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My 2-year-old gets bored at home!
Tess Mount Morris
Kids this age aren’t famous for long attention spans, so your problem isn’t unique. The name of the game is to observe her for signs of boredom or loss of interest and offer a suggestion of something else to do before she drifts away from what she is doing. There are hundreds of simple and interesting things you can do with a 2-year-old. I’ve written some suggestions on this topic for this website. Look in my earlier articles under the title “Quality Time With Two’s.”

The toys you buy for your daughter are your biggest allies. Buy toys that she likes and that have “staying power.” Fisher-Price has dozens of such toys in their catalog, most of which can be found in major toy stores. They’re age-coded so you can tell whether each one would be appropriate for her.

Sometimes young children don’t remain interested in even the most creative toys unless an adult plays along with them, at least intermittently. This can be done both as a play session and as casual involvement. As an example of the latter, suppose you walk by while your daughter is working a puzzle. Comment on the piece she is working on: “That’s a funny-looking kitty, isn’t it?” Or, occasionally pick up one of her toys and begin to play with it. I promise you that within seconds your daughter will grab it from you. I call that “investing” a toy with value by your attention.

Also, involve your daughter in household tasks. I know it sounds crazy, but sorting laundry is an activity that 2-year-olds love. And there is plenty of teaching and learning involved. “Can you find me another sock like this one? What color is it?” That’s a wonderful sorting task.

As for art activities, you could buy her modeling clay and let her work with it while you get her lunch or dinner ready. Whatever you do with her or arrange for her to do, be sure to ask her what she wants to do. If she can’t come up with a suggestion, then you should feel free to make one.

Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education