Concentration, patience, impulse control, memory, problem solving. All are skills we need to do tasks well. A Stanford-led study found that a grasp on these skills is linked to a child’s ability to cope with difficult situations. This is known as resilience. Resilient children thrive in the classroom. They have fewer or milder behavioral and emotional problems. They have greater engagement in school, and stronger academic skills.
Many of ParentPal’s play-based activities use toys or books to help strengthen and enhance skills. Ultimately, those skills supporting resilience. (Click to learn 8 ways to foster resilience in your child.) Listed below are just a few of the ways you can teach your child important life skills.
- Read books together, such as “Waiting Is Not Easy!” (An Elephant and Piggie Book) by Mo Willems, or “Waiting” by Kevin Henkes. “Waiting Is Not Easy!” is the charming story of an elephant who has a hard time waiting for a surprise. This is something to which every child can relate. “Waiting” will intrigue and delight as together you discover what the story’s characters are waiting for.
- Talk about a time that your child had to wait, such as, “This morning we had to wait for the oatmeal to cook. You were so hungry! It was hard to wait. But you did it!”
- Help your 3-year-old brainstorm strategies for waiting. The next time you’re in a waiting situation with your child, remind him or her of the suggestions you came up with together.
- As children grow older, they can hold information for longer periods of time. An 8-month-old recognizes familiar people. An 18-month-old remembers typical actions of people. They remember the location of objects, and the steps in routines. A 3-year-old knows the series of steps in familiar activities, events or routines. Find age-appropriate memory games for your child to enjoy, e.g., Melissa & Doug’s Hide and Seek Wooden Activity Board. Even a child as young as 15 months can begin to build vocabulary that will support later memory gains.
- Play simple card games with your child, such as Concentration. Start with three matching pairs of cards turned face down. Challenge your child to find the pairs. Take turns turning over just two cards at a time until all matches are made. As your child’s memory improves, add more pairs of cards to the game.
- Another great game that gives your older child opportunities to build important memory skills is the Animals! Matching Game by Bob Barner. It’s similar to Concentration, but also helps your child learn about different animals.
- Infants and toddlers use a variety of means to solve problems. These include physically exploring objects with the hands and mouth. And, they include trial and error. Support problem solving by giving your younger child a chance to figure out problems without help. Provide toys such as Melissa & Doug’s Dress-Up Bear to help your child become a persistent problem solver.
- An older child might enjoy the Wooden Rainbow Stacking Game by Lewo. This toy offers endless opportunities to sharpen problem-solving skills. It also builds hand-eye coordination and fine-motor skills. Simply invite your child to build a particular structure. Then, let the open-ended play begin.
- Read books together where problems are creatively solved. A great one for your toddler or preschooler is “Tow Truck Joe” by June Sobel. As you read, help your child identify problems. Whenever possible, try to connect events in the book to real-life problems your little one might be aware of. What was done to fix the problem? For example, were you ever with your child when you got a flat tire? How was the problem solved?