Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Your three year old - friend or enemy

A coworker of U.'s gave him a book from 1976 about child development - one about 3 year olds and another about 4 year olds - since Astrid is now 3 1/2. The book is by Louise Bates Ames & Frances L. llg - from the Gesell Institute of Child Development.

Even though the book is over 30 years old - the same principals still apply. Wanted to share a couple that really spoke to me:

1) "It is important to keep in mind, at a time like this, that your child is not your enemy. Those times when a child is at his worst are often the times when he needs the most help from you. He is not behaving as he does just to be naughty. He is behaving as he does because that is the way his physical self functions at this time in his life. He really cannot help being the way he is, so it is you who have to help him."

2) "What can you do to help things go smoothly for both of you? First of all, accept the fact that at this age the child's big emotional struggle is with his mother. She is the one who matters supremely to him. She is the one he needs to conquer. Almost any young child is at his best but also at his worst with his own mother: Never more so than now."

I was repeating this mantra to myself as Astrid refused to wear socks and tennis shoes while dressing for school one morning. She's going through this stage where she only wants to wear tights and dress shoes everyday to school.

The book also notes that although 3 1/2 year olds appear outwardly to be very confident and secure - it's not so - at this age they're extremely insecure. This manifests itself in: 1) "Don't look at me!", 2) "Don't laugh at me!" , 3) nail biting etc. (I had to remind Astrid just now to stop biting her nails. She's home sick from school with a cold.)

They also reflect on their past. It was interesting that Astrid keeps retelling her baby story of how she was born, Papa cutting her umbilical chord, and also new insights such as "I was in your tummy when I was a baby right?" "When I was a baby I couldn't walk or talk right?" This is a way for them not only reflect but to also highlight their accomplishments (i.e., walking and talking and coloring, etc.).

Nothing earth shattering here, but interesting to be able to put this stage of development into context with the child's life development.

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