Tuesday, 7 January 2014

The World According to a Three Year Old

"Daddy, God made the wind and He made it cold", my three-and-a-half year old daughter moaned as we walk off the beach in Cape Town.  We were back home, on holiday, visiting relatives and spending the festive season with our nearest and dearest. What I began to notice more and more as the holiday went on, was the my little girl became increasingly excited and more fascinated with the world around her in a way that she has never expressed before.  This comment about the weather made me realise that my daughter is becoming ever increasingly aware of the world around her.  It is an exciting time for me as a father, as I am able to share in her joy and amazement; this also offers me the opportunity to see the world from the view of a three-year-old once again (a welcomed return 31 years later). There is so much magic which the little ones see and experience.  It becomes tangible - this cannot be more true than during the annual festive season which has just passed. Seeing the world through my daughter's eyes has allowed me to form a new, fresh bond with her as I too can be a part of the magic she is expressing and enjoying. This is an important factor in her development, as it is around the age of three that a child develops his/her internal working model.  Through an attachment relationship with the primary caregiver (in this case, my wife and I), our daughter is now developing a cognitive framework of mental representations for the understanding of the world around her, the self and others. Psychologists believe that a person's interaction with others is guided by memories and expectations from their own internal model (this is also known as schema); this will later shape one's ability to evaluate one's contact with others. What is happening is quite simply that my daughter is beginning to understand the world as well as future interactions with others. Psychologist John Bowlby (famous for his work on attachment) stated that the primary caregiver acts as a prototype for future relationships via the internal working model - talk about a lot of pressure for us parents!

It's a delightful experience seeing the world through the eyes of my little one - it's often honest (too honest at times) and extremely exciting.  Walking to school this morning, her first day back after the Christmas break, she duly noted "Daddy, the wind blows too much in England and the sun doesn't shine here.  I wish there would be more sunshine"...the exact observation of oh so many before her.


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