In April this year, I pulled out Your Five Year Old by Lesley Holditch of the Tavistock clinic while I was at My Library. What could it tell me more that I didn’t already know, I had thought. It was more for amusement than for info but I really did need to know why my son was the way he was behaving those days.
I am not going to write a review here. I just want to talk a couple of things that came to my mind while and after reading it.
1. These little people have learnt not just to say no, but also that they can get their point across to us (it doesn’t matter if it is right or wrong) and the consequence to it is that they don’t know how to put that point across without running into an argument or a whine. Solution? Assist them. Give them a choice whenever possible and keep the dialogue and communication lines clear.
2. They have started school and it makes them independant but at the sametime very vulnerable to emotional changes happening within them. They are leaving their home for the first time and mommy will not be there all the time with them. They have to be independant ( go to the bathroom, put their ideas across to complete strangers, share their stuff, take care of themselves, etc). Our role: be the cheerleader. They have enough criticism and unsuriety brewing in them so the best you can do is believe in them and tell them so as often as you can.
3. There is now another parent-like (authoritive) figure in their lives: the teacher. ‘Is the teacher right or is mum and dad right? ‘ My teacher says you should do it this way’ kind of problems. This is where our choice of a good school that lives upto your standards and thinking, both in terms of discipline and morality, comes in.
4. They are now exposed to different cultures and traditions and people of different race, colour and relegion. ‘Mommy where are we from? Raed says he is Saudi and Faris is Syrian.’ ‘Mommy why does Faris’ mom let Faris play with swords and you say it is bad?’ ‘ Jana’s mom lets her eat macaroni and yoghurt why must I have a sauce?!’ 🙂
5. They have learnt that they too can say ‘I dont know‘! How many times have you asked how school went or what they did with the sitter and they replied ‘ I don’t know’? Numerous, I’d say! No, there aren’t trying to irk or irritate you… It is just that they want to keep school life or their time with the sitter/dad/cousin/you-name-who different from the time they spend with you. Solution? Give them their space but at the sametime make sure you are your child’s best friend. Talk to them about your feelings and likes so that they feel like sharing theirs. Tell them how your day went, how work was… What you did when they were away. They’ll copy you.
6. They can learn music, rhymes, songs and anything which has a tune and they love to dance. No matter how hard you try to prevent him from singing that song, he will and no matter how many a times you remind him to stop dancing in front of guests, he will. He just must! He has to show off that he can move in so many ways. 🙂 The best thing that comes out of this is that you can teach them to pray. They learn and memorise very fast.
7. Imagination and make believe: You thought he was lying when all that he was doing was imagining it. They love love to play make believe. Dinosaurs remember? We are building a time machine today, by the way.
8. Every five year old wants to be good. This, came as a shock to me! I am sorry to say this but my five year old, I feel is always trying his best to be naughty. But, after I read this and more, I got thinking. It is always for attention -positive or negative. Any attention is good… Anything to make sure mum and sometimes dad and uncles and aunts too, are ony noticing me. Remember that the minute you pick up the phone they are by your side talking to you having something very urgent? And that everytime you have to give the baby a nap or feed her, they have to be upto something? It is only because they need you too. So what can be done? Tell them when you go on the phone that mommy will be in you in a minute ( or better give them a watch!) and that they can draw a picture or build a space ship. Give them a choice they can make and hang up when your time is up. Give them some activity in front of you where you can watch them or tell them that he has to do something and how surprised you will be when it is done. I always exclaim a huge exxagerated ‘wow’ and give him a prize for being such a wonderful young man. Ofcourse, you will have to praise him in front of dad and make sure he is in earshot. 🙂
The section on the effect of school got me really thinking. I am sure, if you are like us and live in a multi cultural society, you have come across questions from your little one too. What colour am I? Why doesn’t Mary-Ann not speak our language? It is not just curiosity about other people but about themselves too. They want to know if they are the odd one out. Are they acceptable to others. Are they cuter, smarter, better than them or is it the other way around. It got me thinking as to how easy it is for us to pass out negative things to our kids…. How easy it is for us to teach our kids to be prejudiced and discriminant if we are not careful. They watch our behaviour towards people… They listen to our words… They listen to any comment, criticism that we make and while we live in a multi cultural society, what you say about your asian maid or african driver or that man on the TV, all is being taken note of. So what is to be done? Educate yourself while you educate them about other cultures. Be more out-going…
It was interesting that my son started asking me so much about all the countries right after they had the International day at his school. We had our winter break right after and it really helped to bring books and watch videos and pictures and discuss about all the countries in the world. The best thing that you can teach your child is that each country, each culture and every person on this planet is different yet unique in themselves. We need to accept them as they are and not compare. I think my little Dinosaur understands that but… As Lesley said, 5yr olds are just a little trailer of what they will be like in their teenage. Everything that they think now or get disturbed by… This will stay with them and get out when they reach their teens. (Not exactly those words but…)
I say, “Uh oh!!” 🙂