A Child's Eye View 2.0
A world where objects have feelings
conversation with a tree-or any A other inanimate object seems perfectly natural to most three-year-olds. After all, the tree has !ımbs that resemble arms and move in the wind; so it must be alive, like a person. And then, it must also have thoughts and feelings, just as people do. A young child who trips over a chair may say, "Sorry, chair, I didn't mean to hurt you." He wonders whether the grass hurts when his daddy mows the lawn or whether the sun is sad when it rains. And he thinks that the wind is alive because it blows.
Bending the laws of physics
If a man's voice is coming out of a radio, a preschooler assumes there is a real man speaking inside the radio. Never mind that she knows a man is too big to fit inside a radio: In the magical world of childhood, people shrink and grow at will. With no understanding of the complex physical principles underlying such a feat, the youngster simply accepts the idea -- just as many young children unblinkingly ac cept the notion of Santa Claus coming down the chimney. It is not until they reach school age that children begin to dis tinguish between what is physically pos sible and impossible. Thus, an older child begins to question how Santa could fit down a chimney and visit every child in the world in just one night.
A belief in the magic of rituals A young child takes to hear such nursery rhymes as
"Rain, Rain Go Away."Merging reality and fanta sy, she believes in the magical power of rituals and of her own thoughts and actions to make things hap pen. No doubt it is comforting for a young child to feel that she can exert some control over her environ ment. Most preschoolers adore Maurice Sendak's book, Where the Wild Things Are, in which Max tames the wild creatures with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once." But per sonal power can also be intimidating. Many a young ster, for instance, fears that stepping on a crack real ly could break her mother's back.
What do all grown ups have in common in the eyes of a three-year-old? They are tall. So the child conclades tirstif she climbs on a stool to make herself tall, she will be grown-up. Tha delightfully lopsided style of reasoning and generaliting during the prescal years is a result of the child's focusing on just one aspect of n at a time. Thus, noticing only thar grownups are caters to the notion that height must determine age: "If I'm tall, Imast be olt."Ile Lewis Carroll's Al ice's Adventures in Wonderland, the bewildered heroine reached the same conclusion when she grew very later sampling a bottle of liquid in the White Rabbit's house. There ought to be a book written about me." said Alice, "that there ought! And when I grow up I'II write one – but i'm grown up now."
Confusing cause and effect
If the calendar says it is spring, a late March GPU for going to stop a four-year-old from going outdoors to play base ball Young children believe that the calendar controls the sea- sons, regardless of the weather. Lacking a dear concept of cause-and-effect relationships, preschoolers draw many odd conclusions of this prout the way things happen. They especially tend to link simultaneous occurrences believing. for exampls that banking the horn makes the car go, or that night falls hecause they go to sleep.
Seeing is believing
Most three-year olds are transfixed with delight at the sight of a clown ol an cuc de ked out in the costume of a favorite cartoon char ree in four eyes, these are not just people wearing funny costumes and makeup. For costumes have transformed them into the friendly, colorful characters they appear to be. They are what they look like, for children at this age do not distinguish between real and make-believe. For the same reason, a child may be genuinely terri fied by a person wearing a grotesque costume or scary mask: He believes the figure is as sinister as its appearance suggests.
Because a young child undent NE from her own point of view enly, she sees herself dwelling ate ter of red card for her benefit. If she notices the s Dibesh lien be kave home, for example, and then there will hot reacher destination, she assumes that shearhas followed her. Theocentric preschooler believes that any ot h ers her concerns. Thus where weder distracted the ora cold, the child may well be oncora her mother's legs and wonder instead, why docin Momny worto play with me today! I must have done something to make her angry.
Taking language literally Until they master adult idioms, children often
misinterpret language in amusing way. If you tell a young child, "Daddy will be home late because he's tied up at work, the youngster is likely to picture his father bound to a chair with ropes. He may assume that the North Pole is a long stick, and he may ex: pect to find "signs of spring like bill boards along the highway.
The reality of dreams With her penchant for making up
explanations for things she can not understand, a preschooler may say that dreams come from un der my pillow. But however they arrive, her dream images seem as real as events that occur during wak ing hours, Children of this age often get dream life and real life mixed up. This is why it is some times difficult to calm a child after she has had a nightmare. It also explains why she may insist she did something that no one else can recall. "Don't you remember the time we went to Grandma's and I slept in a tent?" an exasperated child asks her baffled parents. Of course they cannot remember; it happened in her dream.
Make-believe friends Her mother has heard nothing, but three
year-old Nancy insists there was a knock at the door. When they open it, her mother sees no one, but Nancy welcomes an in visible friend she calls Nan-Nan. "You can't tell Nan-Nan anything," warns Nancy. "She only listens to me. Such imaginary playmates enrich the fives edmany three- year-olds. Often, the inventel character is a mirror image of the cluic -indi cated by similarities in awe - who is con jured up to fulfill the role ui confidant, companion, and protector in scary situations.
Solutions to nature's mysteries
If you ask a child where rain comes from, he might answer that the giant who lives up in the clouds sometimes for gets to turn his faucet off and water overflows onto the ground. Like the earth's ancient inhabitants, young chil dren cannot possibly be expected to comprehend the im mense workings of nature. They usually attribute such mysteries as weather and ocean waves and stars to human actions or to witches, fairies or other supernatural crea- tures that resemble humans.
A scrambled sense of time The vacation-packed car is barely out
of the driveway before the three year-old begins asking, "Are we there yet?" No, her parents tell her, it is an hour's drive to the beach. Within five minutes she has asked the question several more times. Most children of this age have no con cept of such time units as a minute, hour or week, and therefore they lack a mental measure of time's pas sage. Preschoolers may also equate distance with time: A destination an hour away by airplane seems closer than one three hours away by car.