The secret life of a 4 year old

Channel 4 had a documentary on Tuesday about how 4 year olds interact with each other in a nursery setting. A nursery was kitted out with hidden cameras and microphones and psychologists observed the behaviour of several 4 year olds who’d joined the nursery. It was really interesting to watch how they adapted to each other and learnt to socialise with one another. Boisterous behaviour is quite common in boys at that age but ultimately, we’re all primate and so often boisterous behaviour is based on where the child stands in the pecking order.

There was one child, Chaim who was bigger than the other’s and liked to exert his authority. You could call him the class bully and when they recorded him at home with his parents, the parents were open to the fact that they spoilt him and he didn’t have any boundaries. Being the only boy and with two older sisters, he was used to being the centre of attention and getting what he wanted and you can certainly see this in his behaviour at nursery.

Many parents tend to blame their child’s school for their behaviour (especially when it’s not good behaviour) but I think the way a child behaves comes down to their home environment. That’s not to say that they aren’t influenced by their external environment but ultimately they pick up most of their habits from the home.

There was a scene where a little girl was on a play phone telling someone called Richard that the baby wasn’t his and she didn’t love him. Another little girl Skylar put her hands on her hips and said “I’m not listening to you, you’re giving me a headache!” I wander where they heard that. Children tend to mimic what they see/hear around them, especially from the age of 3 upwards. By 4, they’ve got it down!

I was just talking to a friend last week about how absolutely fascinating children are at their pre-school age. They’re starting to learn so much more, pick up so much more and develop real personalities. And this show really demonstrated all the emotions a 4 year old goes through. The second segment was recorded 6 months later and some new kids were added to the mix. Although dynamics changed, the children’s personalities were very much the same.

If you get a chance, try and watch it on catch up TV. As a parent to an almost 3 year old, I found it really fascinating.

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