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The Informed Parent

Lessons From A Three-Year-Old

by Carolyn Warnemuende, M.S.
Published on Apr. 04, 2011

“That‘s so silly,” Julianna giggled. Gleefully, she jumped up and down pointing to the sky. “Look. That’s so silly,” she said again.

I looked up. There, high in the sky, hung the half-full moon. “That moon is so silly. It’s day. It’s not night. That old moon shouldn’t be there,” she continued in her singsong voice.

We laughed together enjoying the mystery of the moon being out during the day. Later I thought about the three-year-old mind. I thought about how curious young children are and how much of the world is fresh, open, and an adventure.

I also considered how rigidly they need to keep their world so that they have a sense of prediction and control. The moon is out at night. The sun comes out during the day. Shoes go in one basket, socks in another. While, to adult eyes, pretend and playfulness fill much of a three-year-old’s day, the need to understand the real world looms large. A need for order exists.

I took a leap ahead into the adult mind. Many of us have lost our curiosity and ability to see the world through new eyes. We impose our own meaning on situations we don’t understand--just like the three-year-old who believes a daytime moon is silly. Order in our world is necessary for optimal functioning. Too little order creates chaos and disequilibrium. Too much, rigidity and stagnation.

Synergy occurs when three-year-olds and adults interact harmoniously. Little ones can explore their world, play with abandon, and know that when things get too disorderly, loving hands are there to help.

Adults can put aside their surety and see with fresh eyes. They can play without fear of ridicule and judgment. They can either relax or tighten their need for order.

Imagine what might happen if each of us could suspend our personal sense of reality for a short time. Imagine the freedom in not having to know, to understand, to live with certainly. Imagine what might happen if we could see every person we come into contact with as our teacher. Imagine the joy, the lightheartedness, and the synergy.

I’ll start with a three-year-old and see what happens from there.

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