How do you play with a toddler?
I have to tell you a secret about playing with my toddler- a few actually.
First off, even though she’s my third child sometimes it still feels awkward to sit and play with her. I have a hard time letting go of the million busy items I need to do and just sitting. My brain starts firing away with “Well what will I DO?”
I get bored. Honestly though, I think that’s perfectly natural, in fact I was just reading another article about unstructured play and that was one of her tips- it’s ok to get bored.
1st secret to play: I know what toddlers like. So if I’m sitting with my toddler and start to feel bored or unsure I might try:
- Stacking something
- Lining up objects
- Repeating- an action or phrase, making it into a joke
- Wearing something (anything) as a hat
2nd secret of play: I get curious. I’m with my toddler at the park and maybe feeling a bit aimless, so I look at her, just look and think, “I wonder what she’s up to? I wonder what she’s trying to do?”
I might start copying her movements and talking about it like, “Oh I see you’re stomping in that snow!” ::stomp::stomp:: “Oh, it looks like you’re making a big flat patch here.” ::stomp::stomp::
By joining what she’s doing I give approval to her exploration of the world.
It’s not complicated. I’m not trying to teach her about the properties of snow. (She’s learning that all on her own.) I’m just describing what we’re doing, getting curious about what her aim is and seeing if I can join in. She’s a toddler- her drive to learn about the world will take her where she needs to go.
All I need to do is follow her lead.