Your 3 1/2-year-old: Magical thinking

Your 3 1/2-year-old: Magical thinking

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Your 3-year-old now

Learning to distinguish between fantasy and reality is a gradual process. During this year, your child is at an interesting juncture. He still practices what developmental psychologists refer to as "magical thinking," assigning traits to objects or people that are impossible but seem logical to your child's early reasoning abilities.

So, your child might believe that a letter dropped in the mailbox immediately flies right to Grandpa's mailbox. He might think that tigers live in trees, that birds can talk to him, and that there really is a man on the moon. Sometimes things grownups say are taken literally because they sound plausible to your child: "The mosquitoes are eating us alive." "You're killing me!"

At the same time your child is, bit by bit, figuring out that certain flights of fancy probably are not real: His toy airplane doesn't really fly. The Wiggles don't live inside the TV. This process takes years — witness 8-year-old tooth fairy and Santa Claus believers. No rush: It's wonderful to retain a little bit of magical thinking right into adulthood.

Your life now

Do mealtimes ever feel tense because your child won't touch a bite on his plate? Most experts advise against forcing a child to eat anything. Food should be a source of pleasure and nourishment, not power struggles. Research suggests that coercive feeding practices can lead to weight problems or eating disorders later in life. The child learns to associate food with control. Wait until the next regular snack or meal and offer food again then; if he's hungry he'll eat — or he may not, and that's fine, too. Most experts say it's best not to start the habit of preparing special meals for a finicky eater. But neither should you punish him for not eating. Just let it go.

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Watch the video: A two-year-olds solution to the trolley problem (February 2023).

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