Our three year-old grandson Reuben is by far the most literal little guy (or gal, for that matter) I’ve ever met. He’s not silly…he’s Reuben. He’s not a pistol…he’s Reuben. He’s not our little sweetie…he’s Reuben. And I LOVE it! It’s just one of the many things that makes him the amazing and adorable little man he is.
The truth of the matter, however, is that Reuben really doesn’t see things all that differently than other kids his age. He’s just got the wherewithal to take the time to say what he’s thinking. You might even say he’s a bit of an ambassador for his peers without even realizing it by just being Reuben. Huh? How?
Well since you asked…
The fact that Reuben doesn’t ‘get’ our affectionate ‘name calling’ should serve to remind us that children need and prefer us to keep things real and simple because that’s the way they see them, AND that our little ones have feelings, too.
Reuben and his peers don’t want to be called names any more than your and I do. Think about it…how would you like it if people went around calling you silly? Or what if your boss referred to you as the office clown instead of seeing you as a valuable employee?
If Reuben and his peers knew how to articulate their true feelings on the subject, I think it would probably go something like this: “I prefer to be called Reuben since that’s my name but thanks for noticing my great sense of humor. I get it from my dad.”
Reuben and his peers also don’t want or need to be overwhelmed with details. They don’t care that your great aunt Harriet’s house always smells like lavender, that she was married to Uncle William, and used to have a dog that ate bologna sandwiches. They just want to know if a) she’s a cheek-pincher and b) if she’ll have any toys or should they take their own.
And finally, Reuben and his peers don’t need and shouldn’t have to deal with mixed signals. It’s confusing and frustrating to have to wonder why being silly was okay yesterday but earned them a big fat time-out today? You also know there are times they wonder, “If you liked the name you chose for me so well, why do I only hear it when I’m in trouble?” And most importantly, when you tell them you love them, they need to be able to take you at your word and need to know your actions will always reflect what you say. Always.
Reuben’s mommy and daddy appreciate and respect his desire to keep things simple and true. He knows he is loved, that they won’t overwhelm him with stuff that doesn’t matter anyway, and at the end of the day as he’s drifting off to sleep, he never has to question whether or not being Reuben is a good thing or not.
So on behalf of Reuben the ambassador for three year-olds everywhere, let me close by saying when it comes to talking to your kids keep it real, simple, and consistent.
Copyright 2016 Darla Noble. No part of this can be used or copied without permission from the author.