During the toddler stage, your child will begin to understand that they are separate from you and can make their own decisions. ‘The terrible twos’ may involve lots of the word ‘no’ and behavioural changes like showing interest in dressing themselves and having more independence. Don’t worry, this won’t be a ‘terrible’ time; your child is growing up in front of your eyes and now is the time to foster their confidence and sense of self.

Here are a few tips for growing your toddler into a healthy, confident kid.

Encourage all kinds of play

Playing is a huge part of your toddler’s development. ‘Play’ can be all sorts of things, like physical activity or imagination games.

The imagination is an excellent source of play (not to mention it costs you nothing). Try giving your toddler a wooden spoon and asking them what it is. Maybe it’s a microphone and they’re a pop-star. Maybe it’s a sword and they’re a knight. Playing with imagination requires your little one to make decisions about what to do and who to be. These skills may help them with self-expression, assertiveness and decision making.

Group activities and group lessons are a great way to help your toddler learn new skills, socialise, and develop emotionally, mentally and physically. Consider swim lessons, music lessons, family board-game nights or daycare programs.

Arts and crafts are a valuable outlet for self-expression. Being creative may encourage autonomy and the idea of having pride in what you do and make. Tasks like cutting and pasting may also help develop your child’s motor skills.

Model good relationships

Playing with your child is a great way to spend quality time together and act as a role model. Singing, laughing, moving, imagining, and dressing up are all beneficial to your toddler’s development. Doing these things together is an excellent chance to model patience and enthusiasm.

Remember that their relationship with you is the most important at this stage of their life. Your relationships with others also influence how your child will grow up to socialise. Bear this in mind when interacting with your child, or interacting with anyone else in front of your child. Set a standard of respect and strong communication.

Have a dance!

Put on some music and let your little one move their body in whatever way comes naturally to them. Moving to music can help with motor development, and encourage a positive relationship with their own body. It’s also a fun way to exercise!

Look after their health

Taking care of your toddler’s health is vital to their development. By feeding them good food and encouraging physical play, they could grow up feeling more energetic and likely grow into capable kids.

It’s normal for a child to get knocked down with a common cold. Let your toddler know it’s okay to rest and take time out if they’re not feeling well. If your child seems to get sick often or for long periods, think about checking in with your GP.

Remember: every child develops at a different rate

Your child may develop at a different rate to other kids their age. Appreciate their uniqueness and take pride in seeing them express themselves. If your child seems to be learning at a much slower rate than their age group, consider consulting your doctor about how to help your little one manage and thrive.

Remind your toddler that there is courage in trying, and trying again, even if they feel like they’re failing. Teaching resilience and persistence can help with setbacks as they grow up. Mistakes are opportunities to learn! Back your child so they can back themselves as they grow into confident young people.