For those of us from the now prehistoric era of the nineties, you may recall a show titled Kids Say the Darndest Things. The show’s premise was to ask school-aged children topics that were way above their realm of understanding, such as politics, dating, history, etc. Essentially, these children were tasked to provide a different perspective on adult-word problems and opinions in a comedic light. As a child, I was confused as to why this show was entertaining as my peers were making a lot of sense. As an adult, I can now appreciate the comedic aspect within the development of the show. However, I do have to pause and wonder why is there a comedic response to this interaction, but negative responses at home. Let me explain.
Children have varying levels of development dependent on genetics, upbringing, access to education, etc. But no child will be at the same level of development as an adult; even if the child is extremely intelligent, their emotional intelligence or physiology would be lacking developmentally. The significant gap in development means children see the world differently than we do. If you have ever played with a child, I’m sure at one point you were a chef, firefighter, police officer, hair stylist, doctor, or ninja. It may also be safe to assume that some items within their environment were deemed something different than your interpretation like a hairbrush becoming a rocket ship or a couch becoming a fort. Their imagination is their reality, even when they are not intentionally playing. When we are intentionally playing with the child, it is easier to stay in their reality, but their imaginative world does not stop, so why does ours?
As we gather life experience and responsibilities, our sense of imagination depletes and we begin to look at the world more literally; a brush is just a brush and this “fort” is just a couch with pillows and blankets across it. Our literal perspective of the world allows us to work more intentionally, create safe environments, and juggle life’s responsibilities. While our reality is one of facts, a child’s reality is one of their own creation, and the difference in perspectives can cause many challenges in their upbringing.
Here is a scenario: your child comes barging into your bedroom in the wee hours of the morning claiming there is a monster under their bed. You have a big project coming up and need your rest. In the adult perspective, it would be easiest to dispel the myth that there is a monster under the bed simply by shooing the child away and telling them to go back to bed. This may address your perspective of the situation, but does it address the child’s?
Let us look through their lens: You wake up, startled, after hearing an unusual thump in the night. You glance around the room and do not see a source. However, you hesitantly look under the bed and see a shadowy figure. You. Are. Terrified. You run to your parent’s room for assistance as you know they will keep you safe no matter what. You tell them your terrifying experience and expect them to jump into action to slay the beast beneath your bed…but they do not. Instead, they tell you to go back to the place where the beast is awaiting your return to partake in a midnight snack. You beg and plead, but your parent just seems to be getting more and more frustrated with you and not the beast in your room. You return to the room in fear of punishment from your parent and hide in the closet until the morning comes. Instead of feeling validated and safe, your child is now terrified for their life and their trust in you has weakened.
The Monster Takedown
Just because we may see the situation a bit more literally, does not mean the child’s experience is any less real to them. Meet them in their reality. Tap into your inner child and fight the monster that once scared you as a child. Identify your child’s fear, grab a flashlight to search and defeat the monster together. You could even create “monster spray” that is a sure-fire method of fending of monsters for good. If you want your child to trust you, you have to show them that they can and validate the feelings that arise for them, no matter how silly it may seem to you. If you’d like more tips and tricks to defeating your children’s monsters, please give us a call at (832) 252-1600 or contact us here.