How to stimulate your child

How to stimulate your child
Every day, you support your child’s development through countless tiny gestures.

Every day, you support your child’s development through countless tiny gestures.

Every moment you spend with your child is an opportunity for stimulation,” says Caroline Roussel, a psychoeducator for the early stimulation programs at the CIUSSS du Nord-de-l’Île-de-Montréal. “For example, when you dress your baby, you can point out and name items of clothing and body parts to promote language development.” These interactions also spark young children’s emotional and social development.

Something as simple as baking a cake with your child can have a profound impact. This type of activity stimulates every area of your child’s development: motor skills (when pouring and mixing ingredients), cognitive ability (when following the steps and focusing on the task), emotional development (as the child-parent bond deepens and your child’s confidence grows), and social development (when working with you to accomplish the task).

It’s never too early to stimulate your baby. As soon as they’re born, they’re ready to learn! “The brain is at the centre of learning and growth,” explains Miriam Beauchamp, director of the ABCs Developmental Neuropsychology Lab at the University of Montreal and a researcher at the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center. “A baby’s brain develops most during the first years of life.”

Five winning attitudes to support your child’s development


For your little one, every moment is an opportunity to learn and discover. “When you take your child to the park, it’s a chance to be outside, run, climb, play in the sand, and have fun with other kids,” says Beauchamp. “There’s so much to see, do, and experience.” Encourage your child to observe his or her surroundings. Point out a passing dog, colourful flowers, a plane in the sky, or the silky grass.


Psychoeducator Caroline Roussel recommends that parents limit their child’s exposure to electronic screens as much as possible. “For a baby with so much to learn, devices can’t compare to real-life experiences such as interacting with others, touching objects, physically moving, and exploring the world with all five senses.”


Roussel also believes that children should be encouraged to take the reins and make decisions during playtime. “Follow them into their imaginary world. Not only will it be a fun bonding experience, but you’ll also boost their sense of autonomy, confidence, and creativity.”


While it’s good to congratulate children when they succeed, it’s equally important to praise their efforts. “Even if they can’t manage to put on their own pants, you can still commend them for trying,” says Roussel. “You’ll make them feel valued, and they’ll be eager to try again.”


There’s no point in trying to teach your child a skill that’s beyond his or her abilities. “Instead of pushing, offer support while letting your child develop at his or her own pace,” suggests Roussel. “You’ll both feel less pressured and have more fun.” For example, let your little one scribble instead of insisting that they draw shapes or letters that are too difficult.

Learn about all the major stages of child development (in French only):


Photos: GettyImages/LSOphoto and Sladic


Naître et grandir

Source: Naître et grandir magazine, July–August 2019
Research and copywriting: Nathalie Vallerand
Scientific review: Solène Bourque, psychoeducator