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Meaning: It is Not All in the Words

by Roslyn Duffy
September/October 2005
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Article Link: https://www.childcareexchange.com/article/meaning-it-is-not-all-in-the-words/5016559/

– Situation –

What is said

"I had it first!"

"You can't come to my birthday party!"

"You're always a meanie!"

Most of us respond to these statements in a predictable and seemingly logical way.

"I had it first!" compels us to believe that it is our job to figure out who had what 'first', or whose rights may have been violated, but we all know that this is a thankless task, at best. Pronouncements of birthday party banishment may tempt us to point out that the next birthday is seven months away — but the reality of the date could not be less relevant.

As to the "You're always a meanie!" comment, well — most of us overstate things at times, don't we? The truth is that what children mean and what we understand or think they mean are often planets apart.

– Solution –

What children say. What they mean.

"I had it first" is pretty basic code for "I want it," and it is probably safe to add
"I want it — Now!" Who had what 'first' is really an adult issue.

"I had it first," is also an excellent means to get an adult to take sides, which then translates into "she loves me (or him) ...

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