Why We Should Be as Sensitive as 4-Year Olds

This week’s episode of The Secret Life of 4-Year Olds was full of lively personalities, funny moments and plenty of drama and excitement. Victoria, Vinnie, Ada and Noah featured this week and the programme centred in on sensitivity and emotions. From the trials and tribulations of unrequited affection between Noah and Harper to the disturbing and unexpected arrival of a ‘dinosaur’ in the children’s playground, it all got a bit much for Noah this week. The culmination of this was Noah bursting into tears when confronted with the ‘dinosaur’ (a dressed up actor). I think what we can draw from this is the innate sensitivity of children and how little we value their ability to learn from emotional challenges and experiences.

From a young age we harbour such deep feelings and emotional responses to events and experiences. As we grow up some of us begin to lose touch with this sensitive side, developing more ‘armour’ against the unexpected and the dramatic, even avoiding emotional challenges. However, when Noah started crying upon being confronted with the ‘dinosaur’, he had to learn to manage his feelings and emotions; he was challenged to confront his fears of the unexpected and the scary, and these sensitive moments are what builds children and people. It might not have seemed like a big moment, but it was deeply character building.

It can be easy as adults to avoid what scares us as a coping mechanism, not telling someone how we really feel, or not signing up to something we want to try. Yet it’s these moments that we have to use to our advantage. The children in the programme this week and every week don’t have a choice about what task or challenge they will be presented with next. If they are deeply sensitive like Noah it can be incredibly challenging when things don’t always turn out well like when his affections for Harper were unreciprocated and when the unexpected ‘dinosaur’ appears. Yet, by the end of the programme, Noah is seen bonding with the ‘dinosaur’ and expressing great endearment towards it.

If 4-year olds can learn to handle their emotions so efficiently it makes me question whether I challenge myself enough. Maybe I’ll take a risk and wear my heart on my sleeve more in future?


Cara Bintcliffe

Image Credit; Channel 4