What I’ve come to realise of late is that my son, who is rapidly approaching 7 years old, is far more emotionally intelligent than those of his peers – who are in fact older than him. While this sounds like the typical parent-like “oh my kid is just so awesome” it’s actually not. My kid has flaws, he is a handful and he is far from perfect. I don’t believe in the perfect child. He is
I have begun to notice this a lot lately when watching him around his friends. I am a people watcher, I like to sit back and analyse and in doing so have discovered a difference in my child. While his friends seem to process things as a child of 7, my son appears to have a deeper understanding of life, death, consequences, friendships, relationships and the like. Whether it is because both his father and I are very realistic parents, choosing to teach our kids about topics most parents shy away from or whether it is just his brain is more developed, I can’t say. But it is something that comes with a small price, my son has anxiety and I put this down to his brain processing emotions far deeper than those around him, leaving him confused and sometimes angry and frustrated.
What I have learnt over time though, is to not dismiss him in times when he is curious about life and death. To not dismiss his feelings when he is frustrated or angry. To talk to him, explain things to him and help him understand. My hubby and I have always spoken to our children as though they are adults, not children. We teach them things despite knowing it is complicated, beyond their years and in turn we have discovered that our children have a more developed language and understanding.
Children are far smarter than what we give them credit for. We often laugh at some of the ridiculously complicated words that come out of our kids mouths and their explanations of things are sometimes better than what I could explain them. At 5 my son explained a combustion engine and at 4 my daughter explained photosynthesis better than most adults.
Recently, I took my children to visit their nana at her resting place. The kids asked if we could go for a walk around to look at all the people. We set off, the kids asking me questions about all the trinkets on the people’s graves or their photos on their plaques. They asked how they died, what their names were and how old they were. I fed their curiosity as much as I could.
Then we came upon “the garden of angels.” This garden was dedicated to children and babies who had grown their wings. I didn’t want to continue but the kids did. They asked just as many questions, about their toys, their lives, their names. Some of the plaques had photographs on them, the kids were genuinely interested and not at all upset. In fact, I was the one with tears in my eyes. The fact is, the children were perfectly at ease with the acceptance of death, comprehending how lucky they were to not be like these children and understanding the gravity of the loss these families had experienced.
My point is, don’t shield children from things you think are beyond their years – to a degree of course. We don’t allow our children to see all the horrors of the world but when they see a natural disaster on the news and they ask about it, we explain it. We watch nature documentaries on tornadoes and the deep sea to expand their minds. Explain life after death, trust me they can take it. It not only feeds their natural curiosity, it expands their mind, but creates emotionally intelligent children.