Toddlers love exploring new things, but it can be hard to find new and exciting ways to make the most of their curiosity. So if you’ve hit a ‘creative things to do with my toddler’ brick wall, our cut out and keep guide will help get your (and their) creative juices flowing again. Stick it on the fridge and tick em off as you go....
Turn your back for a second and your toddler’s managed to empty the contents of the cornflakes box onto the kitchen floor, pull out each and every wipe from the practically new packet you’ve just bought and tear up a pack of tissues. All in a morning’s work for a curious toddler!
It can be tricky to encourage your little one to be creative when it seems to involve the wrecking of your house, but there are ways to baby reign them in while still boosting their creativity. Many parents assume creativity is something you’re born with and children are either creative or their not, but in fact creativity is more a skill than a talent and therefore it’s something parents can help their little ones develop.
Sounds good in theory, but where do you even start? Child psychologist, Emma Kenny suggests leading by example. ‘Children learn what they live,’ she explains. ‘You as a parent are their perfect role model where behaviours are imprinted and creativity is forged.’
Creativity comes in all shapes and guises, from art to music, storytelling and dance. So all we as parents have to do is help encourage our little ones to find their own personal groove. Emma has put together some suggestions to help your toddler unleash his creative side.
Fuel his imagination
Not only is story time a great part of your toddler’s bedtime routine, it could turn him into the next JK Rowling. ‘Reading to him regularly will help create a love of make believe,’ says Emma. ‘The more you free their imagination, the more likely the long term love of literacy is created.’
Take time out
From messy play, to swimming lesson, onto little kickers and to the library for rhyme time. Hands up if this sounds familiar? We’re all guilty of wanting to fill every second of your little one’s day with fun fuelled activities, but this can be a mistake.
‘Don't try to fill every minute of your child's free time,’ says Emma. ‘Getting bored is a fantastic way to fuel your child's imagination. Every child should be given space to create independent games and this only occurs when parents step back and allow their little one time.’
Switch off your TV Set and do something less boring instead!
Try not to encourage your child to be cyber tot as it numbs creativity and creates an unhealthy reliance on screens.
“The more TV toddlers watch when young, the less they will read as they grow,” says Emma. Plonking them in front of Mr Maker and hoping some of his creative genius (ok, genius is a step to far) will rub off might seem like a good idea, but actually making a shoe-box monster with your toddler is far better.
Encourage a mess
Who cares if your floor is strewn with felt tips, paint and those teeny bits of play doh that stick in your shoes for weeks? Mess is a huge part of being creative. Try to lay out a designated area, give your toddler an apron and teach him that tidying up is all part of the creative process.
(Almost) Anything goes
Encourage art for the sake of the doing, rather than the finished product. Colouring inside the lines is overrated anyway. Being creative is all about breaking new ground and, at this age, there’s no wrong way to do that.
And let your toddler explore what he finds. ‘From getting muddy to feeling leaves and playing in the sand. Sensory play encourages and stimulates the senses and is paramount in creative play,’ says Emma.
Never a critic be
You might not relish the thought sticking your child’s crumpled artwork to your brand new Smeg fridge, but think of their little face when you do. Try to offer limited advice only when they ask and give them plenty of praise.
‘Praise your child as often as you can,’ says Emma. ‘By acknowledging their achievements no matter how small you inspire their sense of self worth and empower their self belief.’
Expose your budding artist to the arts
Taking your tot to museums and galleries, children’s concerts, plays and shows will help encourage him to enjoy the arts. And remember creativity is everywhere so keep an eye out for opportunities to point it out whenever and wherever you see it.