Yesterday was a surprisingly busy day ending bizarrely with another surreal Balint group. So I was very thankful to arrive home to the usual flurry of kisses and tales of the day. It was only later in the evening that I found the empty toilet roll down the toilet for the second time this week. I called Bella through and asked her how it could be that this had happened. Surprise registered on her face as she innocently said “It wasn’t me”. The alternative was 18 month old Big Son who cannot reach the toilet roll despite his astounding climbing abilities or the nanny. Earlier in the week I asked her about nursery and was met by the reply “it was only me and Amy there” despite there being many more bodies squeezing into the cloakroom at home time and last week she told our neighbour I was pregnant. I’m not and have no plans to be, she just made it up. Bella is an incredibly sweet, well-behaved child, so what gives?
Looking at the theories out there toddlers apparently begin to stretch the truth at this age as they are not yet able to differentiate between reality and fantasy. Another reason apparently is ‘magical thinking’ – when a toddler wishes an event had taken place one way instead of another, they may stretch the truth because they actually believes that saying it will make it so. OK, so this makes sense to me and all I need to do apparently is read the ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ and the balance will be restored.
So I read Bella the story, encourage honesty, model trust and we are back on top. If this is all part of normal growing up, maturity etc then why is there the constant misrepresentation of the truth all around us, the frequent conflicts of interest and bald-faced lies within the media?
The evidence from the last 48 hours in the medical media demonstrates this superbly:
Breast in Best – but it will make baby grumpier, breast fed babies cry more, laugh less and have ‘more challenging temperaments’ than their formula fed counterparts ~ www.metro.co.uk/…/887008-breastfeeding-makes-babies-cry-more-and-laugh-less
Bottle-fed babies are being ‘comfort-fed’ to ease mothers’ lives, they appear more content but this is a result of over-feeding ~ www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/…/breast–fed-babies-more-challenging_n_1197087.html
Money spent on nicotine patches ‘goes up in smoke’ as no impact on smoking cessation despite the £66m bill in 2010 ~ www.metro.co.uk/…/886888-money–spent-on-nicotine–patches–goes–up-in-smoke-says-survey
New research from US demonstrating nicotine patches may help improve memory and concentration of elderly people experiencing early signs of dementia ~
According to a study published in the British Medical Journal today patients looking for the safest care should hope for a surgeon aged between 35 and 50 years ~ www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16483619
Current pensions battle which British Medical Association has become involved in trying to stop future state retirement age being increased to 68 years ~ www.bma.org.uk/press_centre/pressnhspensionscheme.jsp
I suppose the point I’m trying to make is that when toddlers start to become more socially astute to language and the behaviour this generates they are whole-heartedly discouraged. There is little doubt in my mind that at the tender age of 3 Bella knows how language can manipulate behaviour (eg. my mummy lets me have lollies), gain attention with embellishing stories, learn to explore and experiment with our reactions and try to cover things up to avoid the consequences.
I’m not condoning telling tales on any level but I do think it takes some degree of emotional intelligence. In the media they call it sensationalism and propanganda, we are living in a time in which facts are almost secondary to getting a story out, the juicier and more salacious, the better. If you can kill the messenger, why worry about the details of the message.
Maybe truth is the best propaganda and this is what we should be telling our children and throwing the ‘Boy Who Cries Wolf’ in the bin.