For most of the first year or so of your new baby’s life you spend cleaning up after them, trying to keep them safe and trying to keep them out of everything when they start getting mobile. It is quite the cardio workout trying to pace your new toddler even when they are just crawling, much less when they master walking!
It can be really easy-and pretty tempting-to stay as protective as you were when they first arrived even as your baby starts to grow up. This can have negative effects on your child if you don’t allow them opportunities to practice using their hands and creative abilities on a regular basis. Will letting your near two-and-a-half-year-old help mix up the cookies take a little more time, and probably make more of a mess? Yes. But it is worth it. Letting your little ones get a little dirty and have new experiences is the best way to help them develop their fine motor skills, creativity, and master new abilities.
Take some time each day to let your child be a child. Print off a worksheet that allows your child the opportunity to paste shapes on another page to help them get better at using their hands and the control they have over their body. Make shapes out of playdough with your kids to expose them to different textures and practice using their fingers. Don’t let the little messes that come from learning make you upset, instead take a moment to let your child explore. Obviously, this won’t happen all the time and that is ok, there are other things that need to be done and places to go.
Developing fine motor skills is largely important to the healthy development of your child. Fine motor skills refer to the ability to use your hand for small and delicate uses such as zipping a zipper, buttoning a jacket, brushing your teeth, or even managing a pen or pencil. Providing your little one with many opportunities to hone these skills keeps them learning and happy. It will also give you some peace of mind to be able to continue watching your child demonstrate new abilities and growth.
There are lots of activities that you can do with your child like the ones previously mentioned that help them learn all these different skills. Let them practice puzzles that have large pieces, have them mix up their chocolate milk, or for children that are old enough and with proper supervision, have them cut out shapes using safety scissors.
Overall and most important, just remember to enjoy the time you have with your little ones and treasure the moments you get to spend watching them learn and grow. Messes will be made, dishes will need to be done, but they will always be there and you will get to them, later.