Henry, my three-year-old son holds a chicken nugget and pretends it’s a person.
This is my Mummy, she’s short and round.
Cue a muffled half-snort-laugh from the husband and an all-out cackle from the seven-year-old daughter. Ha-di-ha-ha.
Apparently, children don’t develop a brain filter until about seven years of age, give or take a year. Until then, children will give you unfiltered truth as they see it and it can be hard to hear.
Like the time my son gave me his assessment of everyone’s role in the family.
Daddy’s job is going to work. Mandy’s job is going to school. My job is playing. And Mummy’s job is yelling.
I almost spat my coffee in surprise, and that surely would have ended in some yelling.
As children grow older, changes to their brain development means that there are greater cognitive capacities for processing emotions and showing empathy.
So situations like this won’t happen. You can only hope.
Me: Can you get me some toilet paper from the other toilet, please?
Henry: No, I don’t want to.
Me: Henry! Get me the toilet paper!
Henry: Fine. I can’t open the door. (Ten minutes of negotiating a door handle)
Henry: Here. (Throws the package at my feet)
Me: They are wipes! I need toilet paper!
Henry: Just use it!
Me: No! Please, please, please get me the toilet paper.
Henry: Okay. Here.
Me: This one’s too little. There’s almost no paper left. I need another one.
Henry: No. I got you one.
Me: You can watch all the TV you want if you get me another one.
Henry: (brings me a bagful and leaves to watch TV)
They begin to develop their own internalised sense of right and wrong, and hence, understand and respect rules.
We all know that it’s important to respect rules, especially ones that our parents make. Like using manners with greetings and farewells. While I wait for my son to develop a healthy respect for rules, instead of the standard goodbye, he may say this…
GOOOOOOOD BYYYYYEEEE BumFace.
Along with emotional development, they become better at problem-solving, identifying patterns and using logic to questions.
Henry has begun understanding these concepts. Just like how he waits until his Mummy is busy homeschooling his big sister to grab the Nintendo controller and hide behind the couch to turn on Animal Crossing, his favourite video game. I believe that’s a form of identifying patterns and using logic. And hey, it doesn’t matter that he can’t read, he just button bashes until he gets the results he wants. That is called problem-solving.
I have four years until Henry reaches the “age of reason”. In the meantime, I’ll have to dig deep, pull out the big parenting guns, use open communication and guide him along the way. Next time we’re stopped on our walk by the waving elderly man, maybe he won’t whisper loudly, “Why is that man waving like a weirdo?”
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