Read an Excerpt
How Behavior Grows
Child behavior does make sense. Happily, the more you as parents know about it, the more sense it will make.
There are three vastly important things we can tell you about which should help you to become an even better parent than love and good will alone would insure.
The first is that human behavior--and that means the behavior of your own child--develops in a not only patterned but also highly predictable manner. Though obviously the way any child will turn out in the long run depends strongly on the way he or she is treated, the basic ways in which behavior develops depend on much more than what you do or do not do.
Dr. Arnold Gesell made it very clear, rather long ago, that behavior has pattern and shape, as does physical structure. And just as your child's body grows in a reasonably patterned manner, so does his behavior.
A second basic thing to keep in mind is that behavior is to a great extent a function of structure. This means that children behave as they do very largely because of the way their bodies are built. Different kinds of bodies behave differently, even though they may grow up in the same environment.
The combination of a child's basic inborn individuality and the stage of development he has reached are fully as important in determining his behavior as is the way in which he is treated by you and others.This book will tell you of the stages by which many of the more common child
behaviors develop in the first ten years of life. It will tell you a little about the ages themselves-what 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds and the others are like, and what general changes you can expect from age toage.
It will also tell you a little about the different kinds of personalities and how they behave. The stages of behavior which more or less have to take place as a child develops are in many ways remarkably similar from child to child. To get to the top, the child has to climb all the steps. But though the steps are pretty much the same for everybody, the way each child climbs these steps (or goes through the basic stages) is a little different for every child. The way he goes through the stages and the way he expresses the common patterns of behavior vary according to his own basic individuality.
We can tell you about the common stages of development. You, yourself, however, are the one who will need to discover and appreciate your own child's individuality. Anything we can tell you about different kinds of individuality is only a beginning. Recognizing and appreciating your own child's basic personality is one of the most difficult but one of the most rewarding tasks of parenthood. But you have to do it yourself.
Thus, ages and stages we can tell you about. These come first and are the easiest because they are much alike for all children. We can also help you a little with individuality or personality, though it is still up to you to recognize and appreciate what your own particular child is like.
A third factor, equally as important as these first two, which you need to think about is your child's environment. Environment is of course a highly individual matter. What might be best for one child or at one age, might not be ideal for another child or at another age.
Happily, there is one vital aspect of environment which can be understood and manipulated. A new idea, or actually a new understanding and approach to an old commonsense idea, is that one of the most important things parents can do for their children is to feed them right.
Obviously a good diet is essential if we wish to keep our children in good health. The new emphasis which is so exciting and so very important is that a proper diet not only produces better physical health but can also result in improved behavior. We are gradually coming to realize that poor diets and/or specific sensitivities to foods and food additives, as well as to inhalants, can have a highly adverse effect on behavior. They can cause problems ranging from moodiness, lethargy, and irritability to bedwetting, sleep disturbances, poor schoolwork, and in some instances even delinquency. All of these things in addition to what might ordinarily be expected--poor health.
Children in real difficulty in almost any area of behavior can often be helped substantially when attention is paid to their diet. Even children who seem to be making out more or less all right can often be helped to even more effective living by proper nutrition and by being protected from foods and other substances which cause often-undetected allergies.
You have a challenging but exciting task on your hands when you set out to bring up a child. We hope we can make that task a little easier by giving you information about how children grow and about the way in which the foods they eat influence their behavior.
Better and Worse Stages
As the child's body matures, it tends to get larger and larger. Physical growth may seem to stand still now and then, but at least it doesn't go backward. Your child is not likely suddenly one day to get smaller.