Now that your child has passed the infant and toddler stages, activities will need to change quite a bit to accommodate his/her development. He/she will talk more, say no often, and ask for exactly what he/she wants.
So, what can you do to help them along?
Two to three years old
Make sure your child has a safe place to run, explore, jump, climb and roll down hills. The key to all these activities is that you should do these things with your child. Don’t just send your child out to play by him/herself or even with his/her siblings. It’s very important that you join in the fun and show your child that daddy’s still around and will take care of them. By letting them play outside as much as possible, you’ll help them build confidence, good judgment, and a willingness to take well-thought-out risks as they grow older.
Reading to your child will show hi/her that reading is a fun part of life. Whether you are reading books, signs, or magazines you are showing them this important skill they’ll need throughout their lives. If you happen to not be an especially strong reader you can make up stories with the pictures.
If your child is deaf, you’ll want to use sign language in the same way you would use your voice. Use expressive body language, larger signs, and include lots of fun and laughter. There are no large differences between verbal and sign language in terms of communication between you and your child. It’s important to your child’s development that you continually learn sign language. As your child gets older, his/her signs will become smaller and faster and you’ll want to be able to understand what he/she is saying.
The most important thing about reading to your child is to emphasize hearing or seeing language, closeness, and the connection between the words and the actual object.
More than just being a really fun activity, playing ball with your child will teach him or her hand-eye coordination, to be more comfortable with his/her body, and to keep trying after frustration. During this activity, you’ll want to teach your child to throw and catch a ball to the best of their abilities. You can include ball skills in structured games or just during walking. Kicking rocks or a can will also build skills.
If your child is physically disabled, you can show him or her how to roll a ball or how to kick a ball by using your own body to support your child’s. Make sure you remain patient and ensure the experience is very enjoyable for your child.
#4 Potty Training
Most likely, potty training will be the time where you wonder how you ever learned. You’ll understand just how much effort your mom or dad put into raising you. If your child has an accident, it’s important that you never, ever punish your child. All children have accidents during the potty training stages; it’s just part of the developmental process. Shaming your child about accidents can make him or her anxious about using the bathroom and lead to more accidents. So, you’ll want to stay calm, patient, and be extremely encouraging. Reward the behavior that you want to see.
At this place in your child’s life, you’ll want to encourage questions. Not only will your answers satiate your child’s enormous curiosity, for about a minute, answering questions will help him/her build critical thinking skills that will be needed when he/she becomes older. Encouraging questions will build a strong desire to learn in your child that will serve them well as they age. Answer these questions in simple, short answers and then ask your child if he/she has any more questions.
These are some of the activities you can do with your two to three-year-olds. Some others include creating a fun or silly secret with your child or a special place, establishing expectations and the reasons you want your child to meet them, and teaching your child to be kind. You may also want to teach your child about good words and bad words. They may start to repeat curse words and you’ll want to discourage this behavior, gently.
4-year-old and beyond
At about four, your child will most likely have very good language skills that are developing every day. They may talk about their day, new toys they have, and rarely stop talking. Though many children are talkative at this age, some children may not talk that much. If your child doesn’t talk much, you’ll want to be very encouraging and praise any attempts to communicate. Whether he/she is shy or has a disability, you’ll want to be very expressive and encourage even the smallest communication.
Your child will have developed strong interests of their own. So, you’ll want to ask them what they want to learn and find ways to incorporate their interests into the subjects you want to teach. You may slip some other skills into these fun, educational sessions. By focusing on what the child wants to learn it’ll be easier to help them master different activities and subjects by wrapping these things around they what they want to learn. For instance, if your daughter likes crayons, you can incorporate numbers into her play. You can practice the colors and then you can count how many crayons there are. This will teach two skills at once.
During meals, you’ll want to ask your child what’s happened during the day or what has been the best thing in their day. After they answer, you’ll want to prompt them to ask you the same question. This will build their future give and take skills including sharing the speaking floor and listening to someone else’s answer.
Creativity is the cornerstone of interactions between people and humanity in general. Nurture your child’s creativity by sharing stories, making up stories, doing art projects, and perhaps even introducing a simple instrument.
Some other ways to nurture your four-year-old is to read. Reading should be a daily thing that focuses on what your child enjoys. You’ll want to continue playing ball and taking walks with your child. At this age, you can start having your child doing small chores. This will build responsibility, pride, and your child will develop confidence in his/her ability to do things. Even if your child doesn’t do the task exactly as you think he/she should be sure to encourage any effort. Your child is very young and will not do the task the same way that an adult will. Encourage all effort and assist often.
As your child grows even older, you’ll want to talk about future job interests and their goals and dreams. For all these activities you’ll want to make sure that it’s a given and take conversation, so share your answers to these questions.
Bonding with your child is extremely important. A father-son or father-daughter relationship is a great asset to your child as he or she grows up. Be nurturing, kind, and if discipline is needed, be firm. Set boundaries. Stick to these boundaries, their rewards, and consequences. Reward all good behavior and if the bad behavior isn’t too upsetting, ignore it.
Your child needs you. With these activities, you can show them how much you care for them and need them, as well.