Destructiveness in Children

Destructiveness in Children

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    By Margaret Lowenfeld

    Destructiveness in children is one of the forms of wanting to know about things. This sounds odd, but it is true. Children do not differentiate as we do between things and people. Teddy Bear is alive to them—just as alive as their parents. A rolling ball, because it moves, has to them the same sort of life as a dog, which runs. The wind blows, the moon rides up the sky; and the child feels that they are alive as people are alive. They are mysterious; he would like to know what they are. We often confirm this idea: when a child cries, we say, to distract his attention, ‘Poor chair. Tell the chair how sorry you are that you knocked it’. In fact we treat the chair as if it had feelings like ourselves; and the child himself constantly attributes feelings to things in this way. To him, the dolls and toys he loves always feel as if they were alive. Other things, clockwork toys, for instance, behave just as if they were alive; yet somehow he knows dimly that they are not. But some things, like flowers, that do not look alive to him, are alive, we tell him; and we scold him when he pulls them to pieces to see inside. This is all very puzzling for the child.


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