If a baby presses a button on a sound book and likes the surprising song or noise, he
or she will likely continue to press that sound maker to learn more about this noisy
When that baby becomes a toddler, their world is larger now that they are mobile.
Suddenly, they are testing anything they can get their hands on. Toddler behavior is
all about testing, touching, and exploring everything around them, determining how
things work and react.
Why? Because they are learning to make things happen on their own and learning
their powers of prediction. This process of prediction is very comforting to babies
and toddlers, which is why they will use it again and again throughout their young
It’s all about cause and effect, which is one of the chief ways that children learn and
acquire new skills and information. Like a scientist testing theories, kids experiment
with movement, patterns, toys and games, sounds, relationships, and more as they
learn about the world around them through cause and effect.
Cause and Effect with Toddler Behavior and Preschool Behavior
Cause and effect incorporates curiosity, learning skills, and recognition of others.
So, gaining new skills and knowledge this way is both natural and healthy for kids.
Through cause and effect, babies, toddlers, and preschoolers begin to understand
consistency, rules, and consequences.
Whether it is with family, caregivers, friends, or teachers, children seek to
understand whether these people will deliver the same response over and over
again. While adults can get frustrated by hearing the same noise, seeing a child do
the same thing repeatedly, or receiving the same question over and over and over
again, it’s important to recognize that small children use cause and effect to test and
explore the world around them. To that end, positive, consistent responses can help
babies, toddlers, and preschools learn, adapt, and thrive (and also move on to the
Parenting Toddlers: Managing the Frustration
To kids, cause and effect is both edifying and amazing, while it can be more
frustrating from an adult’s perspective. The good news is that, if they are provided
consistent responses to the same stimuli, kids will progress to new sounds, situations, and
questions after they have assimilated what they need to know.
Inconsistent responses will lead to confusion, toddler tantrums, and more.
Consistency is truly the key to successful cause and effect learning.
Granted, the next sound, the next question, and the next experience might also lead
to adult frustration. But, again, providing consistent responses will help children learn,
grow, and seek out new situations and information. Every child is different
when it comes to the amount of time and information they need to understand a
particular cause and effect.
Early Childhood Training and Parenting Tips
Parents, caregivers, and early education providers interested in understanding and
guiding the cause and effect learning process can benefit from the following helpful
• First, take a deep breath and a moment to understand that the baby, toddler,
or preschooler is simply following his or her nature to explore, test, and learn.
• Parents, caregivers, and educators need to provide consistent responses, so
that children can understand cause and effect. When the response changes,
a child will remain puzzled and will have to stick with the particular cause
and effect experience much longer. Providing the same response every time
will help children master the issue. If you weren’t happy with your initial
response, it is ok to alter it. But, from that point on, work for consistency.
• Recognize that the situation and behavior will continue to come up until the
child fully understands that particular cause and effect.
• Determine when a new situation or behavior has presented itself and
prepare your response accordingly.
• Seek assistance from experts and friends if you continue to have questions
about cause and effect in parenting toddlers.
Cause and effect isn’t just for kids. Teens and adults continue to learn and adapt
through cause and effect experiences of their own. The earlier parents, caregivers,
and early childhood educators help children understand and succeed with cause and
effect, the better they will be prepared for its application for decades to come.
There are many avenues to learn more about children’s behaviors. Early childhood
training can incorporate these principals to lead to greater learning and more
powerful relationships. When looking for more education on this subject, note that
parenting programs should emphasize the importance of this consistency.