There is nothing like the smiling face of a toddler to bring happiness to your day. While toddlers can be tough some of the time (ok, maybe a lot of the time) they make up for it in the pure joy and amazement they demonstrate when exploring the world around them and discovering new things. Toddlers look to their parents to know they are safe in new and unfamiliar situations, and the more confident they are that their parents are there for them, the more they are willing to allow their curiosity to grow.
There are many ways to create a loving bond with a toddler, but some of the best ways are engaging in activities and creating memories together that helps them develop skills and feel proud of their accomplishments.
Here are a few great ways to increase bonding with your toddler, that are easy to do!
1. Cooking/ Baking a Special Treat Together
Breaking the ingredients out and letting toddlers get messy in the process of cooking or baking is a great way to bond with a child. It allows them to experience something they see adults doing on a regular basis, and provides ample opportunity for teaching skills, such as identifying, counting, sorting, and developing fine motor skills. They can make a special meal or treat for someone else, or enjoy the fruits of their labor with you when it is ready. And it is lots of fun!
2. Explore the Great Outdoors on a Special Mission
Heading outside is one of the best ways to jumpstart a child’s imagination. Add a special mission or task (such as collecting something from nature in every color, or doing a scavenger hunt) and it becomes an opportunity for teamwork and a joint feeling of accomplishment. Getting to work together with Mom or Dad to complete the task makes it all the more enjoyable!
3. Say YES for a set amount of time
Toddlers often engage in power struggles as they are learning limits, testing boundaries and finding their determination. Create a time period of magic for them by simply saying yes for even just a few minutes of time during active play. By making the choice to say yes, parents are allowing the child to not only explore the limits of their imagination, but children see that their mom or dad are interested in what they are doing, and are actively participating. Some of my favorite playtimes as a mom are when I let my daughter determine the course of a make-believe game, and see how delighted she is when I play along without directing her.
4. Sensory Playtime
Sensory Playtime is another excellent way to bond with a child. By incorporating items that activate the senses, children and parents can explore new things together, and find out more about their child in the process. Learning things they like, dislike, or are drawn to helps parents know more about who their child is as an individual.
5. Read Books Together & Act out Stories
Reading to young children is one of the easiest and most important ways to increase brain development in the early years. It is also a great way to bond. Whether it is exploring the library together or establishing a nightly routine of reading, find a special way to incorporate reading into the daily schedule. Using puppets, stuffed animals, or getting up to act out the books is also a way to have fun together and to strengthen a growing bond.
6. Travel Together
There is nothing like travel to bring a family closer together, and that includes traveling with toddlers! Getting to explore new cities, cultures or destinations puts everyone in a more open mindset, and allows for unique experiences to bond over what will become favorite family memories.
Building a strong bond with a child is a process, but the more time we spend engaged in actively playing with, listening to and caring for our children, the more natural that process becomes. Finding things you love to do together, and creating your own memories and adventures is a big part of that, but there is no right way to go about developing a close relationship. Every child is unique, and therefore finding things to celebrate and enjoy together will help create lasting memories and a strong relationship as time goes on.
Mary Ware (editor/creator)
The Mom Friend
About the Writer: Mary Ware is the editor/creator of The Mom Friend, which helps new moms and moms-to-be find inspiration and ideas for everything related to baby, motherhood, and life & travel with kids.
Image Credit: timkraaijvanger