Still working on walking?
At the toddler stage, many children are still working on learning to walk securely. If so, you can find some ideas here to match what your child needs
The next steps …
Once children have got the basics of walking, the next stage is to develop balance and stability.
Some parents find this quite hard. It is part of your child becoming more independent – and can feel like the end of a time when they needed you for everything.
Don’t worry, they will need you for lots of things for a long time to come! What your child needs now is for you to let them move and explore, be there for when they need comfort and help, and balance keeping them safe with not worrying too much
To do this, they need you to:
Think about how much you use the buggy
- great to get from house to shop and back quickly if you are in a rush
- great for getting a distance to find a really interesting place further than your child can walk
- great for talking as you go along – point out interesting things. Even better, spot what your child is looking at or pointing out, and chat about that. There are some easy ideas to help this here.
- no good for developing your child’s movement, confidence or fitness!
Get out and about!
Zooming around at home can be fun, but it is a bit restricted – you have to be careful about ornaments, cups, pets, etc. Before children have full control over movement it is much better to go outside where there is more space and accidents don’t matter so much
Also, being outdoors gives your child a sense of freedom that is really good for building confidence and helping them explore. They don’t have you worried they will crash through the window or knock over the TV
And, when you are outside, you tend to move more and go further – so that gets your child both fit, but also tired. This can really help with bedtime issues.
Lastly, going out is a great way for your child to start to meet other kids and learn all about how to play with others, and it can be great for you, if you are getting cabin fever or feeling a bit alone – chats at the playpark are a great time to share your worries with other parents and to help them out too
- let your child pace this. It will emerge with encouragement, but more slowly if you force it. Your child needs to work within their confidence limits.
- if you run (slowly) and encourage your child to chase you. Or they may chase a favourite toy if you carry it – then the toy can chase them back
- or your child may like to run between you and another adult
- little races can be fun too
- sometimes running a short distance while you are carrying your child, making sounds of enjoyment, can show what it is all about
- and of course, having a ball to kick around, once your child can do this, is often a popular way to get moving
Find places to jump!
Some children are reluctant to try jumping, and some are too keen!
To help develop the skills and balance and confidence:
- stepping up and down small steps is a good start
- so is jumping on the spot – your child can control how high they go and it doesn’t matter where you land.
- It can be fun to jump to music – this also develops your child’s self-control, and learning about rythmn and pattern will one day even help with reading!
- jumping down is sometimes easier to try than jumping up – as your child can see where they are going more easily
- you can model little jumps, showing it can be fun
- move from small jumps to big ones gradually – going from a tiny step to the Niagara falls might dent your child’s growing confidence
For the over-confident child, try not to show too much panic, but see if you can redirect to more realistic and safer challenges, distract with another game, or talk about some things being for “big boys/girls” and your child can have a go when they are a bit bigger
Remember you are the adult – NEVER rely on discipline and obedience to keep your child safe
If you have stairs, these are often a child’s first climbing adventure, but it is then good to get outdoors – your child will have a natural desire to climb and this is better not done on furniture!
You are also a great climbing frame – it is quite ok if your child wants to climb up and down you, and you can of course help them a bit
- once again, let your child decide how big a challenge to tackle
- you can help show them hand-over-hand and foot-by-foot – you can place their hands and feet for them
sometimes just a little touch on the back can steady your child (and control your nerves) enough to proceed
- it is quite usual for a child to get to the “top” and then be stuck. Coming down can be harder. No need to call the fire brigade – just be ready to help them down
- if your child says or feels it isn’t safe, remember it is not safe for them, even if you know it is. Confidence will grow faster if you help them out.
Get in a mess …!
Puddles, mud – so what? Exploring means getting in a mess from time to time.
These might make the process more fun for your child, and easier for you:
- make sure you have clothes for your child that can get messy or torn. Nobody will think you are a bad parent – if they know what they are talking about, they will think you are a great parent for giving your child so much fun!
- it can be helpful to always have in reserve a bag of clean clothes for emergency changes – then you don’t have to worry about mess
- mess in the house is ok too – if you are baking together, or playing with bubbles. This is still not quite the time to invest in expensive white carpets …
Keep it interesting, and talk about it!
When moving about, there are lots of other things you can do to help your child develop skills and language:
- do lots of under/over/around/through/in front/behind games – and use those words while you are doing it
- this helps your child get an idea of how physical space works – it is imporant for developing their movement and balance, but also one day for maths and especially for sports and games
- it can be fun to set up obstacle courses – do them quickly, or in slow motion – talking all the time about what you are doing.