Navigating the Rules

Long ago, I wrote a post on how difficult it is for a child to learn the rules of this world. The fact that for them, the rules are not easy to master is an interesting inference. There are conflicts and clear drawbacks that need to be accepted. Navigating them wisely, exercising your best judgement and learning the exception from the rule are reasonably complicated tasks that take a long time to internalize, if it ever does.

  • We all teach love and kindness to our children, the value of sharing and giving up their right for a sibling to please. Similarly, all parents regularly advise their children to stop complaining. Guiding them in this direction is much desirable. However, from a child’s perspective, this automatically transfers into a kind of personality that makes it much difficult for them to protect themselves against bullying or a disturbing adult. Imagine how complicated it is for a child to exercise the right judgement where they can recognize not to complain about small stuff or sibling arguments but absolutely ‘complain’ to their parents when it is necessary as well as learn standing up for themselves.
  • Telling the truth is the first advice every child receivers and probably the one most repeated too. Interestingly, according to the authors of NurtureShock: New Thinking about Children, psychologists have found that lying is a more advanced skill. A child who is going to lie must recognise the truth, intellectually conceive of an alternate reality and be able to convincingly sell that new reality to someone else. It is a hard pill to swallow but your truthful child might not be as sharp as the lying one.
  • Another simple example is sharing the food. After learning the concept of sharing, many children try to share what they dislike, particularly in food items. When parents emphasize that each child should finish their own plate and must not share, this behaviour automatically gets carried over to toys and other stuff.

It takes time to develop the right kind of judgement. This fact is also true for adults who keep refining this skill by gaining experience throughout the life.

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