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Civilizing Little Monsters, Part II

Updated on July 25, 2019

The Development of Free-Will in Humans

Boundary setting for human children is based on their gradual ability to guide their own wills. Boundaries are necessary for the safety of the child, while keeping in mind that a child can only develop and thrive in liberty. We set boundaries so that, eventually, the child can safely guide his own will. We do not want to deny him his free-will or diminish his potential for being in touch with his own will, in a positive way.

The child, however, cannot follow our commands unless and until it is his will to do so. In the early years, (0-6yrs.,) his willingness to follow our commands stems not from mere obedience, but from an inner receptivity to what is done and not done in the world around him and love for his guardians. And, as as guardians, we must allow the child to develop his own will, rather than shut it down.

We are not to shut it down, yet adults can unknowingly do so, by expecting him, at all times, to strictly follow their directions and commands. This treatment causes him to loose touch with his own inner motivations. To facilitate a child's ability to guide and follow his own will, we give him a certain amount of freedom within common sense boundaries. 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 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. 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.


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    • Kathryn L Hill profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathryn L Hill 

      2 years ago from LA

      This may all seem complicated but when ones contemplates the nature of Free Will, one realizes is it dependent on a condition of liberty for its very existence. Free-will is exists only in freedom. But, of course freedom has limits. Its sounds complicated, but its not.

      The other aspect to developing free-will is in utilizing it! In early childhood, Montessori put self-teaching activities into the environments she created for her children's schools. What she did was institutionalize the home where there is freedom of movement, exploration and peace. There were cots for sleeping when a child was tired, a garden to explore, water and tend, and ways to learn reading writing and arithmetic rather than play aimlessly with toys. She discovered children would rather teach themselves these things than play with the items in the play area, such as dolls and trucks. The key to Montessori schools is children teaching themselves in liberty and joy. In so doing, they developed the ability to concentrate as they counted/calculated, spelled/wrote and utilized all the sensorial activities. I would like to see every preschool in America comprehend the wisdom and discoveries of Maria Montessori who was way ahead of her time. Can't it be in OUR TIME?

    • Kathryn L Hill profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathryn L Hill 

      6 years ago from LA

      Setting boundaries is very subtle. The adult in charge must set boundaries and offer discipline with respect for the child. (As the librarian in the incident above did not.) The adult must realize that children are naturally co-operative. If they are not willing to comply with your requsts or expectations, search to comprehend why. Children tend not to go against their own needs. It is our job to understand what their needs are. The Secret of Childhood, The Absorbent Mind and The Montessori Method are books that helped me tremendously.

    • Kathryn L Hill profile imageAUTHOR

      Kathryn L Hill 

      6 years ago from LA

      Thanks, G. M. Williams.

      The boundaries and respect that adults must have when dealing with children ultimately serve to protect and preserve what Dr. Montessori referred to as the "Inner Life" of the child. Today as a Sub, I witnessed a librarian being very rude to my class which I brought into the library. "Be quiet! Don't you know how to be quiet yet? What is wrong with you? You are acting like you have never been here before! Why are you all asking so many questions? I have work to do!" Needless to say I was cringing and holding back an angry outburst. However, I saw that the children were so accustomed to her negative attitude that it hardly fazed them! So, I let it go. If t h e y had adjusted, so could I !

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      6 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Kathryn, I truly concur with this hub. You have presented some excellent points. Sadly, many parents do what you have described above and yet they wonder why their children are hostile and have low self-esteem. Children are human beings and they need to be respected, loved, and treated with the utmost dignity. Parents must also be guiding and nurturing adults, not using mindgames and power upmanship regarding raising their children. Voted up for very useful!


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