For the most part, kids are happy-go-lucky little creatures full of smiles, giggles and never-ending fun. Still, as any parent well knows, no child is happy all of the time. Things happen that interfere with your child’s normal happiness, and some days kids simply wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Either way, dealing with a grumpy toddler is a fact of life.
The great news is there are ways you can turn your toddler’s frown upside down no matter how bored, grumpy, or antsy they may be. Perhaps nothing is bothering your little one at all and you simply want to brighten their day. Here are 16 fun ways you can keep your little ones happy no matter what!
1. Create A New Holiday To Celebrate
If your child doesn’t want to get ready one day, tell them it is Polka-Dot Day and you just might change their mind. Create any sort of holiday you want, Blue Day, Pink Polka-Dot Day, or anything you know your child loves. It’s always fun to dress up for a holiday, even if it’s make-believe. Add more fun to your make-believe holiday by dressing up for the occasion with your child. Unsure what type of holiday you should invent? Ask your child for help creating a fun holiday your family can celebrate by dressing up together.
2. Start Up A Fun Family Band
Grab a favorite CD and some instruments (real or fake) and start a family band! Rocking out with the family will be so much fun for your child, plus it will help release energy while simultaneously exercising their creativity.
3. Camp Out In The Living Room, Or Outside
Create a fort in the living room using pillows and blankets and designate a camp out. If you have a tent you can also set this up outside, or inside. You can do this for naptime or during the night as a fun way to break up the monotony of sleeping in bed. Your child will love helping you set up the fort, although don’t make it too comfortable or they may never want to go back to their own room to sleep!
4. Play Restaurant
Children love to play pretend, and it’s always nice when parents take the time to play along. Play restaurant with your child, taking turns being the customer and the cook/cashier. This is a great way to get your child playing with money if they are old enough to understand the basic concepts. Also, playing pretend helps promote crucial developmental processes.
5. Bring A Dry-Erase Pen When You Go Shopping
Change of clothes, water, snacks… go ahead and add a dry-erase pen to your list of goodies you keep on hand when you head to the mall with little kids. If you are trying on clothes and need a way to entertain your child, hand them a dry-erase pen and allow them to color on the dressing room mirrors. You can easily erase the markings with a tissue on your way out, meaning no one ever has to know how you keep your child so calm and happy while you try on clothes.
6. Let A Plastic Magnify Glass Do The Entertaining
At home or out and about, a plastic magnify glass can entertain children for at least a few minutes, and usually more. Kids love looking at objects and people under a magnify glass, keeping them happily learning as they go about their day.
7. Get Creative With Pipe Cleaners
Pipe cleaners are a great arts and craft accessory to keep kids busy and exercising fine-motor skills as well as creativity. A simple pipe cleaner can be transformed into a flower, heart, or even a piece of jewelry. Since pipe cleaner is small, out of the way, and doesn’t require any glue you can hand your child some pipe cleaner to play with at home, in the car, or out at the store.
Is your child getting antsy on car rides? Hand them an etch-a-sketch and ask them to draw their favorite thing they see as you travel to your next destination.
9. Bust Out The Pudding
Pudding is easy to make and fun to play with, despite the fact mom always says don’t play with your food! Finger painting with pudding is 100% harmless and easy to clean up, no matter how much of the pudding makes it off of the paper. Have your child help you make the pudding and then allow them to play with it.
10. Create A Pet Rock
Take your child on a nature walk around the block and ask them to find their favorite rock along the way. When you get home, have your child decorate their rock any way they want. They can use markers, glitter, stickers or whatever art supplies you have around the house.
11. Washable Paints + Old Sheets = Good Time
You can make good use of old sheets stuffed in cabinets around the house by dragging them outside and giving your child some paints to play with. Allow your child to splash the paints around the sheet in any way they see fit for loads of fun.
12. Create Your Own Bowling Alley
Set up water bottles or soda cans like bowling pins and then use a bouncy ball to knock them down. A hallway with no breakable items is a great location to set up your own bowling alley, but outside works great too.
13. Beach Ball Fun Sans Beach
You don’t need to live on the beach to have some fun with a beach ball. Grab a lightweight beach ball and show your child how to hit the ball up towards the ceiling without letting it hit the ground. Play together and see who can keep the ball from touching the ground the longest, or play as a team and help one another keep it up.
14. Create A Bubble Bath With Hidden Treasures
Run a bubble bath for your child and hide treasures on the bottom beneath the bubbles. You can make bath time far more exciting by telling your child they must find all of the treasures during bath time.
15. Plant A Plant
Children can grow their own plant inside, outside, in a small pot or even in a simple plastic cup. Help your child plant a seed and water it, and together you can care for it and watch it grow. This is fun for children while also teaching them about the beauty of nature and even some responsibility.
16. Bake Cookies For Someone In Need
Have your child help you bake cookies. Learning how to work in the kitchen is an important skill for kids, as it helps develop a number of motor skills. Make the cookies as a present for an elderly neighbor, war veterans or any good cause of your selection. This teaches your child the value of giving back to others, while keeping them happily entertained. (Read more)