2023 Author: Anita Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-22 03:30
“When I grow up, I will marry you! ". This phase of development, which usually occurs in children between the ages of 3 and 6, is completely normal. Why?
If we hear this sentence from the mouth of our toddler, it means that he is currently experiencing what Freud, a renowned psychoanalyst, called the Oedipus complex. This phase of development, which usually occurs in children between the ages of 3 and 6, is completely normal, although it does not manifest itself in the same way in all children. Let's see how we can react as a parent to better guide our child in this period of sexual identification.
In short, the Oedipus complex could be defined by the desire of a child to be in exclusive relationship with the parent of the opposite sex, the other parent consequently becoming a rival in this momentum lover. This interest in the opposite sex will manifest itself at the very beginning in the ability, around the age of three, to differentiate boys from girls and to name the sex to which he or she belongs. The little one will be proud to say he is a boy or a girl. Several stereotypes will begin to settle in each of them, ranging from interests in activities - boys' games, girls' games -to their fashion tastes.
For the boy as for the girl, it is by imitating the parent of the same sex that he will try to seduce the parent of the opposite sex. He observes his gestures, attitudes and habits and reproduces them. Through this process of imitation, he will slowly solidify his sexual identity, and will gradually understand that he is a boy or a girl for life, around five or six years old. This means that this period is crucial in the construction of one's personality!
On the other hand, even if children of both sexes all go through this oedipal phase, things will happen a little differently for boys and girls.
Boys and girls: different issues
For the little boy, who has just come out of a period of intense attachment with his mother, entering the oedipal phase is less painful than for girls since they don't have to change " the object of their love. The relationship will therefore continue intensely with his mother, but more on a mode of seduction than on the emotional need of a toddler. Thus, the little boy will try to show his mother that he is big and strong, he will be particularly affectionate with her, even going so far as to push his dad away when he clings to his partner. We can even hear him say that he's mum's lover.
The little girl on her side must first learn to move away and detach herself from her mother to live her desire to merge with her dad. And it's not easy both for her and for themother. Because this mother, whom she loves deeply in spite of everything, becomes in a way a rival for a time, the time that her identity as a daughter solidifies. She will therefore seek, by all means, the attention and love of her dad. For some, the behaviors will be spectacular - coquetry, constant desire for physical closeness with dad, aggressiveness towards the mother -, while for others it will be more gentle.
How to have a helping and winning attitude
Even if this period can be difficult for one or even both parents to go through, the attitude towards the child is decisive in the development of the Oedipus complex.
- You value your sexual identification efforts when you want to be like mom or dad. The more our child will feel solid in his identity as a girl or a boy, the more the resolution of this period of life will be done in a harmonious way.
- We put limits on exaggerated seductive behavior. Thus, if the little girl uses a provocative or suggestive attitude with her dad or if the boy pushes her father away and constantly wants to stick alone on her mom, they are let know in a calm, but firm way, that this is not acceptable..
- We especially avoid responding emotionally to our child's rivalry reactions. We explain to him that they will not be able to marry mom or dad because it is not done between a parent and his child.
- We take our personal example, that we ourselves did not marry their grand-dad or grandma. That we found a lover when we grew up and that it will be the same for him.
- We make sure that our child maintains a link with both parents by alternating his presence with him. For example, we can organize so that mum does not always bring her son shopping with her or that it is not always dad who reads stories to his little girl.
If you are a single parent
- We prevent the child from taking a place that does not belong to him, and which should eventually be filled by a lover. For his Oedipus complex to go well, one must resist the trap of taking the child to satisfy emotional needs that a spouse would meet.
- If the child has little or no contact with one of his parents, we try to fill this absence with another relative so that he can have both female and male role models in his life. For example, put him in touch with a grandpa, a good friend, an uncle or a neighbor in the absence of the father in the family.
- We avoid denigrating the other parent. The child needs to have a positive image of both parents in his life, and this is even more important when he is in the phase of sexual identification.
In short, in any case, we must remember that to help our child grow well in the development of his sexual identity, everything is a question of love and balance!