Are you watching The Secret Life of 4 Year Olds? It’s the second series, we’re two episodes in and I’m finding it charming and fascinating in equal measure. In it, we follow a group of 4 year olds as they are introduced to each other for the first time. Through a Big Brother-esque setup of hidden cameras and microphones we get to listen in and observe their social interactions, with commentary from psychologists. As you would expect, there is a healthy dose of the surreal, as one little boy walks into the room and declares “Today I am a swordfish”, but it’s watching the children’s emotional rollercoaster journeys that is so captivating. In the course of a one hour episode they go through more drama and intrigue than a feature length film.
It’s fascinating to watch the early divide between boys and girls, the differences between the two genders in the way that they interact with each other, and to see how even at such a young age you can see personality traits emerging clearly.
Although the psychologists frequently stress how the children are at the very early stages of learning how to interact and behave in different social situations, I found it particularly striking how clearly some of the children were able to articulate their feelings. They have a ‘say it as it is’ attitude, often just stating things like ‘You told me to go away and that made me sad’, and I think that’s something we could all do a bit more of when it comes to our emotions. I’m definitely more of a ‘bottle it up’ kind of person, so I think I need to channel my inner 4 year old!