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Mommy Mondays: Teaching Complexity to a Concrete Mind

by Kimberly on September 23, 2013 · 0 comments

My 6-almost-7 year old son views the world in very concrete ways. For example, to him events in the world are either fair or not fair. If his sister is snuggling with me, then he should get to snuggle with me for the exact same amount of time . . . or it won’t be fair. If I read a book or sing a song to her at bedtime, he often requests the same book or song when I go to tuck him in for the night . . . or it won’t be fair.

In this sense, from a developmental standpoint, I feel he’s right where he should be.

The challenge, though, is that human nature is not so concrete. Our temperaments, our past experiences, our developmental trajectory, our relationships all contribute to the complexity of how we behave and interact with others.

Recent interactions my son has had with a peer is making it necessary for me to starting processing this idea of human complexity with him. See, there’s friction between my son and a peer that occurs on a fairly regular basis. And it is my understanding that this peer has some developmental challenges that contribute to behaviors that aren’t always appropriate. So my son is witnessing (and is sometimes a victim of) these behaviors. As we process these interactions,  I’m finding it an interesting challenge to try and use these experiences to start teaching him about human complexity.

So I find myself trying to balance validating my sons feelings about these interactions while trying to explain in concrete terms why these behaviors might be happening. In essence, I am beginning to teach my son about patience, tolerance, understanding, and compassion. That not everyone is wired the same way he is. That even when it seems like the other person is behaving inappropriately, sometimes it is important to try and understand the other person’s perspective and why he or she is acting a certain way.

This weekend’s conversation was likely the first of many conversations related to negotiating complex human relationships. And I’m looking forward to more.

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