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  • Writer's pictureJoshua Barr (M.A. M.Ed)

The Wild Child!

I recently observed a parent say to their child, "don't act like a wild child!" . What do you assume this child was doing to evoke such a response from her parent?

-Running around screaming and shouting?

-Breaking and throwing things?

-Spitting food out of their mouth?

Non of the above 👆

The child was playing dress up, engaged in a self created (solo) dramatic role play scenario. From my early years educator perspective I could see many valuable skills being utilized.

  1. Imagination: Using a cardboard box house, she created a new world with a setting, characters and plot, all elements of a story.

  2. Language development: through talking through the self made story the child showed her ability to express ideas, describe situations and narrate the ongoing story.

  3. Creativity. It's one thing to memorize lines and say them during a rehearsed play. It's another to develop a story on the spot through an organically evolving story scenario. This is the first steps to what adults call "thinking on your feet".

I could on!

If this behavior is "wild" then we need to raise more wild children. Contrary to what some believe, including this parent, children need to use and stretch their creativity, curiosity and imagination. They need to explore, make mistakes, and get messy. They need to play! This doesn't mean a world without rules or alway saying yes to them. It also doesn't mean letting them do whatever they want, anyway they want all the time. For example, this child played in this same location a few days before with her classmates after school. They left the area with papers all over the floor, pens without the lids on and things knocked over. I brought them back the next day and asked them to clean up. I told them it's ok to play here but lids need to go back on pens, paper back on the table etc.

Children need to understand the world and society they live in, their emotions, and learn through the support of loving adults (co-regulation) then self regulation in order to navigate different situations as they grow. There is a depressing trend with some adults and schools to tame the (wild) child, to mold them into an entirely new creature. The obedient sedentary child.

By Helen E Buckley

One that doesn't create unless they receive step by step instructions.

One that is no longer curious but an obedient rule follower.

One that is made to feel ashamed of their imagination.


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