Toddler girl in child occupational therapy session doing sensory playful exercises with her therapist.

Cognitive development is the process through which children learn how to think and figure things out. This is the start of a child’s problem-solving skills and it is critical that one gets this right. This is because cognitive skills help a child (and adults) to safely interact with the world and to be able to use their skills to help make their surroundings better. Helping your toddler develop the cognitive skills that they need will make them better at academics, socially, and in many other facets of their lives.

Why Cognitive Skills Matter

An argument can be made that the success of a human being is largely attributed to their ability to negotiate around problems as well as their ability to translate and respond to whatever is happening around them. In this sense, cognitive skills are therefore critical in the healthy development of any child. Cognitive skills help us to process information around us and to understand what action we need to take in response. Cognitive skills for example are behind our ability to adapt and thrive in all manner of conditions. People who have not horned their ability to adapt to change often struggle to fit into new conditions and thus are less likely to be successful. Cognitive skills are also the main driving force behind our ability to problem solve and to make comparisons between two or more items

Helping Your Child with Cognitive Development

When it comes to helping your child develop cognitive skills, there are a number of things that you can do as a parent. As a basic principle, you should take a keen interest in what your child is doing and ensure that you understand what the toddler is trying to achieve. Understanding this is important as it allows you to help the child achieve the goal and therefore create a link between action and goal accomplishment. All problem-solving skills focus on the achievement of an objective and this is thus a great step in getting your child down that road.

When your child is focused on accomplishing something (it could be as simple as getting from one corner of the room to the other), minimize distractions that may get in the way. This helps your child learn how to focus on a single task. For pre-schoolers and other older children, a great way to help them develop their cognitive skills is to always experiment while doing everyday stuff. For example, if you are out in the garden watering plants, you could ask your child to turn off the tap to see what happens to the flow of water. For the child, the most important aspect of these experiments is for the child to observe the cause and effect of their actions

Developing a Child’s Memory

An important subset of cognitive development is a child’s ability to remember things. A good memory helps a child when they finally start pre-school and with other aspects of their adult life. One simple way of helping a child develop a good memory is to constantly talk to them about what they did the previous day, what they wore, and so on. You can even turn this into a game by challenging the child to pick an attire that they have not worn recently. Another way to help a child develop memory skills is to ensure that there is an order in the way things are arranged. For example, you should encourage the child to place toys and other play items at a specific place so they always know where those things are.

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