Quick question: Do you think you enjoyed a better childhood than your toddler or vice versa?\r\n\r\nWhile our childhood may be deprived of the wonders of technology, it was never short of make-belief and the outdoors. Our children, in contrast, have got a lot of good things working in their favour with the advancement of technology. One piece of tech that has dominated the hearts and minds of our young children, and something we will not hesitate to pass to them to stop them from pestering us, is the digital screen.\r\n\r\nThough educational apps and YouTube videos are great for your children to sharpen their thinking and expand their vocabulary, there are a few troubling finds in recent years that suggest that overexposure to electronic media can delay their cognitive development.\r\n\r\n\u201cWait, restrict the usage of screens for my children? They might not be the only ones going crazy because I would go crazy as well!\u201d you may exclaim.\r\n\r\nOn this, we would encourage you to think long-term. By allowing your child to enjoy off-screen stimulators, they will eventually be introduced to imaginative and creative play. It allows your child to be calmer, happier, and gain a longer attention span.\r\n\r\nI spoke to Chiew Sue Lynn, mother of two, who has decided, before the birth of her first son, to limit screen time to almost zero, except for video calls and photo-taking; no television, no smartphones, and no touchpads. She knew it was going to be difficult. Many times she was branded a tiger-mom for staying firm in her decision.\r\n\r\nSo, what does Yan Kai, her two-year-old toddler, spend his time doing?\r\nPLAY, of course!\r\nSue Lynn incorporates household tools into her son\u2019s daily playtime that proof you do not need expensive toys to keep them entertained. Here are some examples to inspire you to do the same with your toddlers:\r\n1. Matching\r\n\r\n\r\nWould you allow your toddler to play with some of the vegetables you have at home?\r\n\r\nPick them out (yes, real vegetables) and print images of those vegetables as well. Let your toddler match the real thing with the ones on the printed sheet. If you are playing a game of 'match' for the first time, you will have to demonstrate and explain to your toddler what you are trying to achieve. Then, let them figure it out on their own. Once they are done, reward them with hugs and encouragement for doing it right and guide them if they mismatched the items. Allow them to see the similarities and differences between the image and the real thing.\r\n\r\nThis activity helps children learn representation and problem solving as they are making a connection between the real thing with the pictorial presentation. As you explain to them by identifying the name of each item, they are also picking up new words that will further expand their vocabulary.\r\n2. Parking on map\r\n\r\n\r\nAn instrumental toy in every household with a child are toy cars. At a tender age, they would have ridden in a car multiple times, enough for them to be fascinated about vehicles. Mine on that interest by drawing a simple map with roads and parking lots. Demonstrate where the car is supposed to be driven and parked in the allotted space.\r\n\r\nYou can always expand the map by taping more papers together, adding more locations, roads, and parking lots. Talk to them about how the traffic functions, about stop and go lights, and road rules. This type of play stimulates a child\u2019s cognitive development, allowing them to make decisions.\r\n3. Pick and drop\r\n\r\n\r\nOne of the developmental milestones for a child at 9 months, is to do the pincer grasp, where they use their index finger and thumb to pick an item. Upon mastery, continue sharpening their fine motor skills by playing pick and drop games using plastic pincers.\r\n\r\nAll you need is a bottle, a plastic pincer, and pom poms (supervise them so they don\u2019t insert the pom poms into their mouth). Demonstrate how to pick and drop the pom poms using the pincer. Then, let them do it on their own.\r\n\r\nThis activity increases a child\u2019s focus and strengthens their ability to control things with their fingers. Doing this activity often will yield observable results. Notice that your toddler will be able to grasp utensils better, allowing them to put food in their mouth with less mess.\r\n4. Pouring water\r\n\r\n\r\nMost toddlers want to try new things. They will watch what mommy does and want to do it. They will catch what daddy does and mimic him. It is important as parents to encourage them to try new things, with supervision, of course. One way to engage your child with life skills is to allow them to interact with everyday elements, like water.\r\n\r\nUsing plastic cups, let your toddler pour water from one cup to another. It can be done between two cups or more if their motor skills are more advanced.\r\n\r\nYou can first demonstrate how you do it, but don\u2019t force your child to do it as you did. Allow them to have open-ended investigations. They will be motivated to solve problems through the experimentation and exploration of mathematical concepts like more and less. Plus, this play period will last for more than just mere minutes. Even if you have to clean up after them once it's over, think of it as a little inconvenience to the significant knowledge garnered.\r\n5. Anatomy application\r\n\r\n\r\nNo dolls at home? No problem. Just print a picture of a face and stick it to a box. Cut a hole at the mouth area and allow your toddler to \u2018feed\u2019 it with beans or nuts (with supervision). You can also hand them a used toothbrush and teach them how to brush their teeth.\r\n\r\nAt a year old, pretend-play would usually start to take off. Expand your child\u2019s cognitive abilities by doing this activity. You might find them suggesting other creative ideas to care for the makeshift doll. Use yarn to create hair that they can braid or use stickers as accessories; the possibilities are almost endless.\r\n\r\nParents should spend time with their children during playtime. Take every opportunity to impart a little knowledge through repetition. Talk about the parts of the face, explain about personal hygiene, and ask them questions about how they are playing.\r\n6. Scoop and sieve\r\n\r\n\r\nWhat else is there in the kitchen that could spark the interest of your toddler? Safe kitchen utensils, of course. Plastic ladles, sieves, and bowls can be turned into simple activities that will strengthen their control and coordination.\r\n\r\nRun this game using the pom poms from the activity mentioned in (3) with other balls and smaller toys. Get your toddler to sieve all the items first. Once they get a hang of it, introduce restrictions such as scooping only yellow pom poms or sieving out a specific toy. This can be played with or without water and in the sandpit.\r\nGet Involved With Your Toddler During Playtime\r\nThese are just a few ways to get creative when it comes to playtime with your toddler. There is no need for expensive toys and gadgets because they are more intrigued by everyday items. The most important thing they need is YOU.\r\n\r\nWould you make it a point to wean your child away from the enticing pull of the screen? Sure, it will be difficult at the start, but aren\u2019t good things a little more difficult to achieve? We think it is time you got a little creative with your tiny tots as well. Do you have more suggestions? Let\u2019s start a conversation!