mother children Children, Adolescents


 & the Family

Some Topics

Rules

Babies and young children copy the behaviors they experience and mold their own behavior accordingly. Children expand this mimetic and modeling ability into communication skills using body and spoken language. This mimetic basis of learning is one the most important feature of the human brain. The ability to make distinctions based rules is innate but each child has to learn the specific rules that govern local behaviors.

External regulation of human behavior in the form of physical constraints and impersonal rules is essential for both individual and group survival. Peer standards and demands are innate rules that regulate the interactions of individuals.

Children have to learn the rules, copy the attitudes and beliefs of the local group and are controlled by adult members of the local community. Adults who enforce rules often realize that thorough training and indoctrination of young children is most effective and that older children and adults are more resistant to strict control. The use of propaganda and rote training in strict schools can create, in the most part, compliant children who will act in the interests of the group rather than purse self-interest or creative, intellectual work.

Children with low IQ’s benefit the most from rote training and highly structured schools. Children with high IQs are oppressed in strict schools and their development is constrained.

Written rules are descriptions of behavior that distinguishes between desirable and undesirable behavior. A system of rules is a code of conduct, or procedures that intend to regulate and constrain behavior. Common rules regulate human tendencies to occupy and defend space, to hoard possessions and to compete with neighbors and friends for status, property and sexual privileges.

Parents must establish rules to regulate the conduct of children at home and in the community. Rules at home need not be strict or unreasonable. Home is a place of security and refuge from a demanding outside world. Rules that are obviously connected to the safety and well-being of the family are the easiest to enforce. In addition, parents must inform children about rules that they will encounter at school and in the community at large.

Every encounter with every other human requires following some rules. While there is an implicit set of generally understood rules to regulate conduct in public spaces, there are other sets of rules in homes, schools, businesses and governments. Every transaction requires you to understand and obey rules that some organization invented to regulate your behavior. You may not want to be so-regulated or you may fail to understand how to comply. In any case, you are often frustrated.

One idea is that the human brain is limited by the information-processing capacity of the neocortex. Humans can only maintain a working relationship with a small number of individuals; can only obey a limited number of rules; and are confused by rules that are not congruent.

Rachel Jones explored the idea that rule-dependent behavior depends on the prefrontal cortex. Some rules are specific such as stopping your car at a red light. Others are more abstract and can be generalized. “We learn the 'rules' of polite conversation, for example, and then apply them flexibly whenever we meet a new person. Monkeys were trained to recognize sensory cues that indicated which of two abstract rules they should apply. If a drop of juice was given when a picture appeared, it indicated that the monkey should release a lever if the next picture matched the first. A green background told the monkey to release the lever only if the two pictures did not match. Half of the rule-specific neurons in the prefrontal cortex were activated by the match rule, and half by the non-match rule. The idea is that the prefrontal cortex implements abstract rules in varying situations — a property that is essential for intelligent, adaptive behavior. ”

The enforcement of rules leads to typical complications in every society. A natural level of enforcement is peer influence that only works well in small groups. The new problem with rules is that there are too many to understand, let alone comply with.


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  • Children and the Family by Stephen Gislason MD examines the intense interactions of parents and children. From Dr. G's preface:" Parents receive a lot of advice from many people. Popular magazines and books offer a continuous stream of conflicting advice. Professionals have a variety of opinions about child-rearing that range from helpful suggestions to misleading and even bizarre ideas. Child psychology is an eclectic assembly of ideas, miscellaneous observations, opinions, fears and irrational beliefs. Confusion prevails in education about what children should learn and how they should learn it. If psychologists, physicians, and educators are confused, what about parents? Parenting is difficult and long-term relationships sometimes fail. The best parents are pragmatic and not theorists. They stay involved with their children, follow some basic guidelines they learned and tend to do whatever works. Good parents improvise childcare with a combination of innate generosity, common sense, love and concessions to the demands of modern life."

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