Parents teach by what they do. When a parent leaves a child unintended, they are teaching that child that attention to that child is “optional.” When a child is asking for attention in a grocery cart, and the mum or dad goes on shopping, talking on the cell phone, disregarding the child’s question as immaterial, two things are likely to happen. The first thing is that the child actively learns it is “acceptable” to ignore someone when they ask for your attention. The second thing is they learn to ask LOUDER. Yelling or screaming, or a full blown tantrum may be the next result.
An all out tantrum, kicking, screaming, flailing, and the rest, is being taught by the parent to the child. Then the parent finally reacts, and usually in a negative way with threats, or upset emotions that direct criticism to the child.
Congratulations of a lesson taught, albeit a negative one, are in order to that care-giver. Your neglect of the child’s less offensive inquiry has resulted in your teaching him or her that only disruptive behavior gets attention.
Destructive behavior results when neglect is tolerated.
Neglect, it must be remembered always, causes more suffering by way of apathy, than outright violence ever could. Never should it be said that only parents are responsible. All people who neglect protecting of anything of value, any who shirk that responsibility, are responsible for behavior problems.
This is why people whose only child died at birth, must still pay taxes for other children’s schools. They are investing in preventing their own stereo from being stolen.
It is the same from the level of the two year old up to global reality. The out of control dictator, having a tantrum, has been neglected by global complacency when correction was needed. Look at someone like Hosni Mubarak or Muammar Quaddafi. They get attention, and results, when they get out of control. Someone neglected to intervene while there was a more opportune time. But this is about children.
Children at school and on playgrounds are often treated with disinterest until something goes wrong. Then much trouble is created. One child will learn they get attention only when they bully. Another child will learn that if they say nothing about being bullied, if they shut up, stay quiet, “keep it to myself, they may temporarily be spared pain or humiliation. The trouble with this kind of neglect doled out regularly in classrooms, playgrounds, households, and everywhere else, is that the neglected child is learning terrible t things about having to learn to be a victim.
They may not become a tantrum thrower or a bully, but just as destructively, they may internalize the pain, find eating disorders, shopping, and drug addictions, or a thousand myriad ways to express out the pain they cannot live with that poisons them inside.
Human beings are people with an inherent flight or fight response. Our destructive capacity is due to our ability to have a comprehending neo cortex that stores abstract ideas. Our minds visualize, and thus internalize both past damage, and future anxiety. Neglect exacerbates this.
Fortunately, this same quirk, our minds, provide answers if we look to nature, to control the damage of neglect.
All over the world people try to find blame rather than solutions when a child injures another, or guns are found in schools, or a child is suspended for kissing another child, or any number of disturbing events that children, lacking judgment, often do impulsively.
It is always the responsibility of the adults to give children lessons by example.
Adults should not treat children that affection for example is wrong, they should teach that uncomfortable touching of any kind is wrong. Adults should teach that bringing a toy gun, cell phone, bikini, or anything against rules, is wrong because the rules are there, not to hurt children, but to keep disruption from hurting children.
Should a parent be held responsible if a child kills, maims, steals, or drinks? Only those parents who took on the responsibility (or irresponsibility) of conceiving, birthing, and raising the child should be held accountable, for what that child does.
Is it fair? No! One of the most crucial lessons, and the most responsible one, that anyone can teach children is that life is not fair. It will forever be up to the adults in the room, to make sure that lessons are taught that life is unfair. However, we do have ability to make it more fair, and to seek justice and compassion. We by our attention, and not our neglect, have the power to make life as fair, equitable, tolerable, and reasonable, as life will ever be.