How Cause and Effect Toys Impact Child Development
Cause and effect. A means to an end. In short, everything we do impacts something, right? This is something we learn from a very young age, mostly due to developmental toys, known as cause and effect toys.
Cause and effect toys do something that creates an impact in some way, also known as an effect. Basically, if a child hits a button (this is the cause) something such as a figure will pop out or a sound will be heard (this is the effect). This is the best example of how cause and effect works and is also the easiest way to describe it to a child.
All in all, a jack in the box would be the simplest example of cause and effect and can be easily seen by a child. When you wind the side of the toy a jack pops out, displaying a classic cause and effect toy. A child can see that by turning the side something will happen and that they can create an impact with their cause or action!
ToyVentive has a really great example of a cause and effect toy. Specifically, the bead maze at the top of the Wooden Activity Cube. A child can push a bead (cause) and slide it across the maze, which is the effect of that action. This helps show a kiddo that by doing something, it can cause something else to happen, such as the bead moving to the other side of the maze. This helps children learn a variety of things, mostly that a child is able to change something within their play environment. The understanding of this is one of the many reasons why cause and effect toys are so effective and important to a child’s development.
Beyond this, many toys with cause and effect also provide an ability to help children improve their motor functions. When a child is moving around a bead they are also working on their hand-eye coordination and moving it through the maze. This physical development is another really essential part to learning.
Incorporating learning into playtime is a great way to teach your child things like cause and effect or other skills without them even knowing it! There are countless benefits of learning through play, but one of the best benefits is that children are more likely to engage with learning if they are doing something they enjoy. Use their favorite toy or activity to teach cause and effect, keep reading for some examples on how to do this!
When can children start to learn cause and effect?
Children can begin to learn about cause and effect at just three months old. This is a great time for a young child to begin to fully comprehend the concept as they begin to understand that when they cry a parent or caregiver will come to them. This is just the earliest of signs that cause and effect impact a child and their environment.
Just like any other version of play, as is discussed in a plethora of ToyVentive blogs such as pretend play, children can learn and develop through a variety of types of play. Cause and effect, as stated above, teaches children that by doing something they can impact their environment.
Furthermore, it can also help our kiddos in their language development. Specifically, by showing a child something and following it up with a phrase helps a child develop not only emotionally or mentally, but also vocally.
For example, if you are playing with a child and you have a rattle, a parent can assist by holding the rattle and saying “shake” and prompting your child, if possible, to say the same. Specifically, it helps a child understand further that what they say has an effect. Therefore, we can see that cause and effect toys have far more of an impact than one can truly even believe!
Activities for Children that Teach Cause and Effect
There are a variety of activities that help children learn and understand cause and effect. These activities are also a great way for parents to engage with their child in assisted play.
The examples of activities for cause and effect are as follows:
1. Shaking a Rattle
This is something that children can do from an extremely young age. A child can shake a rattle and see that sound comes from it. Similar to the example above, by also adding in language it can help a child understand even further the nature of this effect: shake and there will be sound. This is exciting for any child that something they do can cause a noise.
2. Turning a Light On
Although this may sound simple, a child seeing that by actively clicking a light switch lights will come on. This is a perfect and extremely simple example of cause and effect. Ultimately, a toddler is able to see that their action has an effect on something.
3. Pushing a Swing
When you are at a park with your child and they ask you to push them on the swing, they are in the early stages of learning cause and effect. Therefore, next time you’re at the park, parents should try using language by explaining that “pushing a swing makes you go up”. A child can understand that when their parent pushes them it means they will go up high on the swing. Not only is your kiddo learning something, they are also having a really great time!
4. Hot Surfaces and Safety
Now, I definitely don’t recommend physically having a child learn this through hot surfaces, but when a parent is cooking they can very easily help show a child how cause and effect works. For example, when the burner is on, a caregiver can hover their hand over the hot burner and say “hot”. This will help a child understand that the burner is hot and it can ultimately hurt. This helps a child begin to understand that their mistake or action of putting a hand near a hot burner can hurt them. This is a great safety lesson and also helps them learn more about language and speech, which is a huge part of a child’s development.
5. Pushing Buttons
Another great example of cause and effect is that buttons can do something. For example, if you have a television at your house or even a remote of any kind it can help a child see that by pushing a button it can make something happen. For example, when you hit the “power” button on a TV remote it will turn the TV on. This, again, reinforces that a child can impact their environment in some way, in this example by pushing a button they can make something turn on or happen.
This is such a fun way to teach a child or toddler cause and effect! Bath time is a great time for children to play and learn. Specifically, at the beginning or end of bath time, have your kiddo sit at the edge of the tub. They can stick their feet in and see that by kicking their feet they can create a splash of water. This is, again, another really phenomenal example of cause and effect. Again, we definitely encourage a kiddo’s caregiver to use speech while explaining how cause and effect happens, even by just simply stating “splash” it can help kids see what impact their action may have.
7. Opening and Closing a Door
Similar to turning a light switch on, closing or opening a door has a very similar effect. Stand with your kiddo in front of a door and help them see that by turning a knob and saying “turn and open” the door will open. In the same stream of thought, by pulling the knob towards you and saying “pull and close” a child can very easily see, once again, how that action has an effect. Ultimately, opening and closing a door is a very simple and basic task that children should learn, but also helps a kiddo understand that, once again, their actions always will have an effect.
8. Cleaning Your Room
Finally, this is definitely parents' favorite way of teaching cause and effect! Parents can also teach cause and effect by giving children an effect to something a child does. So, a parent can say that if a child cleans their room they can then play with their favorite toy. If the child does it, they are rewarded for their actions. However, if a child does not complete the task at hand the parent can also show that by not doing the cause, the effect will ultimately not happen. Therefore, this is such a great learning experience for kids to see that if they follow through they will get the effect that they want.
Overall, cause and effect toys are a great example of how play teaches children important lessons. These can range from opening or closing a door to the safety of not touching a hot burner. These wonderful toys help a kiddo’s development in the best of ways, such as their language and speech development along with their mental and physical development. Therefore, definitely consider how cause and effect toys and activities can benefit your kiddo in the absolute best way!