The Still Face Experiment:
Years ago, there was an experiment that was conducted by an American Developmental Psychologist named Edward Tronik called the Still Face experiment. Children as young as 1 year old are put in front of their mother who suddenly in the middle of a play session turns insensitive and cold to their emotions and reactions.
It’s a cruel experiment to watch, even for those 2 minutes that it lasts, but the fight of the child to convey their emotions, intentions and reactions to their mother is truly gut wrenching. As parents of our modern busy world, we’ve so many things beckoning our attention in addition to our children. Whether it is intentional or unintentional, the emotional damage of parental neglect can be long lasting and life altering for children.
Why Children Rebel:
When caregivers don’t live by the rules they preach, children start to question the validity of everything. When children sense that their integrity is being questioned, they rebel.
When parents’ expectations don’t match the child’s ability to perform, there’s going to be anxiety, confusion and dread in the child. And to compensate, they’ll rebel outrageously or work themselves to massive burn out. Both scenarios are not sustainable and can be dangerous for their self-worth.
Love is not just a want, it’s an undeniable need for our children to thrive in this world. It is a tool in their social interaction toolkit that helps children process their emotions and helps them deconstruct how they’re feeling and why they feel the way they do. So, once in a while, let’s put those phones away to really engage with them.
More than violence and hunger, parental neglect is the biggest source of injustice to children and teens. Children want to be accepted for who they are. They want to feel worthy of love and belonging. And in a digital world where everyone else seems to be capable of extraordinary things, that journey starts with parents who are comfortable with their own self-worth.
Let’s give our children the best of what we got, our undivided attention.
Still Face Experiment © 2007 ZERO TO THREE http://www.zerotothree.org
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