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Protecting the Child, Preserving the Family, and Honoring Life

Welcome to the Blog page of the American College of Pediatricians, which we call Scribit Veritas.  Each issue of the Blog is intended to assist parents, encourage children, and enrich the family.  Read our most recent issue below, and scroll to the bottom of this page to read earlier issues.


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The Birth of a Sibling

The birth of a second child changes the lives of everyone in the family but especially that of the firstborn. Research has found that firstborns usually “have positive, long-lasting relationships with their siblings, and they invest in the relationships over a lifetime.” There are lots of factors that influence whether a sibling relationship will develop positively or not. Most of these factors come from the home environment and can be altered by a parent’s awareness of their importance.

  • The child’s attitude toward the birth of the new sibling.
  • The relationship the older child has with their mother.
  • The relationship the older child has with their father. 
  • The emotional environment in the home.
  • Relationships with extended family and peers.

So what can parents do to ease this transition?

  • Parents can work to increase and strengthen their emotional bond with the older child.
    To help build this bond, provide predictable, consistent routines, while continuing to have reasonable expectations for behavior.
  • Listen to the child to express negative feelings about the baby and changes in the family.
  • Focus on frequent affectionate interactions of reading, talking, sharing good times.
  • Provide regular outings with one parent.
  • Expect some negative, hostile reactions as the child adjusts to the changes.
  • Do not ignore hostility, but do not respond with harshness; be patient.
  • Designate special times of looking at the older child’s baby pictures.
  • Read books about childbirth (ones that are developmentally appropriate).
  • Visit friends who have infants.
  • Think of potential baby names.
  • Take the child to an OB appointment to hear the baby’s heartbeat.
  • Pack the child a bag for the hospital.
  • Discuss the baby’s wants and needs.
  • Model effective problem solving with your spouse to show the child how to cope with jealousy and conflict.


1 Smith, V. C. (2013). Preparing a child for the birth of a sibling. International Journal of Childbirth Education, 28(2), 20-24.

2 Berk, Laura (2010). Infants, Children, and Adolescents, 7th ed. Boston, MA.



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Sleep: How Critical It Is for Your Child

How do you feel when you are sleep deprived? Do you feel grumpy, on edge, short-tempered or simply feel that your eyelids are too heavy to keep open? Well, children feel the same way when they are not getting enough sleep. It is important to understand why sleep is so critical for your child’s health and understand the consequences of a lack of sleep.

Every single living creature needs sleep. During early development, it is the primary activity of the brain. The National Sleep Foundation helps shed some light on this development. “Circadian rhythms, or the sleep-wake cycle, are regulated by light and dark and these rhythms take time to develop, resulting in the irregular sleep schedules of newborns. The rhythms begin to develop at about six weeks, and by three to six months most infants have a regular sleep-wake cycle. By the age of two, most children have spent more time asleep than awake and overall, a child will spend 40 percent of his or her childhood asleep. Sleep is especially important for children as it directly impacts mental and physical development.” 

As a newborn, sleep will consume 10.5-18 hours in a day. Their bodies are still very active, but this sleep is critical for their brain development. For infants, 9-12 hours of sleep at night and a few naps throughout the day are beneficial. This stage is a good time to teach children to self-soothe. Toddlers need  11-14 hours of sleep per day. Generally, around 18 months a toddler will only need 2-3 hour naps per day. From age 5 and above, 11-13 hours of sleep each night with few to no naps is healthful. Once children are school-aged a lot of their time is taken up by school activities, television, social life, etc. They still need 9-11 hours of sleep per night but the increase in distractions can cause difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and anxiety around sleeping. 

With these guidelines, parents can know what is needed for their child and seek to enforce it so their child remains healthy and energized. gave an additional suggestion that would be beneficial for all parents to establish. No matter what your child’s age, establish a bedtime routine that encourages good sleep habits. These tips can help kids ease into a good night’s sleep:

  • Stick to a bedtime, and give your kids a heads-up 30 minutes and then 10 minutes beforehand.
  • Include a winding-down period in the routine.
  • Encourage older kids and teens to set and maintain a bedtime that allows for the full hours of sleep needed at their age.

In a study conducted by Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, children’s observational learning was impacted by the amount of sleep that they were getting. Children are able to learn and focus on so much more when their bodies are rested. Every parent wants their child to do well in school, at home, and at play. So be sure to do what is best for your child by helping them get adequate sleep.

For suggestions on how long your child should be sleeping, see the links below:



Lambert, A., Tessier, S., Rochette, A., Scherzer, P., Mottron, L., & Godbout, R. (2016). Poor sleep affects daytime functioning in typically developing and autistic children not complaining of sleep problems: A questionnaire-based and polysomnographic study. Research In Autism Spectrum Disorders, 2394-106. doi:10.1016/j.rasd.2015.11.010

Spooner, R., Lushington, K., Keage, H. A., Blunden, S., Kennedy, J. D., Schembri, M., & … Kohler, M. J. (2016). Original Article: Cognition, temperament, and cerebral blood flow velocity in toddlers and preschool children with sleep-disordered breathing or behavioral insomnia of childhood. Sleep Medicine, 2177-85. doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2016.02.002

Van Schalkwijk, F. J., Benjamins, J. S., Migliorati, F., de Nooijer, J. A., van Someren, E. J., van Gog, T., & van der Werf, Y. D. (2015). The role of sleep timing in children’s observational learning. Neurobiology Of Learning And Memory, 12598-105. doi:10.1016/j.nlm.2015.08.003

Waxmonsky, J. G., Mayes, S. D., Calhoun, S. L., Fernandez-Mendoza, J., Waschbusch, D. A., Bendixsen, B. H., & Bixler, E. O. (2017). Original Article: The association between Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder symptoms and sleep problems in children with and without ADHD. Sleep Medicine, doi:10.1016/j.sleep.2017.02.006

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Talking to Teenagers about Sex and Values

Talking to teenagers about sexuality is never an easy thing for parents. Many parents feel inadequate and worried they will be asked something they don’t know how to answer. They are uncomfortable and afraid to bring up something before a child is ready. It isn’t hard to see that children and teenagers today are bombarded with messages about sex through the media, their peers, and the internet. This is happening more and more. Consequently, there are many misconceptions that young people have about sexual intimacy. As society pushes more varied messages towards teens and children, it has become even more important for parents to teach their children clear values and facts about how to manage their sexuality. 

The National Physicians Center for Family Resources released a booklet entitled, Sex Q & A: Kids’ Questions- Parents’ Answers in 2011 to offer a guide for parents in answering a variety of questions. In this booklet, research and information on adolescent development, pregnancy, sexual diseases, adolescent self-esteem, and relationships are explained by medical professionals in an understandable way. Here are some guidelines on having a conversation with kids about sex, taken from this resource:


Having a Successful Conversation about Sex with Your Children

  • When young children ask questions, give them clear answers with adequate detail.  But don’t start explaining any more than they ask for. Often, they really want just the answer to their question and nothing more. Use correct terminology and be direct enough to avoid confusion. 
  • Set high standards for your children that reflect your family’s values, and help your children know that you believe in their capacity to meet them. 
  • Make yourself available for your child. Show him that you will listen to the little things; gradually he may open up more about the really important things. 
  • Be honest if you do not know the answer to a question.
  • Emphasize the positive aspects of sex in marriage and of abstinence before marriage.
  • Remember that adolescents, whose brain areas are still developing reasoning skills, are likely to make more impulsive decisions based on feelings and immediate consequences. In addition to talking about the long-term consequences of sexual decisions, be sure to discuss with your child the short-term consequences of decisions. These include missing out on things due to being pregnant and not being able to do as well in sports or school. 
  • Model responsible behavior for your child. Your child will likely not apply the values you want them to learn if they do not see you live them.
  • Be aware of what curriculum your child is being taught in sex education at school. If there are messages that are not in harmony with your values, find a way for your child to be excused.
  • Create a relationship with your child in which she knows that you will love her even if she makes mistakes, and in which she feels that she can always turn to you and speak about things should she fail to meet the standards. 


“According to many scientific surveys and studies, American parents and their adolescents overwhelmingly agree that sexual issues should be taught in the home. However, over one-third of adolescents recently surveyed say they have never had a helpful conversation about sex with their parents.” -National Physicians Center: Sex Q &A

Take responsibility for ensuring that your children have the guidance and information to help them not only avoid serious health and emotional problems but reach their true potential. 


* The book, Sex Q & A: Kids’ Questions- Parents’ Answers can be purchased from



Lightfoot, D., Anderson, J., Austin, M., Barham, D., Bedsole, G., Bell, R., … Yearwood, T. (2011). Sex Q &A: Kids’ questions- parents’ answers. Birmingham: The National Physicians Center for Family Resources. 


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Coping with a Miscarriage

The death of a baby during pregnancy is one of the most painful experiences a couple may have. Physically and emotionally, mothers can be very bonded with their baby, even before the pregnancy is very far along. There are several organizations and online resources dedicated to providing mothers and fathers who experience this kind of heart-ache with information, support, and connection to others during the grieving process. If you have recently experienced a miscarriage, we hope that you can find some comfort and peace in knowing you are not alone. 

Some Information About Miscarriages

Miscarriage refers to the unintentional death of a baby before the 20th week of pregnancy. It is also known as a spontaneous abortion. Most miscarriages happen in the first 13 weeks of pregnancy, sometimes before a woman even knows she is pregnant. It is estimated that 15%-25% of pregnancies result in a miscarriage. After the 20th week of pregnancy, a baby’s death is considered a still-birth (about 24,000 babies in the United States each year). 

Usually, the cause is not something the mother did during the pregnancy, but it is most commonly the effect of a genetic abnormality in the fetus. It is very important for a woman to recognize that the miscarriage is most likely not her own fault. 

Despite the fact that many miscarriages occur very early in a pregnancy, the emotional effects of a miscarriage can still be devastating for a couple who had been anticipating the birth of a healthy baby. After a miscarriage, a woman’s body must heal physically and is undergoing large fluctuations in hormone levels. However, the emotional effects usually take longer to deal with. 

Dealing with a Miscarriage or Other Pregnancy Loss

Grieve at your own pace 

It is important to let yourself grieve the death of your baby completely for as long as you need to. It is common to go through the three steps of grief: denial/shock; anger and guilt; and finally acceptance. These steps may take a long time; everyone grieves in their own way. Some women feel a roller coaster of emotions, from bitterness and anger to hopelessness. “It is natural to feel bombarded by mixed emotions when you receive the news that your infant has not survived. Understand that there is no right or wrong way to feel. There are no ‘shoulds’”. (TayLynn Johnson of Forever Families website). 

Nourish your relationship with your spouse

A baby’s death can draw a married couple closer together or drive them further apart. One thing that should be remembered is that a husband and wife might have very different styles of dealing with grief. Men are more likely to focus on problem-solving, to “bury [themselves] in work when they are grieving”, and to be “less expressive about their feelings”. Sometimes a woman may misinterpret this reaction as not really caring about the miscarriage. 

Take part in rituals and ceremony

Rituals to help treasure the baby’s memory can help with the healing process. You might want to name the baby and possibly have a funeral for them. Save keepsakes and record memories about the pregnancy. Research shows that religiosity and connecting with a higher power are things that lead to better coping. Other mothers like to participate in special rituals to commemorate the baby like planting a tree, donating to charity, or saving a piece of jewelry or their birthstone to remember them. 

Prepare for the Future with Hope

Most women who have miscarriages are able to carry a healthy baby to term the next time around, even though they might have high anxiety about the success of subsequent pregnancies. Medical professionals recommend that couples don’t immediately rush into trying to become pregnant again. It is important to give a woman’s body and especially the couple’s emotions time to heal.  

 There are some factors that increase the risk of having a miscarriage that are important to be aware of and try to minimize. Hormone imbalances, obesity, and “excessive alcohol use and smoking can … be contributing factor[s]” (Andersson, et. Al, 2012). Only if you have three miscarriages, consecutively, should you contact a doctor and seek testing for possible problems. 


View guidelines on how to help a friend with a recent miscarriage here



Andersson, I., Nilsson, S., & Adolfsson, A. (2012). How women who have experienced one or more miscarriages manage their feelings and emotions when they become pregnant again – a qualitative interview study. Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences26(2), 262-270. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6712.2011.00927.x

Van, P. (2012). Conversations, Coping, & Connectedness: A Qualitative Study of Women Who Have Experienced Involuntary Pregnancy Loss. Omega: Journal of Death & Dying65(1), 71-85.


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Marital Happiness for Parents and Parents-To-Be

For most engaged couples and newlyweds, the word marriage brings thoughts of wedding bells, love, friendship, and harmonious bliss. Quickly, they find that marriage is work. Instead of merely an arrangement of pleasure, it starts to feel more like an investment in which we must give much to ultimately reap large dividends of joy. Couples may look forward wistfully to the delights of having children, and some believe that having children will help “fix” the lack of happiness in a marriage. However, research has repeatedly proven that there is a general decline on average in marital satisfaction for couples after they have their first child and a slight decline with each additional child (6). 


  • Mothers are likely to experience a greater decrease in marital satisfaction than the fathers. This may be due to the tendency for mothers to take on more of the child-rearing responsibilities, and the accompanying confusion about roles in the home and feelings of reduced freedom. (6)
  • Couples of high socioeconomic status (SES) tend to experience a more drastic decline than middle and low SES. Perhaps those of higher-paying jobs who are used to a freer lifestyle have more difficulty adjusting to the restrictions of parenthood. (6)
  • An expansive study by Twenge, Campbell, and Foster in 2003 (6), found the parent’s generation affected the impact of children on marital satisfaction. In other words, parents of today are more likely to have a greater decrease in marriage satisfaction after becoming parents than were parents of two decades ago. And parents of two decades ago had a greater decrease than parents of 5 decades ago. Clearly, the cultural perceptions about marriage and children and the lifestyle of young adults today influences how we experience marriage after childbirth. 
  • This same study found that only 38% of women with infants have an above-average level of marital satisfaction, while 62% of childless women have an above-average level. 

So, it is safe to assume that having children will not make the average marriage relationship easier, but rather make it even harder. But children are supposed to be a “blessing” and a “joy” right?! How many parents have we heard gush over how fulfilled their lives are because of their little ones being added to it? The information might be disheartening to prospective parents. If children are supposed to make a spousal relationship more difficult, how do young couples even decide when they are ready to have children…or prepare to have a strong marriage throughout? 

There are a lot of different factors to consider about the research and how it affects themselves. It is essential for young couples and those who are anticipating marriage to be aware of the coming stressors of having children and to wisely examine the implications. Let’s look at some research and analyze what might make those 38% percent of mothers who are above average in marital happiness different from the rest.

  • Differences between the expectation of what parenthood will be like and the actual experience may be a main cause for the statistical decrease in marital bliss. A 1985 study of married couples in the transition to parenthood (1) found that the majority of parents had a much more positive reported prediction of marital bliss than their reported experience after childbirth. The greater the difference between their predictions and actuality, the more marital dissatisfaction they experienced. 


For future parents, this is significant information. Parents who are aware of the stressors and struggles ahead may find greater harmony in their marriages after children are born. 


  • Marital characteristics of realism and experience with stress may have a positive influence on marriage after childbirth. One study (2) found that mothers who had a planned pregnancy were significantly more likely than those with an unplanned pregnancy to experience a higher decline in marital satisfaction. This may be due to the expectations of stress and difficulty that would already accompany someone with a surprise pregnancy. This study also found that the higher a couple was rated in romantic quality before childbirth the lower their marital satisfaction afterward. It seems that the relationships that were more “down-to-earth” in quality fared better with the shock of a crying newborn. 


  • When mothers and especially fathers are more involved in co-parenting, marital satisfaction is higher. (5). This means that when a mother feels that the father is more involved in the care of the children, marital happiness is higher for both spouses. Even mothers who experience a high amount of stress are likely to feel more marital satisfaction when they have involved husbands. 


  • Patterns of empathy and forgiveness strengthen attachment quality between spouses, which in turn improves
    the marriage quality after a child is born
    . (3,4)

With all the data on marriage satisfaction and how it is affected, it is important to remember that the decreases after childbirth are often more minor, rather than extreme. Decisions regarding parenting style, tasks involved in child-care, financial obligations, fatigue and lack of sleep are among the things that team together to make the parenting years challenging and overwhelming. Husbands and wives often find individual satisfaction from being a parent that makes up for the difficulty that comes with learning to parent together. Parents who weather the stress of incoming children together, will likely reap the dividends of increased strength and joy in their relationship as the years grow. 



(1) Belsky, J. (1985). Exploring Individual Differences in Marital Change across the Transition to Parenthood: The Role of Violated Expectations. Journal of Marriage and Family, 47(4), 1037-1044. doi:10.2307/352348

(2) Belsky, J., & Rovine, M. (1990). Patterns of Marital Change across the Transition to Parenthood: Pregnancy to Three Years Postpartum. Journal of Marriage and Family, 52(1), 5-19. doi:10.2307/352833

(3) Castellano, R., Velotti, P., Crowell, J., & Zavattini, G. (2014). The Role of Parents’ Attachment Configurations at Childbirth on Marital Satisfaction and Conflict Strategies. Journal Of Child & Family Studies, 23(6), 1011-1026.

(4) Chung, M. (2014). Pathways between attachment and marital satisfaction: The mediating roles of rumination, empathy, and forgiveness. Personality And Individual Differences, 70246-251. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2014.06.032

(5) Durtschi, J. A., Soloski, K. L., & Kimmes, J. (2017). The Dyadic Effects of Supportive Coparenting and Parental Stress on Relationship Quality Across the Transition to Parenthood. Journal Of Marital & Family Therapy, 43(2), 308-321.

(6) Twenge, J., Campbell, W., & Foster, C. (2003). Parenthood and Marital Satisfaction: A Meta-Analytic Review. Journal of Marriage and Family, 65(3), 574-583. Retrieved from


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The Video Deficit Effect: What Is It?


Many parents today find themselves using media to their advantage with their small children, but is it really helpful?

Children begin to view TV and videos in early infancy as they are exposed to programs watched by their parents and their older siblings, or are shown programs aimed at viewers not yet out of diapers, such as Baby Einsteins. U.S. parents report that 50% of 2-month-olds watch TV and that by 2 years that percentage rises to 90% (Anand et al., 2014). 

Although parents assume that babies learn from TV and videos, research indicates that babies cannot take full advantage of them. 

Initially, infants respond to videos of people as if viewing people directly–smiling, moving their arms and legs and, by 6 months, imitating the actions of a televised adult (Barr, Muentener, & Garcia, 2007). But when shown videos of attractive toys, 9-month-olds touch and grab the screen, suggesting that they confuse the images with the real thing.

The Video Deficit Effect

In a series of studies, some 2-year-olds watched through a window while a live adult hid an object in an adjoining room, while others watched the same event on a video screen. Children in the direct viewing condition retrieved the toy easily; those in the video condition had difficulty (Troseth, 2003; Troseth & DeLoache, 1998). This is the video deficit effect – when children show poorer performance after viewing a video as opposed to a live demonstration. 

One explanation is that 2-year-olds typically do not view a video character as offering socially relevant information. After an adult on video announced where she had hidden a toy, few 2-year-olds searched (Schmidt, Crawley-Davis, & Anderson, 2007). In contrast, when the adult said the same words while standing in front of the child, 2-year-olds quickly retrieved the object. 

What does this mean?

Around age two and a half, the video deficit effect declines. Before this age, toddlers seem to discount information on video as irrelevant to their everyday experiences, because people on the screen don’t look at or converse with them directly as their caregivers do. When exposed to a high quantity of media at such a young age, 1-to 3-year-olds tend to have attention, memory and reading difficulties in the early school years (Christakis et al., 2004; Zimmerman & Christakis, 2005). 

When toddlers do watch TV and videos, it is most effective as a teaching tool when it is rich in social cues (Lauricella, Gola, & Calvert, 2011). These include the use of familiar characters and close-ups where the character looks directly at the camera, addresses questions to viewers and pauses to invite a response. 

One show that does a great job of this, for those parents out there that may not be sure where to start, is Super Why on PBS Kids. This series emphasizes the importance of problem-solving, teamwork, communication and compassion–as well as early literacy skills such as letter identification, letter sounds, simple spelling, and word recognition. According to PBS, the show was specifically designed for kids to interact with, so that “as they watch Super Why they are completely absorbed in the adventure of the story while engaging in challenging games and activities” (


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Supporting Healthy Identity In Teens

Knowing what adolescents are going through during their teenage years can really help us to better understand and help them. According to Erik Erickson’s 8 Stages of Psychosocial Development, adolescents are in the stage of conflict between identity and role confusion. He believed that identity development is not traumatic and disturbing but, rather, a process of exploration followed by commitment. As young people try out life possibilities, they gain important information about themselves and their environment. This helps them to move toward making more enduring decisions.

Teenagers begin to evaluate themselves in a whole new way compared to how they would as children. New concepts affect their self-esteem. They evaluate themselves in their close friendships, romantic appeal, and even job competence. So, as parents, it’s incredibly important to do everything we can to support our children’s identity development so that they can feel more self-confidence and grow in self-esteem–two aspects of identity that are likely to bring success in the future.

Here are some simple but extremely important and effective ways that parents and family can support your adolescent’s healthy identity development:

Engage in warm, open communication. Doing so provides both emotional support and freedom that teens need to explore values and goals. You may not always love what they have to say, but try your hardest to keep conversation open, supportive and kind.
Initiate discussions that promote high-level thinking. This encourages rational and deliberate selection among beliefs and values.

Provide opportunities for your teens to participate in extracurricular activities and vocational training programs. These kinds of activities offer models of identity achievement and advice on how to resolve identity concerns. There truly are so many things to be learned from extracurriculars.
Provide opportunities to explore ethnic heritage and learn about other cultures in an atmosphere of respect. By doing this, you are fostering identity achievement in all areas as well as valuing ethnic diversity which supports the identity explorations of others. This also helps teach teens to treat everyone equally, fairly, and with kindness.


References: Berk, L., Development Through the Lifespan, pgs. 408 and 413

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Loving by Leading: Actions Speak Louder Than Words

When adults in a research study were asked, “What did your parents do to teach you good values and good character?” their answers were varied. Some mentioned their parent’s love, their high expectations, their firm dis­cipline, and their wisdom. But, the most common answer was, “My parents set a good example.” It is a daunting realization for young parents that the results of their parenting efforts are mostly determined by their modeling. Actions do speak louder than words, especially with children. When parents purpose to model the character qualities that they expect from their children, the children are more likely to “catch” those qualities. On the other hand, no parent is perfect, and even foul-ups can bring a positive result. For instance, with emotional outbursts, if parents ask forgiveness of their children, they repair the relationship and set a good example for children when they lose their temper.

When parents model the same moral standards they are requiring of their child, the conscience grows stronger. However, parental hypocrisy under­mines the conscience and its internal influence upon the child is weakened. For instance, if violence between parents is modeled in the home, a child will likely adopt this same behavior as a means of problem-solving, even though his conscience may have initially caused him to feel some guilt. The “con­science seed” must be fertilized, watered, and pruned as it grows in order to assure its fruitful development. This is accomplished, in part, through the observation of healthy parental role models.


Trumbull, DA. Loving by Leading: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy and Responsible Children. 2018; pp 27. ISBN 9781732659810


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Loving by Leading: Your Child’s Conscience

In this blog series on parenting, we have learned that children are naturally prone to be self-centered and impulsive. So, now you might ask, “How do I teach my child to adopt proper attitudes and behaviors?”

Every person has a conscience. Conscience is defined as “the inner sense of what is right or wrong in one’s conduct or motives, impelling one toward right action.” It is a warning system that alerts us to wrong and confirms what is right. It is the moral compass by which we are guided. This internal sense of right and wrong exists as early as infancy, but merely at seed level. When properly nurtured, however, it can become a powerful force for good to moderate a child’s self-centered nature. The conscience counters a child’s nature, reminding him that he is not alone and he must be considerate of others around him. With proper training, the conscience persuades a child to resist selfish temptation and to pursue a life of high moral and social character.

How then does a parent train and develop the conscience to eventually guide a child toward noble living? This occurs through three basic types of parent-child interaction:

  1. Behavioral control is the earliest influence a parent has over a young child. By correcting improper behavior, the parent identi­fies to the child wrong behavior, and by allowing proper behavior, teaches what is right.
  2. Reasoning (dialogue and explanation) becomes operational as a child matures, by informing and convincing a child’s understand­ing of right and wrong. This can begin, to a limited degree, as early as 2 years of age.
  3. Modeling proper behavior by the parents is essential in con­vincing a child from birth through childhood of what is right.


Trumbull, DA. Loving by Leading: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy and Responsible Children. 2018; pp 26-27. ISBN 9781732659810

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Loving By Leading: The Nature of a Child

Babies are so cute, cuddly, and appear so innocent, especially as newborns. By 4 months they are smiling and cooing in response to every smiling face. Then, as they begin crawling and walking, they are even more fascinating to watch. But something seems to change when they enter that second year. Toddlers become more self-assertive and independent, protesting when their desires conflict with ours. Suddenly, they refuse to stop running when we say, “Stop!” They begin to resist and rebel (e.g., fight diaper changes, refuse to sit in the car seat, contest teeth brushing, and throw food from the high chair). “What happened to my innocent baby?” you may ask. The fact is, he was never totally innocent, just less able to express his self-centered desires. 

Understanding the nature of a child is fundamental to how you will approach the rearing of your child. Will you be directive (active) or just facilitative (passive)? Will you lead him or follow his lead? Here are two opposing views about the nature of a child:

  1. Children are born innocent and it is the environment and parents who corrupt this innocence.
  2. Children are naturally self-focused and in need of guidance.

Years of psychological research and the practical experience of parenting tell us that children are not born innocent or others-conscious, but rather are self-centered and focused on their own physical needs and satisfaction.

In his parenting book Loving By Leading, Dr. Trumbull notes, “The role of discipline is to lead your child from being a self-centered child to being a self-disciplined adult. Will your child live foolishly by impulsively pleasing himself, or live wisely by displaying self-control over his natural impulses and being considerate of others?” Think about it.


Trumbull, DA. Loving by Leading: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy and Responsible Children. 2018; pp 22-23. ISBN 9781732659810


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