Many toddlers have a habit of handing things to adults, with no obvious reason, and you may wonder why your child, and kids in general, like to hand things to adults.
They will be playing with a toy one moment and the next moment they’ll hand it to you. Or they will simply pick up a toy or some other object, come straight to you and give you the toy/object to hold.
So why does your toddler give you toys to hold? There are a few possible answers to this question, so let’s delve into some of them.
Your Toddler Seeks Clarification
Your child has learned by now that he can rely on you for support, help, and explanations. So, he may simply be puzzled about the toy and seek clarification – he may not understand something about the toy and want you to show him how it works.
Your Toddler is Discovering the Skill of Mobility
Toddlers are fascinated with how the world around them works. A two year old has discovered that she exists separately from other things around her.
Your toddler learns that she can control things by moving them around, hiding them, giving them to you, and getting them back. So, one of the reasons why your toddler gives you toys to hold is because she is learning the skill of mobility and transportation.
Your Toddler Asks for Attention
Young children learn a great portion of their behavior through operant conditioning (also known as instrumental conditioning).
According to the behavioral theory of development, operant conditioning is a way of learning in which we modify behavior using reinforcement or punishment.
Operant behaviors are behaviors under conscious control, whether they occur purposely or spontaneously. Nevertheless, the consequences of these behaviors determine whether or not they happen again in the future.
In behavioral theory, this process of establishing a new behavior is known as shaping.
Therefore, if your toddler handed you a toy once spontaneously and got your attention in the form of a positive response, such as verbal praise, a smile, a clap, or a hug, he will think that handing you toys must be a good thing, as it provokes your positive response.
So he will stick to behaviors that are going to bring a positive response.
Your Toddler Seeks Interaction
Your toddler has learned to initiate interaction and he now enjoys the intimate, responsive exchange between the two of you.
Young children learn and develop through continuous social interaction and warm, responsive interaction between them and their caregiver. Many studies show that this positive and caring interaction between a young child and his attachment figure is good for healthy brain development and the child’s well-being.
Your toddler is simultaneously learning many new things, such as talking, eye contact, observation, emotional expression and control, attachment, and much more. Every new experience and social interaction lights up your child’s brain.
Neuroscience research has shown that brain development in early childhood is rapid and radical.
Brain development and growth progress astonishingly from the third week after conception (the third gestational week) to the fifth year of life.
More than a million neural connections (synapses) are created in every second of this stage of development. In short, the brain is most flexible to learning during the first few years of life.
Repetition is a basic foundation of learning, particularly in early childhood, as it initiates new neural connections in your toddler’s brain. A young child’s brain is designed to gather information on the environment through experiences.
This shows how important sustained stimulation and interaction are essential for normal brain development.
Why is the Play Time with Your Toddler Important?
Play has multiple benefits for your child’s development and health. At this age, kids still play alongside each other, rather than with each other. However, a toddler enjoys playing with adults, particularly with their attachment figures such as parents and caregivers.
Play time with your toddler is beneficial in many ways. Here are a couple of reasons why play time with your young child is so important.
Play Boosts Your Toddler’s Skills
As young children develop and grow, they begin to acquire more and more new skills. Through play, you can help your toddler develop important language, social-emotional, cognitive, and motor skill sets.
For example, playing with your child is a great way to encourage social and self-control skills. When your toddler gives you a toy to hold, and you hand it back, you help her learn about important social skills of turn-taking, patience, and respect.
Also, through pretend play and other games, you are teaching your child empathy, positive emotional expression, and emotional regulation.
Unstructured play helps your toddler understand non-verbal communication and recognize other people’s feelings. Unstructured play also boosts your child’s cognitive development, encouraging her to make connections and build upon existing knowledge.
By playing with your child, you are encouraging hers problem-solving and helping her to understand cause and effect, anticipate and predict outcomes, and practice eye-hand coordination.
Interactive play is providing your toddler with a relaxing environment, which helps alleviate stress and anxiety when she is upset.
Free play encourages your toddler to make connections and understand her environment. It also helps develop communication, express ideas, and build language vocabulary and fluency.
As an adult, you know much more about the world than your toddler or her older siblings. Therefore, you can offer more varied play and widen your child’s imagination and creativity.
Finally, play and movement encourage gross and fine motor skills development, helping children practice and master their control and coordination.
Play Strengthens the Bond with Your Toddler
There is something special about playing with your child that creates a special bonding experience. A positive interaction through play enhances the brain’s stress response system and promotes your toddler’s healthy development.
The affection that your child experiences while playing with you paves the way for your child’s development and growth.
There are various reasons why your toddler gives you toys to hold. Mostly, this behavior has to do with your child’s learning and development.
It is at the same time a learning process, a call for play, and a bid for connection and affection which you should support and reinforce.