Civilizing Little Monsters, Part II
The Development of Free-Will in Humans
Boundary setting is an art based on the science of The Development of Free-Will in Humans, 0-15 yrs.
Boundaries are set for the safety of the child, keeping in mind that he thrives in liberty. We need to set boundaries that in such a way to promote the child's ability to guide his own will. For instance, he cannot follow our commands unless and until it is his will to do so. In the early years, (0-6) his willingness to follow our commands stems not from mere obedience, but from his inner receptivity to what is done and not done in the the world around him.
As guardians, we are allowing the child to develop his will. We are not shutting it down. We are not to shut it down.
This shutting down of the will can happen when we put into his "sense of order" (a Montessori term which means sense of reality) that he is, at all times, to strictly follow our directions.
NO! We are to facilitate his ability to guide and follow his own will.
Therefore, we must stand behind our "No!"s We must be firm, consistent and serious when setting boundaries. The child is motivated by the tones we set as he reads our convictions as to the reality of a situation. (The manifestation of human free-will is complete at age 15 years. At this age he is ready to guide is own will and hopefully his guardians can breathe a sigh in relief, if they have done their jobs properly.)
We want our children to have strong wills, to know their interests and be able to follow their intrinsic motivations. If we merely order them around until they're eighteen yrs. or so, how are they to have (be in touch with) free-will and guide it appropriately … toward the direction of their own happiness, which only they can decide about and know?
To explain just a little further: The child cannot follow our commands unless and until it is his will to do so. His apparent obedience in following our commands stems not from obedience, but from receptivity to what is done and what is not done in the world around him and the desire to please us. Children love their parents and those caring for them. Repeating: Human free-will is not fully developed until the age of fifteen. Humans are learning to guide their own free wills toward (their own) true happiness their entire lives. We were not born to be merely obedient and perfect specimens of humanity, but joyful and powerful within our own beings and in our OWN WAYS.
The boundaries we set are based on the nature of the child and his needs in becoming a healthy happy and functional person who has survival capabilities. Although that was one sentence, there were many crucial ideas in that sentence.
1. Nature of the child.
2. His needs.
3. Becoming a functional person.
4. Having survival capabilities.
Appropriate and useful boundary setting is based on the morals as set forth in the Bible through the Ten Commandments and other true religions. Many people today are resistant to the idea of setting boundaries in childhood. They assume morals are "built in" through evolution... that they are just naturally there. They say this idea is based on the finding of neuroscientists.
I agree that love is the nature of the child. Babies are very loving creatures and thrive on love. Without it, they perish, as we all know by now from the cruel experiments invoving mother-deprived apes. However, if we do not set boundaries, the child cannot function or thrive in the world. Boundaries put a conscious limit to human behavior. Humans are born without instincts and have free will.They do not act instinctively to their own best interests, interestingly enough. They are like wild colts that run helter-skelter... and could run right off a cliff without paying attention......or if mother suddenly trotted off leaving the colt without guidance and direction at a crucial moment.
The child IS programmed by nature to follow the parents lead for the sake of its own survival. Take the example of the baby bear. It closely watches mama bear forage for edible nourishment in the forest. All young creatures including the human, since we are part of nature, are programmed by nature to absorb the behaviors of its parents or adults in charge. The powers of absorption are exceedingly powerful taking everything in, with great attention to minute detail.
As a rosebush needs to be pruned and the weeds pulled out from around it, in order for it to grow into a beautiful and blooming bush, boundaries help the child grow into a vital human being. Morals are the basis for boundaries and are not set for the sake of themselves alone but for the sake of something else as well.
Q. What is that something else?
A. To facilitate the child's ability to become a capable person who is inwardly motivated, interested, intelligent and hopeful about life.