Toddlers and festivals
It’s the time of the year for joy and cheer. The festive period brings much needed respite from monotony of everyday living as well as the joy of socializing and merry-making. If you have a baby or toddler at home who is celebrating their first Diwali/Chirstmas/Any other festival that you celebrate, read on to find out how to prepare them so that the festival time is smooth for everyone.
Toddlers thrive on routine and all the changes around the festivities might put them off. This may show up as crying/fussing/tantrums which leave you wondering what is going on. Prepare them well in advance by verbalizing the changes that are going to happen. Assure them that once the festival is done, things will go back to the way they were before.
A toddler who goes to bed with the house looking one way and wakes up to find it different(decorated) might not necessarily react with surprise and awe and might cry instead or insist that things go back to the way they were before. This is because your toddler feels insecure and unsure in this space. Instead of decorating when they aren’t around, involve them in the decoration process so that feel a part of the family and festivities.
Festivals are a great time for oral storytelling. Toddlers love to listen to stories but may not be able to differentiate real from the virtual. Make sure to tell them stories around how a festival is celebrated rather than why (the why comes when they are older). Talk about the food, the clothing, decoration and social aspects of the festival.
4. Reading books
There are many lovely books available about all festivals – pick and choose some age appropriate ones and begin reading them much in advance to prepare your toddler for what’s coming up. Often these books serve as excellent starting points for conversation as well as the differences in the way the festival is celebrated in different families.
5. Creating together
Festivals are a great time for some art and craft – choose some simple activities that they can do with an adult or older sibling. Not only does this keep them engaged but is also serves as great fine motor activity. Children can be involved in painting diyas, creating rangolis, making Christmas ornaments and making paper lanterns.
Food is an important part of all festivals and especially Indian festivals. Involve your toddler in simple activities like mixing the mixture, no-cook sweets and shaping sweets. Pre measure ingredients and let your toddler put them all together. This is a great bonding and sensorial experience; one they are likely to always remember.
It is never too early to give your toddler experiences of donating. Round up all the things in the house that are in good condition but not being used and tell you toddler that we are going to give this to someone who can use them. Toddlers will build empathy by just observing these activities that adults do.
Socializing is a key aspect of any festive occasion and toddlers love to be a part of this. Even if the pandemic dissuades you from physically meeting others, do involve your child in video or phone calls. You can also ask them to make greeting cards and handmade gifts for others.
9. Practical life
Festivals are apt times for practical life activities. Whether it is cleaning the house before the festival, setting the table for the festive meal or cleaning up afterwards, involve you toddlers in all aspects of these so they truly feel a part of the festivities and family
No festival is complete without music and dance. Teach your child a few songs about the festival and also involve them in movement (dances or others) around the festival. Even if you aren’t confident of your singing or dancing skills, do it anyway. Remember that your toddler will never judge you and instead will appreciate your presence and both of you will have fun along the way.