Three Ways To Teach Your Toddler While Driving

I’ll be the first to tell you that those portable DVD players for SUV’s are lifesavers. They put an end to the endless stream of incoherent questions, reduces the drama and tears after passing Sonic, and nearly eliminates chronic overuse of the word “mommy”.  However, my husband, who purchased the DVD by the way, suddenly decided that I should not allow my little diva to watch the DVD in the auto so much anymore so I had to come up with another solution for a sanity filled ride.

So here are 3 things that I taught my curious toddler while driving:

  1. What the Stop lights mean. Teaching your child about stoplights will not only reinforce the red, green, and yellow colors, but makes the child pay attention to the act of driving itself. Start out simple with “red means stop” and “green means go”. I saved yellow for later because it means two different things to my husband and me. After a few weeks, call out the color of the light you are approaching and ask your child to tell you whether it means stop or go.  The child will love the interaction and eventually will gladly yell out whether you should stop or go – even when you don’t ask.
  2. Teach them Directions. What you will have to do is choose a route starting from your home, one mile or less, and stick to it for a few weeks to a month before changing it. In the beginning, teach them directions when you’re headed toward their favorite hotspot like the local McDonald’s or the park and then back home. Tell them where you are going as soon as you back out. Be very, very animated to get them involved. Say things like “Look at mommy turning right out of the driveway towards McDonald’s” followed by “woo hoo” or “look at us go”. At every stop sign or light, ask “hmmmm, do you think I should turn left, right, or keep straight. Point in the direction as you say it. At first, there will be silence and blank stares or the sweetest sounding wrong answers ever.  Give them the answers at first then ask them to tell you which way after a few trips. Keep them as involved as possible while heading to their hotspot and back home again. Be patient, stay consistent, and hang on to your steering wheel because just when you think it makes no difference, a little voice will come out of the back seat telling you where to turn.
  3. The Car Game. This is another game that will reinforce colors, left and right, and can teach the child the general types of vehicles. Simply ask the child to tell you the color of each vehicle that you pass. Be sure to include the type of vehicle and which side it’s on as well such as “What color is the SUV to your right? Or what color is the truck parked next to us on your left?” You might not think that it makes a difference but the first time I referred to my SUV as a truck and my daughter corrected me, I knew she had been listening.

Remember, every child is different and some will catch on right away, some might take a bit longer, and some just may not be interested at all.  Whatever, the case, be sure to keep a handy dose of patience, humor, and consistency. Happy travels to you.


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