Conversations with a pre-verbal child

Before I write this post I would like to point out that I’m not mad, while these conversations are based on real events they never actually happened anywhere other than in my head.

The Request

Child: That looks interesting. *points to age inappropriate object out of reach*

Parent: No, you can’t have that.

Child: Can I have that please? *points again, moves closer*

Parent: No, that’s not for you. *moves child away from object and next to some toys in attempt to distract*

Child: I want that toy! *returns to object, points again*

Parent: That isn’t a toy, you can’t have it.

Child: I NEED that toy NOW! You can’t BELIEVE how much my WORLD is falling apart WITHOUT it! HOW DARE YOU STOP ME FROM HAVING MY TOY! GIVE IT TO ME NOW! I CAN’T REACH IT! WHY AREN’T YOU HELPING ME?!

Parent: That isn’t yours is it, it isn’t a toy. Here, have this toy instead *gives totally unrelated object that is age appropriate*

Child: Well thank you. I’m glad you saw sense. *plays with toy*

Parent: *breathes sigh of relief*

The question I have at the end of this, is who won? The child didn’t get what they wanted, yet came away satisfied after having a bit of a strop. The parent stopped the child from getting something they weren’t allowed and prevented a full on meltdown. I guess a bit of both. The hardest part of this interaction is trying not to laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of the overreaction.

Learning to self-feed

Parent: Why don’t you try feeding yourself *gives food-laden spoon to child*

Child: Wow, that’s amazing, look it goes in my mouth and the food comes off! Yummy!

Parent: Now give me the spoon back so I can put some more food onto it.

Child: NO! This is my spoon, it has my food on it. *realises there is no food on the spoon*

Child: There is something wrong with my spoon, it has no food on it!

Parent: Give me your spoon and you can have some more food.

Child: NO IT’s MY SPOON! THERE IS NO FOOD ON IT! PUT SOME FOOD ON IT! WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO TAKE THE SPOON! IT’S MY SPOON, YOU CAN’T HAVE IT! PUT SOME FOOD ON MY SPOON! *grips spoon with vice-like grip and will not give it up to the parent*

Parent: Fine, keep the spoon, you won’t get any more food until you give it to me. *starts eating own food*

CHILD: YOU THERE GIVE ME FOOD! *releases spoon onto high chair table*

*REPEAT*

Of course the benefit of this happening is that you actually get time to eat your own food in between bouts of spoon possession. Again, a ridiculous overreaction.

In adoption training they like to talk to you about something called ‘mind mindedness’ in relation to your child. From what I’ve learnt this is what people would usually call “seeing it from their point of view” but with the child’s past experiences in mind as to why their standard-seeming behaviour might be caused by reasons different to what you would initially think. Of course this could lead to a bit of paranoia about every little bit of misbehaviour (or even good behaviour), it is a very thin line we walk judging whether something is “normal”, or whether an over- (or even under-) reaction is caused by something else.

As with any child we will learn their triggers in time, and do out best to help them navigate the world, hopefully disarming the triggers as best we can.

In the meantime, I consider the scenarios above to be nothing to worry about and both have resulted in a few laughs. Frustrating as things can be, keeping a sense of humour seems to be key to everything!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *