Infants & Toddlers/Activities: Activities That Promote Comfort and Safety
- Grades: Early Childhood, PreK–K
Some babies need your help to become attuned and comfortable with a game or task (for example, rolling a ball back and forth with you). Break down the task more clearly for these babies. Choose a quieter space with fewer distractions before you begin a game or activity together.
When adult voice tones are hurried, sharp, critical, or upset, babies pick up the emotional tone of any adult worry. They may cry, become distracted from play, and show tension in body and facial muscles. The calmer your voice tones, the more peaceful your classroom will be.
When communicating one-to-one, the voice tones and words you use are marvelous ways to help infants feel secure. Keep your voice tones low and use loving words, with higher pitch and fewer words per phrase. Brain research reveals that such "parentese" talk helps babies focus and attend in a more organized fashion.
Babies love to be admired! When diapering a baby, tell her how gorgeous she is, how delicious her tummy is! Smile and converse with her. All is well in her world!
Toddlers have passionate, curiosity about toys, people, and spaces. Keeping toddlers safe requires proactive thinking about the environment. Brainstorm and baby-proof your entire environment. Is there a table with a sharp corner where a toddler rushing headlong across the room could bang herself at eye level? Wad up a bunch of old, clean pantyhose and use masking tape to cushion the table corner. Make sure furniture and toys are safe. Teddy bears' button eyes can be pulled off by vigorously exploring little fingers. Some extra stitching may be necessary.
Be there when toddlers go into the bathroom, either for the potty or to visit each other, or to "play." Sometimes toddlers experiment. They want to find out "what will happen if" they try a new technique. A toddler may bunch some paper toweling together, stuff it in the sink, turn on the faucet, and then look with awe as the sink fills with water. A wise teacher knows that keeping the environment safe means having eyes in back of her head. She understands a toddler's need to create new experiences to see what will happen. Be prepared for such "unexpected scientific experiments"!
Toddlers understand a few clear safety rules such as "no running indoors, so we do not trip and get a boo-boo." In your outdoor space, toddlers sometimes try new adventures such as riding a trike fast. Help them feel safe by arranging a specially marked path space where they can ride, and where other children playing nearby will not feel threatened by a wobbly rider.
Make sure that you let toddlers continue to bring their "levies" or security teddy bears with them to school. Then, at nap times or other times when toddlers are overtired or a parent is late at pick-up, the toddler can settle with the "lovey" in a quiet corner and regain a sense of safety and security.