The hands-off policy of modern parents towards their children is either blissful ignorance or insanity. Throughout the ages parents have not only helped their children survive but have assisted them to maximize their potential to be successful.
It is true each child is born with specific genetic predispositions. Some infants are loud and aggressive while others are quiet and pleasing. Each is born with unique traits that can be considered strengths or weaknesses depending on the situation and intensity of its use.
Parents being the adults and having the most exposure to their children in the past have taken on the responsibility to channel some behaviors, encourage and prohibit others. Today this is rarely being done. This sculpturing of the child’s personality takes time and involvement. Parents have to have plenty of “quality time” to have the appropriate opportunities to more easily modify any behavior.
In our present culture parents are often not available to study their children’s unique behavior or believe they do not have the right to spank a toddler on the behind. This loving tap can put an exclamation point to a parent saying “no”. Timing is everything in ending a child’s blatant manipulation and tantrums. By a parent establishing no nonsense limits in the early years, the child gains greater respect for the parent’s authority.
All healthy children have excess energy that they need to expend. They are similar to a playful pup or kitten running willy-nilly trying to gain control over their bodies. An observant parent establishes rules to limit the child’s harming of self, others and property. Without parental intervention many dangerous and destructive habits will be solidified as part of the child’s personality.
Modern parents are more removed from the daily activities of their children. The childcare providers have greater exposure to the child’s antics than the parent although even they are limited by convention and law to tackle the more obnoxious and abnormal actions of the child. More than ever professionals working with children have their hands tied. Childcare workers are limited to putting the child in “time out” and reporting to the parent the inappropriate behavior in hopes that the parent will correct it at home.
A parent changing a child’s behavior after speaking with a professional is usually the fantasy of a novice who does not understand the dynamics of the modern family. In either a two-parent working family or the single parent family the adults are harried individuals who want to end the day with as little aggravation as possible. They do not want to get involved.
These modern parents do not have the patience at the end of the day to review and reprimand the child’s behavior that they did not directly experience. Besides, modern parents are paying professionals good money to correct their child’s particular issues. Today there are professional potty trainers and a host of other child specialists who receive more than $100 per hour for training.
After many parental half-hearted attempts and failures using various and often contrary approaches, a mental health provider is hired. This professional is supposed to rid the child of any obnoxious or self-destructive actions. As this child is passed down the conveyor belt of professionals the child will most likely receive a diagnosis and medication regiment that does not correct the behavior but masks it. The child’s labeled disability unfortunately is an albatross hung around his neck weighing him down for life.
In defense of the professional, by the time they appear on the scene many of the child’s problems are too firmly entrenched to readily change them. The best approach to many childhood disorders is to prevent them in the first place. Observant parents intervening early in the child’s life can easily take a strong willed child and lovingly direct him towards a positive outcome. They can use his personal inclination to further his development by showing him ways to overcome the frustration of not instantly getting what he wants.
With the help of the parent a hyper-sensitive child can be given words to express his or her feelings and understand others (empathy) to become less sensitive to criticism by others (more thick skinned). Parents are the ultimate role models in a child’s life and have incredible power to steer the child in the right direction before he deviates far down the wrong path.
Every person, young or old, faces personal challenges that have to be overcome. Parental guidance at the appropriate, sensitive time in the child’s life can set him straight to solve the many complex issues that life throws his way. Youngsters need guidance especially during the early years.
Parent’s involvement with their child is under-appreciated in today’s culture. We should start to realize the importance of parent accessibility in lowering counter productive behavior. This molding of the child’s behavior is essential to improving the child’s chances of success. No one else, including the most knowledgeable professional is in the natural position of a parent to positively impact the direction of a child. Parents, remember to prioritize your time to do it.
Dr. Domenick J. Maglio
PhD Traditional Realist