Miks lapsed armastavad dinosauruseid?

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Children and dinosaurs, a long story!

Our son Théo (5 years old) and his friends are having a dinosaur trip. They know them all by name and collect books and figurines. Théo even got his little sister Élise (3 years old) on board in his passion. She traded her favorite doll for a giant tyrannosaurus rex, found in a garage sale that she carries around with her. Marion, herself a fan of the Jurassic World movie and the more vintage Jurassic Park series, is not the only mom to see this craze for mastodons and to wonder where this passion comes from.

Witnesses of a distant past

Interest in dinosaurs is not a fad, it has always existed in children, from generation to generation. As Nicole Prieur underlines: “It is a serious subject, a true philosophical questioning. Dinosaurs represent the time before what they know. Before dad, mom, their grandparents, a very distant time that escapes them and that they cannot measure. When they ask: “But what was it like in the days of the dinosaurs?” Did you know them dinos? », Toddlers wonder about the origins of the world, what the Earth was like a long time ago, they try to imagine when the first men were born, the first flower. And behind this questioning of the origins of the world hides the existential question of their own origin: “And me, where do I come from?” “It is important to give them some answers on the evolution of the universe, to show them images of this past time when dinosaurs populated the earth, to help them realize that they are part of the world. history of the world, because this question can become distressing if we do not satisfy their curiosity. This is what Aurélien, the father of Jules, 5 and a half, does: “To answer Jules’ questions about dinosaurs, I bought science books and that brought us together a lot. He has an incredible memory and it fascinates him. He tells everyone that when he grows up he’ll be a paleontologist and go digging for dinosaur and mammoth skeletons. ” Take advantage of children’s interest in dinosaurs, in order to develop their knowledge of the evolution of species, classification, food chains, biodiversity, geology and fossilization, to give them scientific notions, it is important, but that is not enough, explains Nicole Prieur: “The child who is interested in dinosaurs, in the origins of our world, understands that he belongs to a universe much larger than the family. He can say to himself “I do not depend on my parents, I am part of the universe, there are other people, other countries, other lifelines who can help me in case of a problem. ”. It is positive, stimulating and reassuring for the child. “

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Phantasmal creatures

If toddlers are fans of dinos, it’s also because tyrannosaurs and other velociraptors are terrible, big-toothed carnivorous monsters. Moreover, the etymology speaks for itself, since “dino” means terrible, awful and “sauros” means lizard. These archaic devouring “super-wolves” who have no limit to their omnipotence are part of what shrinks call our collective unconscious. Just like the big bad wolf or the ogre who devour little children and inhabit our nightmares. When the little ones include them in their games, when they observe them in picture books or on a DVD, they are playing “not even afraid”! This is what Élodie, the mother of Nathan, 4 years old, observes: “Nathan loves to crush his cube constructions, his small cars, his farm animals with his diplodocus as big as a truck. He grunts terrible, tramples his toys with relish and sends them waltzing in the air. In the end, it is he who succeeds in calming and taming the monster he calls Super Grozilla! After the diplodocus has passed, his room is a mess, but he is delighted. “Dinosaurs are the real stuff of toddler’s (and older’s) fantasy machine, that’s for sure. As Nicole Prieur points out: “The diplodocus that eat tons of leaves, swallow whole trees and have a huge belly can symbolically represent a super mom carrying babies in her womb. In other games, tyrannosaurs symbolize powerful adults, angry parents who sometimes scare them. By featuring dinosaurs who confront each other, chase each other, injure each other, children fantasize about the world of adults which is not always reassuring when you are 3, 4 or 5 years old. The question they ask themselves through these imaginary games is: “In this wild world, how am I going to survive, I who am so small, so vulnerable, so dependent on my parents and adults?

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Animals to identify with

Dinosaurs nourish the imaginary games of the little ones because they represent their parents much bigger and stronger than them, but in other games they symbolize the child himself because they have qualities that he would like to have. . Powerful, immense, strong, almost invincible, it would be so great to be like them! Especially since the dinos divided into two categories, herbivores and carnivores, mirror the opposite tendencies that any child feels in him. A toddler is at the same time peaceful and social, like the large herbivores, kind and harmless living in flocks, but he is also sometimes carnivorous and aggressive like the terrible tyrannosaurus rex when he is upset that something is denied him or when he is asked to obey when he does not want to. For example, Pauline, 5 years old, often expresses her disagreement through her mastodons: “When she does not want to go to bed when it is time and that she is forced to do so, she takes a dinosaur. in each hand and pretend to attack and bite us calling us bad guys! The message is clear, if she could, she would give her father and me a bad quarter of an hour! », Says Estelle, his mother. Another aspect of dinosaurs fascinates children: it is the fact that they were masters of the world in their time, that they existed “for real”. They are not imaginary creatures, but real animals that lived 66 million years ago. And what makes them even more attractive is that they suddenly disappeared from the face of the Earth without anyone knowing how or why. What happened ? Could we also disappear from the terrestrial globe? For Nicole Prieur: “This mysterious and total disappearance allows the children to take the measure that their time will stop. Around 5-6 years old, they do not necessarily verbalize it, but they already imagine that nothing and nobody is eternal, that we will all disappear. The finitude of the world, the possibility of a cataclysm, the inevitability of death are questions of great concern to them. »To each parent to give the spiritual, religious, scientific or atheist answers which are his. 

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