Congratulating positive learning – clapping hands

Clapping hands is one of those clever little things parents teach their children to impress everyone and your child should be able to do this (with some repetitive encouragement) by 18 months old, if not sooner. Clapping hands is part of singing activities and mimicking of parents, but in our case its reserved (at this stage) for self congratulations when something right or challenging has been achieved.

We taught Luka to clap his hands when he had completed a task that was worth doing. We would clap, as a sign that he had done well, and soon he caught on and tried it himself – babies love trying to mimic their parents to get recognition. Now he does it out of habit to signify he has successfully completed the task, no matter how simple it is.

It all started with the piggy bank routine. Noting how he like to insert things into each other, like phone charger jacks, plugs and so on, we made a simple piggy bank and hung it from a cupboard in the office. He likes seeking out coins – usually by raiding my wallet, so we taught him to start saving his pocket money by depositing the coins through the slot. He liked this one, and now he makes a bee-line for the hanging piggy bank everytime he finds a coin. In fact it’s gotten out of hand because he knows (at 16 months) where the wallet is kept in the office draw and frequently fishes it out, finds the coins and then waddles over to deposit them in his piggy bank.

When the penny dropped (no pun intended) we would clap hands as if to say ‘well done, you’re saving money’ – so he learnt to clap too, and every time he manages to get the coin into the slot (which is still quite an exercise in dexterity for him) he then claps his hands upon hearing the crunch of coin on the pile of nickel. Scarcely a penny is deposited without him grinning and clapping his hands as if to say ‘right, job done’.

Of course we have gotten him to extend this to other important co-ordination/learning tasks like shape shorters, which he’s still getting the hang of. When he finally figures out where the crescent block goes and gets it correctly positioned (often with a little guidance from dad), he laughs and claps. We clap to, just to remind him.

So, clap, clap, clap. Soon he is clapping at all sorts of things. Handing is dad the mobile phone which he’s picked up because it was ringing. Successfully putting a spoonful of food into his mouth with his own hands. Turning off the fan when I ask him, or inserting the car keys into the lock when we have a chance. These all get a hand clap. And whenever there is a chance to let him do the task, I let him, for he loves to be involved and feel important. And he loves to get a clap.


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