mother children Children, Adolescents

 & the Family

Some Topics

Needs, Goals and Errors


All living creatures are intentional in the sense that they all project themselves into the world every day to get what they need. All living creatures have needs, goals, drives and strategies. Intention does not usually include a well-developed conscious plan, except in unusual circumstances.

Young children are random little creatures. They do all sorts of things that they should not do, make many mistakes and hurt themselves often. The randomness is useful to tune into features of the local environment that are new.  Children learn by exploring, copying and by making mistakes. Sometimes they are injured and sometimes they die by making a mistake. A responsible parent will use the words "no" and don't" more often than any other words as they interact with their child. The child will persevere, trying to get things forcefully. The "No!" instruction will modulate but not eliminate defiance. 

Every parent dreads the fatal mistake and good parents are constantly vigilant, using warnings, instruction and constraints to minimize the danger facing the inexperienced child. A one-year-old will crawl and then stagger around the house pulling and pushing on every object and will put everything that fits into his or her mouth. There is no way for a parent to sit down and have a nice chat with the infant about what is permissible activity and what is not. Children slowly become less random and tune into their environment more selectively as they get older. The no's and the don'ts become incorporated into a strategy of not doing things that are risky and harmful.  This is called maturation.

A mature human, however, will usually continue to do things that they should not do. Not doing things is often the key to success in any endeavor. The true test of freedom is making the choice not to do things that your world-eating appetites insist that you do. Every free society has elaborate arrangements in place to continue the constant repetition of no's and don'ts.  

Adult societies often operate much like a two-year-old infant exploring the kitchen cupboards and having tantrums when anyone says “no.” A small group of smart and nice humans act like parents and try to regulate the reckless behavior of others. Elaborate regulations are required to achieve a tolerable level of destructive behavior, but are generally unsuccessful at sustaining a high level of constructive behavior at any age.

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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."

    You can order Children and the Family as an eBook for Download 

    Additional recommended reading includes the books Intelligence & Learning,  Language and Thinking  Feeding Children and the Alpha Nutrition Program

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    Human Nature
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