Encouraging Toddler Play

You spend tons of time playing with your child. But did you know that it’s just as important for him to spend time playing socially with other toddlers as it is for you and him to bond?

Believe it or not, toddlers shouldn’t remain idle for more than one hour at a time. Of course, you probably don’t have the time (or energy) to play with your kid every hour on the hour, so setting up playdates and outside activities will become an important part of your child’s development and wellbeing. For starters, toddlers can teach each other important skills like cooperation, problem solving, and leadership.

Keep in mind a few things before setting up the first playdate for your toddler:

  1. Keep visits short. Toddlers have short attention spans, and visits should be set at about an hour or less in order to achieve the maximum benefits.

  2. Have activities in mind. Don’t expect your toddler to be able to entertain his guests on his own. Before the invited guests arrive, spend time pulling out some toy and game options to help things go smoothly. It’s probably a good idea to keep your toddler’s favorite items hidden away, to help avoid any arguments.

  3. Share and share alike. Once your toddler has shown that he can play well with others, you can suggest switching up the toddler play locations with other parents whom you have come to know and trust. If your child will be visiting a friend’s house for the first time, though, consider staying through that initial playdate. This will help your child feel more comfortable, and he’ll probably become acclimated to the new surroundings more quickly.

  4. Consider joining a local playgroup. If inviting other toddlers to your house really isn’t your thing, but you still want to socialize your child, try joining a local playgroup. This will take the pressure off of you while still providing your toddler with the outside attention he needs to help him learn to socialize.

Follow these simple steps for toddler play and your child will be on his way to becoming a cooperative, problem-solving social butterfly.