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Jan Cloninger and Rosemary Strembicki, LCSW Headshot

The Perspective of a Child

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Written by Rosemary Strembicki

I've been spending a lot of time with photographers the past few days, getting a better understanding of perspective. The position of the photographer, the angle of the sun and the formation of the clouds can make all the difference in getting the perfect shot of the landscape. The experience of viewing a panorama can change completely depending on the angle from which you view it. You see different things and notice nuances that one single perspective cannot accommodate.

Then I read an article, on Facebook of course, about how different the Cinderella Fountains at Disney Parks look when viewed from a child's standpoint. http://news.distractify.com/culture/disney-resort-secrets/?v=1 From the adult perspective we see a pensive, unhappy young woman. But when children are looking up at her they see a smiling princess with a crown on her head. It all made me wonder what kind of an impact parents can have if we always keep in mind the perspective of the child.

As adults, we experience the world from the history of our lives, what we've felt and learned along the way. Many of us have lost the innocence of youth and the ability to see clearly without a filter of past experiences, everything is colored by "how things should be." We're more often in a teaching mode than a learning mode that allows us to see things as our children see them.

When a newborn takes his first breath, is he amazed by the wonder of this new world or overwhelmed with the sensations of living outside of the womb? Does the toddler worry about falling when she takes her first steps, or is she overcome by the feeling of independence and self-locomotion? And what about the adolescent who is reeling from all of the sensations of that first kiss, is he even considering where it can lead?

We can only guess at what life is like at the different stages of our children's lives. But if we pay attention to who our children are and how they react to new situations, we can share in their experiences and help them learn and adapt to the world. The feisty 2-year-old who is busy exploring everything in her environment from the moment she opens her eyes in the morning is going to need more time and patience than the 2-year-old who is content to sit in one spot and quietly observe her siblings' interactions over breakfast. The school-age child who is reluctant to take on new challenges is going to need thoughtful encouragement while the impulsive risk-taker will need a calming influence to consider consequences.

The point is that no two children are alike. They, like us, will develop according to their temperament and how the world treats them. Their experiences will shape them just as ours have shaped us. o, as parents, our job is to put aside our preconceived notions of who they are or who we want them to be and see the world through their eyes. What are their passions, what are their fears; what do they see and how do they want to be seen; what motivates them and what bores them; what are their opinions?

If we view our children's lives like landscapes that change with the time of day and position of the sun we'll have the patience to wait and watch how our influence affects their lives. If we take the time to get to know them instead of judging and criticizing them for whom they are they'll have a much better chance finding their true selves. And we'll have the perfect picture.

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