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3 ways to raise your toddler to be
a ‘can-do’ kiddo

There are

many pressures on parents to engage toddlers in activities that may give them a


competitive advantage now and later in adulthood. The reality is that we may be

inadvertently crafting childhood experiences that inhibit children’s natural inclinations

and welfare—the real traits that will help children thrive as adults.

Surveys

of over 100,000 college freshmen that have been conducted annually for 50

years have been showing increasing levels of depression and a lack of well-being

in recent years.

Rather

than focusing on a competitive advantage in childhood, parents may want to

focus their efforts on raising children who will succeed in an uncertain world

by carving out their own unique pathways to success.

To thrive, children will need to know how to navigate new situations, be flexible thinkers, be self-starters who are resilient, and work with others.

There are

many things you can do as a parent, supported by decades of research and evidence-based

practices, that will help you raise your child to be a ‘doer.’

The good

news? Many of these practices consist of spending positive time with your

toddler and enjoying that time with them.

Here are three

techniques for raising your toddler to be a can-do kid.

Encourage exploration and innovation.

Toddlers

love to explore. They love to touch and manipulate and use their senses. They

like to try things.

Some studies

show that toddlers are essentially “little scientists” who are wired to

hypothesize, test, evaluate, and try again.

How do you

promote these attributes? First, give kids free

time. (We know you are really bummed about this, mama. ?)

With a

little practice, your child will start to figure out what to do with this free

time and, in the process, learn to be self-motivated.

Provide

some building blocks, crayons, and Play-Doh. Let them play in the dirt and on

the playground. Take them for walks in the woods or on the beach or even around

the backyard.

Don’t critique or look for a final product. Simply chat with them, ask them about what they are doing, and share their wonder for the world they are exploring.

Your toddler will be

developing the skills needed to cognitively explore and manipulate information,

and engage in divergent thinking—the root of innovation.

Practice optimism and safe risk-taking.

We hear a

lot about overprotecting kids, but learning how to let your child engage in a few

safe (and beneficial) risks can open doors to discovering the world. The trick

is to find the balance between safe and unsafe risk-taking.

Walking side-by-side

along a creek collecting leaves together is safe as long as your child is being

attended. Allowing a child to walk solo along this path is probably not a safe

bet.

If your

tot wants to climb a tree, make sure it’s a feasible goal. Scaffold their

attempts and if they slip and fall, comfort them quickly and encourage them to

try again in the hope that they may go a little higher this time.

Your little one will

quickly learn to take on tasks that are out of their comfort zone and stick

with them through the bumps and bruises. They will measure their success in

effort and gradual progress. There’s your growth mindset, resilience, and grit

right there, mama.

Teach them to understand others.

Toddlers

are developmentally ready to begin learning how to take others’ perspectives

and develop a theory

of mind—the realization that we each have our own way of seeing

the world.

Talk about feelings and emotions every chance you get. Your child’s feelings, your feelings, other people’s feelings, and heck, even your dog’s feelings.

When you read

books together, chat about the characters and what they are thinking and

feeling. When they are playing with other kids, you can begin to help them

understand that their peers have feelings. This understanding will help your

child learn how to manage conflicts.

Help your

child practice having conversations with others—yourself, grandparents,

doctors, friends, or even the person who runs the fruit stand. Conversational

skills may help your tot hone their ability to get along with others.

Let your tot help you

around the house with little chores. These cooperative skills will help your

child to develop empathy and a sense of value for helping others as well as themselves.

Introducing

your child to these activities as a toddler will promote the 21st century

skills (e.g., creative problem-solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and

communication) that will serve your child well decades from now. Bonus: These activities just so happen to

be what toddlers want to do with their time. Win-win.

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Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

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Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

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Because parenthood is challenging, we can sometimes forget how to just be happy in the midst of it all.

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