Your Four Year Old Might Be Looking for a Best Friend

I think I figured it out. All day, my four year old was asking me to be with him. He would make me sit, right by him. He would make me put things on my head. He would dangle things right in front of my face. It literally was giving me vertigo.

I remembered the work of Carl Jung, who says humans develop “archetypes.” It’s what kind of people we expect to come across and how to handle them. A baby is born expecting a mother. If he doesn’t have one, he seeks out a substitute.

I realized my son was treating me as another four year old child. He wanted me to play with him as another child does. Except, I really can’t. I am really not cut out for the role of being in the middle of the rug with chaos all around me as I look at every single LEGO brick he was using to build with.

He told me I was his best friend.

When I realized this, I was less resistant to it. I forgave myself, a bit. Truly, we don’t live in a way designed around child development. Children only meet up at scheduled, infrequent times anymore. Their social needs are much higher than this. They need to be able to be around lots of children of many ages, frequently.

And I got more creative in how to solve it. I told his sister, 6, that her brother was looking for a friend. She said, “Oh. That’s kind of cute.” She would come play with him, when available. As I type this, she is opening Play Doh for him. She has read books to him. They put on plays and she taunts him, “You think the police car was a good guy. BUT IT’S A BAD GUY!!!” And he chases her all over.

They are wired for each other.

In understanding child development better, it’s my hope we are better able to meet their developmental needs–and in a way that is kinder to us.

Misbehavior Growth is a growing series

Amber documents the age-related stages children go through. Send your friends to The Observant Mom.

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