Due to the pandemic, I have had more time to work on my research into the idiom use of children. In part 1 of our series, I will be offering an extended look into 10 idioms present by children in the post-toddler but pre-adolescent phase. By examining these phrases, a parent can better identify a child’s needs, and provide them with a strong sense of security by meeting them. Please note that your child may not use these exact idioms, rather a similarly worded phrase or idea, still the philosophy behind the idiom should remain fairly intact. As an important note, these concepts have been trialed in the field and the early reports show consistent feedback.
Idiom: This food is gross
Interpretation: I viewed the item you have presented for me to consume. It does not appear to be one of the five things I recognize as good, so it is putrid garbage. Yes, I have eaten this several times, but I have forgotten this. I do, however, remember that time Maui did that thing in Moana and will remind you of it daily for two months.
Parental approach: Remind child that consumption of sugar based food item rests upon consumption of the main food item that has been provided. Repeat until main food item is consumed.
Idiom: I’m bored
Interpretation: The endless supply of wonderful and expensive items you have provided me with, have all been interacted with once each. These items are therefore no longer valid as playthings. As you appear to be available due to your appearance covered with soap, holding a rag and perspiring enormous quantities of liquid, you are the new chosen plaything. Your interaction is necessary for me to feel any level of satisfaction with my environment, as I am incapable of providing myself with attention.
Parental approach: Extend an immediate offer to the child to participate in de-liming the grout work on your bathroom tile. The extension of the offer to do something undesirable, even in your presence, will supersede any desire for interaction. Remove old toy from closet and present to child as new. Due to their limited retention ability, they will not have seen this item recently and will therefore not recall its existence.
Idiom: I’m hungry
Interpretation: Although dinner is going to be available in fifteen minutes, I lack impulse control and require sustenance with an immediate response. When you do not provide this sustenance, I will complain loudly and resume my previous activity. When dinner is presented, I will not recall my previous request and will refuse to eat main food item. Further requests prior to bedtime will rapidly escalate in urgency.
Parental Approach: Provide child very small portion of desired food item, such as one chip or chocolate morsel. Due to the prompt but limited response to the need, the child’s further cries will be undercut by a response of “ But I did give you something.” After main dinner item is not consumed, maintain dinner item in stasis until claims of hunger return and reoffer.
Idiom: I’m thirsty
Interpretation: You have presented me with a request for an action that I am unwilling to do. Due to the nature of this request, I am redirecting you into an activity that I prefer, but will likely not engage in. If request is repeated, I will need to use the restroom facilities.
Parental Approach: Redirect redirection to previous desired activity while maintaining supervision of the desired liquid until completion.
Idiom: I need to go to the bathroom
Interpretation: See above. If you do follow through with the above parental approach, this will be the one instance your child has a failed attempt to hold his or her bladder and they will blame you for the resulting misfortune.
Parental Approach: Reluctantly allow child to use the restroom to avoid a potential catastrophe.
Idiom: I’m tired
Interpretation: I am not tired and do not have interest in sleep now, or at any time in the future. However, you have asked me to perform the simplest task that requires only a modicum of effort to complete. The thought of this minimal effort is instantly overwhelming and I have lost control of my faculties. I simply cannot with this. I will require 5 minutes of solitude before becoming bored (see above).
Parental Approach: repeatedly offer the child use of his or her bed to facilitate a restoration of faculties using sleep or other quiet non-interactive period. Child will refuse use of this due to a self-identified lack of requirement for sleep. When faced with this prospect, child will reluctantly engage with the requested task to the bare minimum required.
Idiom: He or she hit me
Interpretation: I have been antagonizing this person for an extended period of time and the person has lost the capacity to tolerate my approach. Due to the nature of my antagonism, this person felt a physical response was required and was thus provided. I disapprove of their response and wish to inform you of my disapproval in hopes you will not learn about my actions but will address only this subsequent reaction.
Parental Response: Consistently identify previous antagonism and address while also addressing excessive response. The resulting evenhanded judgment will preclude future endeavors of this nature and will result in failed future attempts to produce justice independently which will also require addressing. All future interactions of any nature will require addressing.
Idiom: Give me that toy
Interpretation: I have seen that you now possess an item that I had not considered interacting with and now need this item to be in my possession immediately. No other item will satiate me at this time, so attempts to do so with vastly superior items that I should probably not have are moot. If for any reason you relinquish the item of your own volition, I will lose all interest in that item, and recall previous attempts to placate me with questionable items and demand those items.
Parental approach: Refuse to acquiesce to demand, allow previous holder to maintain possession. Remove child desiring the item from the room, and offer anything else to the child in possession of the item. The loss of repeated demands for the item will cause the item to lose all value and an exchange will be made. Return desirous child to main area and present desired item. Child will no longer desire this item, and the item can be moved to a secure location that is not visible.
Idiom: Are we there yet?
Interpretation: We have just begun an extended voyage. Due to my inability and lack of desire to understand time, I will repeatedly request confirmation of the nearness of the desired destination. Moving forward, I will not show interest in said destination, desirable items that are provided or appealing vistas on the roadside. This will continue until I realize that if I demand to go to the bathroom, the trip will discontinue briefly (see above).
Parental Approach: Answer question on a singular occasion and do not offer further responses. Escalation of demands in this area must be met swift rejoinders to remind that child that you can still choose to depart the front portion of the vehicle to go into their area in the back. Imply that consequences will be provided when the seated adult moves into that area. Then try to think of a possible consequence.
Idiom: What’s that?
Interpretation: I know full well what that is but I find great satisfaction in receiving an updated but unchanging response regarding this item. If you do not answer, identical questions will be provided with increasing volume and urgency.
Parental Approach: Respond to all inquiries with further inquiries which will create an unsolvable time loop. When the child loses concentration on the loop, redirect into alternate train of thought and remove child or item as is convenient.