I hope that you all enjoyed the long weekend. I have been talking with several parents about social emotional development and behavior. I thought that I would share some of our discussion points with you.
Erik Erikson is renowned for his theories on children and his research focuses on social and emotional development. He talks about the importance of setting clear limits and I include this excerpt:
Erikson believed that the child’s struggles between inner and outer control are great.
Teachers and parents do children a service during this stage when they don’t shy away from clear, firm limits. When outer limits are clear, children can focus on learning inner control. When outer limits are inconsistent or poorly stated, children continually have to put energy into finding out what they are. (Theories of Childhood-Carol Mooney)
Children need and respond to reasonable limits that are consistently in place. Otherwise they become confused. Children are too young to be the boss. That is the job of the adult. I sometimes see parents promising children who are misbehaving special trips, new toys, and extra things to gain compliance. This teaches children that if they misbehave they will get special favors. It is called negative reinforcement. As Erikson’s research proves, adults need to set clear limits and be consistent in keeping them. Otherwise children are always guessing as to where the limit will be today and wasting energy that could be used much more constructively. Sometimes as parents we forget that we are the “ boss/adult” and children gain too much power and control. If this happens to you remember Erik Erikson and know that you are doing a your child a service when you set and enforce reasonable limits and routines.