Recently I’ve learned that children under the age of 7 operate mostly in their subconscious mind. Even pre-born children have a level of consciousness that science has just begun to uncover. Twins have been observed to play on either side of window curtains mimicking their experience in the womb interacting with each other behind the uterine sacs. Some children even recall their time in the womb and being born.
It highlights how much influence we have as parents in the very early days of our kid’s lives. Every word, interaction, and immediate environment are all taken in by our kid’s subconscious mind.
Anxiety is something I have struggled with and continue to manage on a daily basis. I bring this up because it is a major factor in how I respond to a perceived stress. The other evening at dinner, in an anxious moment, I had lost my patience on my older son and overreacted over playing with his toys at the table. My 3 year old clearly watched and his gut reaction was to call me out on it. His older brother was visibly upset and our little guy stood up for him. He verbalized to me the best way he knew how that I had been unfair to his brother. He clearly stated I needed to apologize. I just sat there quietly for a moment and humbled by my 3 year old. I apologized to my eldest son and continued on with dinner.
My 3 year old was still upset at me after apologies were exchanged. It required further reassurance from me that I was okay and calm now. He was clearly affected by my reaction. It was a strong reminder to be mindful of how I communicate verbally and non-verbally to them. We haven’t had a talk with our 3 year old about fairness and unfairness but he clearly identified it.
I know they take in every interaction we have with them, verbal and non-verbal. They process it somehow one way or another in their subconscious. Maybe we’ve at least shown him the meaning of fairness.
He was probably simply thinking, ‘daddy, why you gotta be so rude?!’