The first thing that earns the interest of the child – is him or herself. From the infant’s perspective, the crib, his mothers loving arms, the breast and the bottle are an extension of his own self. A healthy infant is completely focused on himself. As the infant learns about the existence of other things he treats them all as a part of himself. He is the center and the periphery of his own world. His self is the only thing that concerns him.
Such a statement may seem dubious to the mothers and fathers who know perfectly well that the child begins to love them from a very early age. They are absolutely right, considering that, in fact, the child perceives them as a pleasant part of himself. Hand him a rubber ball or toy, and if he likes how it feels, he will try to make the toy a part of him by putting it in his mouth. Understanding and helping to develop the emotional world of the child is as important as understanding and helping him or her develop physical skills and the ability to learn. A child’s personality is plastic and extremely sensitive. Even if, as an adult, he forgets about his experiences in the first year of life, they will still reflect in his personality. You can be certain that he will be affected by restrictions of freedom of expression experienced in infant life, such as lack of love or tenderness. Parents can educate mechanically, according to strict rules and laws, or, alternatively, they can open before the child a friendly, loving and happy world.
When a child turns two he discovers that the world is divided into two parts: on the one side is himself, and on the other there is everything else. However, he has no doubts about which of these two parts is more important. He discovers that even “Mom” or “Mommy” is something separate from him, and though he gives her the second place in his affections, he still unconditionally prefers himself. However, the development of a child involves much more than egocentrism. A small child must learn the rules created by his parents and by society. It is a gradual transition from the time when the child feels to be the center of the universe, to the time when he learns to take into account the desires of the people around him. Of course, it is not easy for the child to refuse to be the center of the universe. In varying degrees, he would like to continue living the effortless life in which everything revolves around him. In this regard, one can understand why kids want to attract attention: they want to remain in the center of the world exactly as they were before. This is why, as children we have all loved to act out.
Many parents worry when faced with temper tantrums and acting out, especially if the child is ready to do anything to attract attention: yell, scream, throw things on the floor, etc. In fact, the reason most parents object to this kind of behavior is because they are afraid of being accused of improperly upbringing their children. They may not understand that this phenomenon is actually perfectly natural (hence the name “terrible twos”). Of course, we cannot and should not approve of the behavior, but at the same time there is no reason to exaggerate the situation out of proportion.
At an early age a temper tantrum is largely an attempt to attract attention. Children quickly discover that by doing so they will be rewarded with attention. If the child is brought up based on strict rules, they will be creative in coming up with ways to behave so as to direct all the attention on them. Sometimes they will achieve this by being “charming”, sometimes by being “resourceful” and at times simply by acting as very good little boys and girls.
The egocentrism of the child peaks at the age of three or four, both in intensity and the diversity of self expression. It is at this time, that the average child will begin to develop the utmost desire for self-affirmation. In addition, he or she will want to avoid punishment when known rule has been broken. It is natural to expect a child at this age to lie or perhaps steal something. The child is simply trying new, only recently discovered methods of achieving their goals. A happy child is one whose parents recognize that the behavior is part of normal development. They handle the situation through parenting motivated by love rather than anger and offer explanations that are meaningful for the child. Strict punishment will only bring on more trouble for both the parents and the child.
When a child’s life begins to include more people such as friends and school teachers, he starts to learn about the property rights of others. He learns that by sharing you earn love, and by taking away something that belongs to another you earn hatred. The child discovers that when he devotes a part of his love and interest to another, he can receive dividends in satisfaction. For example, if he offers his friend a ride on his bicycle and then his mother or teacher show their approval, he will learn that by giving he also receives something.
We learn to love, because our parents love us. We feel secure and safe because of their love and soon realize that it’s rewarding we follow their rules. The first way that we show our parents that we love them is by obeying their rules. Usually, the more we invest, the more we get out of it. In the process of maturation, our role is reversed in many ways: from dependent to independent, from the pupil to the teacher. Psychological maturity allows us to reap greater satisfaction from giving love rather than receiving it. The ability to love is one of the most important acquisitions of the emotional world, and it is fostered in childhood. Often, parents attach great significance to the physical development of their children, and of course this is an extremely important component. Then, they focus on the child’s learning and education and this is equally relevant. However, very few parents ask themselves about the emotional world of the child, and more specifically: “can my child love?”
Some people can learn to love despite having been deprived of love in childhood, but they are the exception to the rule. Some learn to love through suffering. Others acquire this skill at an early age under favorable circumstances, which replaces the original lack of love. The ability to love is necessary for mental health and peace of mind. Those who have never experienced parental love in childhood search for it for the rest of their lives. As a rule, they do not know how to give love in return. While they want to give and receive love, they are too afraid of being rejected once again, as they had been by their parents.
Building trust and love is the first step towards a stable emotional world of a child. Pay close attention to your child’s feelings and you will see happiness in their eyes.