Humans are beings of love and emotions. Children's psycho-emotional needs have to be nurtured.
In the context of human development and growth, it is not enough to have our basic needs met. What all parents need to provide to their children are emotional safety and unconditional love. Unfortunately, the socio-cultural traditions we follow are not attuned to the psycho-emotional needs of children. Parents need to go to work, and usually both of whom are working.
Yet children need the healthy attachment to either or both parents, and usually from the mother. Consider this: in the hundreds of thousands of years of of human existence, across radically different environments, parents were never far from their children.
This is the primary reason why the ancient tribal people didn’t have “identity crises” - a psycho-social phenomenon that was only observed beginning with the industrial revolution. In addition, the concepts of “isolation” and anomie all began when the socio-economic lifestyle of humans radically departed from tribal, village-based economic activities.
Even the concepts of mental and personality disorders, "troubled youths with anti-social behavior," pervasive mood disorders, and increasing rate of suicide, are phenomena that accompanied the ever accelerating “separation” of family togetherness due to the socio-economic and cultural forces that take parents away from the daily lives of their children.
Thus, parents, consciously and unconsciously, rely on schools and their teachers to provide the emotional support that children need. But the demands for “performance” pressure the teachers to focus more on skills improvement and "standardized tests" than nurturing the psycho-emotional development of children.
So, many children turn to other children for emotional nourishment. Children parenting themselves. Then some of them meet bullies, who are also product of dysfunctional family dynamics.
Thus, here we all are, having to deal with the psychological deficiencies met by many children across the world. Worse is when some of these children were, and are, physically and sexually abused – which increase their chances of committing suicide by more than ten times the national rate. Thus, we exhort parents and schools to re-focus their attention from academic achievement to the nurturance of the psycho-emotional needs of children. For children who feel acceptance, love, and belongingness, will surely want to know more and study more.
Because humans are naturally curious, and our default programming is to be autonomous and competent. We cannot totally prevent children from experiencing psychological challenges in life; but we surely can minimize it and help make them become responsible, caring, and capable citizens of this world. By attending to their psycho-emotional needs as much as you, we, can.
It really takes a village to raise a child.
May you be a part of those who create villages of love and belongingness.
artwork: Night Garden by Richard Faust
About the author
Emmanuel F. Silan, PhD
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