The de facto age for understanding humans is the age of puberty. That phase when a person decidedly understands his anatomy which proves that their IQ is now grown enough to also understand the difference between right and wrong. What is the real age of understanding though? At what age does the brain start fully functioning? Personally, I believe the age of understanding is instantaneous with birth.
As soon as a person is born, they understand they have to breathe, though unconsciously, but still the brain is already at work sending signals that you have to. It seems so effortless now though it certainly was not effortless when you were born. That first burst of chilly air that flows through your lungs is shocking, almost painful and somehow you discover you have a voice box and let out your first cry. The second thing you realize is the urgent need to feed all the time from this specific female whom you’ll come to call mother. To communicate this urge, your brain tells you that you should cry since that is your only way of communication and thus from your first breathe your brain is already taking charge. Approximately one and a half years later the brain acknowledges the existence of letters and words. The ability to form words comes with understanding of their meaning. At the age of two, the human child can basically spout sentences, demanding for what they want. This age is also the raw age of understanding, when a child can learn what is right and what is wrong according to their environment.
Ignorance may be bliss but sometimes, actually most of the times, it’s a huge blister. What most parents, guardians and even teachers ignore is this age. When a child is actually picking, learning and in the process building his character. Before, during our parents’ and grandparents’ era, a child would never be caught cursing but then that’s because their parents paid attention. Living in an era where both parents are so busy that they have to leave their children with the nanny, we come to discover very many things. So a child basically spouts a curse that you as a parent should spook you out, but you know what we do instead? We laugh it off, actually, we take a video of them saying it and post it on the net cause it’s so funny you believe it warrants a billion other humans watching it. We have forgotten about etiquette and niceties and it’s now an era of freedom and a whole lot of immorality. Basically, we do not think that at that age, a mere two, the brain of the child will be affected but that’s where ignorance comes in. At the age of two the brain is opening up and known to be at its peak in functionality, especially memorization. The child memorizes the curse and also the fact it’s utterly acceptable for him or her to do it. Spare the rod and spoil the child. It’s not a hard concept to actualize but do we know the age that we need to actualize it? One would be scolded for snapping at a child because basically they are children and you know children don’t understand or that’s what we believe.
The human brain has the capacity to understand the need to do something but with proper guidance, it learns clarification between right and wrong. Sight is a very important sense in the growth of a child’s understanding and sight encompasses everything a child can see from colors and toys to people and actions. Ah, actions. Let’s talk more about actions. Those actions we seemingly believe do not affect the child’s understanding of right and wrong. Parents fight. Parents fight a lot. Some more than others and they do it in front of the children. So, if one was to slip up and slap the other, the child will register it in their mind. They will also practice the action on the next person they see who is of their size. Basically, the child is almost a carbon copy of their parents. Having your child take a bath with you may seem inconsequential but they register it in their minds that it’s okay for them to see other people’s privates. Tiny things we do, that have a permanent effect on our children’s brains, that we do not seem to mind.
While we should keep in mind that understanding starts early, we should also know that understanding has its levels. We should not expect a three year old to know why he should not enter the house with mud. We should be content with teaching him to leave his shoes at the door. The why would come later as would the how. Different children have different IQs. While your neighbour’s child starts forming coherent sentences at one and a half do not expect your child to do the same. That does not mean you should slack off on your child or be too hard on them. Be patient with them, guide them, be a role model and hope for the best. Character building starts early and does not end. It may slow down to a point it almost seems stagnant but it never ends; there is always hope for change. Puberty, as deigned by most people to be the age of understanding, is ironically the age when most kids rebel. You would think that understanding would make them mature and stable instead they become erratic and even more errant. The teen child is understanding, but also seeking an adventure and acceptance from peers. It is almost similar to the larvae stage before the children learn to take flight. It is the preparation stage, the preparation of a child into an adult; an entity of their own. It is full of adrenaline and mistakes and while the child is understanding, their conscious is clouded with mistaken priorities. Children at this age should be handled with love and care and a tough hand to force their will in the right direction. Just a push though, never a shove because if you force too much, they rebel too much. Somehow somewhere the childishness leaves, welcoming maturity and another age of understanding.
At 21, the brain seems to undertake another transformation; growth, expansion, knowledge. I would call this age the age of consent. When the child is fully transformed into an adult and his priorities are aligned with his responsibilities. The age when your say has a meaning and your consent is powerful. Understanding at this age is more wide scope, catering for all those things that could go wrong. Even then, at this age you are still due to make mistakes because of lack of experience. Experiences would always matter in character building. Sometimes they make you better, sometime they make you worse. The brain never stops learning new concepts. It continues understanding and even though we may classify brain maturity with understanding, we may never really get it, because sometimes adults remain children at heart and children mature more faster than we imagine.