Thursday, February 5, 2015

Child Psychology in a Nutshell (and its Significance to Adult Psychology)

If you were between 2 and 4 years old, this might very well be your line of reasoning, on a number of issues.

  1. He/She has that toy, so I want it. The value of an item skyrockets when it is in the possession of another. Waiting my turn will drive me absolutely insane, but once it finally is my turn, once I have the item, it loses all value. I immediately toss it on the floor. (See #1 below for adulthood translation.)
  2. Being first is EVERYTHING. For example, if I am second being cleaned up after snack, I will fall to pieces. I will kick and scream. I will tell everyone I hate them, especially the person who was first.
  3. The more someone shows affection to me, the more I blow them off. Power feels wonderful! So I would like to keep that power. How do I keep it? Well, when Johnny wants to play with me, I pretend I have much better things to do. This makes Johnny really want to play with me. It works beautifully, you see. At its best, I am ignoring Johnny, while he either has an epic meltdown about me not playing with him, or simply tries various tactics to please me. I must be wonderful.
  4. Why say something once, when you can say it twice, three times, or maybe even twenty times? This could be of the "Remember when..." variety, but more often, it's about the future. Leila: "Mommy, am I gonna ride in the big wagon today?" Me,:"Yep!" Five minutes later, "Mommy, I gonna ride in the big wagon, right?" Me, "Yes you are." Five minutes later, "Mommy, when we go, I gonna....I gonna" (wait for it) "....ride in the big wagon?" "Yup!" This is not the end of the exchange, but I'll break it off here. You're welcome.
  5. Hugs make just about everything better.

But don't think you've completely done away with this silly, childish behaviour, because here is the adult equivalent. Each number in the list below corresponds with the same number in the list above.
  1. Trends. We all follow them, to some extent (whether we like to admit it or not). When others no longer possess or show off this item, or if others stop sporting this style, it loses value. Uncool.
  2. We like be first. We like to win. Our ego is hurt when we do not win. Now, I know that by this time in our lives, we have developed much better sportsmanship than a 2-year-old. Still, all of us have experienced negative feelings as an adult, when we have expected to come in first, and don't. And sometimes these negative feelings are directed at the winner, even when the winner has done nothing to intentionally harm us, psychologically. And I don't necessarily mean official winning. No. A winner is anyone who is happier, richer, smarter, better-looking, more successful (etc., etc., etc.) than us. Yup, jealousy. We are, at times, big children. :)
  3. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. (John Acton) Nuff said. 
  4. Maybe you don't say something 10 times in an hour, but you probably think it, don't you? Thought: 'I have to do some laundry later.' Five minutes later, thought: 'I really have to do some laundry tonight. I wonder what time I should start it at.' Five minutes later, thought: 'Okay, so if I start it at 6 I should be done around 8.' Five minutes later, thought: 'Let's see, what am I doing tonight? Oh yeah, laundry.' Okay, so maybe this is just my repetitive thought process while trying to potty train my daughter, but I'm sure we all have our own version of repetitive thoughts. Actually, I know we do, because that's why meditation is so big. People want to still their minds and break the repetitive thought process.
  5. Hugs make just about everything better.

I gotta say, I could only think of four such attitudes that closely resemble adult attitudes, and that is promising. (What if I was nearing 50 such points and still didn't see an end to the similarities?!) Bottom line is, please nurture your inner child, and be kind to yourself when you act in a childish manner. It comes naturally. ;)

#childpsychology #adultpsychology #ego #humannature

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