Being a child in today’s society: myths about childhood

Much of the literature published today focuses on the challenges parents face today in regards to caring for, educating, treating and managing the relationship with children. Paternal conflicts seem more frequent than before and the feeling that parents are “overwhelmed” because of the bad behavior of their children.

However, another equally important question would be to consider the perspective and the child’s own experience of passing through the childhood stage in the present time, which we will analyze below and perhaps more. complex than to manage what one might think. . It is convenient to dismiss some myths about childhood to fully understand the psychology of children.

    Social changes that today influence the development of the child

    Urra (2007) makes an interesting analysis of the factors which have been changed in today’s society and which can influence the psychological development of children today.

    1. Permissiveness

    Today’s society is more permissive than in previous decades, When a more authoritarian structure prevailed (eg government dictatorships predominant in the West for much of the 20th century). On the other hand, the values ​​which seem to be transmitted in recent times, perhaps in reactionary response to submission to the indicated authority, are related to materialism, individualism, consumerism, hedonism or relativism. .

      2. Exposure to adult content

      A large volume of media content is aimed at violent and sexual programs that promote success based on purchasing power / economic power, competitiveness, etc. To which we must add the time children spend watching television, the Internet, Social networks, video games, etc., alone and without the supervision of an adult who can teach them how to use them correctly.

      3. Today’s life is hectic

      The change of personal lifestyle and rhythm. Along with the advancement of technology, the pace of life has accelerated so that a “stopwatch” operation has become internalized in which the individual has to perform as many activities and tasks as possible throughout life. the day. There is a concept called “child diary” proposed by the same author which is used to refer to children. they combine school attendance with an endless list of extracurricular activities and obligations.

      4. Liberalization of the family model

      The family structure has been changed compared to previous generations. Today, we see single-parent, heterosexual, homosexual, reconstructed families from previous divorces, etc. Variety has generated different forms of family organization that affect the type of education the offspring receives.

      On the other hand, there is currently more life “within the family” than “outside the family”: contacts with grandparents, uncles, cousins, etc., have been reduced because parents have less time for this. . And therefore limit family life to members living together.

      5. Abandonment of responsibilities

      The abandonment of the role of certain parents, which confuses the demonstration of affection or love by material gifts and rewards combined with unlimited permissiveness with the educational role that would theoretically be attributed to parents (offer of time, dedication, dialogue, active listening, support, sharing of experiences, definition of rules, guidelines and limits, teaching values, etc.).

      6. Challenging Educational Styles

      The educational gap between families, the ability to differentiate the application of permissive, authoritarian, careless, overprotective, etc. styles. In addition, the differences between families and teachers also seem more obvious, creating a climate of questioning or mistrust of the teaching staff in the face of possible sanctions applied to the student.

      Misconceptions and myths about childhood

      Some of the major myths about child psychology unfolding today are as follows.

      1. psychological essentialism

      There is a sort of belief shared by some of the parents “overwhelmed” by their children’s bad behavior towards the child. presence of intrinsic harm in the child which leads him to commit behaviors of loss of respect, rebellion, defiance and disobedience. Nothing could be further from the truth. Until the stage of youth and early adulthood (around 24-25 years), the individual does not have a full development of all the brain structures that allow him to exercise deep reasoning on his own. actions or conduct. -Be mature, ethical, civilized, empathetic; these structures are called the prefrontal cortex.

      The minor, therefore, it does not have this capacity attributed to it to make existence consciously and premeditated to the parents, since in these ages the minor does not know very well neither that he is the correct thing or the appropriate thing in front of a certain situation; he’s learning to do it. It therefore seems unfair to think that the child should behave like “a miniature adult”; the child is a child.

      2. Learning does not shape personality

      In relation to the above, it does not seem fair to conclude that the child is behaving in some inappropriate way. because “it turned out like that”.

      Yes, it is true (already in late childhood and adolescence) that the last person responsible for the behavior is the one who performs it and that there is a difference in temperament which discriminates against more serene individuals or more “moved”, but it is no less true. that since the minor is in constant learning the environment plays a decisive role in shaping behavior of the child.

      Thus, the interplay between personal factors (internal or personal) and contextual factors (external, such as family type and education received) are the causes of the behavior that ends up externalizing children. In this sense, the different educational styles (democratic, authoritarian, permissive or negligent) have a decisive influence.

      3. Affection has its price

      Another idea often applied by some parents is to think that it is possible generate children’s feelings of affection towards them through material rewards, As discussed above. Contrary to what it may seem, children are also happy with half or a quarter of the money their parents invest under the pretext of satisfying their little ones.

      Research and analysis of a large number of interviews and testimonies conducted over the past decade indicate that children value much more than specific material rewards. the time and attention their parents devote to them on a daily basis.

      Active listening, dialogue, joint decision-making, shared activities, an empathetic and understanding attitude in the face of difficulties that can occur in both parties etc. are aspects that matter a lot more than making the latest console model available to the market.


      The preceding lines are meant to be a set of thoughts which, in some cases, can help parents to understand more in depth the reasons why your toddler’s behavior is not as expected. The analysis of the indicated erroneous beliefs can alternatively resolve everyday conflict situations, in which the application of the capacity of empathy can be vital.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Urra, J. (2007). The little dictator. The sphere of books: Madrid.

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