Myth Busting in Child Psychology

Let’s do some MYTH BUSTING, or DISRUPTING of popular thinking. Following are 6 popular myths in psychology that pertain to our notions about child development, the way we view our children and child rearing.

MYTH  #1THAT CHILDREN WANT OR NEED QUALITY TIME

Not true. QUALITY TIME  is an ADULT invention that children don’t appreciate in terms of their own sense of time and space.

What children want and crave most from adults is QUANTITY TIME.  This means just being there, doing what you’re supposed to do, cook, clean, eat together, have light conversation while they play, etc. QUANTITY TIME gives children a sense of stability, security and  belonging to a home and family.

MYTH # 2    THAT TEAMING UP WITH YOUR PARTNER IS THE BEST WAY TO DISCIPLINE A CHILD

It is not. We talk about CONSISTENCY and PERSISTENCE when using discipline and are told to present a united front when dealing with children. This means deciding on disciplinary measures, applying them and sticking to them, in other words, being a TEAM with your spouse.

It may be surprising to us, but a child perceives our united front as A CONSPIRACY, like GANGING UP against them! They interpret our attitude as “You two big guys are getting together against little old me???” Children perceive our behavior as a threat. They feel frightened, angry, depressed, misunderstood, hurt and insulted! They feel BULLIED, DISCRIMINATED and VICTIMIZED by the adults or parents who treat them this way.

Moreover from a child’s point of view, TIME OUT or any form of SOCIAL ISOLATION or different treatment from others amounts to SHUNNING, which is the worst form of punishment for any human being, worse than being in jail! It is not surprising then that most criminals, who tend to think like children, say: I am the victim here. Why are these people treating me like this?

When punishment persists toward a child, it could lead to →  extreme thoughts such as:

  • 1. WHY SHOULD I LISTEN TO YOU? → Oppositional Defiant Disorder
  • 2. I WANT REVENGE →  anger, criminal behavior, gang membership
  • 3.  I AM SO SAD → depression, withdrawal, self-mutilation, suicide.  
  • 4.  I AM A FAILURE → humiliation, self-reproach, depression
  • 5. YOU MUST HATE ME, NOBODY LIKES ME → no social status, self-hate

Any and all of these thoughts are potential signs of trouble, leading to → MENTAL ILLNESS, SUBSTANCE ABUSE, CRIMINALITY and →  huge problems for family dynamics, and eventually for society as a whole.

MYTH #3     THAT A CHILD UNDERSTANDS THE REASONS BEHIND OUR DISCIPLINE

Inaccurate. In spite of our best efforts to explain, a child DOES NOT UNDERSTAND THE REASONS for why we discipline them. This is because their thinking is too immature to CONNECT THE DOTS intellectually between THEIR BEHAVIOR and OUR LOGIC OR REASONS for disciplining them. It is a cause-and-effect sequence that requires JUDGEMENT on their part, and in their undeveloped world, they are unable to grasp it.
All they can think is:  WHY AM I BEING PUNISHED? ITS NOT FAIR!

MYTH #4THAT A CHILD HAS A CHOICE OF HOW TO BEHAVE

Not true!  IN MANY CASES A CHILD REALLY HAS NO CHOICE.!

As we learned in another blog, a child is driven by pure INSTINCTS that give her/him NO CHOICE about how to think or behave. When dealing with children, we should always keep in mind that the thoughts, feelings and behavior of a child is driven by instinct. Due to pure hereditary factors that are written into the genes of every human being, every child’s activities are governed by instincts, drives and basic urges that guide and direct her/his behavior. And any child is powerless to contain or control these instincts.

MYTH #5 THAT MOTHERS or WOMEN ARE BETTER PROVIDERS OF LOVE TO CHILDREN THAN FATHERS or MEN.

Untrue. A CHILD CAN BE MORE EMOTIONALLY ATTACHED TO A FATHER THAN TO A MOTHER. This myth has ENORMOUS REPERCUSSIONS for THE LEGAL SYSTEM when awarding custody and access in divorce cases, where custody of children is most often awarded to mothers because we believe WOMEN are the best providers of love

My experience indicates that CHILDREN CHOOSE THEIR FATHERS AS OFTEN AS THEY CHOOSE THEIR MOTHERS as objects or receivers of their loving feelings. This means that in 50% of families mothers are the Prime Love Providers to the children, while in the remaining 50% fathers are the Prime Love Provider. In other words, there is a 50-50 chance that either a mother or a father will be the object of loving attachment. As such, separating children from their father can plunge both the children and the father into a state of loss and mourning. We will return to this point later.

MYTH #6       THAT A FAMILY SHOULD BE INTERVIEWED ALL TOGETHER

Not true. When a therapist sees a family together, all they are likely to do is FIGHT, just like they do at home. This brings the therapist into the fight as s/he tries to be the peacekeeper, and avoid taking sides.

But unbeknownst to therapists who are not trained in DOLF, every family consists of SMALL FACTIONS OR SUBGROUPS which we will learn to identify. Some members LOVE EACH OTHER and SOME DO NOT! As such, it is UP TO ANY THERAPIST TO DEFINE THE SUBGROUPS of the family, and use this information to enable treatment outcomes.

Therefore, the best way to do family therapy is to INVITE THE WHOLE FAMILY TO COME IN and see A FEW FAMILY MEMBERS at a time, while the rest wait in the waiting room.  This way we can see parents together / children together /  problem child + one parent / problem child alone, etc. while we decide on a diagnosis using the DOLF  model and put our treatment method into action.