Four year old children see the world as we do – but they do not have the same life experience. She goes to school and feels the nuances of acceptance and rejection. We are inherently social creatures and have a need for acceptance in a group. This need fits the category of survival instincts. Rejection by a group is as frightening as our ancestors facing a saber tooth tiger alone. The child’s instinct is basically the cliche’ – fight or flight. So how does this play out. She must either find acceptance, find another school, or accept that she is alone in the world. Pretty heavy stuff for a four year old. This is the same as our adult experience when we attend a new church, start a new job, or move to a new neighborhood.
The four year old goes to school and begins the dance of acceptance. Some folks don’t dance as well as others and they sit on the cold metal folding chairs lining the gym on prom night.
The question then becomes – To what length am I prepared to go for acceptance? What are my moral boundaries? We enter the stage of Hamlet, “To be or not to be.” We learn the prejudices of the group – we choose to accept or reject – but there are consequences.
Some of us would rather die on the lonely path of uncertainty than join the Nazi Party. Others will sacrifice anything to be a part of the ‘in crowd.’
Your duty as a father is to give your child a strong sense of self and a fundamental knowledge about right and wrong. Consult with her on the ways of the world – and let her have her life experience – she will blend what you tell her with what she sees – and she will make her life choices.