Child development: preschooler

Self-Liberating Preschooler

by Aigul Aubanova on August 25, 2011

in Child Development

Child development is a process of a child liberating from dependencies and fears toward freedom. On her way to independence a child goes through the infant, toddler, preschooler, school-age, and teenage stages. A preschooler continues to be introduced and learns to communicate with the world. The new ability to talk expands her freedom to explore the world and acquire knowledge about her brand new identity. At this important stage a child forms her image of herself, her I-concept, which will lead her to happiness or, if her parents are careless, to misery for the rest of her life.

Most experts of modern psychology, mental health therapy, or healing practices say that the heaviest of the emotional problems are rooted in a person’s childhood. Most people remember themselves being 4-5 year old when they first realized their identity. With new freedoms a child has new choices and new fears. At this important stage a child learns to navigate herself through the choices and avoid dangerous consequences. If in this process of exploring the world the child discovers more joys than fears, she will grow up into a happy person, friendly to the world. If  there will be more fears in her young life she might grow up into a person preoccupied with her insecurity.

A lot is going on in a preschooler’s mind. Who am I? Am I good or bad? Am I pretty? Am I wanted? A child is forming her image of herself, her I-concept. Simon Soloveychik emphasizes that at this age a child forms something that she will call later – her soul. Even 70 years later an old lady will still have a little girl inside her. The belief of her value that formed at age 5 will attract her life circumstances to match this belief. This perception does not change through life, unless the person decides to change it in the process of internal growth.

To understand what a child feels at this stage imagine a tourist in a foreign country who just learned to speak the language. She is still confusing lots of words, and is afraid to be embarrassed because of her lack of vocabulary and proper pronunciation. She often feels helpless and needs an interpreter. However, she strives to liberate herself from uncomfortable helplessness even if the interpreter often stands in her way. She goes around by herself and speaks to strangers. If the country she explores is friendly and populated with smiling people her journey of self-liberation will end up happily in the new stage.

However, it is often the case where the interpreter is preoccupied with her duty. Out of good intentions she tries to lead the tourist to safe places, even against the tourist’s will. The same sense of duty and righteousness occurs with parents. Thus, a power struggle begins. Sometimes it turns into a war between a child and a parent, which may continue through both their lives. Unfortunately many parents don’t know other ways to communicate with the child because they grew up constantly battling with their own parents. Now, when they obviously have power, they exercise it as their right to punish or have mercy. But what they don’t realize is that a child may accept this punishment as something which belongs to her identity. When grown up she will continue punish herself, in her mind, because of guilt, self-hatred and a habit to be insecure.

Thus the evil circle continues from generation to generation. To break it there is only one thing a parent can do: let it go! Let the old-rooted feeling of being stuck in misery and unworthiness go. This is an internal work of soul. However, nothing else works. A child at a preschooler stage is a very sensitive and spiritual being. She will immediately sense the parent’s transformation, even the slightest shift of it. She would be grateful and learn to grow too.

 

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