Toddler Actions: The Plan

For 3-year old Sam, life is frequently about his ideas and putting them into action. In an appropriate manner for his age, he initiates an idea in his head, plans it out, asks others to get ready to watch him put his plan into action, and executes his plan. He often asserts himself when someone tries to alter his plan; however, he does not this time when I suggest he doesn’t need to move an ottoman out of the way after he moved an ankle weight and a flip-flop. His idea doesn’t always go to plan (e.g., He explains in the video that he accidentally kicked the family dog, Daisy, while executing his somersault.), but this will most likely help him learn to plan better next time he attempts a somersault in a crowded space. His plan includes elements that other people’s plan might not (e.g., He feels compelled to count to 10 before he executes the somersault, whereas someone else might only count to 3.), but one can tell from the serious look on his face that is “owning” every move he makes in pulling off his feat.

When I ask him to do it again, he prepares himself and plans for the action, but decides he can’t. What happens next, off camera, is that Sam tells me he doesn’t have “enough energy” to do another somersault. So, in addition to his planning ability, he relies on his self-reflection ability to know whether or not performing the action again is a good idea or not. Perhaps he didn’t have enough energy to pull another one off, but I almost got the sense his confidence was affected a bit by knocking into the dog as well as the “klunking” of his back onto the floor. Either way, Sam demonstrates age-appropriate planning and reflection abilities as his executive functioning skills are developing (e.g., those skills involved in planning, regulating behavior, reflecting on oneself, etc.).

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