General principles of upbringing

5 principles of upbringing (cognitive psychology)

I started researching upbringing almost 15 years ago, both from a psychological as well as an Islamic perspective, but simply never took the time to actually put my main thoughts on paper and write the book. In this post, I wanted to share five principles that I believe in (from a psychological perspective) in raising children. Another post will be dedicated to presenting the Islamic principles of upbringing, that should go hand-in-hand with these psychological ones. I believe that following five principles will raise children that are considered geniuses by most standards, with confidence to try new things, and who find joy in learning. So until the book gets written, let me know what you think of these…

  1. Children are born with a natural, instinctive need: curiosity.
    a. This need, like every other aspect of a human being, is partially determined by genetic predispositions, but more importantly, it is molded by the child’s environment
  2. If the need is met, the degree of curiosity will be maintained or increased; If it is not met, that degree will decrease and eventually shrivel and die.
    1. Every satisfaction of a human need leads to an increase in pain, or a decrease in pleasure – commensurate in nature and degree with the nature and degree of that need
      1. Learning is a specific type of pleasure
        1. Learning is progressive, in the senses of both accumulation and advancement
        2. Learning requires use and practice, which implies
          1. Self-confidence to explore the unexplored, make mistakes and repeat them or make new ones without being affected by the results so long as learning is taking place. (failure must produce no blame or negative repercussions whatsoever; see 3)
            1. A child must believe that they can do anything they set their mind to do.
            2. A child must build the self-confidence required to pursue their explorations and learning even if most others will discourage and profess the impossibility or improbability of success
            3. When teaching children, always give them the impression that it is easy, simple, not difficult, or complicated, exceptional or impossible. (see 3)
          2. Drive, or the energy to continue repetition and practice (worth the effort, because there is pleasure in the process of learning as well as in the outcome once the learning has taken place)
            1. (repeated) failure may produce a drooping effect, draining mind and body from wanting to pursue the activity until success. (see 2.1)
      2. If curiosity remains but to an insufficient degree, there will not be a drive to produce a response that addresses the need (the child will not actually do anything about the curiosity, such as look up something or explore it until they find a satisfactory answer)
      3. If curiosity remains in sufficient degree, it will trigger a response commensurate in degree, going all the way to chronic obsession
  1. Apart from any genetic dispositions, the greatest obstacle to increased curiosity is fear in its different manifestations (punishment, discipline, scolding, etc.)
    1. Fear, in all its manifestations, produces a cognitive and psychological blockage that is commensurate in degree with the fear triggered in the child.
      1. One of the outcomes of that blockage is the inability to enjoy various dimensions of life; i.e. inability to take pleasure in all that life can offer. (most importantly, see 2.1.1)
    2. The most common manifestation of this fear in society is the use of negations with children (saying “no”, or “don’t”)
      1. Negation may be partially acceptable if it also provides a justification that is reasonable and logically acceptable to the child (I discourage it as a precaution)
      2. The corollary: kindness, openness, gentleness, compassion, etc. produce an environment that doesn’t leave much place for blockage to take root
  2. Children are born with very short attention spans. Like all other faculties, the attention span will improve with practice as well as with the development of their biological organs (brain and other senses)
  3. The main roles of parents are as follows:
    1. Keeping curiosity active, ideally increasing it (including answering all questions with logic and reason)
      1. Attempting to force learning (teaching an uninterested subject or a topic that is not enjoyed for whatever reason) is a form of negation/fear that produces blockage and retards the brain. (Learning is not a duty or a chore, but a new challenge which can be overcome with joy and excitement)
    2. Enabling the child to reach self-reliance
      1. Self-reliance is a sign that a child has gained the tools required to perform in that area
    3. Embodying everything they want their children to do, to think, and to be. The child learns from observing and often copying (and emulating) what they see around them, especially from their parents and siblings. If you want them to learn something, do it as a matter of routine in front of them, and they will most likely grow up doing it as well. Corollary: if you don’t want them to do something, start by ensuring that they do not see it in their environment. For instance, if you don’t want them to yell, don’t yell, etc.

happy blogging!

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