Keith Hunt - Those Elementary School Years - Page Twelve   Restitution of All Things

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Elementary School Years

Various guidance for 6 to 12 year old children

CHRISTIAN CHILD-REARING AND PERSONALITY DEVELOPMENT

by Paul D. Meier, M.D.


THOSE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL YEARS (Ages Six to Twelve)


A.   Developmental adaptations during the elementary school
years.


1. Adjusting to school.

     If a child has been adequately prepared, and has developed
sufficient independence from his mother, going to school for the
first time will be more of a fulfillment than a fear. Parents can
make first grade easier by giving their four-year-old some
part-time nursery school experience, then giving their
five-year-old half-days in kindergarten before placing their
six-year-old in a full-time first grade. Unfortunately, some
elementary school children have to be bussed across town,
frequently spending an extra hour or more in a hot or cold bus
traveling to and from school. I would avoid this if at all
possible. The ideal situation would be to send elementary school
children to a good, nearby Christian elementary school, where
effective discipline is more likely to be upheld and where
students learn Christian character as well as how to read and
write. I would not send my children to a Christian school that
has poor teachers, however. I would take special pains to check
out my child's first-grade teachers, Christian or non-Christian,
since they will affect the way he initially looks at the
education process in general.
     Many children, especially boys, are somewhat late in the
maturation of their nervous systems, particularly in the areas of
brain responsible for reading and writing. Many boys, and some
girls, will have some minor learning disabilities, like seeing or
writing letters backwards, until the nerves associated with such
activities are completely myelinated - that is, until they are
covered with a fatty sheath, like the insulation around
electrical wires. A hostile teacher can be critical of these
children and make them feel stupid, in spite of the fact that
most of them have average or better than average intelligence. 
In fact, Albert Einstein was one of these late developers. Once a
child is labeled stupid, it's hard to live it down. So it's
important that the first-grade teather be a loving, understanding
teacher and at the same time a firm disciplinarian. Once I get to
know the teacher, I won't hesitate in the least to give her
permission to spank my child if he disobeys. If he complains
about it when he gets home, he's likely to get another one from
me, depending on the circumstances. It's important for the child
to see the teacher and parents as a united front.

2. Sexual development.


     During the elementary school years, the child identifies
strongly with significant persons in his environment. He
identifies strongly with the parent of the same sex - if that
parent makes himself available. This is essential for normal
sexual development. He also identifies with other persons of the
same sex. Hero worship is to be expected at this age, so it's
important to provide the child with appropriate heroes. Parents
can do this indirectly by praising certain individuals, such as
athletes, ministers, and Bible heroes, with whom they would like
the child to identify. Tell him whom he was named after and why,
and tell him the meaning of his name.
     Dr.Eugene McDanald states that for a child, "there is no
such thing as an irrelevant encounter with persons. His
identification with persons is a vital process that determines
what he becomes, and the quality of this becoming is dependent on
the qualities of the persons he encounters." MaDanald adds
further that "if the attitudes of others that become part of the
child reflect tendencies toward self affirmation and self-
renunciation compatible with self-respect and respect for others,
they become an arch to new experience."


     It is vitally important for boys to identify with males and
for girls to identify with females. Without such identificaton
the child may become a homosexual or a lesbian, if the problem is
severe, or have sexual maladjustments in marriage if the problem
is less severe. It's unfortunate that we don't have more male
elementary school teachers. So many boys go through life with
either no father or an absent father, female school teachers,
female Sunday School teachers, female babysitters, and so forth.
It's no wonder that homosexuality is far more common in males
than in females. I would strongly recommend that church leaders
provide male Sunday School teachers for elementary boys and
female Sunday School teachers for elementary school girls. This
will provide both groups someone positive to identify with both
sexually and spiritually. During the elementary school years,
boys develop a contemptous attitude toward girls and girlish
things. Nearly all boys and girls have some wishes at times of
being the opposite sex, so they develop this healthy contempt to
repress those wishes during these years. Both sexes need to see
the advantages of being what they are, and that each sex has its
own distinct advantages.

     Sex education is also important for elementary school
children, and the best place for sex education is in the home. It
should be done little by little, over the years, by answering
questions that the child asks, and nothing more. But be sure to
answer his questions truthfully, using adult terms, and
niatter-of-factly. A child of average maturity should know all
the facts of life by the time he is ten or eleven years of age.
     Menstruation should also be explained quite early to
elementary school girls because the normal range for the onset of
menses is anywhere from nine to sixteen years old, with the
average being about thirteen years of age in the United States.
     Onset of puberty in boys is generally a little later -
usually around thirteen to fifteen years of ages That's why
seventh-grade girls are frequently bigger than boys.

3. Social development.

     During the elementary school years, the child develops a
real sense of belonging. Group participation, especially with
Christian children, should be encouraged. He also develops a real
sense of responsibility as he shares the chores with his older
brothers and sisters. The sense of belonging and responsibility
are prerequisites to the development of leadership potential in
the child. He must learn to obey before he can learn to lead
effectively. His self-concept continues to develop as he sees
himself through the eyes of his peers, and also through the eyes
of his parents and other authority figures.
     Play among children of this age group - be it football,
basketball, or baseball - is characterized by poor organization,
heated disputes over the rules, lopsided scores, and accusations
of cheating. They like to win, but must also learn teamwork - the
precious ability to work together in a common cause with fellow
human beings. They also like to play marbles for keeps and
exchange count books. I would encourage you to buy your
elementary school children some Christian comic books, which are
available front the Fleming H.Revell Publishing Company and can
be ordered at your local Christian book store. This will give
your children a good opportunity to witness to other children
about Christ. They're not too young to learn witnessing.

B.   Disciplining your elementary school child.

     I have been amazed in the past at how many Christians do not
know what the Bible says about disciplining children. When I ask
them what they think the correct way of disciplining is, many of
my client directly contradict God's recommendations in Scripture.
I could quote many verses on discipline, but I think Solomon's
wise recommendations in Proverbs 13:24, 22:15, 23:13, and 29:15
are adequate to give the general idea. I do think we should
analyze Solomon's instructions in light of what the Apostle Paul
says in Ephesians, where he writes, "And fathers, do not provoke
your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and
instruction of the Lord" (Eph.6:4, NASV). The only means of
discipline for young children mentioned in the Bible, to the best
of my knowledge, are the rod and reproof (e.g., Proverbs 29:15).
That doesn't mean that other forms of discipline shouldn't also
be exercised, but I think it does mean that spanking with a stick
and giving verbal reproofs should be the primary disciplinary
tools with young children. Not only that, but according to
Ecclesiastes 8:11 the sentence against an evil deed should be
executed quickly. For a mother to tell her child that when his
father gets home, his father will spank him for what he just did
is definitely wrong, both scripturally and psychiatrically. It's
wrong scripturally because this is not executing the discipline
quickly - it's postponing it. It's wrong psychiatrically for two
reasons.
     First, the average attention span of an elementary school
child is about five to fifteen minutes, and by the time his
father gets home and spanks him, he will have forgotten what it
was that he did wrong. Even if the father reminds him of what it
was, the spanking will have lost its effectiveness. Among the
many studies confirming this, Ivan Pavlov's studies on dogs merit
special attention. Pavlov rang a bell whenever he brought his
dogs food. Soon, instead of waiting until they smelled the food,
they learned to salivate as soon as they heard the bell. And
whenever Pavlov punished the dogs for doing certain things, they
soon learned not to do those things in order to avoid the pain.
If your pet dog wets on your carpet, do you tell him that he is
going to be punished several hours later when your husband gets
home? Of course not! You hit him with your hand or newspaper, and
put him outside the door. Well, it's just as useless to tell a
child his father will spank him several hours later for something
he just did.
     Second, delaying punishment until the father comes home is
wrong because it separates the child from his father. Many women,
in fact, unconsciously or even consciously use this technique
exactly for this purpose - to separate the son or daughter from
the father in order to win the child's undivided affection, thus
setting up a neurotic relationship. This also makes the child
think of his father as the sole disciplinarian, and will
influence him as an adult to have a very legalistic view of what
God is really like. This is so because no matter how much we read
the Bible, our overall view of what God is like is to a large
degree colored by how we viewed our own father during our
childhood. If you grew up without any male authority figures, you
will tend to think there isn't any God. It you have become a
women's liberationist you might even think of God as a woman. The
father and mother must stand together in the disciplining of
their children, and the task of disciplining should be carried
out by whoever saw the child disobey and can most quickly reprove
or spank him.

     A verbal reproof is frequently all that is necessary,
especially if the child is committing a particular offense for
the first time. Sometimes a verbal reproof followed by sending
the child to his room to think it over for five minutes will be
effective. But I think isolating a child for long periods of time
eventually falls into the category of provoking the child to
anger, because after about fifteen minutes, he will either forget
or misunderstand what it is that he is being punished for.
Spanking is short and immediate, and ten or fifteen minutes later
the child will get over any anger he might have felt toward the
parent who spanked him. When I spank my own child, he sometimes
will be angry with me initially, but within five or ten minutes
he almost always comes back to me and says, "I'm sorry, daddy. I
love you."
     I allow my child to tell me that he is angry, but if he hits
me, throws something at me, or shows any disrespect, I spank him
again. If you don't demand respect when a child is young, you
won't get any respect - or deserve any, for that matter - when
your child gets into his teens. And you certainly don't want your
son to hit you back when he's bigger than you are! My father is
5'6" tall, and I'm 6'4 and 1/2". I was bigger than my dad by the
time I was thirteen or fourteen years old. But I never dared
speak impudently to my father in any way - I wouldn't even think
of it, then or now. I still shudder if I think about saying
something disrespectful to my dad, and I'm certain it is because
he "shuddered" me a few times with a stick when I said something
disrespectful at the age of two or three. And I can't imagine any
father and son being closer to each other than my father and I
are right now. I have thanked him a number of times for every
spanking he gave me - except for one I didn't deserve, and I
forgave him for that one.

     An excellent book to read on disciplining children, in my
opinion, is "Dare to Discipline" by James Dobson. He emphasizes
demanding respect, spanking for willful acts of disobedience, and
the fact that every child is different. Some children want
parental approval so much that a look of scorn brings repentance.
A child like that requires very few spankings.(And maybe none at
all - I've met such parents and children so pliable no spanking
was needed, but their Mom or Dad being upset with them, would
bring true tears of sorry - Keith Hunt). But others are born with
more spirit and less concern for parental approval. For a child
like this, many spankings for the same offense may be necessary
before he finally decides that that particular type of behavior
isn't profitable for him. And when you spank him, spank him hard
enough so he'll feel it. It used to take quite a hard spanking to
get my older son to cry, but after he turned three he cried
whenever he saw me go after the stick. He's the spirited type,
and required quite a few spankings when he was two years old; but
after he turned three, he seldom needed one. I am very pleased
with his overall attitude of love, respect and obedience.
Parents frequently tell me that spanking simply doesn't work for
their child, but I say it will work for any child unless he is
severely mentally retarded. But you have to be consistent, the
parents have to stick together, and the spanking has to hurt; and
it may need to be repeated a number of times for the same
offense. I am not advocating bruising the child; in fact I
consider slapping his face or hitting him with a fist to be child
abuse and provoking him to wrath (see Eph.6:4). But remember the
words of Solomon: "Do not hold back discipline from the child.
When you beat him with the rod, he will not die" (Prov.23:18,
NASV). God is almost mocking us here for being afraid to spank.
God also tells us that "he who spares his rod hates his son"
(Prov.13:24). I have found that one way I, as a psychiatrist, can
tell if parents really have genuine love for their children is to
ask them how they discipline their children. Parents whose love
is selfish and immature will either be weak disciplinarians,
"sparing the rod," or they will physically abuse their children,
beating them with their fists, thus "provoking them to wrath."
But as Proverbs 13:24 says, "He who loves him disciplines him
diligently."

(But again, the reader is reminded that Solomon's instructions
are "general statement" only - there can be many exceptions. The
reader is strongly encouraged to read the study "An IMPORTANT
Key" - general statements are all over the Bible. You need to
understand this most basic teaching of the Bible, many verses
will then take on a much wider meaning, and you'll put things
into the right context of life and Bible maturity - Keith Hunt)

     If your child has average or better than average
intelligence, and if his education has been adequate, he will
begin to reason abstractly at about the age of ten or eleven.
This was proven by the studies of Jean Piaget. Reasoning with a
younger child about abstract concepts like the morality of
certain behavior patterns is a relative waste of time, although
simple, concrete reasoning can sometimes be quite effective in
this age group. Some children are exceptionally bright, and may
learn to reason abstractly sooner than age ten or eleven, but
most children don't. When my children are eleven or twelve years
old, I plan to do away with spankings and give them punishments
that are related to the offense. I'll reason with them more, and
try to communicate with them on an adult-to adult level. But I'll
probably hang the paddle somewhere they can see it occasionally
so they'll know it's available for special occasions. However,
when they reach their teens, I will use other forms of discipline
exclusively, punishments related to the offense. For minor
things, reasoning with teenagers is frequently all that is
needed.

C.   Social problems some elementary school children face.

1. Divorce or separation of the parents.

     Divorce is one of the most heartbreaking things in American
society today, and it's nearly always the result of one or both
parents being too selfish and proud to admit that their conflicts
are resolvable. I have never yet seen any marital conflicts that
were unresolvable, if both partners were willing to work at it.
The argument about having incompatible personalities with
unresolvable conflicts and differences is pure garbage! Any two
people with normal intelligence can learn to enjoy life together
if they are willing to humble themselves before Almighty God,   
swallowing their pride, and work out their conflicts." The easy
way out is for a couple with marital and psychological conflicts
to divorce each other and remarry. Then there are two couples
with marital and psychological conflicts instead of one. Christ
listed adultery as permissible grounds for a Christian to divorce
(Matthew 5:32 and 19:9), but He didn't encourage divorce even
under those circumstances.
     As already noted, more than six million children right now
are living in fatherless homes in the United States. One
extensive study of fatherless children showed that "hard core"
fatherless children meaning those who have had to live two or
more years without a father in the home - have significantly more
psychiatric difficulties than do normal children who have
fathers. Moreover, they have a much more fatalistic view of life.
And the number of fatherless families is continuing to rise
rapidly in America. These families have a significantly higher
incidence of psychological depression, separation anxiety, grief,
anger, sexual identity problems, and loneliness. In most cases,
the divorce and resultant fatherless home cause more
psychological damage to the children than would continued marital
maladjustments. One study of 105 families that experienced
divorce, for instance, showed that 52 percent continued to have
hostile interactions even after the divorce, and 31 percent
required from two to ten court interventions during a two-year
follow-up period. This study showed that alliances between one 
it patent and child against the other parent were especially
common.
     Whenever a married couple have conflicts - and all married
couples will have some conflicts if they are human beings - they
have three choices: one mature choice and two immature choices.

     The mature choice is to resolve the conflicts, even if
outside help is needed to so. The two immature choices are to
continue to live together unhappily or to get a divorce and live
apart unhappily. Of the two immature choices, getting a divorce
is definitely worse. In America today, nearly 40 percent of first
marriages end in divorce, and the divorce rate for second
marriages is 50 percent higher than the divorce rate for first
marriages! Divorcees have more psychiatric problems than any
other group of Americans.

(But, let's not forget that if two will not learn to tango
together, then divorce may needs be. And some marriages are
beyong saving, they have reached so low (maybe physical violence
and even just mental and emotional abuse is so strong), the
marriage cannot be saved. Some children would suffer more in such
out-of-control marriage, where it is obvious there will be no
miracle of change. If you need to study the subject of Divorce
and Re-marriage from the Bible, you will find it on this Website
- Keith Hunt)

2. Death in the family.

     A death in the family, either of a parent or of a child, is
another serious problem. But unlike divorce, which is a willful
separation, a death in the family - if handled properly - can be
a maturing experience for everyone involved, even though it is
tragic. When I was a senior in high school, I had my first
experience teaching Sunday School - it was a group of eight-and
nine-year-old boys. After I had taught the class several months,
and had come to know the boys fairly well, one of them developed
a very serious form of cancer. I wept bitterly when I found out
about it. The boy had already accepted Christ as his Savior, and
was a rapidly developing young Christian. His doctors were honest
with his parents, and the parents were honest with their son,
explaining to him the best they knew how that he wouldn't have
very much longer on this earth, and that they would miss him a
great deal, but Jesus would take care of him in heaven, and they
would join him again some day soon and spend the rest of eternity
with him. 

(Of course those who have read and studied from this Website,
know that going to heaven at death is not taught by the Word of
God - Keith Hunt)

     He was only eight years old, but he understood. He was
allowed to grieve over his eventual separation from his parents,
but soon brightened up and accepted it. I visited him frequently
in the hospital. When his leg was amputated, he became the
favorite of many of the doctors and nurses. He witnessed to them,
routinely, telling them about Jesus and His love, and how he was
looking forward to living with Jesus. He had an obvious impact on
the lives of those doctors and nurses. He had an obvious impact
on my own life too. When he died, we all grieved: but as a result
of boy's young life and death, his father finally accepted Christ
as Savior and developed into a pillar of the church. His older
brother, a teenager, also accepted Christ. We are told that "all
things work together for good to then, that love God, to them who
are the called according to his purpose" (Rom.8:28).

     Here are the usual steps people go through, whether children
or adults, when they first find out about a death, or impending
death in the family. 
     First, they will deny it. They won'tbelieve it. When they
are finally convinced that it is true, they generally go through
a period of anger. 
     So Second, they will be bitterly angry at God, or the
doctor, or someone else. A young child who can't yet comprehend
what death is all about may even become bitter at the dying or
dead parent, because to his way of understanding, the parent has
chosen to die and leave him.
     Thirdly, there will follow a guilt reaction, which is anger
at the self-attempts to blame oneself for the other family
member's death, or for not treating him right when he was still
alive, or for not saying good-bye before the death occurred. 
     It is to be hoped that the individual will then go through a
period of genuine grief over the loss of the loved one. I say "it
is to be hoped" because if he holds his feelings in, and pretends
he isn't sad, he may carry around unresolved psychological
conflicts the rest of his life.
     I have seen a number of psychological conflicts resolved by
using various psychotherapeutic techniques to allow the patient
to go ahead and grieve over the loss of a loved one who may have
died many years earlier. After two or three weeks of
grieving - sometimes less, and sometimes more - a healthy person
who has gone through these stages will resolve his grief, and
feel better toward God, himself, the deceased loved one, and the
remaining family members. It's something we will all have to go
through, and many of us will have to go through it several times
in our lives. The most important thing is to be completely honest
about it with everyone - and this includes a dying child - and to
allow everyone involved to grieve.
     Holding back the tears is not bravery. Its a mistake.

3. Childhood depression.

     If a child is seriously depressed for several weeks, he will
probably either become very withdrawn and frequently tearful, or
else he may show his depression by becoming much more irritable
and hard to get along with. I would encourage you as parents to
try to get to the root of the problem and find out what it is
that's bothering him, so something can be done about it. If
serious enough, and if he doesn't get over it, he may need to see
a child psychiatrist for a number of sessions, and may even need
a short course of antidepressant medications.

4. Grandparents in the home.

     It is generally recommended that you not have your parents
living in your home on a permanent basis, whether you have
children or not. It's hard enough to keep normal marital
conflicts resolved without having someone there to hear the
arguments or even enter into some of them. The same goes for
brothers or sisters or any other boarders. If you're married, it
is best for you to live by yourselves, even though you may
develop the urge to lend a helping hand from time to time by
letting someone move in with you. But don't do it, especially if
you have children. You'll be doing them a real disservice. They
deserve your undivided attention, and so does your mate. The best
thing a newly married couple can do for the sake of their
marriage is to make the break from both sets of parents. This
will force you to resolve conflicts instead of running to mother.
In some cases, the mother would run to you, whether you ran to
her or not. Later on, when you have children, I think it's fine
for them to be able to live within driving range of their
grandparents. Children have a very special relationship with
their grandparents, and it's usually a very healthy one,
involving a lot of identification with the grandparent of the
same sex. But the grandparents shouldn't live in the same home,
and preferably not next door.
     Grandparents are also better off living separately from
their children, either in their own home or apartment, or else in
an apartment-type home with other older people to whom they can
relate. As Christians, it is our responsibility to take care of
elderly parents who are no longer able to take care of
themselves. In fact, it's a real opportunity for our children to
watch us take care of our parents, teaching them to do the same
for us when we are too old to take care of ourselves. The Apostle
Paul said, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for
those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse
than an infidel" (I Tim.5:8). Those are strong words, inspired
by a God who loves people of all ages. But my personal opinion is
that usually this does not have to mean moving parents into your
house, although that does become a viable option in some
circumstances. I have seen too many families regret making that
decision, and it's hard to back out once you have made it.

5. Raising children in foreign lands.

     This is another sensitive subject, especially in the
evangelical community where many of us have relatives or friends
who are missionaries. If any parents feel called by God to go to
a foreign mission field, they should go. But they should make
their calling sure. A need does not constitute a call. There are
needs everywhere. Remember the very old story about the farmer
who while out in his field looked up at the clouds and noticed
that they formed the letters "P" He quit farming and went into
the ministry because he thought God was calling him to Preach
Christ.
     His ministry wasn't very effective, because in reality God
was calling him to get busy and Plow Corn. Now I would guess by
the relative lack of evangelical witnesses in foreign lands that
there are probably many more Christians who have disobeyed God's
call to be foreign missionaries by staying home, than there are
Christians who have misinterpreted God's call by going to foreign
lands when God really wanted them to stay home. I think God calls
all of us to be missionaries somewhere in some capacity. That's
what the great commission is all about (see Matt.28:19-20).
     What I want to emphasize here is that if you have children,
make your calling sure, because children who grow up in foreign
lands have extra problems to face up to in addition to the usual
ones.
     Many of these extra problems, however, can be avoided,
minimized, or resolved, according to a research study by Sidney
Werkman. His study showed that the additional problems involve
(1) unusual child-rearing practices and customs, (2) problems
with the caretakers of the children, (3) aberrant sexuality, (4)
special fears, and (5) a sense of alienation. Dr.Werkman
encourages parents to anticipate these potential problems, to
discuss them openly, to make plans to avoid or minimize them, and
to act decisively on their children's behalf. I believe our
children are our first calling from God, no matter what
occupation God may call us into. If God called me to go to some
foreign mission field, I would assuredly go, but I would choose a
mission board and a mission field where I wouldn't have to send
my elementary school children five hundred miles away nine months
a year. I might be wrong, but in light of Scripture, I really
cannot see how I could possibly be following God's will if I did
that. I have a good friend, however, whose parents felt called to
do that, and he turned out to be an excellent Christian
physician. He disagrees with me on this point, but I have
counseled a number of patients whose missionary parents "farmed
them out" and who have suffered severely as a result of this
separation from their parents. Some have even become devout
atheists as a reaction to parental rejection. Our family has to
be our first and utmost calling from God.

6. Handicapped children.

     Handicapped children frequently become over-dependent,
passive, and somewhat withdrawn. Parents may even unconsciously
reward them for being weak. Parents should not deny the handicap,
but they should make every effort to encourage their handicapped
child's independence. He doesn't need their pity. He needs their
genuine love, and he needs for them to trust his ability to
overcome the handicap psychologically and to become responsible
for himself. Elementary school children are very blunt and also
tease a lot, a problem the handicapped child will almost
certainly face. But being over-protective will only make matters
worse.
     Sometimes a handicap will strengthen someone to a point that
he never would have attained without it. God gave the Apostle
Paul a handicap so Paul's pride wouldn't hold him back from
accomplishing greatness for the Lord. John Milton wrote his best
poetry after going blind. I know of a farm boy from a small
southern town who made average grades in elementary school until
he was afflicted with a handicap. That handicap gave him a real
determination to prove himself and succeed in life. He was the
valedictorian of his high school class, attained nearly straight
A's in college, and has become an extraordinarily dedicated
Christian physician. He probably never would have achieved what
he has without that handicap. So don't pity your handicapped
child. Try to figure out how God can use the handicap as a
blessing to produce greatness in him.
     Dr.Klaus Minde carried out a valuable research study on
forty-one physically handicapped children of elementary school
age. This study showed that handicapped children have two main
hurdles to cross between the ages of five and nine: (1) the
conscious recognition that the handicap is not going to disappear
suddenly, and (2) the psychological depression that usually
follows this awareness. It is to he hoped that at this point the
child can be brought to emotional readiness to accept his
condition and incorporate it in his life plans.

7. School phobias.

     A school-phobic child is one who is afraid to go to school
and stay there all day. He can't bear to be away from his mother
that long. These children are altruist always overly dependent on
their mothers, who never allowed them to exercise much
independence prior to entering school. They are frequently the
youngest of several children. a factor which gives the mothers
added temptations to spoil them and to resist their growing up
and leaving. These children become quite manipulative, since
their mothers have usually let them have their own way and given
them very little discipline. The best way to handle this
problem is to refuse to allow them to stay home under any
circumstances, even if they play sick. And the mothers should not
go to school with them to keep an eye on them, as many of these
mothers do. If the child runs away from school and comes home,
give him a spanking he will never forget and take him back
immediately. (Depending on the child a spanking may not be
needed, but a strong firm voice of correction and returning him
to the school may be all he needs. You have to know your child as
to what correction and how it is applied - Keith Hunt)

     This may need to be repeated a number of times before his
will is broken. Then both parents should sit down to
re-evaluate their roles as parents, deciding what they can do to
love and discipline their child more effectively so he will
become more independent and learn to respect himself in a healthy
way.

8. Miscellaneous problems.

     It will probably surprise many of you to find out that about
10 percent of first graders still wet their beds, and 20 percent
still suck their thumbs. Bedwetting at this age can he due
either to a small bladder or to psychological conflicts. About 90
percent of bedwetting after age six is considered to be
psychological rather than a physical problem, usually
representing over-dependence coupled with pent-up anger toward
the parent the child is overly dependent upon. If the bladder is
too small, have the child hold in his urine for several hours at
a time to stretch the bladder. If his bladder is normal, it would
be wise to evaluate whether you are doing things for the child
that he should be doing for himself, like dressing him or cutting
his foods for him. Don't shame a child for wetting the bed. He
probably didn't do it on purpose. Don't become overly excited
about it. Just calmly have him clean up his bed and I change his
sheets. But be sure that he does it, even if you think he has a
small bladder. He won't feel so guilty about it if he cleans it
up himself; and also, if it is a subconscious way to get you
upset, making him clean it up will take all the fun out of it, so
he'll probably quit doing it.
     Medications are also available that will usually stop
bedwetting promptly, but should be used only as a last resort.
Most family doctors don't know about these medications, so a
child psychiatrist should be consulted. Besides, the family might
benefit by a few sessions to provide insight into what
the problem is.          
     Thumb-sucking after age six is common, but it is considered 
a sign of anxiety and a sign that the child and parents may need
some counseling. Children of perfectionistic parents frequently
develop nervous tics, like eye squints or other involuntary
habits. This also indicates a need for family counseling and
possibly a temporary course of tranquilizer medication for the
child.
     Parents of obese children should also get some counseling.
In many cases, food has become a substitute for genuine, intimate
love. Frequent soiling of the pants is also a fairly serious
symptom after age six, and parents should take their child to a
child psychiatrist for evaluation if this is a frequent
occurrence. Some pediatricians are also equipped to handle this
problem.

                             .................

To be continued with "Early Adolescenece."

Entered on this Website January 2008


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