A toddler’s view of language

The 4-year-old showed a keen grasp of linguistics / poetic language this weekend:

The Little Man has been out of his mind with anticipation this weekend, and also from the heat.  As a result, he’s been spending some time in his room contemplating strategies for expressing his frustration.

Anyway, I was trying to explain that it’s ok to *be* mad or disappointed or frustrated, but that he needs to find less destructive ways of expressing it.  Don’t throw the toy, just say that you’re crabby.

He listened pretty carefully, even using some active listening skills he’s been practicing.  But, after about five minutes or so, he said: “Well, I’m not going to say that ‘I’m angry’ or ‘I’m frustrated.’  I’m going to say ‘You’re stupid’ or ‘I hate you’ instead.”  I asked him why, since those tend to land him in his room.

His answer: “When I say ‘stupid’ or ‘hate,’ I don’t mean it.  But those words are more violent, and they help me get over being mad–they get it out.”  It’s like he produced a whole theory of cursing.  He’s never uttered an expletive, but I’m half-tempted to teach him a couple, just to depersonalize and diversify his anger-management strategies.

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3 Responses to A toddler’s view of language

  1. Alex says:

    Further cementing Little Man as simply awesome in my Opinion. Most of the time, you hear stuff like “My Child is so Intelligent, he draws within the lines!” This is a new deal- this is *Philosophy*. Give the kid a nintendo and, By god, we’ll be looking at the next Socrates!

    And He watches star wars!


  2. me says:

    I think cursing is a bad habit — not because of the choice of words, it’s just that it’s an exaggerated reflex. A kid I know keeps saying, “Oh, snap!” When he reacts thus, he can’t be keeping his focused attention on the problem at hand. It’s like going outside and running around the block every time something goes wrong. It’s just an unnecessary self-impairment.

  3. me says:

    I think this is Freud’s theory of catharsis. It seems to have been based on the idea of a conservation principle, like conservation of energy. You have an emotion, which is a thing; it is either here, or there. Put it over there (“out”), and it is no longer here (“in.”)
    = = =
    Teach him some “real dirty words, like hate … and war” (The Dirty Word Song)