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A Child's View of Life
picture of mother and child

Kids look at the world in their own special and surprising ways. Every child is a unique being with unique opinions and a unique point of view. As parents, it's important to understand that what works for one child won't necessarily work for another.

Between the ages of three and five, children develop motor skills, social skills, their imaginations, the capacity to follow directions, the ability to think visually, and the capacity to understand and express emotions. How children view the world and function within it is in direct relationship to these stages of development. However, when a child goes through a stage is varies from child to child. It's valuable to keep this in mind when you interact with your child. Two children of the same age may be at very different levels of development. Each child is unique and passes through these stages at his own rate.

Regardless of what stage your child is in, she will express thoughts and feelings that need to be heard and respected. Preschoolers do not have the same patience level as adults. They do not have the same understanding of how to cope with scary or confusing situations. They can't tell time. As a result, the behavior of preschoolers can be hard for adults to understand. Sometimes a child's behavior may seem difficult or disrespectful when it may just be a result of the child's trying to make sense of the world. For example, a child may whine because she can't express her needs in words, or because unrealistic expectations have been set for her.

It is important to observe your child's behavior and take cues from her. Look to see if she is becoming frustrated or tired or hungry. You can often avoid negative behavior and temper tantrums by learning to observe your child.

Another effective way to understand your child's perspective is by taking the time to communicate with her. It's important to look deeper into the cause of your child's behavior to understand how it fits into his view of the world. This awareness can lead to a better understanding between you and your child.

Sample Scenarios

  • A child interrupts while Dad is talking on the phone. Dad says, "I'll be finished soon, just wait a little while, and I'll take you to the park." She begins to whine two seconds later.

In this instance, the dad needs to remember that a child's concept of "a little while" is not the same as his. Five minutes can seem like an hour to a child.

  • Mom calls into the living room where her son is watching television and asks him to hang up the coat he's thrown on the floor. He seems to ignore her, and she gets frustrated.

In this scenario, it's useful for the mom to understand that her child is not being disrespectful. He's so immersed in what he is watching that he doesn't even hear her. Young children have difficulty shifting gears and doing several things at once. Instead of expecting the child to change directions immediately, it may be helpful to give him advance notice of what's expected and when. It's important to do this terms the child can understand. For example, "You can watch this program, but when it's over you have to hang up your coat."

What the Experts Say

Dr. Becky Bailey
"Seeing the world from your children's perspective helps you understand what they really want and need. Our children can teach us so much--by what they say, what they do, and what they see. And when we listen, we learn to be better parents."

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. Do you make time for your child to talk with you?

  2. Do you have realistic expectations that take into account how old your children are, what their attention span is like, and how much they can accomplish in any given time?

  3. Can you listen (without judging) as your child tells you his likes and dislikes, opinions, thoughts, and feelings?

  4. Do you ever take a step back and try to see the world from your child's point of view? If so, how does that change your behavior as a parent?

Parents' Journal

Use this journal to discover and explore your child's unique and special qualities. Print it out and fill it out together. You can write down what your child likes, dislikes, describe her routines, and record and celebrate developmental milestones.

Video Clips from Parent Tales

Watch Dr. Becky Bailey and Dr. Gloria Rodriguez help parents recognize their child's point of view. To view these clips you will need RealPlayer.

Printable Awards
Celebrate your child's uniqueness with these printable Dragon Tales certificates.

© 2001 Sesame Workshop/Columbia TriStar Television Distribution. "Dragon TalesTM" and its logo are trademarks of Sesame Workshop and Columbia TriStar Television Distribution. All rights reserved.