Through the Eyes of a Child
Through the eyes of a child, the world is a very different place than the world adults see. Children lack the experience needed to understand many of the things around them, and they haven't yet fully developed the ability to use reason and logic. What might seem obvious to a adult may be a complete mystery to a child.
For example, a four or five year old who sees water poured from a short glass into a tall one believes that there is now more water. A young child who is shown a row of ten pennies placed close together and a row of ten pennies place farther apart may insist that there are more pennies in the longer row, regardless of how many times they are counted. It is obvious to the adult that the length of the row hasn't changed the number of pennies in it, but a child may not yet have developed the ability to understand the concept.
Young children are egocentric. They see themselves as the center of the world, and believe everyone else thinks, feels and sees the same way they do. They do not have the ability to imagine other perspectives. They take words, metaphors and figures of speech literally. They also have difficulty understanding the concept of time. For example, a child promised a trip to the zoo tomorrow will often ask a few minutes later, "Is it tomorrow yet?" As they get older and more experienced, children gradually acquire the ability to think more abstractly and to be able to imagine themselves in different situations.
It's important for adults to be understand that children are not just small adults. Sometimes we forget that children are children. We say they are acting immature, and tell them to "act your age". Usually, that's exactly what they are doing. Children act immature because they are. Expecting a child to act like an adult is like expecting a caterpillar to act like a butterfly.
Adults can avoid much unnecessary frustration and irritation between themselves and children if they understand how children develop and have realistic expectations of behaviors based on the child's age and capabilities. Following are some things to keep in mind:
- There are many good resources on child development. Learning about child development can help adults understand the differences between a child's view of the world and an adults. It can also help them develop realistic expectations.
- Remember that each child develops and matures differently - not necessarily at a specific age or "stage".
- Spend time with children and try to imagine how the world looks through their eyes. It could be an enjoyable learning experience for both children and adults.
For more information on child development, or other questions or comments, call the Trinity Adolescent Program at (515) 574-6596.
This article was written by Pam Lehman, a counselor with the Trinity Recovery Center at Trinity Regional Hospital. Pam has a Master of Science degree in counseling.
Reprinted with the permission of the Community Action Network. © Community Action Network, All Rights Reserved.
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