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Children need adults to help them socialise. Without adults, children cannot learn the ways of adults and in this way they could never receive the chance to be a meaningful part of society. It is this very thought which fuelled an intense pursuit of parenting styles and methods which adequately hammer in information in children to become sociable. It is true that children depend on adults to grow. This contention is not in question. Children do learn from adults. The idea to challenge revolves around the system of enforcing and discouraging behaviours which seems to exist as part of our teaching methods as adults.

The very existence of such system assumes that children are innately anti-social. The basic premise is that without these strategies of discipline, our kids will naturally opt to do the wrong thing. It is almost as though we believe that children are pre-disposed to be anti-social, or do that which is not appropriate. This very idea fuelled parent’s obsessions, searching for effective consequences or investing strongly in positive prompts to encourage the habits which are ‘’right’’. What is suggested today is that there is a contradiction for children here. This style may very well be confusing their developing brains and not setting things clear as we intended.

To understand this argument, we must accept the thesis that children are genetically programmed to make themselves attractive to entice adults to care for them. In our ecosystem, children are unable to survive on their own and therefore they depend on an adult for protection and survival. The human offspring is designed to be attractive in the eyes of adults so it follows naturally for an adult to seek proximity and protect the child without question. This is how our race survived since time immemorial. Research confirms this and children know it too. They understand that they must try to do what is expected of them so they maintain their likeability. Even at a young age, children understand that doing what is expected of them will get them a preferred seat with their care givers. If we believe this, then we believe that children are innately social, and not as previously suggested.

 

– Steve Libreri is a social worker and parent coach within Willingness.  He offers parent coaching and social work sessions.  He can be contacted on steve@willingness.com.mt