By M. K. Pringle
First released in 1989. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.
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Knowing what is expected of him and, as soon as he can understand, the reasons why, makes growing up a less difficult business. Inevitably the child will transgress, will be disobedient - partly because he needs to test the consequences of doing so, partly because he is liable to forget rules - but knowing the limits of what is permitted provides the reassurance of both reaSonableness and predictability. In contrast, when the same behaviour gives rise to widely different reactions, with the same parent at different times or in either parent, then the child's concept of acceptable conduct becomes linked to individual whim rather than to general principles.
All these, and many more, provide new fields to be conquered, making life for the normal active child a series of rewarding adventures. Once interest in novelty appears, then it becomes increasingly important as a source of motivation for further exploration and thus for learning. In Piaget's words, 'the more an infant has seen and heard, the more he Wants to see and hear'. At the same time, there can be too much or too little stimulation or 'input'; the former gives rise to withdrawal and fear, the latter to boredom and apathy.
If he is called slow, he feels stupid - his yardstick can only be that of the adults who matter to him. Even very bright children may think of themselves as failures if their ability remains unrecognised; the number of such 'able misfits', as I have called them, is by no means negligible - thousands pass through our schools each year (Pringle, 1970; Dowdall and Colangelo, 1982). A child's ,attitude to himself and to learning wiil determine how effectively he learns, as much as, if not more than, his actual abilities.