sow truth into their heart, the better.
We memorize Scripture as a family and I find it very interesting that while our 19 month old can’t pronounce all the words, she certainly does know the pattern and rhythm of the Scripture we’re memorizing.
Start with any Scripture you want and say it daily with her. You can even add hand motions for different parts (like hugging your chest if you’re saying “love”)-this helped my older two daughters memorize Scripture easily. Consistency is the key!
I hope these 12 suggestions help give some light to your days at home with your little one. This list alone will keep you busy and, most of all, engaged with your toddler throughout the day. I promise that if you implement these things with consistency over the next few months, you’ll see some great growth that you’ll love!
Do you have any that you’d like to add to this list? Feel free to share in the comments below!