Rafed English

Handle the Child's Fragile Trust with Care

When this person was about four years old. his mother took him shopping with her. He wanted to be a "Big Boy" so she gave him the money for a pint of milk and a loaf of bread. She placed a shilling in his right hand and said. "This is for the bread," then a shilling in his left hand and said. "This is for the milk." He ran happily into the store.

After about ten minutes his mother got worried and came into the store to find her child in tears because he couldn't remember which shilling was for the milk and which for the bread. "Oh darling! It didn't matter! The price is the same." the mother laughed with great amusement.

The child didn't find it funny. The mother should have simply explained to the child that one shilling was for milk and one for bread? The child saw himself rudely cheated in return for having trusted the mother unquestionably. He tried to remember and follow, her instructions precisely having been made to believe that the shilling for bread was different from the shilling for milk!

It is not surprising that after some sixty years the child, now an aged person. cannot wipe off from the memory this incident, which appeared petty to the parent, but emotionally up-setting for any child. Ripple Effects.

This father urges his child to join him in the swimming pool for the child's first experience in the mass of water assuring him that he is safe in his father's hands. The child eventually yields and joins only to find that the father was scaring him to death with the theatrics (pretense) of drowning him. It was a great fun to the father worth joking about when he is back at home. However, to the child it was a rude violation of his trust in the parent. The memory of the experience and the embarrassment of the spectacle he had created in public would linger on.

The erosion of a child's trust in parents produces ripple effects in significant degrees in his love, loyalty and obedience for the parents over a period of time. These are apart from other emotional aspects of his relation to them if his trust is misused or made fun of more as a practice than a rare exception.

I was in the reception room of a dental clinic waiting for dental attention. Seated opposite me at the other side of the wall, among other patients, was an elderly lady ! with a small boy who appeared to be her grandchild.

Strangely the child seemed to be taking undue interest in me with his large inquiring eyes. After some time, seeing his interest yet undiminished, I directed to him a sign . of "come over and say hello" as if to break the proverbial ice. I had thought that with that signal the scrutiny by the vigilant child would cease. Say Hello.

Apparently, the gesture did not escape the sharp eyes of the grandmother. She asked the child who was all the time standing by her side, to go over and say hello to "uncle" and then showed visible anger and embarrassment when he would not budge despite her repeated prodding. Her sense of granny pride for the child's obedience was being publicly challenged. Seeing that I brought on myself anew and bigger situation I had not bargained for, I intervened.

I spoke up to the lady in the presence of all who were stealthily playing spectators to the small drama, presumably to kill the boredom or divert their mind from the dread that lay ahead in the dentist's chair. I assured the grandmother that the behaviour of the child was perfectly natural.

He being on guard would not want to approach someone who was a stranger not only to him but also to her; and that would come only from a child who was alert and healthy in mind. Being alert must not be misconstrued as being shy.

Adapted from the book: "Child" by: "Mohamed A. Khalfan"

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