Children think about a lot of important things. As parents, we need to realize that they’re always processing a lot of information. Talk to your children often. Remember, they’re listening anyway.
“He’s not breathing really well, and they tell us he’ll likely die in a day or two…” a mother was explaining to a group of adults about her father-in-law, and her young son’s grandpa. Her son was sitting in an adjacent room with his good friend, but he wasn’t playing as his mother likely thought he was. He was looking at the back of his mother’s head and listening intently. I could see him visualizing the situation as he tuned out everyone else in the room. He was thinking about his grandpa, suffering, and death—and possibly even thinking about what it will feel like when his grandpa is gone.
Many children would rather listen to an interesting adult conversation than play with other children. Their minds are processing at amazingly fast rates. “By 4, a child’s brain is more than twice as active as an adult’s. The brain continues to consume glucose at this feverish pitch through age 10 and then slows down until age 16, when it levels off at adult values,” (Steve Nadia, The Oregonian, Technology Review, 12-15-93).
Parents don’t always acknowledge the amazing processing capacity of their children. However, movie makers, advertisers, and gaming sites know what children can process and they continually use that knowledge to introduce topics to children that shouldn’t be processed by young brains. They also rely on the fact that parents will be naive enough to assume that, due to their young age, their children aren’t thinking about the often graphic topics being promoted. One of the best ways to manipulate children’s thinking process is to get them obsessed with a certain topic or character.
The conversations we have with our children, the things we allow them to spend their time looking at, and the books we read to them will format their brains. This leads them toward information, inspiration or stimulation.
In the list below, it is noticeable that many of the topics children think deeply about relate to moral subjects. The most important learning to a child is moral learning. That learning clearly defines good guys, bad guys, heroes, and villains.
What Children Think About
- What is right and what is wrong. Children tell on each other and have petty arguments because justice is really important to them. They’re constantly corrected by adults and quickly learn what’s right or wrong. Adults help children define morality. Even if no morals are defined by parents, children will still try to learn what’s right or wrong because they’re hard-wired to find the right path, the right pronunciation, the right understanding, the right relationships, etc.
- What makes people happy. Unless children have been taught to only care about themselves they often try to nurture bonds with others. They plan surprises for their parents and siblings. I don’t know how many times one of my four children have said, “Mom, close your eyes and take my hand. I have a surprise to show you.