Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Child’s Journey to Emotional Maturity Part.XI

     Sometime between three and four years old, the child reaches a fifth stage, making dramatic leap in her ability to use ideas.  She begins to experiment with her concepts about emotions and tries to mimic reality in pretend play. Now the bear might receive undivided attention throughout an elaborate reenactment of the child’s own evening routine. There is dinner, a bath, then sympathy and help when the bear has trouble putting on his night clothes. The game might continue with a bedtime story and tender words of love as the bear is tucked into bed. The child has begun to use pretend play as a testing ground for emotional expression, manipulating ideas in search of a cause and effect understanding. In essence, she is connecting emotional ideas in the same easy that grownups do. She has begun to think about feelings in an organized way.

            Now at three or four, the child not only understands that certain actions are wrong, but also experiences feelings of shame arising from her own misbehavior. Even if she only imagines a jealous assault upon a sibling, she may find herself suddenly stricken with pangs of guilt. As she learns the difference between “me” and “you.” She sees that the limits one imposes by her parents are now coming from with. In pretend play she may practice her newfound acceptance of limits by finding cause to discipline one of her dolls. As your child gains experience socially and practices this new skill of self imposed limits, he begins to appreciate shades and nuances of emotion. He discovers that sometimes he has to let the context be his guide in deciding how to express his feelings. Shouting angrily at a playmate is different from shouting at the teacher in nursery school. He also learns that every expression of emotion will produce an emotional reaction in response. If he tells you that the lasagna tastes terrible, your face may look exasperated or hurt. But if he screams out “Mama, I hate you,” your face will very likely look either devastated or mad. When your child was just six months ole he learned that his action could produce a response. Now he sees that his ideas can have the same effect.