Toddlers are going through a special stage of life. They are growing and developing exponentially, and are very aware, and appreciative of the love they receive. Toddlers spend most of their time learning how to join our world – discovering causes and consequences, learning how to behave and exploring how the world works. One of the best ways for us to love them is by taking the time to join their world, SLOWING down, enjoying the SIMPLE things in life, and paying full attention to our little ones even when the words coming out their mouth don’t seem to demand out full attention. If you take the time to see the world through your toddler’s eyes, you might be surprised at how beautiful it is, and how much we miss out on because we’re just too busy to notice.
Some ideas for connecting with your toddler:
1. WATCH them. Take a few minutes to just watch them while they play. My kids LOVE knowing that I’m watching them, and that THEY are enough, that I don’t need to be doing something else at the same time…
2. Snuggle with them. Cuddling makes all of us feel loved and secure, but its twice as meaningful for toddlers, who rely so much on physical affirmation from their parents to feel secure and confident.
3. Make silly faces with them. Adults are much more serious than little kids. Toddlers LOVE it when we join their world of silliness!
4. Take a SLOW walk with them. Let them stop and spend time looking at the flowers, or birds, or trying to walk only on the cracks in the sidewalk – whatever they’re interested in.
5. LISTEN to your toddler, even when they’re repeating something for the umpteenth time or saying something unintelligible. What seems unimportant and even nonsensical to us is very important to them, and if we get in the habit of brushing off what’s important to them now, they’ll stop coming to us over what’s important later on.
6. Feed the ants with them. My kids are fascinated with watching ants eat bread crumbs, etc. and watching them scurry in and out of the dirt, carrying the crumbs back to their colony.
7. Tickle them. Maybe this doesn’t work for all toddlers, but my kids both love being tickled. They laugh hysterically and keep coming back for more. Lots of times they’ll even choose tickles over hugs!
8. Tell them how much you love THEM. Not how good they are, but simply how much you enjoy watching them play, hearing them sing, etc. (be specific). This gives them the security from the get-go that you love them as they are, not because of what they do or because of their talents.
9. Set aside some time each day just to pay full attention to them, even if it’s just 15-30 minutes. Let your child choose what you do during this time.
10. Make a card for them or give them a gift when they aren’t expecting it.
11. Let them get messy. Even better, get messy with them!
12. Take them for a special treat when you run errands. Make this even more special but taking one of your tots and leaving other kids with your husband, so you child gets one-on-one time.
13. Stay with them until they fall asleep.
14. Check on them during the night. They won’t always know you’re doing it, but if they do stir and wake up a little while you’re checking on them, they will love feeling your presence and getting an extra hug.
15. Is your child still awake after going to bed? Go into their room and surprise them by letting them come out again. You could just play with them for a few minutes, or go so far as giving them a special snack, or watching a short kid-friendly TV show together.
16. Have a dance party with them.
17. Let them go with you to the refrigerator to look around and choose what they want for lunch.
18. Read together. Ask your child to tell you the story instead of vice versa. They’ll have fun, and you’ll be surprised at what they come up with!
19. Let them help you when they ask, even if the task won’t get done perfectly (drying plastic dishes, making the bed, folding laundry, etc.)