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Psychology | Childhood

“Give me a child until he is seven and I’ll show you the man” is a maxim attributed to St Francis Xavier and there is obviously some truth in that. Children are very impressionable. They learn from adults and even older children.

Children need to be taught not only their subjects in school, but many other lessons including the difference between right and wrong. Children often take things literally. You tell a child that they are bad and they will tend to believe you. You are not just imparting knowledge, you are shaping their beliefs, their personality and their character. You can give them the self confidence to succeed or the self doubt to fail. Parents often sow the seeds of self doubt and then wonder why their children grow up to be confused and lacking in confidence. Parents like all other adults that children come into contact with are role models, children will copy their behaviour and look to them for guidance and emotional security.

This week is half term for children in the UK. One week without their teachers and school friends and a week with adults who have a profound influence on their lives. That will be their parents in many cases, but for some children it will be grandparents and for others it will be child minders of some kind. These diverse influences are a good thing, they get a broad range of beliefs, but it can be confusing. We do need to keep the beliefs simple, so they know right from wrong and the value of the world that we live in. We also need to keep them safe and teach them responsibility.

Many adults in therapy refer to their parents as ‘toxic parents’, parents can poison a child’s mind. They can make the child feel insecure and inadequate. Some children grow up to be confident, but without the morality that makes them charitable to other people. Some children don’t learn to share their toys and grow up to be greedy. It is important to teach children to share. It is important to teach children to cross the road safely. It is important to teach children about the environment and teach them not to drop litter that will make their environment look ugly. We need to teach children how to manage their lives, not just reading, writing and arithmetic.

Many children will grow up knowing only envy and resentment. These are the criminals and terrorists of tomorrow.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments box.


3 responses

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