Children, it is said, begin to form their moral conscious by the age of 4. That is not to say they know right from wrong, but they begin to take in the information that will eventually begin to allow them to determine if you, the parent, are right or wrong. To weigh what they have been told by their parent against the reality of what they see. By the time they hit the teens, usually, they have begun to test whether or not acting on their suspicions of they have been told, but suspect does not match reality, will in fact, cause horrible things to happen.
Babies, from 0-4, can recognize emotion and that is how they begin to form their understanding of cause in effect. They know to laugh because they see something happen and people laughing. If they laugh spontaneously on their own, and others laugh with them, then they equate the two and will repeat it. If they laugh and are told to be quiet then they learn not to laugh in those moments. Whether or not the reality of what is around them is that laughter would be fine.
So between 0 and 4, you have a small person who is taking in cues. They can’t quite assemble them yet so they follow the lead of the adults around them.
If a child between 0 and 4 is just sort of doing their thing or maybe being held by the parent in a loving manner in the evening, while the parent is watching CSI and also, watching the manic happiness of the commercials inbetween what the child is actually experiencing is this…
my person is comfortable but not paying attention to me > they are paying attention to the woman who is upset over there > and that makes the man who is outdoors in the sun laugh > and that reminds my person to give me the dessert I like > but I have to be quiet or they will get upset at me when the woman who is crying and all the people who are angry are back in the corner
What type of connections are beginning to form?
We, I, occasionally rail against violence in TV or video games but the real problem starts much earlier. A child can’t tell the difference between the nightly news and the commercial. They may be able to say it, but emotionally they can’t and are responding. If this was taken as a “Teachable moment” the TV would be shut off before the hour was up because the images, the emotions expressed change so fast that the parent would become exhausted.
Like, in this season, having spent a year listening to a parent avoid the homeless on the street or if they were asked for money because “its just a scam, or stay away they are dirty, or probably only drunk” or heard them railing against government handouts and social programs to people who are “too lazy to go get their own.” But come holiday time, suddenly the parent becomes upset at the child when the child is being “selfish” and not wanting to spend their Christmas day at a soup kitchen feeding “those with less.”
Children….are recorders. They take everything in and try to sort it all out so it makes sense as they begin to develop their own independence. But, they have a limit because they cannot outright reject a parent as wrong when they are still dependent on that parent or love and other needs.
And a very strange moral conscious begins to develop in them that allows for and accommodates a great many strange things.
TV, in the house, became fairly normal in the 60s and 70s.
The same time the “youth culture” began to make its influence felt in politics, culture and academia.
Think about it.
c.2010 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.