4 Ways to Explore What Your Toddler Loves
Out of all the big and beautiful things in the world, what will your child’s interests be? There is a big and exciting world out there, where your little one’s dream job can be anything from a professional ice cream taster, a train builder or simply joining Peter Pan’s Lost Boy pack. Now is a time for imagination to take over. They can dream of being anything in the entire world. As parents, you can help them figure out how to be whatever they want to, for now. Yes, there will come a time where you might need to mention that ‘being a puppy’ is not a suitable career choice, but while they are running around the garden, being a kid and playing make-believe, it may not be the best timing.
Your toddler’s interests probably include playing with dolls, ‘driving’ their toy cars or aspiring to be the best local firefighter in town. These interests may feel like a big part of their personality now but could most likely change by the time the next snack break arrives, and that’s okay! Although interests can change in the future, they can also reflect your little one’s passions, and very real future career possibilities.
Although your toddler’s interests will mature and change as they grow older, they are still a big part of what makes them – them. They will eventually grow into the person they are, but there’s no harm in gently guiding them through this process of self-discovery and figuring out which interest might be there to stay for good.
But how do I find out what my child’s interests are?
It’s all good and well talking about it, but how do you actually do it? Here are some tips!
1) See what draws them in
Your toddler probably can’t tell you their interests just yet, so you could watch their behaviour and note which activities they tend to be drawn to. These activities can serve as pointers to their future interests and career possibilities. If your toddler loves to sort objects – from lining up their toys to sorting according to colour, shape, size or softness – they may have an affinity towards Maths and Science due to their interest in patterns and problem-solving. Try sitting down with them during playtime to see just how much they enjoy this activity.
A mechanic, builder, or inventor? If your toddler is constantly handling and dismantling things, or pressing buttons and pulling dials, this might be an indicator that your toddler is a practical person, and could end up being one of the above. If your child wants to be in control and take the lead amongst their friends (and with you!), then they may be a future leader. This could serve them well in a variety of careers, such as business, politics, or even event organising. If your kid is a chatterbox, and seemingly has an answer for everything, they may end up pursuing verbal and written jobs like law or journalism.
2) Encourage your child
If your kid likes activities such as playing with blocks, try not to limit or control their playtimes.
Encourage them to carry on – it will help them develop their interests moving forward. Yes, there are a whole lot of fun, new and exciting things to try around every corner, which may distract them from time to time, but something specific could continue to fascinate them. If your toddler maintains an interest in the activity for an extended period of time, it’s likely that they have a natural, long-term interest in that sort of thing. Try watching your toddler during play-time. After all, your toddler feels most comfortable to express themselves during this time. Let their imagination run wild, and watch what they tend to do. Since this is the rawest expression of their minds, they are more likely to give you a hint at what they’re truly interested in. Try not to push them to express themselves, as they might end up doing what they think you want them to do. Rather, let them play freely, setting the scene of their own imaginary kingdom.
3) Get involved
If your little one is showing a keen interest in something, join in. Ask them what they love most about it or try to understand what draws them into spending more time on certain activities. It may feel like something small, but for now, this is what matters to your kid and what makes them happy. Chances are pretty good that if mum and dad want to join in on the fun, it will make anything 100 times better!
4) Celebrate their differences
Your toddler will already look up to their older brother, sister or you. Celebrate their quirky ways of doing things. Tell them that you love the way their picture of a sun kind of looks like a banana as well. It’s important for your kid to have confidence in their way of doing things. Each of your children is a unique blessing – let them express their individuality in their own way.
It’s important to remember that your little one is busy changing into the person they will become. The best thing you can do is to provide an environment that feels safe for them to explore, learn and create. We have no idea of knowing exactly what our young ones are destined to be, but maybe one day your kid will recall hours of building Lego blocks with you as they’re applying for that Architecture degree. They may reminisce back to painted faces and messy arts and crafts as they open their first art gallery.