Be prepared for when you’re out and about and need to play games and activities with your toddler – especially if she’s about to throw a wobbly
Make the most of wildlife
When you’re walking somewhere with your toddler build in time to enjoy the trip. ‘Toddlers really understand that the journey is just as important as reaching your destination and notice and absorb so many things that you would walk straight past if you were alone,’ says Dr Rebecca Chicot, a child development expert and co-creator of The Essential Baby Care Guide. Take time to smell the flowers, blow dandelion clocks, spot ladybirds – you could even pack a mini magnifying glass so she can look more closely. ‘This is precious learning time and if you set off early you don't need to rush,’ says Rebecca.
The distraction game
If a tantrum is on the horizon, you need to take steps to calm her down before it blows up. ‘A tantrum means your toddler has lost emotional control, which is common and to be expected,’ says Rebecca. ‘However, rather than have a big confrontation (toddlers aren't very receptive mid-tantrum) try to distract her when she's out and about with something interesting, saying “Can you see the red house/did you see the ginger cat on the roof?!” As soon as she does, she’ll begin to relax and then you can have a calmer, warmer discussion (which doesn't mean giving in if she's demanding something).’
Take time to smell the flowers, blow dandelion clocks, spot ladybirds
If your toddler is tired and dragging her feet on a long walk you can play a game where every time someone walks past you both on the pavement you jump over the stranger's shadow. ‘There are lots of variations on this game such as jumping over cracks in the pavement or puddles,’ says Rebecca. ‘What you're doing is distracting her from the fact that she's walking and turning the journey into a game.’
Visit the imaginary ice-cream parlour
Role-play and make believe games are a fantastic way to keep your toddler happy and distracted without you needing to have bags of toys on you. You can play this while waiting in a restaurant for your food or in the doctor’s surgery. Ask your toddler what flavour ice-cream she wants to buy from your shop and mime serving it out and taking money from her. Then get her to do the same thing. It can work with any shop-based context and can be as elaborate as she wants – the key is that it totally focuses your toddler's attention.
Role-play and make believe games are a fantastic way to keep your toddler happy
Play spot and point
Toddlers can get very fed up on a car journey. ‘A good game to play is a simple eye spy game. If your toddler loves lorries get her to shout out "lorry" every time she can see one out of the window and you can count them,’ says Rebecca. If she can't say lorry you can just tell her when you see one, so “Can you see the big green lorry, point at the green lorry!” ‘This means she's no longer noticing that she's sat in a car seat but instead is looking at what's going on around her,’ says Rebecca.
What games do you like to play with your toddler when out and about? Let us know in the comment box below.