Common Concerns during the Preschool Period
Dealing with a Preschooler’s Fantasy
Since toddlers cannot differentiate between fantasy and reality, they believe that cartoon characters or children in books are real. Sometimes children become so engrossed in a fantasy role that they tend to become stuck in their fantasies. This intense involvement in play is part of a preschooler’s “magical thinking,” or believing that thoughts and wishes could come true.
The following are essential guidelines in dealing with a preschooler’s magical thoughts:
- Parents should be careful NOT to strengthen this feeling. For example, a mother enters the room her preschool daughter who is pretending to be a cat. The mother decides to participate in the game and tells her daughter, “This is strange; I don’t see Annie anywhere here. All I see is a cute cat.” Then she leaves the room.
In this situation, the child can be frightened she has actually become a cat. A better response in situations like this is to support the imitation while helping the child maintain the difference between pretend and real. Take a look at the example given:
The mother states, “What a cute and nice cat you’re pretending to be Annie.” This statement both supports the fantasy and at the same time reassuring the child that she is still herself.
Oedipus and Elektra Complex
An Oedipus complex refers to the strong emotional attachment of a preschool boy to his mother while an Elektra complex is the attachment of a preschool girl to his father. This is based on the Sigmund Freud’s theory that each child competes with the same-sex parent for the love and attention of the other parent. This is observed when a daughter prefers to sit beside her father at the table or car while boys ask for the same favor with his mother. In both cases, the father or the mother may feel left out. The following are guidelines important in dealing with Elektra and Oedipal Complexes.
- Parents should be reassured that this phenomenon of competition and romance in preschoolers in NORMAL.
- Feelings of anger and jealousy should be effectively handled by the parents particularly in cases where the child boldly verbalizes his or her feelings towards a parent.
- Parents should understand the preschooler’s motivation behind statements such as “I hate you Mommy” and “I only love you Daddy!” Response to situations like this should be calm and the one that promotes love and care.