Some people just have a way with children: they know what to say, how to say it and when to elaborate or let a point slide. It’s as if they have an innate understanding of what this small precious person really needs.
And then there is the other type: those who eye children warily like they are pint-sized aliens just waiting to usurp them. This type generally avoids interaction with kids and when circumstances do bring them into a shared vicinity, it is both hilarious and awkward.
The good news for the Type Twos out there is that researchers and scientists are working hard to empirically qualify truths that the Type Ones already know. There are great scholars who, bit by bit, are shedding light on the mystery of children. Here are three interesting facts and a working hypothesis that may peak your interest. Although anyone who works closely with kids may already have first-hand experience with these traits, it’s always interesting when science backs up conventional wisdom.
Fact: Children don’t begin to understand sarcasm until around age 6 and don’t understand the humor involved until around age 10. Have you ever seen an adult try to talk to a child as if they, too, are adults? It’s pretty uncomfortable. There’s a reason we phrase things simply for their understanding. Not only are the words we choose important, but the way we say them matters. Children are very literal and sarcasm is a high level of humor.
Fact: Children can be unbelievably creative. While imaginary friends, spontaneous dances and long intricate stories showcase their wild and vivid imaginings, this is behavior that could potentially be stifled. We have to nurture creativity in children or it’s likely to remain undeveloped. One of the great ways to explore and encourage creativity? Yup, music therapy.
Fact: Research shows that children understand the difference between social convention and moral choices. Children actually do understand that just because everyone else is doing something, that doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t mean that kids aren’t going to emulate their parents and other role models (“Do as I say, not as I do” still isn’t a paradigm to parent by) but it does mean they generally understand the difference between something that is “right” and something that is “cool”.
Fact or Fiction: While this one is more physiological than behavioral, I thought it was too fascinating to passup! You know how the moment a baby is born, people start declaring him/her as the spitting image of their father or mother? Turns out, young children, especially infants, look more like their father than their mother. This seems to be an evolutionary trait, because men are more likely to care and provide for children who resemble them. However, not everyone agrees with the research on this topic.
Are you a Type One or a Type Two? What other observations about children have you noticed during your work with children that you believe could be proven?