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5 Things to do with your toddler to teach essential life skills

5 everyday activities that help your toddler develop 11 essential life skills

Searching for things to do with a toddler? Try out these 5 everyday activities that will boost your toddler’s self-confidence day-by-day and teach essential life skills needed for successful independent living.

5 Things to do with your toddler to teach essential life skills

Things to do with a toddler without toys

We all tend to buy too many toys, so children can pretend to cook, or clean, or do groceries. For sure, I’m guilty of it myself – we have a play kitchen, shop and bulk of other toys at home for pretend play. We, parents, see that children want to do those things, that we are doing and buy them toys. Sometimes, we are so stressed out, that they could hurt themselves, make a mess, swallow some small parts, or eat something that’s not eatable, so we think that toys are safer.

Well, turns out, real-life activities are also safe with the proper, child-size tools. Moreover, real-life activities are the most fun and direct way to the development of your toddler’s self-confidence, concentration, and happiness. Equally important, your toddler practices and develops essential life skills.

5 Real-Life Activities that will boost your toddler’s self-confidence day-by-day

1. Doing Groceries and paying at the cashier

Ever since our 2-year-old son started to walk (around 12 months), he literally loves doing groceries almost by himself. He walks around, looks at the shelves, and chooses products by himself. You literally can see him making his own decisions in a very short time. In the last 2 years, we’ve been in Europe a lot (Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, and Spain) and he just loves to do his own shopping and pay by himself at the cashier. Besides the fact that I need to put away half of the things he puts in his cart back on the shelves (because it’s mainly chocolate and pudding), this is a useful and fun activity for all of us.

Shopping and doing groceries is a great activity to teach life skills such as decision-making, problem-solving, and effective communication. In the end, he always needs to convince me why he needs a kinder egg (communication and interpersonal skills). And he has almost always a good reason (assertiveness) – because he needs it. When I say no, he needs to deal with it (coping with emotions).

2. Help to unpack and sort groceries

Doing the groceries is the first part, helping us to unpack is the second one. The great thing is that he knows where everything stands and that milk and eggs must be put in the fridge. This improves his organizational skills, independence skills and he learns how to take care of products and to sort all products that we bought.

3. Cooking

Obviously, I gave birth to a passionate cook. He cooks everything from toy cars, veggie toys through soup, oatmeal, and pancakes. I let him use our hand blender by himself since he was a 1-year-old and he does pretty good oatmeal pancakes.

Another favorite activity while cooking any kind of soup, is for him dumping alphabet pasta letters in the bowling soup. He pulls them out letter by letter and as he cracks out the name of the letter and dissolves into giggles. Be extremely careful with that one though, because of the hot boiling soup. Safer is to do everything in a cold pot.

Cooking, eating, nutrition are essential life skills, that can improve the life of your toddler and help them stay healthy and (almost) always to do healthy food choices. Moreover, cooking is a great activity to train life skills such as communication and interpersonal skills and enjoy socializing and doing things together.

4. Setting and Clearing a table

Aiden is cleaning and setting his table ever since he got into a feeding chair.

Now, he loves to set the table on his own (IKEA his size) table. He has only two chairs. Lucky us, he sets the table for us too (empathy), so we need to sit at this table too…Needless to say, as a real gentleman, daddy always sits on the floor. Besides kindness and empathy (thinking of the well-being of others), setting and clearing the table helps with communication and interpersonal skills.

5. Cleaning

Our toddler developed a kind of obsession with cleaning, especially sweeping and wiping. I bought him tools his size and just enjoy when the magic happens.

Cleaning is one of the first expressions of the much needed by all of us organizational skills. Simply put, organizational skills are the ability to take steps in the right direction and achieve a goal. In particular, it is a combination of time management and self-motivation. We live in an era of an influx of information and products. It is crucial for everyone to develop early as possible organizational skills, and not to lose sight of his real needs and his goals.

Even if it does not feel always like that, babies and toddlers have a strong sense of order and organization. Have you noticed that your toddler is constantly trying to make sense of our world? They try to create their own order, to figure out, where everything belongs, and how to use it. When they know how the day will go, they develop a sense of security and feel safe. The same is with cleaning – they try to create and maintain order, so they feel secure and safe. Cleaning helps them organize the world around them.

Building Toddler’s Self-confidence Day-by-day

It is super easy, fun and helpful to include those real-life, practical activities in your toddler’s daily routine. Probably, you do some of those already at home. And that’s great! When we allow our little ones to participate fully in our family life, we show them our confidence in them. You send them a direct message of trust and respect. They know that they can contribute and we need them. And those are their first steps, learning that they have a positive impact on the world.

Moreover, when the work is real and not just a pretend play, our children develop a healthy self-image. Additionally, they will feel more and more self-confident with every day that goes by and learn essential life skills day-by-day.

11 Key Life Skills To Teach with Those Activities

These 5 real-life activities can help your toddler practice and develop key life skills, they need for happy and successful life. Those include among others:

  1. Decision-making
  2. Problem-solving
  3. Organizational skills
  4. Creative thinking
  5. Communication
  6. Interpersonal skills
  7. Self-awareness
  8. Empathy and Kindness
  9. Coping with emotions and stress
  10. Nutrition
  11. Independence

Happy playing!

Book recommendation: The Joyful Child: Montessori, Global Wisdom for Birth to Three, by Susan Mayclin Stephenson

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