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10 Ways To Keep An Active Toddler Busy

Toddlers require at least 3 hours of physical activity throughout the day since it is crucial for their physical, emotional, and social development. There are many examples as to why parents should encourage their toddler to be active; it strengthens the cardiovascular system, improves coordination and movement control, encourages positive self-esteem and attention span, and so on.

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As many parents learn, toddler years can be exhausting as your little ball of energy is always on the go. As the child transitions from baby age to toddler-hood, he or she thrives on new experiences and curiosity. Nonetheless, it can be arduous for parents to keep their toddler occupied longer than a few minutes. Luckily, young children find novelty in easy methods parents can use to encourage physical activity but help manage the busyness and unpredictability that might ensue from an active toddler.

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10 Explore

Understandably there are times parents might wish their toddler would stay still and not turn everything into a game of tag, hide and seek, or demolition. Seemingly, when children that age are in a new environment it can be the most difficult time to keep a child occupied. However, giving your toddler a chance to explore the new environment with a parent nearby can encourage independence and intellectual curiosity. If given the opportunity to see new sights, hear new sounds, and feel new textures right from toddler age, it can promote other skills the child will need throughout development.

Granted there are times that may be unsafe or unsuitable for your child to explore, but if you give your toddler enough time throughout the day to investigate the world by using her senses, curiosity, and movement you may notice she will be more content and cooperative.

9 Siblings And Play Dates

When you are a parent to a toddler, it can easy to become narrowly focused on what toys and distractions that can be used to entertain your little one. Yet, sometimes the most effective tool in your parenting tool belt can be right under your nose. Siblings or other toddlers can be a great way of promoting physical activity while keeping your active tot stimulated and preoccupied.

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Ideally, it is best for a child to have a sibling or friend 6 months to a year older to model skills like language, cognition, approach to learning, physical well-being, social, and emotional development. Still, just having your toddler engaged with other children, and giving her the chance to share experiences or interests with older kids can be effective if Mom or Dad wants a minute to sit down. Older siblings can also benefit by interacting with their toddler sibling because it teaches valuable skills such as patience and mindfulness, crucial components if you want to teach your children emotional intelligence.

8 Make Everything An Adventure

As independent as a toddler might come across at times, he still relies on the stability of a familiar environment and routine. This can cause issues whenever you have to bring the toddler along to appointments, grocery shopping, and what have you. Taking environment and stability into consideration, this could be why toddlers seem to struggle more so with emotional regulation when they are out in public. If your toddler is prone to unpredictable meltdowns, perhaps it can be helpful to consider their stress of the unknown as the cause of affliction when you get your toddler is out of the house.

Being enthusiastic and having the attitude that everything is an adventure can dramatically change a child's perspective of the change in routine. Keeping his hands busy or stimulating the vagus nerve (on both sides of the voice box) such getting your toddler to blow bubbles, chew on a snack, hum, or sing a song can help lessen the anxious behaviour that is coming out as overactivity and meltdowns.

7 Don't Stress The Mess

Toddlers enjoy learning from making a mess. Although having a walking tornado is not favourable to any parent, learning to not stress the mess can open the door to many activities for your toddler to boost learning, coordination, fine and gross motor and attention skills. Messy play teaches children to become natural discoverers, scientists, artists, negotiators and problem solvers.

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Parents can think of mess as a way of their toddler channelling expression. Choose messy activities (such as crafts, play doh, water and outdoor play for example) that you're already familiar with what kind of mess to expect, advisably a theme your tot would be interested in. Preparation of how the activity will be cleaned up afterwards and involving your toddler in the cleanup routine can reduce stress on the parent making the mess a little less overwhelming.

6 Use What You Have

Toddlers don't need expensive toys or constant structured activities to stay engrossed. Parents can simply use what they have to keep their active tot busy. Sometimes just the novelty of having something "new" to play with, especially if they know it isn't theirs, can be enough to entertain them for a while. It helps to be creative while thinking of what to use to entertain busy toddlers since children are imaginative in thinking of multiple purposes for one object. For instance, an empty box can be turned into a fort, drum, or a place for your toddler to dump toys into. Boxes can be building blocks that your toddler can make towers with and then knock down. The possibilities are endless.

It can be surprising how many common household objects can also help develop occupational skills like fine motor skills, dexterity, and coordination in hands. Letting your toddler play with clothespins to open and close, use plastic tongs to pick up smaller objects, and pulling apart fridge magnets are all examples of activities that can be educational and easy to prepare.

5 Be Silly!

Sometimes the easiest way to keep an active toddler busy is to just be silly. Not only does silliness entice toddlers to stay occupied, but it can provide various benefits. Being silly with your child teaches your child acceptance, positive discipline, and creativity. It can also encourage bonding with parents and develop skills for your child to have the ability to cope with stress. Who knew being nonsensical with your child can wield so many positive aspects?

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Getting down to your child's level and playing whatever giddy game that has their attention not only keeps them busy but will have a lasting impression that a parent was involved nonetheless. Toddlers are impressionable, therefore a parent being silly can reflect the happy mood Mom or Dad is portraying making the toddler in a better mood as well.

4 Music

As mentioned earlier, toddlers rely on their senses to learn about the world around them. Toddlers naturally gravitate to sound and music, making it a great way to keep a busy-body moving but in a productive (and cute) way. That's not saying that your toddler should be enrolled in piano lessons or for a parent to spend money on instruments because they want to foster the next toddler Beethoven.

Pots and Pans are a great example of a way of allowing your child to express themselves through music, while being silly, and staying occupied. A parent can make their own musical instrument (if they are crafty) that a toddler can experiment making noise with different materials. There are many great action songs a parent can sing to such as Hands, Shoulders, Knees and Toes that can get a toddler moving and singing. However, an activity both the child and parent can do that both will enjoy is dancing around to Mom or Dad's favourite tune.

3 Involve In Chores

It seems toddlers can be the most rambunctious when parents are busy tending to something else, like a chore. The toddler could be acting out or coming across as overactive simply because he wants undivided attention that you might not be able to give right now. Realistically, toddlers may be incapable of actually helping you do chores but just involving him in what you are doing can be enough of a distraction before he turns into a blender without a lid.

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An example of this is letting your toddler toss clothing in the washing machine, pick up toys, let him mix the soap and water for dishes, give him non-breakable dishes to dry, etc. Including your kid in chores from a young age is helpful because the child can become mindful and involved in what needs to be done around the house, having the confidence and willingness to take initiative to tend to what needs to be taken care of.

2 Bubbles

Blowing bubbles not only aids in stimulating the vagus nerve which is known for its calming effects, but is always a hit for keeping a 2-year-old distracted and entertained. However, bubbles are more than just fun, distraction, and a wet mess. Playing with bubbles can help a toddler develop hand-eye coordination, visual tracking skills, spatial awareness, and sense of direction.

The bonus? Children are not easily bored by bubbles and it can be used as a happy distraction while mid-meltdown.  Toddlers love chasing after bubbles which is a great physical exercise for them and a good excuse for a parent to sit down while blowing the bubbles (since we all know the kids will be back for more.)

1 Sensory Bins, Bottles, And Bags

Sensory play is so important for toddlers and children as it is a way of building nerve connections in the brain's pathways. Since the activities provide an opportunity for a toddler to use their senses during play, it can actually help him retain and learn information easier. Additionally, toddlers love them because it can be played with more than once, independently or with a playmate!

Sensory bins are great for activities that require your tot to manipulate objects or play that requires dumping and scooping. Bins are perfect if you intend for your toddler to play with a sibling, friend, or even a parent as bins are a bit bigger. Sensory bags are great for independent and on-the-go-play, and sensory bottles can be used as a calming activity. The great thing about sensory bins, bags, and bottles is they are inexpensive to make and always a hit for keeping an active toddler busy.

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