Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Child’s Journey to Emotional Maturity Part.X

To recognize the other stages of this learning process, it helps to focus on your child’s pretend play. A second stage commences at about two years. In play, your child may have her teddy bear ask for a hug, then let a doll embrace the bear in response. In this simple exchange, the child moves beyond using ideas merely to state a demand. Now there is the idea of the teddy bear’s demand plus the idea that the doll fulfills a role in responding to that need. At this stage the child might say ‘daddy, apple juice’ rather than just blurting our “juice, juice.’

At two and half, the child’s play is characterized by a random stream of ideas without concern for the kinds of constraints that adults take for granted. Logic, sequential time, cause and effect- all of these are missing. In the course of 10 minutes, the teddy bear might get in a fight, fall asleep on a lumpy bed of building blocks, fly on a plane one tenth his sixe and try to play a harmonica. Whatever occurs to the child is what happens next. Whatever props are nearby becomes part of the game. In this third level, the child is using a lot of ideas, but the ideas have little apparent connection.

In the fourth level, around the age of three, the child starts to fill in the first of those missing connections. Now the teddy bear may be seated in company at a rather elaborate tea party. The child’s play begins to follow a somewhat more organized theme. Moment to moment details are still decided spontaneously, but there is an underlying plan and a unifying emotional thread that keeps the part on track. The child’s feelings about taking care of her imaginary guest keep the game organized.