Do you play with your child? Your child can learn a lot through play, especially when playing with puzzles.
Children often get bored quickly when they have nothing else to do. It is up to you as a parent to help your child overcome boredom. If you don't think of a creative way for your child to spend his time, chances are he will simply turn on the television and escape into it for hours.
Set time aside at least once a week if not everyday for playing with your child. This is your chance not just to bond with your child, but also to foster learning through play. Keep talking to your child when playing. You could say things like "That's a nice blue block." Similarly, compliment your child at every step, so he gains confidence in himself and in his abilities. This will increase his sense of security and he will be less likely to show defiant behaviour.
Slightly older children may enjoy jigsaw puzzles and board games. When bringing puzzles home, make sure you bring age-appropriate ones. You don't want your child to give up the attempt in frustration. You could also sit with your child and help him complete the puzzle. Show him how he can identify which piece matches another. Once the two of you have completed the puzzle, your child could work it out on his own next time.
Puzzles are a great way for your child to exercise his brain cells and work out solutions, so make sure you have an adequate supply of puzzles. Don't give them to your child all at once! Give him one puzzle at a time. Let him spend time solving it. He may solve it a few times before he gets bored. Don't expect him to entertain himself by solving the same puzzle again and again. Once he tires of one puzzle, hand him another.
In addition to exercising your child's brain, jigsaw puzzles also help improve a toddler's hand-eye coordination, since your child will need to fit the pieces together. It helps your child recognise shapes, and this is an important step towards developing reading skills.
Certain puzzles increase your child's reasoning abilities. For example, a puzzle may be in the shape of man, in which case your child can figure out where the head, arms, torso and legs go, and fit the puzzle accordingly.
Other puzzles, for example a puzzle on India, can help your child gain knowledge. Naturally the knowledge gained by the puzzle alone will not help much, unless you are around. You could then engage your child in a discussion on each state, speak about the geographical topography, climate, and so on. Knowledge garnered in this way is more likely to remain with your child than knowledge acquired by rote.
If you have more than one child, try and play with all children together. You can then encourage them to share, and can praise examples of positive behaviour. They can also question each other and gain from one another's knowledge and experience.