Toddler Sociology

I think it would be interesting to take a class in toddler sociology.  It is absolutely fascinating to watch kids interact with each other before they have learned the cultural and societal norms, and before their language is developed enough to articulately express what they want and how they feel. 

Oliver, my main subject in my independent studies (for obvious reasons), cracks me up.  When he sees another kid on a playground, how he acts towards them depends on a number of things.  If they’re about his age and size (size being the more important factor here), he’ll approach the other child and kind of circle her.  He might point to the toy that she is holding and say what it is.  Or he’ll point to his shirt and name what’s on his shirt (“airplane!”).  If he wants to play with the toy she’s holding, he’ll keep pointing at it, and might say please.  He’ll look at me a lot to see if I think it’s okay for him to snatch it (I rarely say that it is). 

Oliver generally ignores kids that are younger than him unless they have a toy he wants, and then he often feels okay about stealing it.  He generally gets reprimanded by me. 

With kids that are older than him, especially if there are two or more playing together, Oliver will follow them around, but be too shy to actually approach.  He loves to watch them, though. 

It is so interesting to me to see how he is learning social behavior.  I try to stay out of his dealings with other kids as much as possible–even letting kids fight a bit (not physically, and certainly not to where they might hurt each other) because I think it helps them learn to work out their own problems.  And Oliver needs to learn that he can’t just take things he wants, and other kids’ reactions to him are going to do a better job of letting him know that than I can.

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