Friday, August 20, 2010

Observations on the Development of a Child's Mind

Take a good look at this picture, and then think about it for a bit:

My first thought was that it is very cute and very funny. I wouldn't want to
be the parent that has to clean this mess up, but the photo itself is a
definite keeper for them.

After a while, I began to realize that these darling little kids had no idea
that what they were doing was not socially acceptable. Like the children they
are, they are just learning the way things work, playing, and having a good
time doing it.

Now look at it closely...notice that not only is this white stuff all over the
floor, smeared on the TV, sofa, and on THEM, but notice the happy expression on
the lad's face. He is genuinely pleased with himself, and there is no hint of
remorse or fear on his face.

(I have to give credit to the parent\caretaker of these kids, if they had time
to discover this carnage, and still run to get a camera without screaming at
the innocent dears, they are among the most patient of people).

This gives us a glimpse into the virgin clean slate of the mind of a human
being. They are totally innocent of this deed, and have absolutely no way of
knowing that one should not destroy their living space.

Think about it...can you imagine walking into your living room and splashing
paint all over the floor, even covering yourself with it? At their stage of
innocence, they would probably think nothing of taking a hammer and smashing
all the walls down too, if they could! They would see nothing wrong with it.

What I wonder about is this...suppose, theoretically speaking, that these kids were
left on their own until they grew up. They were totally unsupervised by any
adult or authoritative figure, were not guided or influenced in any way, and
managed to survive on their own to adulthood...while still living in this house.

Would they, at some point, come to the conclusion on their own that they
shouldn't be defacing the house? How long might it take? Do people learn what
behaviors are acceptable by example only, or do you think it is human nature
to try to keep your immediate environment at least semi-orderly?

We must always remember the influence we have on our is our
responsibility to instruct them on the correct behaviors.

Peace be with you.


  1. I think it is totally a learned behavior.

    I have raised my kids to be very anal about being responsible and very "clean" kids. Due to my germ freak issues.

  2. Tell the truth, Joe, don't you think it would be sort of fun to do this, just once? Really? Oh, whoops. Are my "raised by hoodlums" roots showing?

  3. Oh, yes, it would be fun to do it...but not to clean it up! Maybe I could go to YOUR house to mess it up??

  4. This is why everyone in their life should have the chance to do a little demo work.

  5. It takes until well after 20 years of age until the 'child" mind is done developing...a proven physiological fact. Before that the child mind is focused on the "self" mostly. And though children do model after parents and their behavior, they are unable to completely express what they learn until they themselves are fully formed. With that said, I do believe the children in the above picture would eventually learn that destroying their surrounding environment is probably not in their best interest because they themselves would have to fix it...not mom and dad. However, if they are inclined to be 'slobs" by nature and not and anal retentives then I am sure as they grew into adults their home may not be covered in paint but piles of clothes and unwashed dishes. The beauty of childhood is that the mind of a child truly does live in the moment. They have no idea what a future is and what one must do to try and insure a safe and productive one. I believe that is one of the greatest losses of becoming a grown-up.

  6. Reminds me of what an ER nurse from a pediatric hospital told me about two things they heard all the time from parents: "I just turned away for a minute" and "I didn't know she could do that yet!" Probably took those kids all of 30 seconds to make that mess!

  7. I think these kids are mine. And what's this about keeping an environment semi-orderly?

  8. Kids and dogs... gotta love 'em anyway.

  9. I think in time they would correct their behavior so to say without instruction but what fun it would be until then :)

  10. It's a shame that life beats the wonderment out of us at such an early age.

    It's great that the parents took the time to photograph it. that will be a family memory forever!

  11. Love this post, Joe.
    Beautiful, because it nails all two things I really love; Kids and..dogs.

    Hope you have a great Sunday!
    B :)

  12. Wow, Joe, one of those days huh? Those are some really profound questions and they really make you think! I feel like I'm back in my philosophy class! I'd say that it's learned behaviour. Do this, get punished, don't do it again because you know the consequence (like Pavlov) lol :P