Two of the essential skills mom and dad must develop in a child as early as possible are executive function and self-regulation. According to Harvard University's Center on the Developing Child, these are the skills that enable our kids to pay attention, plan, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks — essential for learning and positive behavior.
“Children aren’t born with these skills — they are born with the potential to develop them,” the center explains.
So how do we develop these life skills in our children? Engage them in play! These everyday games will help support your baby’s development particularly in the areas of focus, memory, and self-control, starting at 6 months up to 18 months old: 1. Play peekaboo Why does your little one never get tired of peekaboo? Babies, up to around 8 months old, find peekaboo fun because they have yet to grasp the idea of object permanence fully — or that things continue to exist even if you can't see it.
Simple enough to play with your baby, the game encourages social interaction and exercises your child's working memory. “They challenge the baby to remember who is hiding,” said Harvard. It also allows them to “practice basic self-control skills as, in some variations, the baby waits for the adult to reveal himself,” added Harvard.
2. Sing nursery rhymes Include singing a few nursery rhymes as part of your daily playtime. The repetition of the songs exercises your baby’s memory as he soon becomes familiar with them. You can sing the ones you know already but explore new ones as well! “Predictable rhymes that end with a stimulating yet expected surprise are well-loved,” said Harvard. Try “Little Miss Muffet,” and “Pat-a-Cake.” 3. Try hiding toys If you haven’t tried it yet, do! Hiding games are a great way to challenge your little one. Place a toy under a lampin and see if your baby can find it. Make more moves to increase the difficulty once the game becomes easy for your baby. Hide the toy, but before you ask your child to find it, move it again! 4. Play “copy me” Babies love to copy adults so take advantage! “When they imitate, they have to keep track of your actions, remember them, wait their turn, and then recall what you did. In doing so, they practice attention, working memory, and self-control,” said Harvard.
Show your child how to stack blocks on top of each other, how toy cars move and sound, and how a toy telephone is put to the ear. If you have mini figures, show her how horses gallop and dogs run around.
5. Teach fingerplays Examples of fingerplays Pinoy parents teach their babies include “Eensy Weensy Spider,” “Close Open,” and even “Ako ay May Lobo.” Said Harvard, “songs or chants with simple hand motions are a lot of fun for infants, and develop self-control and working memory as well as language.”
6. Play hide-and-seek A few levels above hiding toys under a lampin, toddlers will enjoy being the hider with you being the seeker. Once she’s found a spot, search loudly for your little one (“Sa’n kaya siya nagtago?”) even if you already know where she is. Counting 1 to 10 out loud will also introduce your baby to numbers.
7. Let your child “help” with the chores Once your baby is a little older, let her “help” with easy chores. If she sees you sweeping the floor, dusting, or picking up toys, try to see if she’ll be interested in joining you. Show her how to do it and take turns with the broom. “These games introduce the basics of imaginary play and practice working memory, self-control, and selective attention,” said Harvard.