A Reframe On Threats

A young child whose toy is snatched away might instinctively hit the child snatching their toy.

An older child whose toy is snatched might say, “Hey! Give me that or I’m gonna hit you!”

Both of these situations might be triggering or upsetting to the adult intervening. And it might be hard to see the latter situation as a sign of progress and increasing maturity. But it is!

(And—just because it’s a sign of increasing maturity doesn’t mean you have to *allow* the action to happen or that the adult should always do nothing. We can appreciate how something signifies increasing maturity without meaning that we don’t intervene.)

Instead of going straight from action to reaction, their brain has achieved enough higher thinking to have a conscious thought process happening at all. It’s able to express that thought in language and even come up with an attempt at a solution—threatening.

Which, while not an ideal solution, is certainly an understandable one, as even adults resort to it a lot!

[Image description: A pink/purple gradient background with white text overlaying it which reads, “Verbal threats are a sign of increasing impulse control in preschoolers and young kids.” The image was made by me, @occuplaytional. End description.]