When children are away they are often on their best behavior because they are free to try out their very best images of themselves.
Children change a lot as they grow up, and sometimes the changes are quite dramatic. But changes are not always easy for them to make, even when they are changes for the better. Roles and relationships are habitual. When we deal with each other every day and in routine ways, we get into patterns that have a momentum all their own; changing those patterns takes attention and adjustments, and that may translate into resistance to change.
Image by San Jose Library via Flickr
Built into familiar patterns of children’s interactions with their parents is a resistance to change. So, when children are ready to change their emotional patterns, they must overcome that resistance. If the changes they are considering are still tentative, they may not have enough force to overcome that resistance. But with an auxiliary adult whose way of interacting with a child is not set into a strong and familiar pattern, the child may find it easier to make the change. It is in part for this reason that children often seem to be older or on their best behavior when interacting with auxiliary adults.
In fresh circumstances children are free to try out their most grown-up images without drawing attention to themselves or surprising anyone. Furthermore, trying out those best images is not nearly so committal as it would be if it were tried at home. Interaction with the auxiliary adult is temporary; it doesn’t set patterns for the long term. But at home it is much harder for children to go back on new accomplishments once they have demonstrated that they are capable of new levels of competence.
Mergene stayed with friends for three days while her parents were out of town at a wedding. When her parents returned to pick her up they were profuse with their thanks, but her hosts played it down by emphasizing how self-sufficient their little guest had been.
Mergene’s host praised her for getting herself ready for school in the morning: dressing, brushing her teeth, combing her hair, and doing all of these things without needing to be reminded. Her parents were amazed. These were routines with which Mergene required help at home, or at least ample reminders.
How many parents have not had a similar experience? Children go away to camp for a week and when they come back they seem a year older. Or, the parents of your child’s friend remark how extremely well-behaved your child is, while you have that same impression of their child when he is at your home. When children are away they are often on their best behavior because they are free to try out their very best images of themselves.
Want to earn money by writing articles, Earn and sign up now
Want to earn extra income just by reading articles, Click here
Published in: Family