While all of us want our children to excel academically, the importance of character training cannot be overstated. Below are some simple yet highly effective games you can play to help teach your toddler good behavior.
1. I Spy
This classic game teaches the importance of being patient and waiting on others to respond when communicating. To play, simply take turns singling out different objects that are nearby, and then describe them by saying “I spy with my little eye…” along with one or two descriptive features about the object. For example: “I spy with my little eye something that is yellow.” The other players will then attempt to guess what the object is (e.g., “A banana!” or “Mom’s shirt!”). The person who guesses the correct answer gets to become the next spy.
2. The Sock Sort
Sorting socks after doing laundry can provide your preschooler with an opportunity to develop their cognitive skills, and it’s also a great way to teach responsibility. Simply set aside all of the socks from your load of laundry and put them in a pile on the living room floor. Now give your child the “assignment” of pairing up the socks and folding them into balls. After that, set up a few small boxes or bins on the floor, each one marked with the name of a family member. Your child’s job will be to toss the mated socks into the appropriate bin. If your little one happens to come across a few “orphan” socks (which is almost always the case), you can set aside an extra bin just for that purpose. When your child understands early on that everyone in the family has to pitch in, it can make things a lot easier down the road when you start introducing regular chores.
3. Hot or Cold?
This perennial favorite teaches the importance of cooperating with others in order to accomplish a goal. You will need at least two kids for this game, with one child acting as the “finder” and the other one(s) being responsible for hiding an object (e.g., a ball or some other toy) somewhere in the room without the finder looking. Now have the finder go around the room to search for the object, while the other child(ren) tell him/her if they’re getting “hotter” or “colder” based on their proximity to the object. Once the object has been found, it will be another child’s turn to be the finder.
4. Three Great Things
This game teaches the vital concept of seeing people in a positive light, and being able to appreciate the good qualities in others. Start off by naming three great things you love about your toddler (e.g., “I love the way you laugh”, “I love how you’re always willing to help”, etc.). Then ask them to pick a family member or friend and tell you three great things they love about them. You’ll be surprised at how many things your child can pick up on just based on their interactions with other people!
When you focus on teaching your preschooler good behavior, it will not only make things a lot easier for you around the house, but it will help them to become a more productive member of society later in life. Use the ideas outlined above to help your child continue down the road of quality character development.