In the baby's room we have
three pigs. See pic left.
Obviously none of them look
anything alike. If we call all
of these the same thing (pigs)
when they look completely
different, won't we just
Signed, Mommy Shorts
Dear Mommy Shorts,
Here's the long answer: As a baby's cognition develops, they build the capacity to create mental representations of knowledge. First a child may look at an image or object and learn that it is called a "pig". When they are able to develop a mental representation of a pig, they will think that all objects with similar defining characteristics are pigs. For instance, they may call all pink animals pigs or all animals with a snout a pig. This process is called assimilation. At the same time, people around the child will correct them and say, “No, that’s not a pig, it’s a pink bunny,” and the child’s pre-existing knowledge of the concept of "pig" changes to become restricted to only specific pink animals. This cognitive process is referred to as accommodation. Through the process of assimilation and accommodation, children begin to develop complex classification systems in their minds that help them better understand and articulate the world around them.
Here's what it boils down to: Practically speaking, you do not have to worry about confusing your child with all those odd looking pigs. Your child is more likely to think that all those odd looking pigs are pigs because their first instinct is to change their mental representation of a pig to fit what they see because they already have a name for it. Your job is to help them learn the difference between that odd looking pig and the odd looking pink round-shaped bunny.
Hope this helps!
That is so interesting! It’s amazing the stuff they know.
My least favorite “teaching about animals” moment came when we spent all day talking about farm animals–cows, sheep, chickens. “That’s a chicken, bock-bock, that’s a chicken.” Then, at dinner, the question: “what’s this?” Answer: “a chicken nugget.” Look of confusion. A quick change of subject.
I wondered about that too! They really need another name for it once it’s on your dinner plate.
Wait. I guess they’ve got poultry. Seems like a tough word for a baby though.
My son seems to just take in the fact that we as humans are on top of the food chain, so we can eat things like chicken, so I’ve never really had to explain it since he already kind of inherently knew. However, him knowing this has never affected his affection for animals.
I think that it’s important to let kids see different varieties of things, like those three pigs. It’s a way of showing him that everything has differences. Do all people look alike?
Ooh, in French we have different words whether the animal is alive or lunch ! And, come to think of it, we often do in English, too… cow vs. beef, deer vs. venison…