Throughout the Play Matters programme we encourage this concept of engagement. What does this really mean? The definition of engage is to occupy or attract someone’s interest or attention. Babies soon learn to become masters of attracting attention whether it is crying for something they need or flirting with a person in the queue. They learn to get your attention and then keep it. This is the start of communication.
Engagement starts within the first few months when your baby starts figuring out what will make you smile. Your little one gets so excited when she gets a positive reaction that she will repeat whatever caused that reaction again and again. Spending time with your little one, focusing on her, and responding to her actions and emotions encourages the development of engagement. This will help develop her feeling of power over her surroundings which will motivate her to do more or repeat the same task. It will teach her the back and forth flow of communication long before she says her first words. It teaches cause and effect, when she does something there is a reaction.
So put your cell-phone away, turn off the TV, sit on the floor and get engaged. Smile when she smiles, coo when she coos and let her reach up to your face when you are talking. Encourage her to take toys from you and pass them back and give tons of praise. The self confidence she gets from these interactions is vital for her to be motivated to keep learning, exploring and interacting.