Sunday, January 29, 2012

What If?

My sons have a bad case of the What Ifs. What if we go camping and get eaten by a bear? What if I have a gun handy and I can shoot the bear? What if I forget my homework? What if you forget to pick me up from school (this has never happened)? What if a burglar breaks into our house and steals me while I'm asleep?

So tonight, after many reassurances that they were, in fact, safe inside the walls of our house, and in their room, I decided to play with them. So I asked them my own What Ifs. What if your freckles decide to rebel and occupy the carpet instead of your face? What if all of the numbers on the clocks in the house decide they don't like their jobs and they decide to throw all the ones at the walls, like spears? Picture the 7s, I told them, "4, check, 3, check, 2, check" throwing the 1s. Why the 7s? I haven't a clue. What if, I asked, in their smurf blue and nickelodeon slime green bedroom, your ceiling becomes a rainbow that swirls like a tornado and bits of it drip from the ceiling, and you get a bad case of the stripes to go to school tomorrow?

According to psychologists, a child's ability to ask What If signals the beginning of critical and abstract thinking. So I am led to wonder- did my game challenge them to think? Or did I merely blow them off?

My goal was to allay their fears and validate their need for answers in the same conversation- which I hope I accomplished. Thank You, credential program Child Development classes for teaching me that children often ask parents questions to determine if parents are a reliable source of information.

A bad case of the stripes? Probably not. But is a burglar going to break in? Probably not either.

What do you do with your kids?


  1. aside from wishing I knew more about child psychology... I figure if all else fails, validate their feelings, assure them you unconditionally love them, and make them laugh. I think silly-based laughing somehow tricks them into thinking I'm an awesome parent, even when I don't have answers and make a million mistakes that cause emotional damage. I love returning the "what if" question back to them in a creative and silly way. I bet they thought it was pretty fun too! Brilliant! ;)