Too many people treat children of all ages as if they were not children at all. This could be termed the Junior People Syndrome, and I once suffered from it myself. But I found that by treating children as Junior People, I was conferring qualities upon them that they did not yet have. If we treat them as if they already had these qualities, they probably will never get them.

There is a certain avoidance of responsibility in treating children as if they were full-fledged people. Often, people who do so do are not able to accept the responsibility for the nurturing of a young mind. Instead, they convince themselves that children are fully capable of responsible actions and can therefore raise themselves.

In reality, children, when brand new, know only basic emotion and attachment. These basic feelings need to be honed, and virtually all other qualities must be taught to children. Basically, this training should have as its objective two items:

1. Children must be taught how to think.

2. Children must be taught how to make decisions.

Teaching a child how to think does not involve the enforcement of rigid patterns of thought. It is more a process of showing the child through the workings of a human mind, and then convincing the child that thought is not a bad thing. A child should be trained to make the optimum use of his or her mind.

Once the child is willing and able to think, there comes a very long period of helping them obtain information. A lot of this, of necessity, must be rather mundane data concerning the mechanics of life and society. It also means exposing the child to a wide variety of concepts, value systems and philosophies. At some date, the child will have sufficient information to develop lasting personal values, and with that and the other data that has been collected, will gain the ability to make decisions.

The training must start when the child is brand new, and go on until he or she is able to think and decide in a mature manner. It must be done carefully so that the humanity that the child was born with is not harmed. That does not mean you will not need a 2×4 occasionally to get their attention. But it does mean that you should be gentle once you have it.

Kids are tough, and resilient and even self-reliant to a degree. But they are still children, and they need our love, our help and the frequent use of our heads. If you give them that, they will give you back a lot of joy and satisfaction, along with the hassle.

No, they are not Junior People. But they are Trainee People. It is important that we treat them as such.


Kermit []