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Learning To Expect
How do babies learn to expect things to happen? When he hears the tune of his cot mobile he starts to feel sleepy because the mobile is always turned on before he goes to sleep. He kicks and wriggles in his bouncer because he expects it to move. As an adult you might experience the same kind of effect. For example, when you are away from home you might struggle to sleep in a strange bed – this is because you are conditioned to associate sleep with your own bed and sleeping environment.

a baby with arms raised

If expectation has this much influence on us as adults who are able to analyse why things happen and behave in logical ways, imagine the effects on small children who don’t analyse what they do. As you spend time playing with your child, there are ways that you can encourage her to ’remember’ or to ’expect’:

* When he has a new toy let him explore the possibilities without the distraction of other toys and activities. Next time he sees this new toy he will be enticed into playing with the anticipation of having fun.

* Match toys to his capabilities. It’s important that he learns “I can” rather than “I can’t” so surround him with well designed toys that have been tried and tested for his age group.

* Good toys and well thought-out activities encourage children to work towards an end.

* If you always praise his effort he will try his best. If you always criticize him he will expect failure.

* Music can set the mood. He does not know picking up her toys is a chore so set the mood with a rousing tune and get him to race against time to put everything away before the music ends.

* Signal boisterous times with lively music and ’cool down’ times with something more soothing. If what he is about to do requires concentration set the scene. Success is always more likely if you are in the right mood.