What is Cause and Effect?
Cause and effect is where children understand that their actions directly lead to an outcome or response. In other words, this is how baby learns that if they do something, something else will happen. An example this is a baby learning that if they shake a rattle, they’ll hear a noise.
How can you help baby develop an understanding of cause and effect?
Newborn to Three Months:
Give your baby a rattle or a toy that makes a sound when she shakes it. She’ll soon learn that she can hear the noise when she moves the toy.
React with exaggerated expressions when she does something. Baby will learn that you laugh when she claps her hands, for example. If she bites while breastfeeding, say a stern ‘No’ and disengage eye contact. She’ll learn quickly that she gets a negative or positive response to what she is doing.
Six to Twelve Months:
Provide toys like Jack in the Boxes, where you have to wind the handle to get Jack to pop up, or other toys where baby can press and see a toy pop up.
Encourage her to feed herself. This will teach her that she needs to do something to get the food.Your baby may be interested in the TV remote, where she’ll learn that if you press the button you get a different picture.
Try introducing your baby to things she can’t control – like a patch of sunlight on a rug, and then introducing a pop up toy that she can control.
Toddlers and Older Children:
Your child is learning to understand cause and effect all the time, especially when it comes to behaviour. They’ll soon learn, for example, that if they do something you don’t want them to do, that you will react. How you react to their behaviour will shape their own behaviour.
It’s important to be consistent with your reactions. If your baby bites you while she’s breastfeeding, and you laugh, she’s going to think it’s funny, and do it again. If you say a firm, “No” and disengage eye contact, she’ll soon learn not to do that.
If your toddler draws on the wall with a crayon, and you say a firm, “No” and remove the crayon, and ensure that you do this the next time as well. When she draws on the paper instead of the wall, praise her. This will help her to understand the different effects of what she’s doing.
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