Techno Tots

Is your toddler learning to play computer games or use E-books and other electronic gadgets? Most parents want to introduce their children to things that will stimulate their minds. That's why so many children spend so many hours playing on the computer or watching videos.

While technology gives our children vivid and exciting experiences, it's not so good at allowing them to be creative on their own or get physically active.

Here are a few parenting tips you can employ with your "techno tot" that also provide valuable lessons:

Writing letters by hand.
This activity can strengthen your toddler's motor skills and thought processes. For example, holding a crayon or a pencil requires coordination and the use of muscles that are different from those needed to push a key on a keypad. A handwritten note or letter also requires patience, a virtue in short supply in today's instant-everything world.

Reading all about it.
E-books are great tools for helping children improve their reading skills without adult supervision. However, there is something special about a parent and child reading stories together. A mom's facial expressions or a father's special sound effects add a quality that cannot be duplicated in an E-book. When you snuggle with your child during bedtime stories or share cookies and milk over a favorite comic strip, you're creating cherished family memories.

Listening, not just hearing.
How often do you hear parents say that their children don't listen, or if they do listen, they never hear exactly what was said? Active listening seems to be a lost art. Long gone are the days when families gathered around the radio to tune in a popular program. But radio can still be a helpful tool for teaching children how to listen, even though it has taken a backseat to the visual stimulation that TV, movie and computer screens offer.

On your next family road trip, put a storybook tape or CD on. When you stop to rest or refuel, ask your children about the story they just heard and have them recall as many details as possible. Praise their learning skills. Treat them to a special reward if they recall specific details. Keep the game fun and look for other opportunities to teach active listening skills.

Creative play.
Don't take the power of play for granted. Besides the physical strength your toddler gains from playing, he or she also learns self-control and develops a sense of self-worth. Learning to jump rope, plant a garden with Mom, play leap frog with a sibling or feed a bird on the back fence are as educational as any computer game.

Remember: Introducing your toddler to technology through computers and electronic games is important, but there needs to be a healthy balance. It's even more important for your "techno tot" to spend time in social activities with you and the family.

For more ideas on this topic, look in The WORST Day of My Life EVER!