Your Toddler’s Developing Brain:
The first three years of your child’s life is so important because everything he does with you – from
playing to eating, walking, reading, and singing- helps jump-start his brain. Your toddler was born with
about 100 billion brain cells and each one of those brain cells send and received electrical signals,
creating connections between them. Through repetition these connections turn into networks that
allow your child to think and learn. By the age of three his brain will grow to 1,000 trillion connections.
By exposing your child to new sights and sounds you open his mind to a bigger more exciting world.
“Look, I am a lion or a doggie or let’s pretend we are going to go to the park” are all things that spur his
How your Toddler’s Imagination Works:
Your toddler is just learning how to speak so it can be difficult to know what she is thinking but by the
ages of 18 – 20 months you may see your toddlers copying many things that you do. For instance
feeding the dog or feeding her doll or putting her favorite animal down for a nap.
Dr. Wooley, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, found that” children as young as 3
understand the concept of what is real and what isn’t, until the age of seven children can be lead or
misled by adults’ persuasive words or by “evidence” such as the Tooth Fairy.
What Should Parents Do?:
It is important but not necessary for parents to encourage fantasy play in their children. If a parent does
not want to encourage a belief in fictitious characters, they should look for other ways to encourage
their child’s imagination such as playing dress up or reading fiction. Choose books with big, colorful
pictures and you can make up anything you want – you do not have to stick to the text since your
toddler cannot read. Try to make the sounds of the animals you read about. Again, back to my father, he
would tell me a story almost every night about a chipmunk that could talk, Chappy the Chipmunk- (this
was before any television cartoons since we had no TV until I was 8) Anyway, he became all the animals
of the forest or farm. I was very young, but this was something you could not ever forget – six foot three
man with a mustache, growling like a loin, quacking like a duck, stretching up like a giraffe on his tippy
toes- I can still remember me laughing my head off at him.
Imagination can also be created by using props such as a towel (cape) box (car) ribbons, kitchen pots
and pans and actually anything that is not already a known character so your child can create his own
character or scene.
How Messy Should I Let My Toddler Be?
There is no doubt about the messy business of imagination. Crossing a crocodile infested river in your
living room by stepping on stones (your sofa cushions). To lessen a paint or play dough mess, have your
toddler wear one of your old shirts backwards and put plastic sheeting on the floor under your table.
Part of developing your toddler’s imagination is to share it. And the best way to help your toddler move
to this next step is being a good listener. Toddler’s verbal skills are not great but with practice they get
better. Playing games with your toddler is so important such as the interactive songs and matching wall
paintings that we teach in the Baby Power Forever Kids programs.
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