Monday, June 11, 2012

Interpretations of a four year old

I love reading books on child development and learning, I know, I'm weird.  I'm just fascinated with the process of how kids become the complex beings we are as adults.  Recently, I joined some fellow child friendly bloggers, in reading the book, "Mind in the Making" By Ellen Galinsky .  I read the book two years ago, highlighting and marking pages that I loved, and so I could share with others.  You could say the book got a pretty decent workout, so I jumped at the chance to re-read it with a group of ladies who are interested in topics about children as well.

The book covers seven life skills the author feels are essential for children to learn.  One skill, perspective taking, is something I've noticed my older son practicing a lot lately with his baby brother.  As a mother, I try to meet baby Devin's needs the best I can, as I watch for familiar cues, become more in tune with his schedule, or by simply saying aloud, "It sounds like you are trying to tell me that you're hungry!"  All this time, I've inadvertently been modeling a skill for Aidan.  Understanding a baby's needs is the perfect example for a child to learn from.  After Devin was born, I talked to Aidan about the 5 big reasons why his baby brother might cry...

-He's hungry
-He's tired
-He's uncomfortable
-He needs to burp
-He has gas

Aidan has accepted these reasons, and has told me several times..."MOM, he's hungry AGAIN!"  He also has ideas of his own about what Devin is thinking and feeling.  Here is a list of some of his interpretations...

-"He's sad that daddy is gone."
-"He wants to eat what we're having."
-"He thinks I'm funny."
-"He likes looking at the trees."
-"He's mad because I stopped playing music."
-"He's sad that he missed out on all the fun while he was sleeping."
-"He likes to see me swim."
-"He thinks you smell good mom."
-"He thinks Bailey is a big fuzzy thing" (I told Aidan that Devin cannot see as well as we do right   now, Bailey, is our dog).
-"He thinks a spaceship is going to get him."

As funny as his interpretations sound, he's practicing the art of trying to decode behavior, and other experiences.  Many children do this, especially with their peers.  Sometimes, they can be quite accurate.  An example; when a child tries to reason why another has torn up her paper, "She's mad because I didn't give her the red marker!"  

One easy way to help the children in your life take the perspective of others, is to label feelings you or your child may be having.  You can talk about what they look like, or feel like.  Using a mirror to play a game of, Guess what I'm feeling, is a great way to show them.  Using characters in the books you read to children is good practice too.  "Why do you think Sam stopped talking to his friend?"

I have no idea what babies are thinking, mine in particular.  But when he looks at me with those eyes in a hundred different ways, I'm just as curious as my four year old is.  Who knows, maybe the reason he smiles, is because he thinks the people making goofy faces at him every morning are a bunch of weirdos!

How do you help your child practice perspective taking?  What funny interpretations have you heard your child explain?

1 comment:

  1. I felt like I was always guessing when my guy ws little.


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