The issue of child guidance has come up recently in my practice. There seems to be a very high correlation between the manner in which the parents treat each other and the manners that the child picks up and demonstrates. A quarreling couple may each be “nice-as-pie” to the child; but if the child sees discord in the relationship between the parents, there is a significant chance that that child will begin to model not how he is treated, but how he sees his mother and father treating each other.
Of course there is the present behavior and conduct problems that may arise in the child, but there is also a significant chance that the child will carry this early model of relationship into their adult lives and begin to display negativity and blame within the adult relationships. It can take upwards of three generations to solve a particularly recalcitrant family problem.
Children come into our lives with a piece of their characters inherited–D N A plays a role, nurturing plays another role. What the child sees will in all circumstances be brought into the psyche. What the child does with both the inherited and the learned behaviors will be a function of the child’s own egoic development.
When approaching child guidance from an analytic perspective, we are cautious to not be intruding in the family cycle in such a way that the members of the family are not able to take in the new information they need to have to make the changes necessary to bring the child back in line with his or her own natural development sequence. In order for the parents to be able to make the necessary changes in themselves they need to believe that what they are currently doing is indeed–not a fault, but a mis-calculation in administering punishment and rewards.
Some individuals are under the impression that taking a favorite toy away for example will teach a lesson. It may, to the right child who can learn a lesson in that manner; but what of the child who can not learn that way? What if the child is lacking an emotion or is over stimulated by his or her emotions? The punishing routines have little chance to be effective.
In early ages conduct disorders are most likely a demonstration of a child’s inability to sooth themselves…A rocking chair is more the answer than standing in the corner.
Emotional lag, delay in growing up, is linked to a “stuck-place” in the sequence of the child’s learning. Learning becomes over-stimulating and learning itself causes the over-stimulation that the parents are in the first place attempting to correct.
If we do not know how to find the quiet place within ourselves, we can be two months of forty seven years old and nothing seems to work. Proper sleep and little sugar and little white flour go a very long way in correcting conduct disorders, but emotional communications that are soft and inquiring along with exploratory questions will bring a better result that to remove a toy or to punish in a way that gives the child the impression that they are some how bad….
Right and wrong are not as important as quality time and soothing language…..