5 Activities for You and Your 1-2 Year Old

Activities and experiences are major building blocks in a child’s social, emotional and cognitive well-being. Simple things, like taking a walk, pointing, and asking, “what’s that?” are immensely important to your child. Here is a list of 5 simple things you can do with your 1-2 year old to guide their developmental building blocks.

Sponges and water

This one is great for outside, or around the kitchen sink. Take a squishy sponge and show them how it sops up water and squeezes out. Then let them try. Your little one will learn “cause and effect” and develop their muscles in hands, legs and back. Take it a step further and have them wash their waterproof toys. But be careful, it can get wet and slippery, so adult supervision is required.

Collect at the park

Take your toddler to the park or grassy school grounds and look for items to collect. Ask to find the “perfect” leaf. This could be done with rocks and pebbles, finding smooth or rough textures. This teaches your child to search and observe, sensory skills as well as a great physical activity and bending and walking.

Toy and cups

Play the classic “find the toy” game with your child (or whatever object you have on hand). This one can be a little hard for your baby to follow, so be patient with them and help them along if they struggle. The resulting thinking skills are invaluable for your littles. Problem solving, hand eye coordination and focus are all part of this fun and easy activity that they will surely love. Watch the video below for examples of the cup game (1 minute 22 second mark). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w9h3HpnUuiY

Make some noise

Find some objects and toys that rattle, shake and make different noise. Show and play alongside with your child as you explore and make a song. The tone and texture differences help thinking skills, and the movement and talking help physical and communication. If you want to take it a step further from here, sign up for a Kindermusik class here at Root for Kids.

Hi, hello, bye, goodbye

Play a game with your child where you poke your head through a doorframe and wave while saying “hello” and then poke your head away, so not to be seen, and say “bye-bye.” This can be done with and empty cardboard box or a makeshift fort. Your child will try to copy you or come towards you. The communication, physical and cognitive skills learned here are important in their early social skills. 

This list was adapted from ZERO TO THREE’s “Play-activities for 12 to 24 Months” For more information and extra activity ideas, see https://www.zerotothree.org/resource/play-activities-for-12-to-24-months/.

Tapping the Power of Creativity in Children

by Craig Roberts,  Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Why Creativity?

Have you heard the saying, “A picture is worth 1,000 words?” For children, whose language skills are still developing, the idea is even more potent. Children can often express themselves better through creative means than they can through words. This helps them in the following ways:

1. When feelings are stuffed (unexpressed), they fester, build up pressure and find expression through misbehavior. Allowing safe expression reduces problems.

2. It brings understanding and insight to the child and to you. For example, it may be sobering to see yourself drawn dead in a grave, but suddenly you understand that losing you is your child’s biggest fear, and that’s why he’s so afraid to go to school.

3. It gives your child a chance to find emotional healing. The next picture your child draws may be of him with a magic wand, calling you back to life. Although not technically true, a little part of your child’s brain will say, “I don’t have to worry about mom dying, because I’ll just bring her back to life. So I can go to school.” He has overcome his fear through fantasy.

What are some options for creativity? Anything. Art, dance, movement, pretend storytelling, writing, sculpting with play-doh or pipe cleaners, playing with action figures or dolls, music, sound effects, and many more things can be used. Go where your child is comfortable and give lots of options. Your child will find her way.

Tapping the Power of Creativity in Children | Root for Kids
Photo by Tatiana Syrikova

How can I help my child express feelings creatively? 

1. Appreciate, don’t criticize. Because your child needs to express dark feelings, he might just scribble in red on the paper. It’s not an art contest; it self-expression. So you warmly say, “Wow. This is a red scribbly paper. Lots and lots of red scribbles.” Don’t be concerned to see themes that are gory, violent, depressed, etc. Be grateful that your child will share with you.

2. Only comment on what is obvious. Don’t interpret. Saying that there are lots of red scribbles avoids you making the wrong guess by saying something like, “Does this remind you of all the blood at the accident?” Your child may not be ready to discuss that verbally, even if you had guessed right.

3. Invite the child to comment if s/he wishes. “I’m very interested in this picture, if you want to tell me about it.”

4. If the child makes a commentary, repeat it back to make sure that you heard right, and invite more commentary. “So let me see if I got this right. The red is about how mad you feel about moving. Anything else about it?”

5. If invited to join, remember that it’s your child’s creation. For instance, if your child hands you a Joker action figure, and his Batman figure hits it, you don’t know if Joker is supposed to fight back, cry, die, laugh, or whatever. To keep the story coming from your child’s imagination, you ask, “What does Joker do now that Batman hit him?” Then follow your child’s instructions.

Tapping the Power of Creativity in Children | Root for Kids
Photo by Gustavo Fring

Root for Kids serves pregnant women and children from birth to age five in Washington County, Utah and the Arizona Strip. If you have any concerns about your child’s development, fill out our referral form.

Create a Positive Relationship with Your Child

by Craig Roberts,  Licensed Clinical Social Worker

What is your parent/child relationship made out of? Some are made out of power struggles. Others are made out of indifference and distance. The kind that you want is made out of happy connections. For that to happen, you must create happy connecting experiences with your child! You, the parent, choose this and cause it to happen. Here’s how to create a positive relationship with your child.

Choose to interact

Put a priority on interacting with your child. Put aside the electronic screens, housework, and other distractions, and dedicate time to your child.

Creating Positive Relationship with Your Children | Root for Kids
Photo by Lina Kivaka

Bring positive energy

It doesn’t matter if you are playing a game, pulling weeds, doing homework, baking cookies, driving in the car, shopping, doing dishes, or anything. Whatever you are doing, be positive. Talk about how you love your child and like doing things with him/her. Notice his/her good qualities. Make everything into a game. Make it so that it feels happy just being together. When you are smiling together, you know you’re getting things right.

Your attention is the best gift

People give attention to things that are important to them. Children get good self-esteem from seeing that they are important enough to be noticed and appreciated. When you look at your child, s/he knows s/he is important. When you smile at him/her, s/he knows s/he is a good person. When you give loving touch, s/he feels love even more deeply. When you play and laugh together, suddenly the whole world is wonderful.

Creating Positive Relationship with Your Children | Root for Kids
Photo by Tatiana Syrikova

Join your child’s experience

When something is important to your child, it is important to you! Focus on what they focus on. If they are interested in a bug, get interested, too. If they are learning to cut with scissors, enjoy cutting together. If they are playing cars in the dirt, get in the dirt and join in. If they just split up with their boyfriend/girlfriend, and want to watch mindless TV for a while, join the moment. If they’re stuck in cyber world, text them. You want to show your child how important s/he is to you, and the way to do it is to put importance on what is important to him/her.

For more on tips from Craig, check out Ideas on Creating Structure with Young Children

Ideas on Creating Structure with Young Children

Being at home all the time with the kids can be challenging. Especially trying to establish routines with children. We asked Craig Roberts, our amazing Licensed Clinical Social Worker, to share a few ideas on creating structure with young children. 

Start with the attitude that “We do things together.” 

We play together, we work together, etc.  This way, you get more interaction and more chances to have joy together.

Ideas on Creating Structure with Young Children | Root for Kids
source: Shutterstock

Show respect in getting your child away from their previous activity

Give them a heads up if possible.  If they’re watching TV, give them until the end of the show, or until the next commercial.  If they’re playing a video game, give them a 5-minute warning, or until they finish the next puzzle, etc.  Kindly stick to your guns and end the activity when the time comes.  If your child is sad/mad about leaving an activity, warmly accept his/her feelings.

Put activities in a timeline that makes sense

Get the work done before the fun.  Some examples are: “We’re going to eat soon, but before we can do that, we need to cook the food and set the table.”  “In a while, it will be time to go to the park, but before that, we need to get the house cleaned so that when we get back, we won’t have to do all that work when we’re tired.”

Transform the work into fun 

For instance, if you have a race to see whether you can cook the food first or your child can set the table first, your child will probably have fun beating you in the race.  If you drive the laundry basket around the house saying, “No, don’t put any dirty laundry in me,” your child will probably laughingly stuff all the dirty laundry in.  Something is fun if you, the parent, make it fun.  It’s a drudge if you, the parent, make it a drudge.  Figure out how to make it fun.

Ideas on Creating Structure with Young Children | Root for Kids
source: Shutterstock

Talk about your feelings and values regarding the task at hand, while keeping positive 

Do the “before” and “after” picture with your words.  For instance, “We’re going to go on a walk tonight, but first we need to get the dishes done.  Oh, look at these dishes all messy and cluttery.  Are we going to let them clutter up our sink?  No, we are not! You dishes are going to get clean.  Johnny and I will see to that!”  Have fun as you wash the dishes with Johnny.  When you’re done, appreciate your work.  “Wow.  Our kitchen feels great now.  We’re a great dishwashing team. Now it’s time to go on our walk!” 

Be appreciative of whatever positive thing your child does

If you’re cleaning Suzie’s bedroom and she makes the bed and it’s all lumpy, say “Wow.  You got your bed made. You got the pillow in the right place, and got the blanket pulled up over the top of it.  Very nice work!”  Find the good in what she did, and she will feel proud to help and encouraged to help the next time.  Ignore the lumps, and over the years they will get smoothed out.

Give your child many appropriate moments of power and choice

You might say, “OK.  Now we’re cleaning your room.  You’re in charge in here.  Do you think we should start with the toys first or the dirty clothes first?”  Giving power to your child helps him/her feel like the owner of the chore and starts building his/her ability one day to do chores independently from you.  But don’t rush that.  Wait until your relationship is feeling very strong and happy. You don’t want to miss out on opportunities to happily work together.

Ideas on Creating Structure with Young Children | Root for Kids
source: Shutterstock

Root for Kids serves children from birth to age five in Washington County, Utah and the Arizona Strip. We are still enrolling for all of our programs! Fill out our referral form today.

More Home Activities for Kids

Play time and activities are a huge part of a toddler’s life. Not only they keep the little ones entertained, but they also support brain development (which is rapidly happening in the first years of life). With that in mind, our developmental specialists selected a few home activities! Each activity helps support an area of development and comes with a book suggestion.

If you are interested in any of our home visiting services (virtual, for now) fill out our referral form! Root for Kids serves pregnant women and children from birth to age 5 in Washington County, Utah and the Arizona Strip.

Home Activities for Kids | Root for Kids

Home Activities for Kids | Root for Kids

More Home Activities for Kids | Root for Kids

More Home Activities for Kids | Root for Kids

More Home Activities for Kids | Root for Kids

More Home Activities for Kids | Root for Kids

More Home Activities for Kids | Root for Kids