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Toddler Talk: Hammering

Bang, bang, BANG!! Bang, bang, BANG!!

It’s been about 20 minutes of this. My 15-month-old son is absolutely obsessed with the little hammer that came with one of his toys. He doesn’t quite get the fact that we hammer the little wooden pegs into the little circles on the stand … but that’s OK. He is learning that when he hits this thing with the hammer, it makes a noise. He’s also learning if he hits this thing, it moves. Not to mention the fact that when he hits this thing, it makes mommy go crazy.

Even though they just seem like toys, little workbenches and peg toys teach your child valuable skills. Hammering takes a great deal of coordination and understanding. Ask anyone who is trying to hammer a nail into a piece of wood without smacking his own thumb.

Hand-eye coordination is a visual-spatial skill that we all need to function in our daily lives. We use this skill thousands of times a day when we push buttons, maneuver objects, drive our cars, make our meals and so on. Hammering involves fine and gross motor skills as your child moves her arms and grips with her fingers, but it involves visual-spatial processing functions as well, as she looks at an item and determines how far to move the hammer to hit it.

Hammering also teaches cause and effect. If a child hits an item, then something happens. It may make a noise, move an object or break something. Cause-and-effect toys generally involve tapping, moving, flipping, dropping, rolling or shaking to make a sound or effect happen. These toys are all great for learning cause and effect.

By eight months, most children can perform simple actions to make things happen while noticing the relationship. For example, if I throw my toy to the ground, dad will pick it up. By 18 months, children can combine actions to cause a reaction or change. For example, if I flip this switch, I can make a box open and then I can get the toy animal inside. By 3 years of age, children can predict what will happen—like what a book character would do next based an action that happened in a story.

So … since my son is learning so much, I think I will put in my earplugs and let him continue to hammer just a little bit more!

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