Toddler thinking skills includes the ability to remember things, solve problems, use imagination, reasoning, gathering, organizing and evaluating experiences. There are what are called milestones for every aspect of child development, and this includes cognitive development. A developmental milestone is an ability that is achieved by most children by a certain age.
Every child moves to his own cognitive milestones at his own pace, but most toddlers demonstrate specific thinking skills around the same age range.
My ever-energetic 2½year old wanted to tell me about an incident that happened regarding death. Actually, our driver came to inform her dad that his mum passed on and he wanted to ask permission to take time off for her burial. Apparently, little Miss was listening to the conversation.
So while I am eating breakfast, she comes to me and we had the following conversation:
Motun: “Mummy? e kill mummy” (Remembering conversation heard)
Me: “No! He didn’t kill me. His mummy died, and he did not kill her.”
Motun: “e mummy die.” (Reasoning – in statement form, not question)
Me: “Yes, Mr L’s Mummy died.”
Motun: “Mr L mummy die.” (Still reasoning but also trying to understand why ‘die’ here didn’t involve ‘kill’)
From my own observation, she obviously knows that when you kill something, that thing dies. But she didn’t get the fact that you don’t have to kill a thing for it to die. What death is in itself still remains too complex for her to understand. Or is it because no-one close to her has died?
When her older siblings say, “kill that cockroach!” or “I am going to kill that mosquito!” Her witnessing the actions that come after the statements give her an idea of what it is like to kill (in the context of an insect).
Also, I noted that when she said, “e kill mummy” – she didn’t say it with fear, anger or hate because to her ‘killing’ is an innocent way of removing an unwanted or undesirable harm from ones way. And her finishing the conversation the way she did by repeating what I said doesn’t mean she has understood it either.
It is apt to say her cognitive developmental stage hasn’t allowed her to reason in a mature manner. And of course, it would be totally meaningless and irrelevant for me to start trying to distinguish ‘kill’ and ‘die’ and ‘death’.
Compare that incident with this one I call “MY LITTLE PHYSICIST”
(to be continued)