I have two children, one being 7 months old and the other on the verge of turning 3 years old. My question is about my way of interacting with the 3-year-old one, but I hope to learn something I can apply to future interactions with the baby too.
My older child is loving, tidy, playful, well-mannered, smart, and generally everything a parent could dream of. We as parents made a point of stimulating our children, not keeping information away (though simpler words have to be used sometimes), showing not just telling, etc. and so far I think we're doing fine.
I've recently noticed that my child gets really distressed whenever I do something in a way I'm not supposed to. Let me explain:
- Sometimes I'd be singing a song they know, and I would change the lyrics a bit. Either to fit the current situation (some adults hate that too, I know), or because I learned a new verse, or found nicer words, or just feel like it. This really bothered my child at first: they'd say that the song was not like that and would get very distressed if I tried to go on (sometimes with anger, sometimes with tears, always shouting "no, no, it's not like that!"). This also happened when it was other people singing it "wrong", but with a milder reaction (likely whispering to me "but the song is not like that!").
- Yesterday we were playing with a jigsaw puzzle of some TV series, and I picked two pieces with the face of the characters on them, and used the pieces like puppets, faking their voices and the like. My child quickly grabbed the pieces out of my hand and said "no, no, don't do that, they are not puppets, they are jigsaw pieces". When asked "but they have a face, why can't I use the pieces like puppets?" my child just said that the pieces were not for that. I dropped it there because we were having a good time and I didn't want to spoil it.
So I remember reading somewhere that, to correctly develop, children this age have the need to feel some things are "set in stone", that some things are the way they are and cannot change, so they feel secure enough to develop their cognitive and social skills. Else they would feel too insecure about everything. Is that right?
So my "being creative", to them might be like shaking their system of beliefs, like suddenly realizing that maybe nothing is like they think it is. Too much for a 2 year old?
I guess the question is:
Am I straining the intellectual and emotional development of my child by doing things that I see as imaginative, but maybe they see as crushing the foundations of their reality?
PS: About the lyrics issue, I've managed to make them understand that songs can have many different lyrics and that it is OK to change the lyrics of a song if you like to; and that it is called "a new version" of the song. So now when I change the lyrics they are used to, they usually (not always) just ask me if that's a new version, I say yes, and we carry on.
PPS: English not my first language, please forgive any mistakes. I've purposely tried to make the post gender-neutral, though -- hence so many "my child"s instead of just a pronoun or a name.