The early years of childhood are so fleeting, yet they hold a powerful impact over the mind of the developing child. It is challenging for parents to find a balance between caring for their child with school, work or other household tasks. It is important, however, for parents to take time each day to spend quality time with their child, time that is not simply eating or other basic parenting duties. Those moments spent between a child and their parent – communicating, playing and simply being – will enable a parent to play an active role in the social and psychological development of their child.Parents can set aside an hour or so each day to walking with their child. After dinner, have your child get ready for bed – teeth brushed, pajamas on and so forth – and then take a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. This should not be an exercise routine or strenuous event. It is simply a time for you and your child to walk, make observations, and talk. A bedtime walk will not only serve as a quality bonding experience, but also allow both you and your child wind down from the day.
Another fun activity for parents and children to do together is to go through family photos and discuss family history. Toddlers and preschoolers are fascinated by the relationships between people. Telling them stories about their family, their history, and yourself as a child will give them a connection to their place within the family unit. It is a wonderful way to pass on family memories as well.
Play dates with other children your child’s age are a fun way to interact with your child as well as teach them social skills. Instead of simply dropping your child off, interact with them during the play date. You can prepare a craft for you all to complete together, play games or practice singing songs. By being an active participant in the play date, you will express to your child your interest in their activity and your willingness to be a part of their life.
It is never too early to begin reading to your child. Some excellent choices for the toddler-preschool age group include The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carpenter, a beautifully illustrated book that teaches kids about animal and insects, counting and food names. The Happy Egg, by Ruth Krauss, is also a cute book that teaches kids how a chick hatches from an egg and turns into a chicken. Counting Kisses, by Karen Kratz, is also a sweet story about a mother’s love the the importance of nighttime cuddles and snuggles, something every toddler can relate to.
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