How to play effectively with children ‘accepted’ by scientists

Kaka (Taemyeong), whose first birthday is about a month away, is gradually becoming more assertive. When I show my back to Kaka, he clings to me with the sound of ‘piggyback’. If you show them a picture book, sometimes they look into it for a long time, but sometimes they throw it away. On days when he doesn’t want to eat baby food, he doesn’t like it very much even if he lures him with his ‘favorite’ toy.

Looking at this little child who started to explore the world in earnest after passing the time when he was happy just by ‘flipping’, I often wonder how to play with him to help him spend this time more fully.

What will my child know now

If you lose weight, you win 100 times. To be your best friend, we first looked at scientific papers to find out what infants know on average by age of month.

First of all, when the baby is 2 months old, he intuitively knows the ‘law of universal gravitation’ that objects that do not support the floor fall down. Also, figure out that hidden objects don’t disappear. Also, at this time, the baby predicts the behavior of the caregiver trying to hug him. When the caregiver approaches with outstretched arms, straighten the legs and stiffen the body. It is to create a posture that makes it easy to hold.

▲ At 2 months, the child anticipates when the caregiver will hug him, and takes a posture such as stiffening his body and raising his arms to make space for easy hugging. ⓒGettyImagesBank

By 5 months they understand that non-cohesive substances such as sand and water are different from solid solids. A 6-month-old baby notices the pranks of others. Distinguishes between pretending to give a toy and deliberately not giving it, and when accidentally dropping it. The conclusion of not having a toy is the same, but they show different reactions, such as getting angry at the other person’s intentions or waiting for the situation again.

An 8-month-old baby knows what the caregiver likes, and based on this, predicts the caregiver’s behavior. A 10-month-old baby knows ‘volume’. When presented with two foods in different amounts, they consistently choose the larger portion. (After seeing this study, Kakka was presented with a large tteokppong (a fried rice cake snack eaten by children who started weaning) and a small tteokppong. I always chose the large tteokppong, but in the end I ate both.)

Christie Vanmale, a professor at Columbia University at the University of Missouri, USA, who analyzed 30 years of academic papers related to children’s behavior, said, “When we do something like catching a falling cup, we don’t think and move, but the brain processes information and the action takes place. “This intuitive knowledge of physics seems to be innate,” he said. He added, “Talk to your child, play ‘peek-a-boo’, and have them touch safe objects. Parental interaction with the world helps further develop intuitive physics knowledge.”

Meanwhile, 18-month-olds know when to cheat on themselves. Researchers at Concordia University in the US conducted a behavioral experiment targeting infants aged 15 to 18 months. The research team conducted a pantomime (a play in which emotions are expressed only through gestures without dialogue) and looked at the children’s reactions. For example, when you get something you want, you make a sad expression, or pretend to hurt your finger and make a painful expression. The 15-month-olds only empathized with the researcher’s facial expressions, regardless of the researcher’s context. On the other hand, the average 18-month-olds clearly identified when facial expressions did not match the researcher’s context. After staring at the behavior, we looked at the reactions of the caregiver present to cross-check the responses from trusted sources. When their actions and facial expressions matched, they showed empathy.

Researcher Sabrina Chiarella, who led the study, said, “Infants develop the ability to sense the sadness of others and respond accordingly as they accumulate experience data, such as how their caregiver reacted to the facial expressions they made.” “Sometimes we try to hide our sadness by forcing ourselves to look happy, but the baby knows the truth.”

Effective play recognized by scientists… imitate, dance

Scientists seem to be no different when it comes to parenting concerns. There are quite a few studies suggesting how babies like to play. Most of them seem natural and are not special. However, when I think that this has been recognized as ‘steamed’ by various scientists, the credibility of these games increases for nothing. Academic papers published in scientific journals are acknowledged not only by the researcher who wrote the paper but also by fellow researchers. We would like to introduce a few of them.

First of all, it is a play to follow. When the baby waves his hand, he shakes it, and when he hits the table, he hits the table. According to a study published by a research team at Lund University in Sweden in the international academic journal ‘PLOS One’ in 2020, children find this imitation play quite interesting, which is common among adults.

The researchers sat a 6-month-old child and observed the baby’s reaction when it imitated every action the same or in reverse, like a mirror, and when it responded to the baby’s action with a different action. Babies looked longer and smiled when they imitated themselves, despite the behavior of unfamiliar adults. They even overcame the shyness and approached them more. The same was true even when the other person followed his actions without expression.

Researcher Alina Sausiuk, who led the study, said, “Imitating the actions of infants has been confirmed to be an effective way to attract infants’ attention and form a bond.” I was quite surprised to see them happily participating in the ‘imitation game’.” It may be a good way for grandparents who may have been hurt by strangers.

It is also good to play while listening to music and dancing together. Researchers at York University in the UK conducted a study on infants between the ages of 5 months and 2 years old, and released the research results through an interesting press release titled ‘New research results suggest that babies are born to dance’. The researchers played various sound sources, such as classical music, rhythmical beats, and conversations, to the children who participated in the experiment. The children’s movements were recorded using video and motion capture technology, and ballerinas and other professional dancers analyzed the children’s ability to match their movements to the music.

The researchers concluded that all babies moved rhythmically in response to the music. The characteristic of music that moved children was the beat, not the lyrics or melody. He even laughed more narcissistically(?) when his movements matched the music better.

Building blocks builds children’s literacy skills

▲ Rather than using electronic toys, playing with traditional toys such as blocks helps to develop children’s literacy skills. ⓒGettyImagesBank

Parents often buy their children a lot of electronic toys that play lights or songs. Electronic toys are very effective in getting attention by activating the child’s ‘directional reflex’. However, excessive exposure seems to be avoided. According to a study published in ‘JAMA Pediatrics’ by researchers at Northern Arizona University in the United States, play with electronic toys reduces verbal interaction between parents and children.

The researchers conducted the experiment in the homes of 26 participants, consisting of parents and infants between the ages of 10 and 16 months. Participants were asked to spend time with their caregivers with electronic toys (baby laptops, baby cell phones, etc.), traditional toys (wooden puzzles, rubber blocks, etc.) and board books (children’s books with themes such as farm animals and shapes). And by recording this process, the parent-child verbal interaction was analyzed.

As a result of the analysis, caregivers’ use of words significantly decreased during play using electronic toys. At the same time, the child also had less vocalization such as babbling. There was a lot of use of words when reading books, but the degree to which words were converted into conversations with children was less than when playing with traditional toys.

Researcher Dmitry Kristakis, who led the study, said, “Due to the social environment, such as dual income, the time parents and children can play together is very limited, so optimizing the quality of that play time is important for parenting.” It has been found to reduce verbal interaction between parents and their children.” This means that it does nothing more than grab children’s attention. He added, “Conversation during play does more than teach language to young children,” adding, “It fosters social skills and lays the foundation for literacy.”

After reading the thesis, I thought I should say goodbye to Kaka’s favorite toy, ‘Guspapa’. But I don’t have the courage. Would you like to send me to the bathroom without Goospapa?

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