Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Cure of Crime...

I got this e-mail is long but a good message.
It came from Lubbock's Home & Family magazine.

The Cure of Crime is not the Electric Chair, it is the High Chair
Jonna Byars, PhD.

In his book, All Men are Brothers, Mahatma Gandhi said the following about instilling values in early childhood:
"We labor under a sort of superstition that the child has nothing to learn during the first five years of his life. On the contrary, the fact is that the child never learns in later life what it does in its first five years. The education of the child begins with conception".

Mother Teresa expressed similar sentiments when she received her Nobel Prize and was asked, "what can be done to promote world peace?" She replied, "go home and love your children." The importance of the first few years of a child's life cannot be overestimated. It is during these years that the foundation is laid for a child's ethics, morality, and value system.

There are times at home that I think my children could not be more defiant, rude, and unruly. I begin to envision them doing jail time as a teenager and wonder where I taught them wrong. Then I see them interact with others and take solace in the fact that they are (usually)back to their kind, loving selves. In trying to make sense of this, I consider the fact that kids who are happy and mentally healthy are more likely to misbehave with their parents than they are with lesser known people. This is because of the safety they feel with their parents. My children are secure in our relationship. They know I am not going anywhere.

A child learns to like himself and the world when he has been given approval and love the first five years of his life. When children like themselves, they are kind and have no desire to make others feel bad. When children feel good about themselves, it does not feel good to make others feel bad. I am sure you have noticed this same tendency with adults too.

If a child has not been given approval and love, they do not like themselves and therefore cannot like others and be kind to others. In extreme cases, children who are neglected or abused often fail to acquire this basic sense of trust and belonging that influences how they behave when they are older. They can be callous because no one has ever shown them enough of the caring and approval to put in their system. Children come to expect the world to be the way they have experienced it--whether that means cold and forbidding or warm and loving.

How does this approval and love come packaged? It is with unconditional positive regard. It is loving the child no matter what they do or say. Never withdrawing the safety they feel with you. In essence, it is seeing the child through God's eyes. This does not mean you do not discipline and correct their behavior. It simply means you show them, guide them, and model moral behavior. And this starts when the child is born.

In the end, the true test of a child's character is what appears when Mom or Dad are not around. A secure and loved child will display kindness, respect, and humanity (most of the time). They learned these as a very young child. It is who the child is. With a lot of love and patience, your child will grow up to feel happy and blessed - and want to help others rather than hurt them. And that is something to be proud of.

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