Why children are crappy interpreters of what they see


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Dr. B –

Children are wonderful observers of everything in their environment – however, they’re pretty lousy interpreters.

They don’t have enough life experience to accurately interpret all that they see. Consequently, they often misunderstand the meaning of things.  This leads to mistaken beliefs about themselves and others.

For example, when we routinely put our four-year-old’s shoes on for them they might mistakenly believe that the reason we do it is that we don’t think they’re capable.

Of course, the majority of the time we’re doing it to save time (we’re trying to get out the door), but they perceive it differently. They think we do it because we believe they cannot and that alone might make it more difficult for them to risk trying to tie their shoes.   

In that case you might want to bring awareness to the situation by saying something like ‘I know you can tie your shoes on your own, but Mommy/Daddy didn’t leave enough time, so I’m going to do it super fast!’

But it can also be as simple as picking up on a misunderstanding you notice they’ve made.

A fun example of a misinterpretation from my own childhood – and I’m sure many can relate: When I was learning the ABC song I thought that there was a letter called “elemenopee!” I don’t remember my parents ever correcting me.

Whether it’s their ABC’s or putting on their shoes it’s important to check in on your child’s interpretation of something so that you can be sure that they have an accurate understanding of what’s going on, and the way things should really be.