Increase MLU and Teach Cause & Effect with Conjunctions

(P.S. This post may contain affiliate links 'cause momma's gotta bring home the bacon.)

While 3-year-olds can be pretty convincing, like the "Linda, listen" boy, most of the time their attempts at persuasion are pretty farfetched and illogical. It's cute now but eventually they'll need to be able to communicate and reason effectively. While these skills sounds like things only a lawyer would need, everyone needs to be able to use these skills whether it's at school, the workplace, at home, or friendships. So how do you teach your child to reason effectively? To explain cause and effect relationships. Before your child can begin explaining cause and effects, first you need to develop your child's social competence and foundational language skills. By developing social competence, your child will learn not only how to interact socially but also how to understand others' emotions and actions. Your child also needs to develop foundational language skills and vocabulary because the language skills we'll discuss next are more complex. Now we get to the good stuff!


If your child is going to communicate logically, your child needs to be able to produce certain types of sentences. Sentences with conjunctions! Conjunctions are the words: but, and, then, if, or, yet, so. These are the words you throw into the middle of a long sentence like "I'm thirsty so I'll get some water" or "I like cookies but I want ice cream." See how these conjunctions help explain a cause and effect? "So," "If" and "Then" are my favorite conjunctions to use to teach cause/effect. Conjunctions can take some time to teach your child so just pick one or two at a time to specifically teach. (You'll still want to model a variety of conjunctions when you talk.) I think "So" is the easiest of these conjunctions to teach first so let's get started teach "So." (I just noticed I've been used tons of "So" conjunctions in my sentences.... we'll chalk it up to unconscious auditory bombardment : )

How to Teach Conjunctions

  1. Model: Show your child how to use conjunctions by using them yourself.
    1. Use them in a variety of situations whether it's cooking, bedtime, playtime, or just getting in the car.
    2. Examples of sentences you can model.
      1. "I'm hungry so I'm going to make dinner."
      2. "I need the keys so I can unlock the car."
      3. "I like to play with puzzles but the puzzles are gone so I'll play with the cars."
      4. "This jacket is blue but this jacket is green."
  2. Practice using conjunctions in activities with sorting & categorizing.
    1. Combine toys of different colors, shapes, and types and put away the toys by explaining where they go.
      1. Some sentences and conjunctions you could say:
        1. "This is a lego so it goes in the bucket."
        2. "This is a book so it goes on the bookshelf.

What are activities do you use to teach conjunctions?

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