Mom-and-me dates are a fantastic was for mom to spend some quality one-on-one time with her kids. These dates however, don’t just have to be about fun and games, though they can include that as well. As a mom, don’t forget that these dates can also be spent teaching your child valuable social, emotional, and behavioral skills.

Talking To Your Child
The mommy-and-me dates that you go on don’t just have to be about doing things. They are also great opportunities to talk to your toddler. Think about how much time you spend every day just talking with your child. Is it a lot? Or do you only talk to your child when you tell them to do something or ask them a question? Toddlers are at an age where they are just learning how to use their words and discover their personalities for themselves. As you spend an afternoon or day together, take the time to learn more about your child. Talk to him about:
•    Emotions
•    Things they like to do and why
•    How to think about feelings and actions
•    How to test out new feelings and situations
This might seem advanced, but your toddler is totally capable of talking about these things. One great tool that most elementary teachers use in their classrooms is a Kelso Frog chart. It’s basically a chart that gives kids suggestions on how to deal with interpersonal problems. You can buy one for your home online or at a teaching store such as Learning Palace.

Identifying Emotions
One of the best conversations you can have with your child during mommy-and-me dates is how to identify emotions. As you get ice cream or go on a walk, ask your child how he feels. He will probably tell you that he feels happy because you’re doing something fun together. Then, ask him how he knows he’s feeling happy. This will force your child to identify situational variables that have caused him to feel happiness. Then, you can take the conversation further and ask about other types of emotions.

Ask Questions
As a teacher, I’ve learned that the best was to get children to think is by asking questions, not providing answers. While doing your activities for the day, you child will probably have a lot of questions for you. Instead of simply answering all of their questions, try to get him to think.

For example, while babysitting some friend’s toddlers, I had one of the girls ask me why people had their headlights on even though it wasn’t dark out. Instead of telling her it was for safety, I asked her why she thought their lights were on. Also, you can take a leaf out of your toddler’s book and ask “why” questions. Ask your child why he thinks leave are falling and changing colors. Or why he thinks there are so many different flavors of ice cream. Or why sometimes it snow and other times it rains.

Zero to Three. "Supporing your child's thinking skills: 24 to 36 months." ZERO TO THREE: National Center for Infant, Toddlers, and Families. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2014.