Children are different and develop at different rates, but as a parent you can support and stimulate your child in different ways. Here we tell you how!
How is my child stimulated?
Young children do not need sophisticated toys or activities to get the stimulation they need to develop. Through their senses, interaction with others and movement, children explore their environment and learn new things. The child has a need to explore and does so continuously in everyday life even when there are no planned activities. For example, watching a spoon fall to the ground over and over again can be a very fascinating experience where children learn about gravity and their own motor skills.
When young children are stimulated and explore their environment, the most important thing is that they have access to a parent, parents or other close adults who are present and with whom they can interact. From birth, children depend on contact and interaction to develop and explore the world around them. It is together with the other that the child investigates, observes, imitates and interacts. The adult puts into words and reflects what the child sees and experiences, which makes the experiences clearer for the child.
Children do not always play with others but also by themselves. Knowing that someone is there when needed gives them the security they need to venture out and explore and play on their own. Even when the child is playing on their own, it is important to have the support of an adult in order to have someone to share the experience with, to get help when things get difficult, to get protection when things get dangerous and to get reassurance when needed. For example, toppling a tower becomes a much more intense and stimulating experience when someone else sees it happen and puts the experience into words "oh, there it is!" than if you just see it yourself.
Of course, it is not possible to share every experience and event with the child. This is impossible because there are other things going on in life, such as food to be cooked or siblings who need help. The world cannot stop every time a child knocks over a tower, for example. The most important thing for the child is to experience that there is often someone who sees and is there when needed.
Join your child's exploration!
To see and participate in the child's exploration and thus support the child, you can take a step back, observe what the child is doing and at what pace, and then participate in the activity. Try to follow the child's pace, put into words what the child is doing, what you are doing and what is happening in the game. Show interest, have fun with the child and encourage the child's initiative and abilities. Support and help when needed.
In order to help the child be appropriately stimulated, it is important to try to be sensitive and ensure that the exploration and play is at an appropriate level for the child. If the child shows signs of frustration, the play may be too difficult and the child needs more help, the child may have been playing the same thing for a while and needs help with variety, or the child is getting tired and may need help with resting. In general, children who are becoming more mobile, such as crawling and walking faster, appreciate more time away from home to more open spaces where they can move freely. When the child is around two years old, it is also increasingly important that they have the opportunity to socialize with other children.
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