Monday, November 29, 2010
Finally by the age of five most youngsters add interludes of “cooperative play”, working together at recreational tasks while engaging in conversations that show their newfound ability to listen and respond each other. The fears from three to five are an expansive period, a time when children actively seek out the company of their peers. Antisocial incidents are fewer now, becoming more verbal and less physical in nature as the children mature. Preschoolers, while aware that others have feelings, have not yet acquired the tact to handle them gently. Gathering in cliques and excluding unwanted playmates are unintentionally cruel ways that children of this age explore social bonds. Four years olds tend to be particularly bossy and boastful, although peer pressure will usually solve this problem by kindergarten age.
By the age of five or six, your child will have learned a great deal about social behavior, figuring out which actions please and displease by interpreting the verbal and facial expressions of the people around him. Through these trial and error lessons, he develops a whole new layer of complex emotional responses, the so called social emotions that include embarrassment, envy, guilt, shame and pride.
As an infant, he used more basic emotional expressions such inborn responses as distress, interest and fear as wordless signals to communicate his fundamental needs to you. Like those primal emotions, these newer ones are survival tools, but their aim is social rather than physical survival.
Friday, November 26, 2010
A child’s pattern of play is a good guide to how far he has matured mentally and emotionally. At eighteen months, toddlers are already very interested in playing, but not with children their own age. Rather, their energies are directed toward exploring and mastering things- a toy car, a ball, a stacking tower of colorful rings.
Sometimes during the third year, youngsters begin to enjoy the first stages of social play, playing side by side with another child, though with no real interaction, in what psychologist’s term “parallel play.” Toddlers of this age, in the process of defining themselves as individual personalities, are absorbed in the lessons of “me”, “my”, and ” mine”. In their view, wanting something is tantamount to owning it, and sharing something seems the equivalent of losing it forever. These early play sessions are likely to be filled with frequent, though fleeting, conflicts.
By about four years of age, the well adjusted child has broadened his play to include a greater degree of involvement with others. In this next stage, called “associative play,” children still play separately and individually, but they begin to engage in social chatter. If you listen closely to the conversation between two children of this age, you will notice that they are not really talking to their playmate, but are conduction separate monologues, each child talking about his own concerns without regard to the others. “Me first” is still the ruling sentiment, and a certain amount of friction is inevitable: hitting and pushing and fighting over toys typically peak at this age.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
As the babies and toddlers, children envision themselves squarely at the center of the universe and understand their own needs only. This so called egocentric viewpoint is not deliberately selfish, but simply results of their inability at this stage to comprehend that other people have independent existences and feelings of their own. Watch a pair of two years olds playing in a sand box: They seem hardly aware of each other’s presence, until one decides suddenly she must have the pail and shovel her friends is holding, and snatches it away as though the other child were not there. The victim, surrendering the toys in wordless surprise, runs waling to her mother for solace as her companion plays on unperturbed.
But then observe the same two fiends after two years’ passing. Chances are they will be working together on a sand castle, playing and chatting away so peaceably that their mothers feel no need for supervision at all. What has happened in the interim is a watershed development that experts have identified as the first stirrings of empathy: a widening of the child’s self absorbed viewpoint into a broader understanding of other people and their feelings. The growth of empathy between the third and fifth years, coupled with an increasing ability to detect and follow society’s unwritten rules, will be the key to your child’s social adjustment for the rest of her life.