1. Encourage communication. Speak to your child about everything you see and do, and remind him to use words (not fists or screams) to express his feelings.

2. Save those huge cardboard boxes that electrical equipment comes in. They make the best playhouses and can be turned into castles, houses, shops, rockets or anything your little one’s imagination can come up with. They're also great for games like hide-and-seek!

3. Empty toilet rolls or plastic bottles make great pins for homemade bowling games. Kids can decorate them with paint and markers.

4. Lighten up! Joking and horsing around helps your child to understand that life can be fun.

5. Set a good example. Parents are their children’s first role models. If your every sentence is peppered with swear words, chances are, your child’s will be too.

6. Play with your children. It’s the best way to learn about them and how their little minds work (and scheme!).

7. Put yourself in their shoes. Seeing a situation from their perspective can help you understand why they are behaving in that particular way.

8. Don’t compare. Every child is different. Every child develops at a different rate.

9. Rotate toys. This keeps them fresh and interesting for your child so that he is never bored.

10. Teach them to do chores. Even at this age they can learn to pack up their toys, pick up after themselves, sort their laundry, and so on.

11. Teach them to talk about their feelings. Explain why they may feel sad or angry, and let them know that it is okay to feel this way.

12. Going on a holiday? Let your jetsetter pack his own little carry-on bag with his own chosen books, toys, and snacks. He will feel grown-up and in charge.

13. Play local tourist. There are loads of free places and free activities for kids in Singapore.

14. Make meals interesting. Serve them bite-sized in muffin trays, ice trays, or other fun containers. Even picky eaters won’t be able to resist!

15. Teach them to be kind to everyone. Being kind is more important than being right.

16. Let them “paint” on walls, with a brush and a little pail of water. See how fast they can paint a picture before the water dries up and the image disappears! 

17. When they want to paint with real paint, let them have a go on tiled bathroom walls with washable non-toxic paints. Cleaning up is easy, just shower it all away.

18. Set up a stationery station with lots of paper and writing/drawing/colouring materials. When they’re in the mood to create a masterpiece, they can help themselves without having to look for you.

19. Teach them about two- and three-dimensional shapes by pointing these out in your environment. For instance, a rectangular TV screen, a square-shaped book cover, a tissue box that is a cuboid, an ice-cream cone and so on.

20. Note down the funny things they say, in your phone or computer or in a notebook. You’ll all have a great time laughing over these when they’re older.

21. Bring a roll of masking tape when going on a nature walk. Let kids pick up leaves from the ground and other items that interest them. Stick them on a stretch of tape for each child to bring home and do leaf rubbings with.

22. Bring a magnifying glass out with you so that he can examine things up close, like really, really close. Kids do get a kick out of that!

23. Start making year-by-year photobook keepsakes for each child. There are lots of photobook resources online. The earlier you begin, the easier it is to manage the number of pictures. Kiddo can help select the ones he likes too!

24. Drum up flagging energy levels by having an impromptu jamming session. Use pots, pans and cutlery from the kitchen for a homemade percussion set. Sing at the top of your voices! Who cares what your neighbours think?

25. Ask friends and relatives who travel to send postcards back to your child. He'll love receiving something in the mailbox, and learn about the world as well!

26. Make fruit fun! Blend them into smoothies, chop them into small bits and freeze into ice cubes to add colour to their water.

27. Hard time getting them to drink water? Change the container! The novelty of drinking from a different cup or bottle will make them drink up, right down to the last drop.

28. If you can, limit the amount of time he spends with devices. Read, sing, talk, take a walk, draw... there's so much more that you can do together!

29. Recycle cereal containers or shoe boxes to make toy trains and trucks. He can help in the design and painting, of course.

30. Buy a few A4 sized photo frames to display his artworks. He'll feel a sense of pride in having his own mini exhibition, and show off his works to visitors. Change them periodically to encourage artistic creativity.

31. Teach him to use chopsticks. Start by picking up cotton balls and loose socks, then move on to more challenging items like small plastic animal figurines and marbles.

32. Is your pre-schooler using a two-wheeled bicycle yet? If not, play games that will help develop his sense of balance: get him to walk around the house with a book on his head, draw a line with chalk and ask him to walk on it, make use of ledges on passageways – everywhere!

33. No need to fret if you've run out of Lego. Let your budding architect “build” with whatever he can find at home: Books, blocks, shoeboxes, cards, plastic bowls ...

34. If your little man is still sprinkling when he's tinkling, help him shoot right into the bowl by pasting a small sticker at the spot where you want him to aim.

35. If your child takes more time to warm up to a new situation, arrive at parties and classes early, so that he has time to get used to the space, meet the main people, and observe proceedings before joining in.

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Contributed by:
Early Childhood Development Agency