Is This Normal? My son is making us call him Turbo

I am starting a new series called, “Is This Normal?” Isn’t that all we parents want to know? When you are really worried about something, what is better than hearing someone say, “That is completely normal. My son did the same thing and now he works for NASA.” Of course, the opposite can happen and you can hear, “Oh, isn’t that cute. My son did the same thing. We were just talking about it on our way home from visiting him at Sing Sing.”

For the past couple of months, I never know who I will meet in the morning. The boys (3 1/2 years old) have taken on different personas on a daily basis, usually they take the form of a baby animal. They insist I address them as such. Worse, they also insist on calling me the maternal character in their sick little play. Waking up and being called, “Momma Whale” when you are in your end of summer, bloated like a tic stage, is not the best way to start a day.

Charlie has recently found a favorite alter ego in Turbo, the fast snail from the new movie. He’s been Turbo for about a week, and is introducing himself to everyone in this way, and, to our embarrassmentcorrecting those who call him by his real name. This inevitably leads to questions I don’t feel like answering. So, I’ve given up explaining and have simply started to wind my finger next to my temple to indicate he is clearly insane, and we’d rather not discuss it.

Since, I should probably not be so hasty to label my kid crazy, I asked a real expert. Dr. Alison Gedalowitz is a Pediatric and Adolescent Psychiatrist, with two boys of her own.

Your preschooler’s magical thinking is, in fact, developmentally appropriate.  Piaget defined this stage — between the ages of 2 and 7 — as pre-operational. During this stage your child develops a new identity that conveys his or her desire to transform wishes and dreams into reality. The activities inherent in magical thinking, such as the act of role play and utilizing one’s fantasy and imagination, are critical in helping children to take another person’s perspective, navigate novel social terrain and eventually tease apart reality from illusion. Follow your child’s lead, and encourage dramatic play.

Whew! Maybe he’ll be o.k. The only problem is, “Turbo” is starting to stick as a nickname … that’s going to be a lot to live up to!

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Author: Karen Latimer

Karen is a Family Doctor, mom of five and founder of Tips From Town.

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