The concept of cause and effect seems obvious and natural to adults, but for children, especially younger ones, the idea can be a bit more difficult to grasp. However, it is important to teach them the principle of cause and effect at an early age, as it will be decisive for their studies, even more so, for life. Parents play an important role in helping children understand the concept.
Method 1 of 2: Help infants and toddlers discover the cause and effect principle
Step 1. Interact with your child
Even the youngest babies can begin to understand the principle of cause and effect. For example, when they cry, someone comes to feed, change, or comfort them. Make the most of this natural way of learning by responding to and interacting with your baby in a variety of ways. Make faces to make him laugh and hold him if he extends his arms to you.
Step 2. Offer him toys
Babies and toddlers learn through play, so offer a variety of age-appropriate toys. Your baby can learn that shaking a rattle will make a sound, and your 1-2 year old can learn that pressing a button can turn on a toy or make a sound.
Step 3. Reinforce the cause and effect principle through conversation
As your child grows and understands more and more, you can reinforce his understanding verbally. For example, you can say “you didn't eat your food, that's why you're already hungry” or “you weren't careful with that balloon, that's why it broke”.
Step 4. Demonstrate it
Children ages 1 to 2 understand the principle of cause and effect better with a practical demonstration. Poke a balloon with a pin and watch what happens or go to the kitchen sink and fill it with water until it overflows. Ask your little one what happened and why. Do the same with other household objects and procedures.
Method 2 of 2: Help Preschoolers and Older Children Know the Cause and Effect Principle
Step 1. Teach your child the vocabulary of cause and effect
Explain that the cause is an event or action that causes something to happen and that the effect or consequence is what happens as a result of the cause.
As your child grows, add more vocabulary. For example, words like "influence", "result" and "factor", as well as words that help structure a cause and effect sentence, such as "therefore", "therefore", "therefore", and so on
Step 2. Use the word “because”
Using the word "because" in conversations reinforces the relationship between cause and effect; many children understand it faster this way. For example, “your shoes are dirty because you stepped on the mud” or “it's cold at home because we leave the windows open”.
Step 3. Explain why cause and effect relationships are important
As your child grows, you can emphasize that the principle of cause and effect is important in a number of ways. Make him see that it is about discovering the causes of bad things in order to avoid them and make a better world and the causes of good things to put them into practice and obtain better results.
Once your child starts going to school it is important that you emphasize the academic uses of the cause and effect principle. Scientists always use it (what causes global warming? Why did these plants die? What happens if we mix vinegar with bicarbonate?), As well as historians (why were the American colonies revealed? Did it happen after Cortés conquered the Aztecs?)
Step 4. Make a T account
The T count is a simple table with two columns. On one side you can write the causes and on the other side, the effects. For example, on the left side write "it's raining." Have your child think about the possible consequences, such as everything gets muddy, flowers grow, school recess is indoors or there is a lot of traffic, and write them on the right side.
You can also use a T-account for individual cause and effect relationships to teach the language. In this case, you would write "it's raining" as the title, not on the left side. Then, on the left side you would write “everything is muddy because it is raining” and on the right side you would write “it is raining, that's why everything is muddy”. This method teaches the two ways of exposing the principle of cause and effect, using "because" and "why"; furthermore, it reinforces the concept
Step 5. Have fun with cause and effect games
A good example is the chain of cause and effect. Choose a consequence ("the pants are dirty"). Next, let your child think of a possible cause (for example, “I fell in the mud”). Subsequently, you (or another child) continue to state the cause of that consequence (“it was raining and slippery”) and so on, as much as you can. This will allow your child to better understand the principle of cause and effect.
You can also play a simpler game by giving an imaginary effect ("the dog barked very loudly") and having your child think of as many causes as possible. For example: "the dog barked very loudly because the postman came", "the dog barked very loudly because someone stepped on its tail" or "the dog barked very loudly because it saw another dog."
Step 6. Read books to him
Look for picture books designed to point out causes and consequences. Read them with your child and talk with him about the situations described in the books.
Step 7. Create a timeline
If you are dealing with older children, draw a timeline on a piece of paper. Pick a historical event, such as a war, and mark the important events on the timeline. Relate these events based on the principle of cause and effect.
Step 8. Teach him analytical thinking
As your child grows, his understanding of the principle of cause and effect will improve and you may begin to demand deeper and more analytical thinking. Ask him the reason for a situation, how he knows it or what he is based on to say it. Ask him conditional questions to use his imagination; for example, what would have happened if we accidentally used sugar instead of salt in this recipe? "," What would have happened if the American colonies did not rebel?"
Explain that the idea of correlation does not mean causation. If a particular cause is not shown to cause a particular event, then it may be a random event rather than a causal relationship
- There are countless ways to develop an understanding of the cause and effect principle. Choose the methods that interest your child.
- Remember that the concept of cause and effect may seem simple and obvious, but it is very important. With it you will make your child show more curiosity about how the world works, which will prepare him to face the most complicated problems.