The Psychological Care of The Child
In the infancy itself, say from about three months or so the child begins to ‘feel’ its environment, rather unknowingly. Some parents remain under the impression that children have to psychological problems. But they are mistaken. The development of the intellect and the emotion begins at an early age. The child becomes sensitive and even exhibits the rudiments of self-respect. It indicates its approval with smiles and laughter, and its disapproval and anger with crying. If the mother falls to recognize the moods and the behaviour of the child and fails to respond properly to them-acting according to its own preconceived ideas and oblivious to the child’s requirement both emotionally and psychological-the child might develop a kind of resentment towards its mother, though, again, unconsciously. And in more cases than on this resentment develops into a distortion in the child’s personality when it grows up, which may afflict its very psyche.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that we must on to every whim of the child. But it does imply that we should understand the child’s likes and dislikes. We must develop a sense of empathy with the child. All the natural tendencies of the child should be given scope to develop properly but it becomes necessary to keep a balance and be prepared to give new directions to them. In case we find some of them not conducive to the child’s healthy development we can always resist them with tactfulness and wisdom like any grown-up person, a child needs to be restricted. Certain external restriction needs to be exercised over its behaviour. But if you impose severe restrictions the child may not protect owing to its inherent inability but most certainly a rebellious instinct will possess its personality when it grows up. However, no restrictions may make him over pampered and hence obstinate. It is the judicious blend of the two that should be exercised over it. Wise parents realize this and no wonder most of the great persons of the world were well-trained children. Napolean Bonaparte is quoted as having said: “Whatever I am and hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”
Some parents commit a blunder by allowing their child to have all it wants, whether reasonable or unreasonable, fulfilled, in the belief that, later on, they would exercise their discretion. But if the foundation is fault can the edifice be flawless? If the child keeps crying in a stubborn effort to have its own way, it should be brought round by persuasion and coaxing. Nothing can be gained by getting angry or losing your temper. You must never forget that child has a natural tendency to copy whatever it observes others doing. Suppose you start showing a fit of temper juvenile mind registers the tantrums to be copied by itself. Rearing a child is not as simple as some people think. It requires great forbearance, intelligence and a fair knowledge of the child’s psychology.
There are some children who initially appear very cheerful and obedient but their behaviour undergoes a sudden transformation and they become irritable, quarrelsome and mischievous. An infectious disease may just possibly lie at the root of such a sudden and drastic change. It would, therefore, be eminently advisable to check the temperature and general health of the child if you find him or her behaving in a changed way.
Some children become very fussy about their food right from the very beginning. The problem of strong likes and dislikes is a serious one. The child should be given various items of food according to its preferences. Even if it refuses food, it should be induced by loving and gentle persuasion to take some food, even if the food is taken in small quantities at a time. This will help to form good feeding habits, although habits are not formed overnight. Both patience and love, are necessary to make your child develop the right feeding habits. You should never force a child by threatening it. Some parents have a tendency of coercing their child to drink milk in the belief that if it will not have its milk diet it might grow weak. They are mistaken as their covering tactics might end up by making the child much more averse to drinking milk. The child, in the reaction to these forcible tactics, might develop a sense of protest towards its parents also. The ideal course is not to force him to have the milk but wait for a few days. Some mothers drink themselves the milk rejected by the child only for removing this aversion to milk from their child’s mind.
Always treat your infant with softness and affection. Excessive insistence, threats, coercion, and cruelty result in distorting the emotional makeup of the child. It is development is hampered, its interests, enthusiasm, and capacity for independent thinking are crushed. This statement might appear an exaggeration to some but it is a fact. A child’s mind is most sensitive and hence impressionable. A slight abrasion in the initial stages might appear as a big aberration in the personality of the person. An over-pampered or temperamentally under-treated child always creates the problem. Such a child grows up with a neurotic personality, and its future prospects in life get dimmed. The children begin to show abnormal behaviour under the pressure of fear, frustration, and despair sucking the thumb, biting the nails, chewing the lips, wetting beds, at times, are the only manifestation of the behavioural problem that arises out of the wrong development of the child.
In large families having more that one child, feelings of jealousy arise between brothers, between sisters or between brother and sister. This is quite common at least in Indian families where the parents can’t provide each child the thing of its preference. Normally with the birth of the second baby, the older one begins to nurse jealousy in its heart. It looks upon the new come as a rival. It fears that the new arrival will claim the share in the love of parents. The parents should, therefore, take extreme care to see that the older child doesn’t get neglected in any way. It should be involved in caring for the younger one, and an atmosphere ought to be created in which it feels love and protectiveness towards the young child, instead of being jealous of it. It is the duty of the parents to see that their elder issue comes to accept the younger one with love and affection. Parents that neglect this common but serious problem will have regrets later on because this inborn prejudice of the elders will result in positive hostility for the younger one in the later years.
The effect of good training and right kind of upbringing is immense in a person’ development. There is a small anecdote that will establish the point. When a notorious thief was eventually caught and brought before the king in the ancient times, the king gave orders to punish him with death since the thief had tried to steal the precious ornaments from the temple of the royal family’s chosen deity. Having passed the order, according to the custom of the state, the thief was asked his last wish. He said that he would like to meet his mother. When she came, the thief casts a mighty slap on her face and wailing aloud said. “Had she admonished me when I started to steal in my childhood instead of encouraging me to steal more, I would not have become a thief at all.”
the moral of the anecdote is clear. The impression formed in the infancy and childhood verily go to make the personality of the person. Hence treat your infant or child with love and consideration but with presence and farsight.