Here are some ideas to help your child branch out of their comfort zone:
Exposure To a New Toy
Some kids need to be around a new toy for a certain time before they feel comfortable engaging with the toy. Before introducing the toy to the child try placing the toy in the room untouched for a few days. Gradually play with the toy yourself from a distance while the child is in the room.
Pairing with Reinforcement
Try pairing a new toy or activity with something your child already enjoys. A new activity becomes less overwhelming when it is paired with something your child is familiar with. For example, if your child likes silly voices and your are introducing new books, try reading books in a silly voice. If your child loves m&m’s, play a new game with m&m’s as a reward.
Studies show that a child will engage with a new toy when they see a peer receiving positive reinforcement after engaging with that toy. Have your child watch you having fun with a new toy or activity while enjoying some of their favorite snacks. You will know when your child is ready to engage when they start reaching for the toy or objects in the activity.
Expand the Play
Sometimes kids tend to get fixated on playing with a toy a certain way. If this is the case, try adding in new pieces to the activity playfully. For example, if your child loves to watch trains go around the track try adding in cars or build a house around the train track. Try not to add too many demands as your child may lose interest in the activity.
It can be difficult for your child to try new things, so don’t get discouraged if your child is hesitant around a new toy or activity. Every child learns at different rates, but the result of your efforts will be worth it. Your child will be able to grow and always have something to look forward to.