A: Oh, I love 4 year olds (mostly because I don’t have any anymore). Four-year-olds are exactly what you say: “awesome but challenging”. And to understand how to engage yours in this type of conversation is to appreciate the mind of the preschooler.
The typical 4 year old is living in times of extremes, ups and downs, and are just beginning to understand different perspectives. For example, 3 year olds may only be aware of what they need, want and have. A person not wearing a mask? For example, a 3-year-old may notice that masks are missing, but will likely move on to the next distraction or emotion. But a 4 year old grows mature enough to notice something different and get stuck on it. The brain can focus on disparate ideas, objects, and people for longer periods of time, while turning those things around to make sense of them.
If everyone in your house is talking nicely or wearing masks, then your 4 year old will be quick to ‘spot the difference’, as will play. This attention can make encounters awkward: ‘Why is this person sitting on a chair with wheels? ” or “Why is this man so fat?” or “Why is this little girl so dark?” or “Why is that big girl screaming?” or “Why did this woman throw her towel on the floor?” or “Why is this man sleeping in the street?”
When I was little, these types of questions were quieted. Bringing attention to anyone who was not part of the larger culture racially, socio-economically, culturally, spiritually or behaviorally was considered “rude,” and as a result, children learned to watch silently – or worse, to look away from others. Not only does it teach kids that curiosity is “rude,” but it also erases the identity of everyone else, a part of them that deserves to be seen, named and witnessed.
You’re asking questions specifically about people breaking the rules, maybe you’re questioning my tangent above; I see it all on a continuum of understanding differences and, therefore, of becoming mature. We want our children to deliberately see others and not ignore them or their differences. We want them to avoid drawing conclusions about people based on an action or series of actions.
Why is the girl screaming? She is autistic and feels deregulated by the noise of the city. Why would people throw trash? Maybe they didn’t know they had dropped their towels. Why did the person turn on the red light? Maybe they rush to the hospital to see a sick child. Maybe the “bad” person just received terrible news themselves, and people who don’t wear masks don’t believe in getting sick.
It is developmentally normal for 4 year olds to have dualistic thinking (good versus evil), which is why superheroes start to gain such weight during this time. Extremes are easy to understand, so our parenting job is to gently mix up other options. We do not make excuses for others, but we can point to other explanations for what we see.
We can also use these observations to talk about our family values.
For example, instead of “We don’t throw garbage, and the people who do it are bad,” we could say, “We don’t throw garbage, because this garbage goes into the water we swim in, and it’s so bad for these fish. , right? ”Or instead of“ People who don’t wear masks are irresponsible and we don’t respect them, ”you can say,“ Masks protect people, especially the elderly, like grandma and Grandpa Our family tries to protect others. ”By focusing less on others and more on your own values, you are raising a child who is less critical and more focused on what he can control: his own actions and contributions.
There will be times when you shake your head at the shenanigans of others. There is no shortage of bad behavior, but as a parent, choose your path with your child. Do you want to constantly pass judgment on people (good or bad), or do you want to lead with your values and actions?
So, “Mom, why is this man throwing?”
“Honey, I don’t know. Let’s clean it up.
It is that simple. Work with your preschooler’s curiosity, not against it. Good luck.