Wednesday, February 22, 2012

baby games

             Baby Games

We all remember games such as “Peek-a-boo” and Pat-a-cake”.  We may have played them as children. We may have played them with young children when we were adults. Both the child and the adult laugh when these games are played. Both seem to enjoy playing them. These types of games exist in all cultures. There may be some variations. Some cultures are more physical and others focus more on the social aspects of games. Of course, the names and words change but the basic game is the same. 

There is a reason that these games pass from generation to generation and exist in different cultures. Baby games provide concepts babies need to learn in exactly the right format for learning. They are fun and non-threatening when played with familiar adults. Some of the activities, such as tickling in “This Little Piggie” and the surprise in “Peek-a-boo” might be thought to trigger fear but when performed by a familiar adult in a playful way, they produce laughter instead. It is thought that these games help babies learn appropriate emotional control in this way.

In addition, these games involve turn-taking or, at least, reciprical interactions. The parent usually initiates the game but there is a chance for baby to take the lead. “Roll the ball back and forth” is an example of this. There is some turn-taking in “Peek –a-boo and “Pat-a-cake” as well. This helps the baby learn about social sharing and about reciprical communication.

The cycle of social interaction is very important. At first the adult does everything, including drawing baby’s attention into the game. Soon the adult and baby share the action but the adult continues to give a lot of cues to the expected interaction. As the baby develops, the cues and actions of the adult decrease and soon, the adult becomes the recipient of the baby’s actions in the game. 

These games are repetitious. The words and actions are repeated within the game and the games are usually repeated, often at baby’s request. This gives the opportunity to learn and consolidate the concepts for baby.

They are often short, which is enough time to keep baby’s attention and not be boring to him. They are also often rhythmic. This aides in enjoyment and in remembering. They often have a surprise ending, which the child learns to anticipate. Anticipating what will come next is a useful skill for life.

According to Dr. Stanley Greenspan’s theory of social development (DIR theory) these social skills are very important to a child’s development. He must first learn to regulate himself so that he can be in a state to learn. She must learn to share attention, which means that she shows interest in things and people outside of herself. He must learn to be engaged and to engage others in a common activity. She needs to learn to relate to others before she can develop purposeful communication skills. These social skills can all be developed during the play of baby games. Do not underestimate them. They offer an entertaining way of developing very important social and communication skills. Use them. Play them. Expand on them as your baby grows. And have fun with them.

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