An older child, one who possesses a conscience, will be troubled with self-reproaches and feelings of shame for his naughtiness, even if he is not discovered. But our two-year-olds and our three-year- olds experience guilt feelings only when they feel or anticipate disapproval from the outside. In doing this, they have taken the first steps toward the goal of conscience, but there is a long way ahead before the policeman outside becomes the policeman inside.
It seems to me that we have to draw the line in sibling rivalry whenever rivalry goes out of bounds into destructive behavior of aphysical or verbal kind. The principle needs to be this: Whatever the reasons for your feelings you will have to find civilized solutions.
There must be a solemn and terrible aloneness that comes over the child as he takes those first independent steps. All this is lost to memory and we can only reconstruct it through analogies in later life....To the child who takes his first steps and finds himself walking alone, this moment must bring the first sharp sense of the uniqueness and separateness of his body and his person, the discovery of the solitary self.
Parents who want a fresh point of view on their furniture are advised to drop down on all fours and accompany the nine or ten month old on his rounds. It is probably many years since you last studied the underside of a dining room chair. The ten month old will study this marvel with as much concentration and reverence as a tourist in the Cathedral of Chartres.
The experience of a sense of guilt for wrong-doing is necessary for the development of self-control. The guilt feelings will laterserve as a warning signal which the child can produce himself when an impulse to repeat the naughty act comes over him. When the child can produce his on warning signals, independent of the actual presence of the adult, he is on the way to developing a conscience.
The child begins life as a pleasure-seeking animal; his infantile personality is organized around his own appetites and his own body. In the course of his rearing the goal of exclusive pleasure seeking must be modified drastically, the fundamental urges must be subject to the dictates of conscience and society, urges must be capable of postponement and in some instances of renunciation completely.
It can be demonstrated that the child's contact with the real world is strengthened by his periodic excursions into fantasy. It becomes easier to tolerate the frustrations of the real world and to accede to the demands of reality if one can restore himself at intervals in a world where the deepest wishes can achieve imaginary gratification.
Language makes it possible for a child to incorporate his parents' verbal prohibitions, to make them part of himself....We don't speak of a conscience yet in the child who is just acquiring language, but we can see very clearly how language plays an indispensable role in the formation of conscience. In fact, the moral achievement of man, the whole complex of factors that go into the organization of conscience is very largely based upon language.
We find that even the parents who justify spanking to themselves are defensive and embarrassed about it....I suspect that deep inthe memory of every parent are the feelings that had attended his own childhood spankings, the feelings of humiliation, of helplessness, of submission through fear. The parent who finds himself spanking his own child cannot dispel the ghosts of his own childhood.
It no longer makes sense to speak of "feeding problems" or "sleep problems" or "negative behavior" is if they were distinct categories, but to speak of "problems of development" and to search for the meaning of feeding and sleep disturbances or behavior disorders in the developmental phase which has produced them.
We have good reason to believe that memories of early childhood do not persist in consciousness because of the absence or fragmentary character of language covering this period. Words serve as fixatives for mental images. . . . Even at the end of the second year of life when word tags exist for a number of objects in the child's life, these words are discrete and do not yet bind together the parts of an experience or organize them in a way that can produce a coherent memory.
The parent who loves his child dearly but asks for nothing in return might qualify as a saint, but he will not qualify as a parent. For a child who can claim love without meeting any of the obligations of love will be a self-centered child and many such children have grown up in our time to become petulant lovers and sullen marriage partners because the promise of unconditional love has not been fulfilled.
For the child whose impulsiveness is indulged, who retains his primitive-discharge mechanisms, is not only an ill-behaved child but a child whose intellectual development is slowed down. No matter how well he is endowed intellectually, if direct action and immediate gratification are the guiding principles of his behavior, there will be less incentive to develop the higher mental processes, to reason, to employ the imagination creatively. . . .
Whenever reality reinforces a child's fantasied dangers, the child will have more difficulty in overcoming them...So, while parents may not regard a spanking as a physical attack or an assault on a child's body, the child may regard it as such, and experience it as a confirmation of his fears that grown-ups under certain circumstances can really hurt you.
A two-year-old can be taught to curb his aggressions completely if the parents employ strong enough methods, but the achievement of such control at an early age may be bought at a price which few parents today would be willing to pay. The slow education for control demands much more parental time and patience at the beginning, but the child who learns control in this way will be the child who acquires healthy self-discipline later.
A method of child-rearing is not--or should not be--a whim, a fashion or a shibboleth. It should derive from an understanding of the developing child, of his physical and mental equipment at any given stage, and, therefore, his readiness at any given stage to adapt, to learn, to regulate his behavior according to parental expectations.
We must remember when we speak of the "negativism" of the toddler that this is also the child who is intoxicated with the discoveries of the second year, a joyful child who is firmly bound to his parents and his new-found world through ties of love. The so-called negativism is one of the aspects of this development, but under ordinary circumstances it does not become anarchy. It's a kind of declaration of independence, but there is no intention to unseat the government.
If we can find a principle to guide us in the handling of the child between nine and eighteen months, we can see that we need to allow enough opportunity for handling and investigation of objects to further intellectual development and just enough restriction required for family harmony and for the safety of the child.
We find that the child who does not yet have language at his command, the child under two and a half, will be able to cooperate with our education if we go easy on the "blocking" techniques, the outright prohibitions, the "no's" and go heavy on "substitution" techniques, that is, the redirection or certain impulses and the offering of substitute satisfactions.