From infancy to adolescence, environmental influences play a major role in the development of our personality. Similar to animals, our social adaptation is stemmed through the process of observational learning. Therefore we can conclude that most children act on how they see their parents act. If a child happens to see their mother or father drinking wine out of a glass, he or she will probably want to do the same. If a child sees his or her father abusing his or her mother, it’s probable that the child will grow to have an aggressive behavior. Or even, if a child sees his or her mother painting the wall, the child, not knowing any better, will most likely pick up his or her crayon and color the wall. While some parents respond positively to their child’s misbehavior, other parents act negatively, hitting and scolding their child. This is the worst thing to do to a child, for it is the parent’s fault. A child’s brain is not fully developed until he or she, at least, reaches puberty; so a child finds it hard to discriminate between ‘what is right and what is wrong’.
The most popular method of teaching a child ‘right from wrong’ is through punishment. For years, many children have been spanked and severely abused for their misbehavior; but, what many parents do not realize is that punishment is just a temporary suppression of a child’s bad behavior. Author David G. Meyers, also a well-known psychologist, affirmed this in his evaluations with children. For example, a child who learns through spankings not to swear around the house may swear elsewhere. Or, if a child is spanked for accidentally saying a curse word, the child will begin to curse more regularly elsewhere. Therefore, punishment increases a child’s aggressiveness by showing that aggression is a way to cope with problems. It can also create fear, and build feelings of helplessness and depression in a child.
The best way to begin to raise a newborn child is to first develop an intense bond with the child through body contact, such as cradling and holding. The more sensitive and responsive a parent is, the more his or her child will become securely attached. Most securely attached children approach life with a sense of basic trust – a sense that the world is predictable and reliable; so a child who will let his or her parents leave is a child who trusts they will return. Those children with loving, sensitive parents will form a life-long attitude of trust rather than fear.
From ages 1 to 3, when a child is learning to speak and comprehend speech, parents should teach their child that No means No. Parents must make their children believe that they are the authority; but again, avoid punishment. Punishment doesn’t stop the misbehavior; it just temporarily prolongs it. Instead, parents should show their child what is the right thing to do. For example, when a 3 year old child picks up his or her crayon to color the wall because he or she sees their parent painting the wall, the parent mustn’t scold and hit their child; instead, lift up the index finger and say the word “No” then pull out a piece of paper or coloring book and direct their child to color with their crayon on there. Any normal child can understand the word “No”; meaning “Bad Thing. Not Good. I Made A Boo Boo.” Babies become more familiar with the word when they hear it from their parent’s mouth. As a result, throughout the child’s development, he or she will learn that they cannot get everything they want and they cannot just do anything they want.
While developing from a child to an adolescent, parents should give positive feedback and rewards to their children for their good behavior. This also helps shape a child. The more the child sees that he or she is rewarded, the more he or she will most likely continue their positive behavior. They will learn that in order to gain something, one must first earn it. This will prepare them for the competitive world of today and for the future.
In the adolescent stage, the time of transition, there is an onset of rapid growth, developing sexual maturity and a need for social independence. As teenagers, they yearn to know who they are; what’s their purpose and role in the world; and what special qualities and uniqueness they possess.
Most parents, during these teen years, act negatively and are overprotective of their teen because they fear that, as a result of their teen’s confusion, their teen will get into drugs, possibly get pregnant, or drop out of school. Because of the lack of trust, most parent-child relationships grow distant. There is no longer a bond between the child and the parent. That is why parents must be open-minded, encouraging, and understanding. Teach the child to be a leader, tell him or her about sex and the consequences of it, and teach the child that there is no one perfect in this world; we all make mistakes. Tell the child some of your past mistakes so they can understand what you mean.
Hopefully, in the end, you will have raised your son or daughter successfully. As an adult, they can look back on their childhood and say “My father and mother were the best parents a child like me could ever have. They taught me everything I needed to know in life.” And, when they have their children, they will use the same child-rearing method you used.
©copyright 2008 Viola Morgan. All rights reserved.
Viola Morgan is the editor and publisher of RisingSunBooks.org – Blog – Parenting Children and Executive Director of RisingSunBooks.org. She lives in Stamford, CT and is continuously raising awareness and providing solutions to family & relationships issues through selected best-selling books, articles and links, and through the sharing of her own personal experiences as a mother, veteran, and freelance journalist.