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8 uncomplicated activities to focus and calm toddlers

1. Water play

Whenever we're are having a challenging time at home I always turn to water. Either to drink, to lie in or to play with. It makes such a difference and doesn't have to be fancy. Pop them in the bath with a cup and gently scoop and pour. Or if you don't want to get them undressed, use a container and sponges instead.

2. Quiet den

This one takes a little bit of prep but is well worth it. If you're read our 'alternative to the naughty step' post then you'll know all about this already. Find a quiet space in your house and place cushions, blankets, teddies and anything else your toddler may enjoy during a tricky time. Read that post in full to see how we made ours.

3. Sensory bottles

This is also a very good way to recycle as you'll need at least one empty plastic bottle. Ask a friend to donate one if you don't have anything like this at home. You can fill them with whatever you like but things that move or make a noise will be best for your toddler. Secure the lid, using glue if you wish, and show your toddler what happens when they turn the container up and down.

4. Books

If they're happy to, sit them on your lap and talk to them about what they can see in the book. Talk slowly and calmly as you turn each page so that your toddler really has to listen in. This is why bedtime stories can work so well, it's a winding down activity.

5. Play-dough

You can do this one even if your toddler puts everything in their mouth as long as your make your own dough. It's much easier than you'd think...just check out our play recipes eBook. Once made it lasts for ages too. Show your toddler how to squeeze and pull the dough. Maybe they'd like to press things into it too.

6. Ball roll

This works well with just a slope and a ball. Sit your toddler at the top and show them how to roll the ball. Rolling works much better than throwing so really try to encourage them to do this. Once they've got it, sit at the lower part of the slope and catch the balls as they roll them towards you. Sit fairly close to them otherwise you'll be like a golden retriever constantly up and down the hill collecting the ball.

7. Get outside

It doesn't matter what you do once out - splash in puddles, go to the park or roll down hills. Just get some fresh air. It really does help them no matter how old.

8. Busy bags

You'll need a zip wallet, pom poms, hair gel and tape. Although you could adapt with a sandwich bag, sequins and shaving foam. Use what you have but ultimately you want to put something small and moveable within a bag that can be safely sealed. As you can see in the picture, we tape ours to the glass door. Show your toddler how to use their fingers and hands to move the pom poms around.

Of course these ideas are not always going to work. Sometimes our toddlers are dealing with so many emotions that they aren't going to want to sit and focus. That's okay. Try them when you can and go with what works best for you and your little one.

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