Kids think differently than adults

Posted6/27/2010 12:01 AM

My 5-year-old grandson Sam has a wonderfully unique way of looking at the world.

A few weeks ago his father, Jason, decided to shave off the beard he had sported for just about as long as we can remember. Coming out of the bathroom, anticipating everyone's surprised response, he was a bit disappointed that no one seemed to notice.


Finally, Sam glanced his way, took a long hard look, and queried: "Dad, did you put on a new head?"

Logical question, at least when you are 5.

Adults do so many things 5-year-olds don't understand; and actually, can't understand. So why couldn't your dad be able to just switch heads every now and then?

Brain science has proved what child development experts have suggested all along. Kids think differently.

So many brain functions that we adults take for granted just haven't developed in children. In fact, the fully functional adult brain is not completely available to us until we reach our early 20s.

So the 5-year-old who assumes we can switch heads, the 10-year-old who reasons that she is guilty only if she gets caught, the 16-year-old who decides he is invincible behind the wheel of a car, or the 21-year-old who wants adult freedom, but not adult responsibility, are all thinking normally. They just aren't thinking like adults.

Actually, most of the time, most kids are thinking as well as they can. Their thinking may not make sense to us, but it makes perfect sense to them.

The point of to all this is that we adults need to accept this difference and cut our kids some slack. And since they can't think the way we do, it is up to us to think the way they do.

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As we try to see the world through their eyes (or brains), I suspect we parents will become a lot more patient and forgiving.

Of course, sometimes this may mean we'll have to put on our other heads.

• The Rev. Ken Potts' new book, "Mix, Don't Blend: A Guide to Dating, Engagement, and Remarriage with Children," is available through book retailers.