7 Games Promote Toddler Behavior


Your toddler’s agenda isn’t always yours, especially when there are shoes to put on, toys to clean up or manners to be taught. These games can get your child to cooperate while having fun.

1. Tell a secret. When you need your child to come to you, call out in your best dramatic voice, “I have a secret to tell you when you tag my hand.” Or she can tag your foot, bellybutton or ear. When she tags you, whisper a secret in her ear, such as that you saw a purple cow, you love her or even a joke.

2. Pretend to be an animal. This is great way to get your child to go to the car or leave a play date without a fuss. Say, “It’s time to leave. Let’s pretend to be a frog (or another animal) as we go to the car.” Then pretend to be the animal, complete with noises, as you head out.

3. Have a race. Use this game when you need your child to do something quickly, like put his shoes on, get dressed or clean something up. Have him race against the clock. Ask him if he is fast. Then say, “Let’s see if you can get your shoes on in 2 minutes.” Set the timer or count to an unusual number, such as 17. Watch how quickly he moves.

4. Give your child a special mission. Next time your child gets fidgety while running errands with you, give her a mission. Have her help find your car, count the steps to the bathroom or guess how many items you have in your shopping cart. She can also make up a song about the shopping trip or tell you a story during the errand.

5. Put on your listening ears. Use this game to help remember manners. Before you enter a restaurant, movie theatre or museum, say dramatically, “I have something important to tell you. Can you tell me what type of ears we need to wear in the museum? Let’s put on our listening ears. I think that mine are in my shoe.” Pretend to pull your ears out of your shoe and put them on while your child does the same. You can also do this with walking feet or inside voice.

6. Have a special dance. When your child finishes a task that he didn’t want to do, have a special silly dance to celebrate together  — a clean teeth dance, a finished my dinner dance, or even a clean room dance.

7. Shout “hip hip hooray!” If your child shows good manners or does something praiseworthy, tell her that you are very proud of her and together shout, “Hip Hip Hooray!” For extra impact, jump up and shout it in public. 

Jennifer Gregory is a freelance writer and the mom of two kids.


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