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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Through the Eyes of a Toddler or Baby

My youngest granddaughter is 22 months old and for up to 4 times a week, until the end of June, I had been watching her, her brother, and her sister. Now that I'm visiting my son in North Carolina, I am away from most of my grandchildren and will be for a total of 6 weeks.

Last week, my youngest daughter and I shared some FaceTime. She is the mother of the baby in the photo (and the baby's brother and sister). I talked with all of them on my iPad while they talked to me on an iPhone. The baby, who usually smiles widely when we are in person, just kept staring at me. I started to think about the world through her eyes.

I imagined her peering into the phone and wondering how I got in there – maybe if she got close enough to the screen, because at times all I could see was her eyeball, she might be able to climb in too.

So I started to wonder, can children ascertain the difference between what they see on their television screens, what they see through phone screens, and what they see in person? Do they know that most of what they see through a screen is not real? Or do they think all of it is real? 

Did the screen freeze and she tried to mimic my expression? What went through my granddaughter's mind when she saw me on her mother's phone screen? Was she expecting me to walk through the screen? Her face showed confusion. I would have loved to have stepped inside her mind to know what she was thinking. 

Try something. Pause while you look into the eyes of a child. You can almost see the wheels spinning as they connect what they see, hear, feel, taste, touch, and experience to all of their previous experiences. They copy our expressions, our tones of voice, and they imitate our actions and our words. The best we can do is set a good example and hope their experience of the world is a happy and joyful one.

The photo above shows a classic example of a child attempting to mimic an adult. Avery doesn't get to see Uncle John very often, but she follows him around, sits next to him every chance she gets, and, as you can see in the photo above, tries to imitate his actions.

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