• Michael Cann

The sophistication of children

Never underestimate the sophistication of your kids' understanding, and the fullness of their emotional life.

Tonight I was preparing to sell a full-size human skeleton model that I used to use every day as a Feldenkrais Practitioner.

Zevi, now nearly six years old said "Phew dad, I'm glad you don't to that job any more".

"Really Zev? What do you mean?"

"Well, you used me as a demonstration to show people how to pick up a baby. I didn't like that."

[Me scratching my head wondering if there was any time I actually did that]

"Really? When did I do that?"

"I was having a milk feed from mummy, and was eating some corn flakes in a box like this [he walks to the drawer and pulls out one of our plastic snack containers], and you demonstrated how to pick up a baby. I didn't like the people looking at me."

[Me suddenly remembering a presentation I gave to the Australian Breastfeeding Association]

"Oh my gosh, Zev. You're right. I did do that. You were two years old. I'm really sorry. I understand that you didn't like having the people looking at you. I'm sorry I didn't realise that you didn't like that. I would have done something different."

"Yeah, well, I was just having a milk feed with mummy and she said 'go to daddy'. I didn't know what was happening."

Far out. We had not spoken a word about that occasion for more than three years.

I do a lot of emotional processes in groups where people (myself included) have experiences they associate with early childhood. I have always been a little skeptical about the stories that go along with those experiences. But then, I haven't really cared whether they are factually accurate or not, since I'm only really interested in the consequences of the processes for my life today. The outcomes have always been tremendously positive, so I really have not cared whether the stories are true or not.

Nonetheless, today, I'm willing to drop some of my skepticism.

Young children's understanding of the world is far more sophisticated than we often think.

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