A baby and parents are pieces of the one unit called family. From baby’s first yell, the world for two starts to change with the impressive quickness and every single day brings new discoveries not only for a child, but also for happy parents. The interaction between parents and their child is very interesting and productive; often, parents don’t even notice how baby is affecting their word outlook once and forever, positively or negatively, but always irreversibly (Leach, 1989). Children, especially infants, need to feel the endearment and caring; just parents are the first teachers for their babies, with their help and through them little people get to know the surrounding world.
Infants learn something new every single day. From the point of view of psychology as a science, there exist ways which demonstrate how children learn and remember. They are the following: classical conditioning, operant conditioning, attention, modeling and imitation of a role model, memory and concept formation.
The classical conditioning represents itself as a combination of stimuli which form the logical chain of coming events (Gross, 1987). The same happens with little children; in their heads they unite one factor (stimulus) with other (other stimulus) and draw a conclusion of a final result. Every parent and even everyone can observe the classical conditioning in infants and children in general; I am not the exception, though I don’t have my own children. The bright example of my experience is the incident with my friend’s baby daughter in the hospital children’s department. Once I came to the hospital to visit my friend and her eight months old son. I needed to wear the white hospital gown and protecting mask. Little Alex, when saw me in the doorway, started to cry. Why did it happen? The answer is simple: Alex had learnt before that when came people wearing white hospital gowns (doctors), shortly after this would come pain (injections, for example).
The operant conditioning differs from the classical one in the way that here behaviour is emitted by the organism and is essentially voluntary, so it is the function of the past consequences of such behaviour (Gross, 1987). For example, two years old daughter of my other friend likes to help her mom to ‘cook’ dishes, for such help her mom always ‘reward’ Diana’s effort with something sweet, usually candies. Having learnt that help for mom can bring something that Diana likes (candies in this case), she continues to help her mom, though now with the aim to have the desirable sweets.
Infant attention is short-dated, though it is connected with executive functions from early childhood. Paying attention in the infant period plays important role for the development of child’s ability to achieve goals in the future life (“Stages of Infant Development: Early Attention Associated with Later Academic Performance”). Attention is intrinsic to all infants and babies, though parents should also develop the attention of their children, because this factor helps infants to learn everything that surrounds them. My friend Irene and her daughter Diana prove this statement. In the early period of life, Irene used to describe everything she did (for example, tidying up) for her daughter, in such a way attracting attention of the latter to the running. It helped Diana to learn how simple things worked and understand that every work has results.
Every child adores playing; therefore, children copy the adult way of life. For girls it can be their favourite game when they are mothers of dolls and other toys; boys, usually, prefer playing with toy cars, Lego and so on. Such games reflect modeling and imitation of adult life conditions. For example, my little neighbours just adore playing such games as ‘shop’ (where they play roles of shop assistants and customers) and ‘hospital’ (when they are doctors and patients). These games are the direct imitation of those that they have seen before. Such imitation develops children’s ability to remember and learn the important information for them.
All infants have short-termed memory, though it is necessary for parents to pay attention for the development of children’s memory in general (Leach, 1989). It is very useful to read children’s books to your infants all the time as my friend Irene did for her daughter, Diana. I could notice the result of such act a bit later, when Diana started to speak. Her mom, Irene, read different children’s verses for her child and Diana told the last word of every verse. It proves that infant’s short-termed memory is an important stage for the development of memory in future.
Every person, an adult and an infant, thinks with concepts. It is known that a concept is not common; it means, different people can have different concepts about the same object (they can imagine it differently). The same thing happens with infants. Their concept formation depends on the way in which parents present objects to children. For example, little Diana has seen only red apples and was very surprised when she had seen green apples on a tree, because in her thoughts there was present a concept of red apple which was formed by her parents who in their turn showed Diana those red apples.
Ways, which help parents to consolidate their children’s achievements while learning and remembering the world around them, can include shaping which is the reinforcement of successive approximations (Gross, 1987). It means that parents should divide everything explained to their children in small steps for better understanding and remembering. It will help both parents and children to make the learning easier, everything they do together, they need to do gradually.
Parents and infants are inseparable parts. Babies affect their parents as much as their parents affect them. The more parents understand and recognize abilities of their children, the more useful it will be for the latter on the way of the making up of personality.
The happier parents can make their children, the happier they will be themselves.
Gross, R.D. (1987). Psychology: the science of mind and behaviour. London: Hodder and Stoughton Ltd.
Leach, P. (1989). Your Baby and Child: the essential guide for every parent. London: the Penguin Group.
Stages of Infant Development: Early Attention Associated with Later Academic Performance. (n.d.). NeuroNet Learning Research Blog. Retrieved from neuronetlearning.com/blog/stages-of-infant-development-early-attention-associated-with-later-academic-performance/