What Kind of Activities Do You Do with Your Toddler?

Updated on December 16, 2012
L.G. asks from Atlanta, GA
15 answers

I have a 2 year old boy who spends his whole day watching movies, playing WII, on the computer, innotab or playing games on my cellphone. Even tho all of these things have made him VERY smart VERY VERT SMART, I feel as tho he is having too much screen time. What are some fun activities that I can do with him? (He dont like toys, coloring or listening to me read books.) He have a big play room full of expensive age appropriate toys and the only thing he play with is his ride on car and mcdonalds play kitchen. He also enjoy playing baseball, basketball and just having fun outside. He is surrounded by older kids and like to do what my older kids do. They are on the computer 24/7, texting or playing video games. What kind of activities do you do with your toddlers?

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for your opinions and advice. I'd like to add that I DO interact and spend time with my kid and I have normal teenagers. We go outside for about an hour to play basketball, baseball, different ride on toys and walk the dog everyday. It's just that when we;re on the inside he'd prefer the tv. i would advise anyone to buy the preschool prep series, leapfrog dvd's, vtech game systems, abcmouse.com, starfall.com and fisherprice online games. You will be amazed at the things my kid has learned from these things. He's on a kindergarten level on the websites and uses the computer unassisted. Vtech game system have a stylus tha ttaught him how to write his letters. I recently bought an easel in which he enjoys painting and drawing and he have a new found interest in cars. He spend a good part of the day rolling cars around the house. I turn off the tv for an hour to leave him with nothing to do but play with his toys. He donot like to be read to so I use flash cards of the things he's learned from tv or the internet. We are down to 6 hours of screen time which is alot but its better than 9 hours. Thanks for all of your advice.

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answers from Grand Forks on

We did lots of outings. We went to the playground every day. We had memberships for the zoo and the mseum and went often. We had a Y membership and went for swim lessons, soccer, pre-school play etc. We had story time at the library every week, and play group twice a week.

5 moms found this helpful

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answers from Columbus on

WOW! How sad. What are you doing all this time while he is being entertained with all the electronic gadgets? There is a thing called playing and interacting with your child!!! You might want to give it a try!!!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I'm going to say something you may not want to read first, but please keep reading. I've got a lot of suggestions too.

Okay, the bad news is that electronic games do not make toddlers smart. They do build certain skills (information retention, eye-hand coordination, some ability to move through a logical sequence quickly), but these things are not intelligence. What they actually do is they habituate the parts of the brain that think logically, creatively, and even empathetically to high stimulation. With a still-forming toddler brain, the child then can't think logically, creatively, or empathetically WITHOUT video games. And then you get a kid who doesn't like being read to, who has very limited creative play skills. I'm sure you don't like hearing this, and it's okay with me if you hate me, but all these electronics are very dangerous for him.

What I did do with my toddler (he's now a grade school kid) is read him books for hours. He then taught himself to read, fluently, the summer he turned 5. We also spent hours (boring for me, but worth it) playing with Thomas trains, building tracks for them, and the like. There was a phase when we made a lot of "super ramps" by taping strips of cardboard between the coffee table and the floor and having the trains race down them. He was never willing to color or do art projects for more than a minute at a time (though lord knows, I tried), but he loved painting and gluing together toddler-level model trains. We also cooked together, and he "helped" me clean. At about 2 3/4 he discovered jigsaw puzzles, and we did hundreds of them. We put on annoying children's music and sang and drummed along with it. We also went to the library, to the local playground, to a nearby petting zoo, and to our local fire station -- about 1 outing per day. We had "dates" two mornings a week to say hi to the garbage and the recycling truck, respectively. Except for the models, puzzles, and those dang trains, he was never really toy-oriented either. But he was happy, creative, logical, and academically off the charts BECAUSE I kept him away from video games and because I limited movies and TV.

PS. Random afterthought: My son was never too sporty either, but my brother has done amazing things with my nephew and sports. They go outside every day, in any kind of weather, to shoot hoops, do soccer and baseball stuff, every sport there is.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Hmmmmm, we read books, colored, played with toys...what is he going to do when he goes to school and they do those things? Put the electronics away and play with playdough, blocks, cars, paints, read books, color, sing songs, play games, go for walks and to parks and storytime at the library, and play outside. Those things make kids smart, too, intellectually and socially.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

When I had kids I decided I would never have video games or kid electronics in the house. And your post is a gentle reminder...kids will do that 24/7. It's not healthy. We do have a TV and I allow 1 to 2 hours a day if the child is at least 3. (I don't even use a cell).

I would get rid of all the electronics. The older kids don't need that.
To keep mine busy I've done a lot of camps and things where I sign them up, but if that's not an option, send them out to play, etc. It will be HARD at first, but worth it in the end.If they are used to electronics 24/7, they need to be weaned off it, and fast.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Lexington on

Without the electronics available, kids find a whole lot more to enjoy. We always went on nature walks. This also made my then-toddler daughter "very very smart". I did not just read books to her, she participated in the reading. She helped point things out. Ones like "Who Stole The Apples" are rebus-like where little pictures in the text are "read" by the toddler while I read the word parts... like pictures of an apple and a horse replacing those words in the sentence "A (horse) lived in an (apple) orchard." Before I knew it (while still a two-year old) she was reading the words, too!

There are also books WITH electronic (audio) sounds, and when you say a word, they press the correct sound button for it.

During our nature walks we went at her pace and talked about the earth, the leaves, the seeds, the tiny flowers, animals, houses, trees, sunshine, life cycle, photosynthesis, sunshine, clouds, bark, what's under the bark... there is no end to the questions and investigations. She began to become intrigued by nature, medical stuff, the sky, and then flying and astronomy. No wonder she began to love love love science and one of her most favorite "toys" later became a microscope. At 3 she knew the names of the planets, and truly what the solar system is and our galaxy (the Milky Way).

We went to museums. She absolutely loved the aviation museum, and wowed a bunch of female pilots who she wanted to emulate.

And the pretending.... mostly that was with her older sister although her older sister was 8 years older than her. They made tents, cities, cars, sleigh rides, etc out of household stuff and sheets, and umbrellas.

And so many jigsaw puzzles! To keep them fresh and interesting, a group of us mamas rotated our puzzles each week!

And there was her tricycle and later, her father built her a pedal plane that was her "airplane". We tried Fisher Price roller skates which other 2-3 year-olds can do, but she really could not until she was older.

We played board games like "The Squirrel Game".

In the car she always had books and little "activity books" - never electronics.

I loved riding bicycle, so I put a child carrier on my bike and I rode with her while my older daughter rode on her own bike, until the younger could ride on her own.

We'd walk or ride bikes (or trike) to the park where we flew kites, played on the playground, or just walked around.

We went to the local arboretum. We went to the children's science museum. We fed the ducks at various ponds. Everywhere we went could become a "nature walk".

We went sledding, we built snow creatures. We cooked together, We did laundry. While working alongside you, the toddler is learning critical life skills. ALL the children had chores, and yes- even the youngest at 3 had her own chores as well - ones suited to her abilities and level, such as sorting out and putting away the clean spoons (2 sizes), forks (2 sizes) and butter knives.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

First, I think it's a bit sad that he doesn't like listening to you read books. Find him some books he likes! That is the number one thing I actually DO with my toddler is read. She loves books about trucks, so we read The Little Blue Truck, and I'm very excited that I got her "Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Sight" for Christmas. She also loves mini board book sets, Mother Goose because of the rhymes, Dr. Seuss, Berenstain Bears, etc. Buy "The Spooky Old Tree" and see if he'll like it...toddler's like "scary" things that aren't really that scary.

My toddler doesn't like coloring either, and would prefer to watch TV all day when I'm busy doing other things, but I just don't allow it. I bring out a toy at a time for her to play with (or a set, or whatever) and just walk out of the room...sooner or later the show will run out and she'll get interested in the toy. She likes playing with blocks, those little battery-powered "fishing" games where the thing spins around and you try to catch the fish, and play food stuff. If your son likes his play kitchen, check out "play cutting food sets" on Amazon or somewhere...the food is sliced in half and then velcroed, and sets come with a cutting board and knife so they can "cut" the plastic food. My toddler LOVES this. She has a fruit set I found at Target, and I bought her a Sushi set for Christmas off Amazon.

If he likes having fun outside, that is the best play of all. Facilitate that as much as possible!

Finally, he's 2. You have the controls, or the plugs, etc. If it's really too much (and at times I have decided my 2 year old was having too much as well)...just unplug it all. :)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Take him to the playground, take him to a play, invite one of his friends over to play, or just cuddle up and read or take a nap together.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Turn off the TV mama!!!!
My daughter watches some TV, I am not against it...but she also plays.
We go out every day and do "something" and I live in an area that's pretty darn cold and wet, so it's a bit harder.
Mondays - We go to a "school" for my daughter. It's really just a big play room, with sensory, painting, story time, singing, playdoh...all kinds of stuff. And lots of other kids.
Tuesdays - we go swimming. We have a GREAT indoor pool (it's awesome) close by that I go to and it's cheap! She loves the water and we swim around for an hour or two.
Wednesdays - Story time at the library and then an indoor play area close by. Has lots of ride on toys and toys she can climb on. Then go and have lunch with my husband at work
Thursday - School again.
Friday - We usually have a play date or head over to the mall and the indoor play area there.
If your son enjoys playing outside and having fun then he should be outside. What are you doing all day while he is being watched by your TV and other programs?
Turn on some music and dance. Read stories out loud even if he doesn't stay next to you he's still listening. Sing songs that interact with him (itsy bitsy spider, slippery fish, finger families). DO STUFF with him. Get online and find play areas to take him to.

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answers from Detroit on

I feel your pain. When our older 3 are at school, all my 4year old fluctuates between wanting more screen time and wanting me to entertain her. Sounds like you could benefit from enrolling your toddler in activities. See if there are any classes local to you for his age group. You might be able to connect with other families and set up play dates with kids you sons age. My daughter loved tactile activities at two. She loved to help me cook/bake, to visit our local hands on museum, and tons of music and dancing. We were blessed when we moved to a new house and the girl two doors down is just a few months behind our daughter. My daughter LOVES having someone she can act her age with.

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answers from Stationed Overseas on

You said he likes being outside and playing with his car and his kitchen. Can you do these activities with him? Some community centers or youth centers have "mommy and me" classes for various sports and activities where the parent and child participate in the class together. Or what about doing the activities he likes with him at home? If he likes to ride his car and be outside, try working with him on learning to ride a real bike. (I have a tiny little 2 wheeler with trainers my two year old is learning how to ride so yes, it can be done at that age!) Or help him learn how to hit a baseball, probably tee ball style. If you have a park nearby take him, help him learn how to pump a swing or climb the ladders, or go down the big slide. If he likes alphabet or counting games on the cell phone, build on that when you're in the car or talking to him. Have conversations like "let's say our ABCs together", or "what sound does V make?" You are the best one to know what your child likes, and it sounds like you have a good idea already, just work on doing it with him! Tell him, "no more Wii, time to play outside", and do what he likes together!

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answers from Atlanta on

If he doesn't like reading or toys it probably means he is struggling with creativity and has not learned to entertain himself. Time to take away the electronics. They do teach certain skills, but they violently neglect other skills - and they don't create intelligence. If your son is smart, he would still be smart without the electronics, but with healthier play skills.

One good way to get an addicted kid away from the electronics is to get him out of the house!

We go to the library for storytime.
We go to the playground just to run around.
We go to the gym for gymnastics or sports classes.
We are members of the MOM'S Club and go to their outings - everywhere from cookie parties to pumpkin patches.
We hang out with friends.
We go for walks around the neighborhood.
Sometimes, we just play outside.

There is probably plenty to do in your area. Get on Google and find out!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

My son doesn't like to color and we do read books but he only likes to sit for 1-2 at a time. I'd try to vary his activities through out the day. The AMOUNT of screen time is your choice....and obviously parents/pediatricians all have their say about what amount of time is appropriate. Sometimes I feel like I let my kids watch TV but other times, I realize I don't because we can go days without hardly turning it on. I'd limiit each 'screen' time to 1/2 hour. After that is over, the tv/phone/computer gets turned off for a 'rest'. Take him outside and chase him. Have him throw you a ball or kick one to you. Blow bubbles. Go on a scavenger hunt. Look for leaves and make a leaf pile. After your outside time, have a snack and let him choose what he wants (this may require you going to the store to pick out several age appropriate choices). Have him help you make and clean it up. Give him a chance to wipe down the counter/table, etc. After that, maybe make something together (dinner, bread, cookies). Even if it means it takes longer, makes a bigger mess, results in gross cookies or him just playing with flour, that is OKAY!! I'd try to schedule your day around different things you want him to do and practice. Sure TV/Computer can be a part of that, but there should be outside time (even if it's freezing...for just a few minutes!), Cleaning up time (this could be toys, helping you fold laundry or wash windows, etc), Learning Time (colors, coloring, shapes, etc), Free time (for him to do what he wants - but not on the TV, computer or your phone, Go somewhere time (bank, store, Monkey Joes, McDonalds playplace, etc). Try to have each activity last 1/2-1 hour. Then you will realize his day will be filled with vairous enriching and stimulating activities instead of just screen time. Don't get me wrong - my 3 and 5 year old would sit on the couch all day if we let them. We have to turn it off and PLAN and PARTICIPATE with them in other things to get them started. He's not old enough to think of new things to do and play. Play with him for a few minutes then go to 'change laundry' and see how long he'll play uninterrupted.

Don't forget about playing with shaving cream (in the tub or at the table), practicing cutting, play-do, paints (including finger paints), making goo, making Xmas, birthday, etc gifts (painted, scultped, etc).

Enjoy your time with him and make it the most you can for him. Sure a day here and there on the computer/tv won't harm him, but I think you'll do him more justice as a mother by engaging him and interacting with him in activities than just allowing him to do what's comfortaable and what he enjoys.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Sort of have the same problem with both my boys sometimes. Solution I came up with to get them outside... They run laps around the backyard to earn iPad time. 1 lap = 30 minutes (we have a very large back yard). We will have races winner gets a little more time. If they run/stay outside for longer they can earn free aps or will be allowed to use their allowance for a new game. I think new games need to be earned so they are not allowed to spend $ gifts on games. It also seems that the more competition like I make it the more they get into it. Good luck!



answers from Los Angeles on

At that age, I would try to get him to color.
He was just starting to get into playing with toys (blocks, cars etc).
Give it about another 6 months & it will be easier to get him to interact with you and play. Which I feel is great & very important.
At 2 1/2 he'd play w/the tea set if his friend (a girl) came over).
Age 3 hit and we did it all: play outside, put together very elementary kid-
friendly 10 piec puzzles.
We'd play cars, play outside on the swing, run around, explore the
backyard or the park across the street.
Roll a ball back & forth.
Build w/blocks. (didn't get into Legos until 3).
I'd take him for walks in the jog stroller.
He would watch a few mins of a toddler cartoon movie on the DVD.

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