Creative Child

3 Times to Say Yes to Your Toddler

by Brittany Ferrell on Aug 25th, 2015

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2. Your toddler wants to throw an impromptu dance party.

My daughter hears anything resembling a beat and wants to get down and boogie. It can be her dad whisking eggs for an omelet or a commercial jingle and the next thing I know, she is bouncing to the rhythm and waving her hands around like she just doesn’t care. Of course, you are busy. You could be an appreciative spectator of the dance party and give your child a distracted smile followed by half-hearted clapping. Instead, put on your dancing shoes and join the festivities!

Just as we use music to soothe our colicky babies, we can use music to ignite a lifelong passion in our toddlers. Music helps toddlers acquire language and develop motor skills. In the classroom, I have often tried to teach a difficult concept to my students with limited success. The second I take that concept and set it to music, all of the sudden light bulbs start exploding over student’s heads. Toddlers naturally love music and rhythm, but this love needs to be cultivated like a fine wine in order for it to come to fruition later in life.

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Dancing to music helps toddlers develop coordination. I began taking ballet classes at the age of two. I am still horribly clumsy, but I have learned how to fall gracefully, to which I credit my dance experience. A dance party may occur any time or any place, depending on when the mood strikes your tot. My daughter and I were at the grocery store this week when she heard a song that she liked playing over the speakers. As she started bopping in her seat in the grocery cart, I instantly began shuffling and boogying my way down the aisles. I received some strange looks, but the only audience I cared about was the one right in front me, her face alight with glee. Why not nurture your child’s innate love of music and dance while burning a few extra calories at the same time?

3. Your toddler wants to engage in pretend play.

My husband works long hours. When he comes home after a fourteen-hour day he is understandably exhausted. Before he can even take his shoes off, here comes his real boss, wanting to play princesses. I can see in his eyes that he is ready to collapse, but he gets down on the floor and grabs a princess. A toddler’s attention span is usually less than five minutes, but that brief time lays the foundation for developing a vivid imagination.

I used to do a visualization exercise with my second graders in which I would ask them to close their eyes and picture what I was wearing that day. Only a few could conjure an image of me in their mind’s eye. The majority of the students did not spend enough time in their young lives developing their imagination. Instead they relied upon movies and video games to see the world of make-believe. We live in an age where technology rules. There is no escaping it and it does have its place. Those students who had trouble creating pictures in their minds were the same students who struggled with writing, reading comprehension, and mental math.

Playing peek-a-boo or joining your child’s stuffed animals at the pretend zoo will nurture your child’s creativity, develop their imagination, and lay the foundation for academic success later. Furthermore, it is fun. My creativity is sparked by playing pretend with my daughter and each new scenario I invent for the princesses results in both my daughter and I collapsing in a heap of giggles,

It may feel like you are in a never ending power struggle with your toddler tyrant, but giving in every once in a while makes it more meaningful when you say no. No, the couch is not a trampoline. No, do not catapult yourself down the stairs. No, the dog food is not for you. Saying yes to a few things that you think mean the most will bring joy and relief to both you and your darling dictator.

It only takes a few minutes to read a story or shake your groove thing or visit the land of make believe, but these are the moments that will set your child on a path to success. These are the moments, as parents, you will never forget. So, go ahead, say yes.

Related Article: 5 Things Your Toddler Needs You to Know

Brittany Ferrell has a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology and a Master's Degree in Education. She has worked as an elementary school teacher for twelve years and was awarded "Teacher of the Year" 2011. In February 2014, Brittany and her wonderful husband, Jerome welcomed their miracle, Madeline Olivia to the world and she has chronicled her struggle to become a parent in her published memoir, "From Dream to Dream Come True: My Journey to Motherhood". Brittany writes about her fairy tale dream come true of motherhood on her blog, A Mama Tale.

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