Tender twigs; Controls from within
His education informs the common mind. Just as the twig is bent the tree's inclined. With. This series the tender twigs proposes to bring together those best able to address themselves to the individual and social problems of youth in the twentieth century. It proposes to discuss a few of the most clearly recognized problems of our time. Mental health. Delinquency crime social pressures and human growth. And the practical steps that parents school community and church may take. In order to ensure youth development that is safe. Sane and straight.
The tender twigs is produced and recorded by W. K.. Our radio at Michigan State University under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. The tender twigs are youth the task to help them grow safe sane and straight. The title of this program controls from within. This program features a single guest. Each week we present a distinguished person who we feel has left a mark on our time by his thought and by his work. As it relates to our youth. Our guest is Dr. David Weinberg associate professor of social work Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan. He's the co-author of controls from within and children who hate. Now compiled in a single volume under the title the aggressive child.
Our interviewer for the series is Ben Thompson Research sociologist with the Michigan Department of Corrections. Dr. Wyman much of your experience again with the aggressive child both a pioneer pioneer house with Dr. Fritz riddle and at the University of Michigan's fresh air camp. It's given you I assume a great deal of insight into the behavior of youngsters and especially those who are disturbed. Now can we somehow picture for parents listening what we mean when we say control from within. How do we get them. Where do we get them. When do we get them. Yes Mr. Thompson I'd like to look at it this way. Wherever people live together in groups where we find them there are. You might say rules of the game rules for social living. These refer to actions that are frowned upon or prohibited and have to do with controlling the way in which people deal
with each other with each other's property with each other's feelings and so forth. These might these days of course will be different from group to group and social class to social class. Even in our own society yes even in our own society one finds a quite striking differences between different ethnic groups and between different social classes and so forth as you point out. But wherever you find people you find some kind of rules of conduct. Now the trouble is that people do not naturally develop in these directions they have to learn these kinds of patterns of behavior and they have to acquire control mechanisms which they can throw into the breach so they speak whenever there is a temptation to behave in these ways which are frowned upon or not accepted by these mechanisms we call controls from within. How do I do it. Our learning is how do we learn. How did you learn. How did I learn. Where have we learned. Well I presume the both of us have at
least sufficiently so that we can get along from day to day. They at first the controls which the individual is exposed to as a very young child exist from without so to speak there outside of in itself they are really actions that are directed towards his behavior by the people who are in charge of him usually his parents the young the infant. By the time he's a toddler it's moving around the house. He's gets into all kinds of situations in which the parents react to it in different ways for example the young child titling across the living room is attracted to various objects which he'd like to hold in his hands he's uncoordinated and they drop them and smash them like an ashtray or a vase or some treasured object of the family. The parent seeing this begins to react consistently in terms of forbidding the child
reaches for the ashtray or the vase and the parents says no don't do that mustn't do Johnny mustn't do and he may pick up Jenny may pick up the glittering object. He may some people remove these things to a safe height so that the child doesn't get into so many kinds of tempting situations. But over and over again the child is treated with approval or disapproval depending on what he does. After awhile he begins to acquire a kind of an anxiety which he sort of carries with him and we can see this we see that a two year older or two and a half year old approaching a forbidden object wanting to touch it and saying to himself No don't do it don't do it Johnny don't do it mustn't do. He may still fail to go along with this. Self-command but this just shows how these things begin to get deposited and become or begin to become what we call in or you'll see inside of the child. They are thoughts and anxieties about his behavior and when he approaches the object this
is the stimulus for these forbidding thoughts to begin the work hurting him. How about this actually. We hear many things many systems as you say some people take the object and put it up on the shelf. Some people steer the child to some other object or some other participation. Some people slap the child's hand. Is there any system any one system. How do we distinguish how do how do we know so many parents ask me why how do I know how to discipline my child. Is there any rule which has come from your experience that occurs to you right at the moment. I don't think that way we could state a single principal or a single rule that would work for everybody this is one of the things that we've learned I think in our work with people that are the human personality is too complex to set up a cookbook system.
People in their development are not cakes that can be baked according to a to a single recipe. It would be nice if that were so. A general kind of view would be something like this I think. Number one the kind of interference which the parent might deem desirable would have to do with the age of the child. How much development has already been poured into the personality how much control does the child actually have already built up within him and understanding of the demands and the rules of living and so forth. The general tendency for people even before Mental Hygiene was invented was to be much more tolerant with the very young and and increasingly less accepting as the child became older. Another general statement I suppose that I could make would be that
whatever the kind of interference whatever the parent does in relation to certain acts with that he wants to be disappearing from the child's repertoire should follow the principle of least pain to the child and still yet have some assurance that it's going to work for training. That's easy to say but you're an idiot and it's hard to do but it's a general principle the least pain that you deliver to the child and still get away with fashioning some controls is generally better for the development and the future of the child. You're reminding me of the case of a young couple visiting my home the other night who consistently spanked their two and a quarter year old daughter so that she would go to sleep. And I think this is I think maybe many people do things very similar to theirs without knowing that it has little effect.
Back to me on the contrary. Well Mr. Thompson I think that there is a wide range of possibilities in connection with disciplinary tactics. There are some people who could spank a child to go to sleep and the child would go to sleep and there are other children and other adults who don't know who where they the child would be spanked and he would he would stay up. It sometimes becomes a question of not whether it's immediately effective or not effective but what do we think is happening to the child as a result of this particular kind of interference effectiveness is a criterion the whole I'll grant you that if you do something to change a piece of behavior provided it's something that should be reasonably changed and it doesn't it doesn't have to have the effect of change then it may not be harmful to the future of the child but still it's not accomplishing the immediate task that you wanted to accomplish. So that
you're still left with the problem in mental hygiene we don't say that doing nothing is the desirable thing for the child either because children who are who are unsuccessfully handled in their development who are who can't be stopped from following their impulses do not grow up to be healthy people anymore than those who have been over stopped so to speak and cornered. But it is possible to corner a child into giving up things and it looks in that moment like the job has been successfully done. But there is a long range payoff to that could be troublesome at a future time. So effectiveness is one is one criterion. The other one which is more subtle and harder to answer is what in fact is going to be the future payoff for this kind of effective stopping right. So I stopped him. OK now what do I figure is going to be the 5 months or 5 year installment payment that I have to make on that in terms of his development.
It takes a little reflection before action. Perhaps in this respect to make up our minds a little bit what the future payoff might be for any given action we might perform toward the child. That is true and I think that we have to be honest with the parent and say that this is something that we don't have all the perfect answers to either we can only take the things that we've learned so far and try to make an educated guess as to what the future outcome will be. You've dealt very much with the aggressive child mask you as you see our culture our time our family system. One of the ways that parents act or react or over act toward their children. Some parents get into kind of the situation of worrying overmuch or overly much about the future of the child.
Let's say that a child is showing some temporary defiance or another undesirable trait of some kind excessive sloppiness or a lack of responsibility about being on time and so forth and so on. Now the type of parent I'm talking about gets gets into an anxiety which goes something like this he says. Gosh what kind of an adult is this kid going to grow up to be. He doesn't see right now that he's got an 8 or 10 or an 11 year old in that context in that framework but he sees him already as 21 25 27 married with a family of own and sloppy irresponsible and so forth he doesn't add on to his time concept those 15 or 20 more years of development that are going to go on. But he assumes that this is the way he is now and he's going to be like this the rest of his life. You see this is something we hear people say quite often isn't it. You can't change the spots on a leopard. People don't change.
I think that's the way he's always been you know it's it is something it's a kind of a shibboleth in the culture that sort of runs through some of our thinking. And it is from all we've seen in the psychological work this is not so. There's a tremendous amount of chain that goes on in development and this changes in the service of the parents ideals and wishes frequently. But he doesn't pick that up in time sometimes. That's one type of parental reaction. Now another type of adult or parent facing some troublesome behavior with a youngster may not get so concerned about the future but he's carrying a load of grapes from other things that the kid has done wrong. So again the supposed Johnny is is surly or actually actively hostile to his sister and it gets to be a crisis so he's that he's now in the in the great session which the parent has called and Johnny is being bawled out. Now this
parent carrying a load of grapes some other things that John has done wrong maybe he's been destructive with his with his younger brother's toys and maybe he's gotten a bad grade in school too you know and and hasn't taken care of his paper route correctly. So this type of parent has been saving all of this up. And on this particular Thursday afternoon when he's being bawled out for being hostile to his sister they confront him with the other five or six indictments that have that have been creeping up on this child and they'll say to him and furthermore you're never thinking here your newspaper out and you've got one in spelling and so forth and so on you never do your chores. And what's going to become of you anyway. So the youngster sits there having to crawl out of this one indictment about being hostile to Lister and figuring well if I get through with that one I got five other counts against him anyway. So he breaks down into a rage or assault or he sits there nodding and doesn't participate because he feels that he doesn't have a chance and he said that he needs a lawyer but just can't win for losing.
How about the kind of parent mask this actually the action that a parent may perform may not seem to satisfy a given and result he may wish to stop some particular kind of behavior. You may find that he doesn't do that too satisfactorily at the moment doesn't feel that at least he accomplished it. Does that necessarily mean that he failed in his effort to transmit this idea. Not at all. There is an abundance of evidence to suggest that children take in values and concepts from the adult when they do not appear to be doing that and even appear to be fighting them off. The very children that you talked about the doctorate when I studied in the ones that we see at our camp for disturbed children. Children who are really in in in many ways showing a lot of deficits in their development and who look like they. I have not learned some of the social values that we think are so
important. Children who are at one time referred to as conscienceless for example the the conscienceless psychopath. In reality this child does not seem to exist if we spend enough time with these children follow them enough around in the way in their day to day life. We find that they have taken in even these children some of the most difficult children of our time have taken in certain kinds of positive values. It's true that in their case these value layers don't get too much play they are a buffer that about in the personality they don't act as often in line with these values as we would like them to. But they're there. And Dr. riddle is given these an interesting kind of a name because of the buried value Iowans of childhood. In such cases we have to make it possible for the child to expand and to and to give more power to the values and the rest of his personality than he's able to do by manipulating his experiences and helping them through interviews and so forth as you know
working with the criminal I think we often hear. The judge or a perhaps others say that the person was able to show no remorse he showed no remorse about what he had done. Totally oblivious to whatever his deed may have been. And I think actually in many of the individuals we get in the correctional system that this is not true of very many. A few yes but even those I think I would agree with you at least that in working with them we find that there are the buried islands and they do have remorse. Yes maybe they do not show it in the way that those of us of the middle class have come to think that people are supposed to show remorse like saying I'm sorry. I would never do that again or whatever I might say has become pretty much customary. Well this is this is very true and as a matter of fact these people you just listen to their arguments. Some of the of the people that. Are criminals that are
actually sped up and we've seen this with the juvenile so-called juvenile delinquent kids who get into trouble with the law. They have a whole battery of arguments which they use to justify their behavior this is not just to avoid incarceration or punishment. We've seen kids in our camp setting where there is no prospect of punishment or or being incarcerated. We simply catch them in the piece of behavior stealing brutality of some kind which we have to stop. We have to say look this can't continue. And we explore with them as to what's going on how come and they come up with the most fantastic defenses which must stem from feelings of guilt. They'll say the kid had it coming anyway or he swiped something from the last week or everybody steals or did you lie when you were a kid. Did you do these things frequently I did these arguments in the summer camp. How about you when you were a kid did you do some of these things and so forth. Now in my case I know you see at the camp and I'm not going to punish them they are
not told that something is going to happen to be. To them because of what they did we simply are putting it out on the table how come they only have to face up to their own motivations of this day and ask him to do that. We almost get a proof you see that they are not trying to avoid a painful experience that is to say being deprived of privilege or sent home. They only have to face up to why did they do it and in doing this they show us that they have had to have all kinds of excuses which their conscience forces on them. In order to continue to do to go on and behave in this way so are the values there yes they are there but there is some you might say shifting around inside of the personality and they become very skilled in out arguing the voice of their own conscience. This is far different from not having a career season. Occasionally you get a child who is very much on the side of his own impulses and who has the faintest type of conscience way
imaginable and he shows less need to argue with himself as to why he does it. But this is quite rare. I wonder this is a little bit of a digression but do parents need to you know order to help their children build their own controls from within. Do parents need to question themselves concerning their own motivation for a particular kind of disciplinary tactic or technique. I assume that they do. I don't know whether it's possible to make this meaningful. Maybe they don't need to I don't know. What do you think. Well if we mean by questioning their own motivation do they have to become perceptive as to what's in their own conscious you know sort of doing a job of self-analysis every time you turn around and want to ask the kid to pipe down for a while or go to sleep or come to the table for dinner or stop carrying on the particular way I would say no. That just ain't possible if you permit me to be ungrammatical for a moment and
nobody could do that all the way from statement Freud to the average citizen. But if you mean that they ask themselves from time to time what are the kinds of things that I want my kid to live up to. How does that fit his capacity. How reasonable is it in terms of social living in general or is this some particular need that I have which goes beyond in a sense what other people might consider to be absolutely necessary and so forth. That kind of self-examination I think anybody who's in charge of a child whether it be a parent or somebody in a camp for an institution for children and so forth I think that kind of self-examination has to go on. There is such a thing as as as simply getting in the one spot where you have to show that you know your will is the one which is going to be obeyed a kind of a willful authoritarian this which the adult can't get into
sometimes. I was thinking actually that the proverbial pattern which we hear about that we expect our children to be clean. We expect them not to be sloppy use and we expect them to be courteous. We expect them to be well-mannered quiet spoken not brash racially discourteous unkind and we have a tendency to reprimand of course whenever we see evidences of this when on the other hand perhaps it's quite natural for the child not to be as well controlled as those adults would wish them to be. I'm glad you asked that because I think that permits us to say something like this. There is a difference between what you're going to tolerate. At a particular time in your child's life and what you want in the in the long range for him to come up to in the future and I'll commit the fallacy which I said some parents do when I said they talk too much about the future. But I want
to focus on that for a minute. When the child is unable to walk he's allowed to crawl around the house nobody gets worried if a child crawls they're happy they say look at his muscles and one of them what a vigorous crawler he is. Yet after the child has begun the walk and when he's developing and he's older nobody's going to be very happy about crawling around the house. This is a developmental reality at the age before walking. There are psychological periods which are like crawling. And so while we want our children to be erected vigorous walkers we accept that time in their life when they're unable to do this. And similarly psychologically we accept sometimes a piece of sloppiness. Some irresponsibility about time. Poor control over some aggressive feelings. But all the time holding up the image of the girl image to the child pulling out of this being different. Getting to be different as he goes along. You see so that there is there are temporary talons tolerances that the adult can afford with the child
while holding up for him a kind of a a model for change you see. Now sometimes and these are the tough moments. Even though it's developmentally correct for him to be rebellious a little bit or sloppy or hostile it gets to be pretty bothersome to other people around him. Then he has to be stopped not because he's going to grow up to be a slob or a hostile person or a tough guy or or whatever but because in that moment it is too much for people around him to handle. So then he stopped on those grounds alone in his reasonable and painless a way as possible but he is stopped for temporary maintenance purposes you might say. Is there anything that we could say about how parents can distinguish kinds of behavior and the ways that they can know when a behavior is not exactly in line with what it should be. Yeah roughly and I'd like to refer here to five criteria with which Fritz riddle is talked about.
These are not completely finished products and should not be regarded as constitutional laws. You know about how you regard behavior but he suggest the following. If you are worried about a piece of behavior number one. How much is it to be expected of a child of this age range anyway. You know the business of developmentally expected number two how much do you think the child is just driven in this direction without a chance of control. Or does he show sometimes even control it sometimes he can't but that it doesn't have to look something like a motor which is driving him into this and which will never stop unless it's put out of commission. Number three is there something outside of the child which is stimulating this if he's aggressive is somebody being aggressive to him. If he's rebellious is he being crowded in some way and so forth. What outside of the child may be stimulating him into this number 4. Riddle suggests. How much is this going on in
his neighborhood groups in the general pattern of neighborhood life and peer life in general. And number five. How much can it be changed when you try everything according to your best wisdom to change. Our guest has been Dr. David Weinmann associate professor of social work Wayne State University. Next week the teacher's influence never and our guest will be Dr. Alice Keller professor of education at New York University. You have been listening to the tender twigs a series devoted to ensuring youth development that a safe sane and straight. A good.
- Tender twigs
- Controls from within
- Producing Organization
- Michigan State University
- WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- Dr. David Wineman, co-author, "Controls from Within," illustrates the self-discipline factors that emerge in normal development.
- This series discusses problems affecting today's youth, such as mental health, delinquency, crime, social pressures. It also considers solutions for parents and youths to employ.
- Social Issues
- Media type
Interviewer: Thompson, Ben
Producer: Wayne, Wayne C.
Producing Organization: Michigan State University
Producing Organization: WKAR (Radio/television station : East Lansing, Mich.)
Speaker: Wineman, David
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 58-43-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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