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4 Tips to an Enjoyable Day Out with your Toddler

4 Tips to an Enjoyable Day Out with your Toddler

Do you feel like you’re going out less since you had the baby? Going to out to dinner or shopping with your toddler can often feel more like a battle than a relaxing night out. The good news is that with a bit of planning and compromise you can still enjoy nice outings and dinners WITH your toddler!

First of all let’s try to put ourselves into your toddler’s shoes… “How exciting is it to go to a fancy restaurant where everything is sparkling and shinny but I’m not allowed to touch any of it! I have to sit still all the time, I can’t use my hands to eat and it sounds like it’s a big deal if I spill my drink. I don’t know why we came here in the first place, no one told me where we were going and this place doesn’t even have a swing!”

 

From your little one’s point of view this isn’t such a great experience either which can cause him to become restless and start acting out. Here’s what you can do to make outings a more pleasant experience for everyone.

Pick a suitable location

Try to find a place that is family friendly that has a children’s menu or high chairs for your baby. Check to see if they have a play area for kids. If you’re looking for a quieter setting without a lot of kids running around check to see if place has an outdoor area or space where you can walk around with your toddler in between courses to make sure he gets his energy out. This will make it easier for him to sit at the table when food is served. You can also bring along a story or crayons to keep your child entertained while at the table.

Let your child know in advance

Prepare your child for what to expect by telling him where you’re going, what you’ll be doing there, what behavior is expected of him and everyone else (no banging on the table or running around) and what he can look forward to as well. Make sure your sentences are positively phrased; “We should use our forks properly instead of banging with them”.  Let your child know that there’s something in this for him as well. He can bring a book, crayons and coloring book or his headphones to listen to music. Let him know if there’s a playground or outdoor space you’ll visit together before dessert. Remember to make sure you stick to your promise and follow through.

Compromise and respect your child’s needs

If none of the family friendly facilities are available then try to create your own! You might think of skipping dessert and walking to the ice-cream store next door for a treat and to get your toddler moving. Take your toddler for a brief walk to see the fish tank if you’re in a seafood restaurant or other interesting things while you wait for your order.

Don’t spend the evening prodding your toddler to finish his food or eat his veggies. Make it a treat and order something special for him off the menu. If there’s no kid’s menu ask your waiter if they can make a mini pizza for your child. Pasta is always a hit with kids! If you’re out shopping and don’t know where you’ll end up for lunch then pack an appropriate snack for your child that you can take with you on your outing. Similarly let your child know that after shopping is done that you’ll be going to a place just for him. A few places you can go to are the playground, toy store, children’s bookstore for story time, pottery painting café or even just sitting in a space where your child can run around with other kids.

Accept that tantrums may still happen

Remember that even if you go through all the planning and your child still ends up throwing a tantrum and throwing his spoon on the floor that it’s OK! Children are people too and can’t be molded to neatly fit a plan every time. They have needs and wants that might be different than their parents’. Don’t let this discourage you and make sure you respond to your toddler with love and patience when a tantrum happens. Remember to ask him what happened and how he felt after he calms down. This can help prevent the same problem from reoccurring.

I hope these tips help make your outings a more pleasant experience for everyone!

Image courtesy of Stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Supporting the Shy Child

Supporting the Shy Child

Children have individual and unique temperaments which are apparent from birth. Some children are fussy while others are calm. Some hate new situations while others don’t mind being the center of attention. Each child is different and no matter how difficult you may think your child is sometimes he is special and has qualities that work best for his personality.

We may often think about the introvert child as lacking in social skills; he doesn’t want to play with other children, he prefers to observe rather than join in and he’s wary of new situations. These situations may all be true, however, keep in mind that your introvert child has developed an ability to be independent and self-reliant. He isn’t impulsive but takes time to observe a situation before deciding what to do. These are all useful traits that could be lacking in other children. There isn’t a right or wrong temperament. Each child is unique and needs a different form of support from the adults around him.

In our life social skills are important. More importantly is that your child feels comfortable and confident about himself. If your child is an introvert there are some ways you can support him to make difficult situations easier for him.

  • Give your child enough notice about a new situation. If you’re going out or having a visitor over let your child know in advance what will be happening, what he can expect and what you expect of him.
  • Join small gatherings and playgroups. Large groups may overwhelm your child so try smaller groups with familiar friends to engage your child.
  • Reading and modeling are great ways to show your child how to interact with other people. Your child may not know how to approach other children in a new game or an unfamiliar setting. Books and observing real life experiences can help your child in figuring out what to do.
  • Find friends who have the same interests. You don’t have to force your child to play with active children or limit him to introverts like himself. A good balance gives him comfort in the type of activities he enjoys and also challenges him to develop new skills.
  • Respect your child’s interests and desires. Don’t brush away your child’s quiet interests. If he wants to read a book or do a puzzle on his own instead of run around that is OK.  Acknowledge his feelings and give your child the time he needs to feel comfortable in a new situation.

When to Seek Help

While it’s normal that some children are introverts or slow-to-warm-up-to, it is important that your child reaches some developmental milestones at certain stages in his development.

The Zero-to-Three Journal recommends seeking professional help if:

  • By 4 months your baby isn’t smiling back
  • By 9 months your baby isn’t participating in back and forth sounds, smiles or facial expressions
  • By 12 months hasn’t started babbling or waving/pointing/reaching
  • By 18 months doesn’t recognize (by pointing or looking at) familiar names of people of common body parts.
  • Has limited eye-contact or shows little pleasure in playful experiences.

References:
Zero to Three Journal

Image Credit to © Carlan |Dreamstime Stock Photos Stock Free Images