Lakshmi, thank you for your comments and interest. My ideas for helping children to develop optimally start with a brand new hypothesis for a theory of the human personality.
We have been taught, like Mary and Liam, to believe our biological cues, drives, desires, and alleged subconscious are out to get us. We are taught we have to use discipline and hard work to overcome the many urges we have that might derail our forward progress. We have also been taught our choices occur because humans seek rewards and avoid punishments.
My idea for a new theory of personality debunks both of these ideas and starts with the premise that our senses, perceptions, movements, thoughts, predictions, and behaviors are the biological cues we are supposed to be relying upon to interact as humans. We don’t have to improve upon these biological cues, overcome them, or teach them to our children. We have to actually use them to optimize our decision making in the ways that make sense to our personal cognitive abilities, cause and effect reasoning, depth perception, eye-hand coordination, spatial and temporal understandings, numerical understandings, sense organ abilities, stamina, strength, quickness, etc.
Each child has a unique sensory, motor, and nervous system. And each child will have a unique set of biological cues to help him manage himself in his environment in ways ideally suited to him. When we teach the child what his biological cues mean, we confuse every system in his body.
I believe what drives the human brain is the incessant need we have to predict what to do next. Successful predictions are our prime motivator. We cannot register a reward as a reward unless we have formulated a prediction about what the reward is, whether or not we want it, and how we will go about obtaining it. The reward itself is not the driving force for our thoughts and behaviors, it is the continuous stream of predictions our brain has to keep feeding into itself in order to obtain the reward or to obtain anything.
So, to help kids develop, I think we mainly have to keep them safe and healthy and provide them with opportunities to learn without constantly challenging their expressions. We can teach them the rules of our families, schools, and cultures, but we can teach rules the same as we can teach multiplication facts. Breaking a rule doesn’t have to be a moral failing. It can be a mistake and we can reteach rules in a non-harsh way if we don’t see a child as the result of his or her behaviors, but as a result of his or her understanding of any given situation.