Respect or Overindulgent

I often wonder; what is the difference between spoiling a child and honoring their reality? Where does respect end and overindulgence begin? If Carly doesn’t like something on her plate, should we insist she eat it? Does respecting her necessarily imply that we should prepare Mac & Cheese every night because that is what she says she likes and therefore wants? When she says ‘no’ to getting ready for bed should we wait until she is ready or become indignant; “How dare you talk to me that way. I say it is time for bed!”


Story and Leading into Play

Until age five or six early child’s play is 90% self-play. The child may be with other children or an adult who are doing similar activities, but the focus of the child’s play is still personal. Group play requires a number of children act out the same story together, that they pretend to be the King or Queen, or the Frog Prince. This is very complex, abstract. The early child is concrete in their play. Nearly all play during the early years involves story, sensory experience, touch and movement.

imagination and play

Can you feel our hearts singing?

I find it challenging to keep current with Carly’s explosive development, three years and two months young and counting. Recall, 700 neurons per second, each connecting with thousands of others is the rate of brain growth the early years – 700 every second. Astonishing is the word I often use. Head turning.

ages and stages

Quiet or Scattered

Traveling with Carly Elizabeth, 22 months today, has been a rich adventure for her and for me. Neither she nor I speak the language. People all around are talking about all sorts of things but what she and I mostly get is energy, hints of emotional context, but very little content. This creates a very unusual vantage point, at least for me. I get to experience, more or less, what Carly is experiencing, and the best word I can think of is energy. Suddenly all the people and things we encounter are big or little, intense or calm, loud or soft tornados of swirling energy, bumping into the other and changing as they react to these collisions.


Can the child trust the world and his or her relationships?

Can the child trust the world and his or her relationships?
Joseph Chilton Pearce

The damage of television has nothing to do with content. The child is told a story which will elicit the growth of, development of, inner imagery. That’s the developmental purpose storytelling. Television and computers deliver the word and the image as a finished stimulus, eliminating the need for the child’s brain to create his or her own internal image.

What we’re talking about is the child feeling either totally threatened by their environment or having the capacity to meet their environment, to open to and embrace an environment or to close into a tight defensive system and be already threatened by the environment. That’s a far more, that’s really what we’re brushing under the thing of self-esteem. People think of that as emotion as the substitute for bonding. The child who feels that they have some control over their response to a world, that they don’t have to just react like a litmus paper, then they have confidence, confidence means with faith in one’s own self. This is your self-esteem. One’s faith in one’s own ability to embrace the world and move into rather than retreat from it defensively.

Now this comes about, I’m convinced, early in childhood and one of the ways we can feed it and help it is to allow the child to take their inner world created, project it on their external world, and we’re the projecting targets for it. Whatever those stories are the child always wants to elicit the parents into the story and play the game out. And this leads to this whole marvelous thing. It runs on up to age 10 or 12, even later, let’s pretend. Let’s pretend I’m the mom and you’re the papa. I saw my little 3 year old granddaughter come in, climb up on the bench at the dining room table, and here were a batch of vitamin bottles of all sorts of different sizes. Immediately she grabs three of them, and here’s mama, and here’s papa, and here’s the little baby, and off she went babbling away. Now, these bottles suddenly to her were these marvelous images, you see. So you see, this capacity, she’s manipulating her world, manipulation is the wrong word but she’s in dominion. She can change that world out there, you see, and turn it into some inanimate object, become some animate object of her own deepest familiarity; mama, papa, and the little baby. And if they can elicit the parent into entering into that, even greater, but you’re talking about is that world embraced and do we come into dominion over it or do we retreat inwardly?

M:        What happens if the parent comes in a rage? I guess what I’m saying is, what I want to get across is that this outward play is only possible if this outward expression, this whole process is only possible in a safe ambiance.

J:          In a safe ambience, yes, in a safe environment. 

M:        And so as soon as something comes in to threaten the safety, that whole process goes away.

J:          Well there again, does the child open to embrace that which is enfolded within the structure or does it try to protect itself?  So if the environment is unpredictable, if they reach out to embrace, if there is rage and anger on the part of the caretaker, the family and so on and so forth, there is no way that child can complete that embrace of their world, and it’s their own world they have to shut off and close up.

There again, we get into the relationship between language, the affective system of the models, the child’s capacity to create internal image, and then effect the world with that capacity. We have the effects of play, you see, as the foundation of all further learning, which is to embrace all of the other fields that are inherent within the structure of the brain. So you’re not getting just visual imagery, it’s the fact that it comes combined with extremely high levels of sound and generate language. 

The problem with television again is becoming rapidly known and all the medical research now is coming in, I’m getting more and more papers in on this all the time, the damage of television has nothing to do with the content, to the neural patterning of the child’s mind. It’s very simple that what nature’s agenda is, and since you find it in most preliterate societies on earth, is that the child be told a story which will elicit the growth of, development of, inner imagery, the inner seeing in their world. The vibration of the word is given the brain structure and the response of the brain is the auditory stimulus is paired with the visual stimulus. That’s the whole thing of the storytelling and all of the rest of it. If you feed both the auditory stimulus and the visual stimulus as a paired effect into the child, as the stimulus, there’s no room left for a response. So we find out very quickly the brain finds the most economical channel to handle this kind of work, since the work is already done for the brain. So it can do this on a very low, by low I mean low within the sensory motor loop within the brain, without challenging, there’s no challenge at all to the higher cortical levels at all. So, they in effect are not drawn into the infinite. There’s no internal image. This is an image presented through the brain structures that present the world out there. This also means that every time the device comes on, not program but that device comes on, the brain selects exactly that same neural pattern or network to handle that because that’s the economy of the brain. And within about three minutes the brain what is called habituates to it and there’s some argument about my use of the word habituates, the brain turns it into an automated or autonomous, automatic, it turns it over to the automatic pilot so to speak, so that no further development of the brain can take place from that and no further neural patterns can be elicited or brought into play. The same ones are used every time. The best example of that is an example I’ve used adnauseam, that the psychologist who take a group of television programs for the five and six year old, simply switch the auditory channels on them so the words weren’t and the noise wasn’t matching what was happening on the screen, and played these to group after group after group of children like they do in these controlled experiments and the children did not recognize the discrepancy. Why? Because they’re not processing information as we say. They’re not bringing in information. It’s locking through entrainment factor of the brain into a simple looped effect and so the 6,000 hours of television viewing in the average 5 year old child has all for all intents and purposes to be one program.

The importance of storytelling

The importance of storytelling
Joseph Chilton Pearce

I remember my mother, my grandmother storytelling; I was always on their lap. There’s an enormous amount of exchange, bonding as we call it, the continual reinforcement of that relationship. If the adult is willing to enter into the inner world fully the inner world of the adult and the child will be shared.

One of the powerful reasons for storytelling by the way is sitting on the lap. Now, the minute you have a child on your lap or up against you and nested up to you and you’re telling a story two or three things happen. The field surrounding the body, you can call it anything you like but certainly there is one, the two fields are overlapping. The reason the child must be given a face pattern at 6-12 inches away at birth is because they can only perceive within that 6-12 inches. That has to be, if you don’t mind the word, subtle field, their subtle energy must be invaded by the parent. That is the parent must be within that field as they certainly were with the child when it’s in-utero. And I think the bedtime story, we’re down very close to the child, we’re very close in, a close distance or the child is on our lap.

I remember my mother, my grandmother storytelling, I was always on their lap and it was partly the sonority of their voice and resonance of their body as it resonated their voice, and above all their connection. So there’s an enormous amount of exchange their and bonding as we’d want to call it, the continual reinforcement of that relationship, as well as if both, if you enter into the inner world fully because they’re shared in the worlds and effect. So, the difference of inner worlds, the inner world of imagination, the ability to create a marvelous inner scenarios is not just socially acceptable, it’s the way to go. The model is the way. 

M:        You have said that this unfoldment of the imagination is the foundation for all higher learning. Help me understand what you mean by that.

J:          One of the first things you find a child does, we’ll start and do with a story has become very familiar with them, the reason for them wanting the same story over and over and over. As we say we know it’s not to learn the story because they’ll correct you on the second time you tell them if you mess up.  So it’s not that.  It’s because the enormous challenge to the brain of creating a series of moving images all connecting together, challenging every facet of the brain, and you’re having to build new neural connections between fields, establishing field connections at a very rapid rate and finally they stabilize and that particular story becomes a, it’s image flow which can then be distinct from story.  You’re not talking about that.  You are simply here to establish new rules, structures, stimulate them, brought them into play, the connection with all the rest of the neural fields needed in the brain system which most neural matter is being created in the brain as a response of the challenge. 

Now once that stabilizes then the child has at their disposal, you see, a whole inner world and their immediate desire will be to project it onto the external world. Look momma, look daddy, in effect. And so, what they’ll do is they’ll want to act the story out or play the story out in their external world and they do this by projection. They take the inner image and they project it onto an external image and then modify, because all this is internal brain operations which in the self-organizing system, they modify the external image by the internal image and play in a modulated world, so to speak.

The parent becomes parts of The Three Bears story and the soup on the table can be porridge and so on.  They’ll project onto their immediate surroundings the story that they have created an internal image. So that completes the circuitry. They find that the can be impressed by this story, they create the inner world and then they can change their external world with it. If the parents will cooperate and go on and be the big bear and mamma bear, then the child finds that their internal capacity for this image making can profoundly affect their external world and here their will-power and self-esteem and feeling of being and having some dominion over your world as its foundation. 

Then we get into, this will lead you right in to the later forms of imaginative play. When the child sees an activity going on in their adult world or their models out there and they want to emulate it. At this point they will create an internal image of an external event and then take the internal image and project it onto some object that they can control in their external world.

I always use the example since it’s very real to me and having undergone it of seeing the great machine running down the road, mashing everything flat, building the road when I was child and the road roller was the most impressive sight of my life and I was blown away by it and it burned its way into my brain. And then looking around I had no road roller, we had very few toys, and finally a little spool in my mother’s sewing kit and holding it up and immediately it was the target for my projection and I saw it as this beautiful road roller. It became that. And for hours I was making all the appropriate noises. I’ve observed this in my own children in every conceivable way. I was seizing a little clothespin and draping some things around, here’s a beautiful princess and the matchbox becomes a bed, the nail or truck and boat and so on and so forth.

Now the ability to see one object in another object is metaphoric, symbolic thinking. It’s the foundations of both metaphor and symbol which underlies all alphabets, mathematical systems, philosophical notions, and so on and so forth. Even religious systems on and on they go, chemical form and so on, all rest on that simple capacity of seeing one thing as another. So, the thought if we can look at E = MC2, which is a meaningless batch of hen scratches and right meaning into it. E stands for energy, here are the signs for equality and M for mass and so on and so forth. If we can tear up the whole world with it. If we can then then take that idea and manipulate our world with it. So the foundation of all metaphoric symbolic thinking is in that critical seven year period, the first seven years of life which all the child wants to do is play or be told stories. What is that play and storytelling? It’s building the foundations of metaphoric symbolic thinking.

If we shortcut that, again it’s a form of intellectual interference or separation from the natural intelligence by forcing the child into premature metaphoric symbolic thinking of a highly abstract nature such as the alphabets and so on. Some children will be ready for it early. Some precocious children can do it. Some children can do it but at a great price, you see. The price is whole in its fullness. The rest of the system being met with its necessary environmental stimuli. So it’s much better to put off all of the abstract applications of metaphor and symbol only until that developmental period is complete.

Essential Joseph Chilton Pearce 57

Play, Imagination & Language
Joseph Chilton Pearce

When reading or telling a child a story the stimulus coming in is ‘word.’ The responds in the brain is ‘imagery.’ When you pair the word with an image, as with video and computer programs, there is nothing for the high brain to do. No activity in the prefrontal regions. No demand made on the neocortex. The image is already there present to the sensory system. Researchers took television programs for the five and six year old and switched the sound tracks. The sound no longer matched the image and played this to hundreds of children across the country. The majority of children did not notice the discrepancy. This exploded the notion of education through television. There is no education through television which has now been replaced by computer and tablets. There is nothing really ‘learned.’ The child will be entertained and remember impressions. But this is not learning.

Essential Joseph Chilton Pearce 56

Play, Imagination, Television & Media
Joseph Chilton Pearce

Historically imaginative play involved acting out the story suggested by the Saturday matinee. It wasn’t mimicry, reflexive copying. It was acting out the story line, let’s pretend, which is a vastly different developmental activity. Watching a radiant screen impacts the brain differently than the light reflected off a traditional movie screen. Television-computer screens produce a passive, trance-like state that is extremely difficult for the child to withdraw from. Producers of children’s programing insist on a minimum number of violent acts per minute to insure continued attention. All of this deeply conditions the developing brain in was that are far different from storytelling and imaginative play.

Essential Joseph Chilton Pearce 55

Storytelling, Imagination & Play
Joseph Chilton Pearce

Storytelling and the ability to create internal images not present to the senses leads to play. Play is the way children learn. Learning is interacting. This interaction is scripted by story. Story promotes play and around and around we go unfolding evermore complex stories, interaction, learning and development. Screen experience bypasses this creative developmental dynamic. Vision media and computers bypass the later evolutionary development of imagination and replace it with reflexive mimicry. This leads to a very different brain and with it a very different self-world-view and quality of relationships. Heavy doses of social media promote compulsive-addictive narcissism, something rapidly spreading in the wake of social media and increasingly mobile computers.

Essential Joseph Chilton Pearce 52

Storytelling vs Television
Joseph Chilton Pearce

The central issue is how the brain receives and processes information. Storytelling is symbolic and metaphoric, using language to stimulate the inner image. Television and computers bypass this higher evolutionary imaginative structure leaving it undeveloped during the critical early years. Later, when abstract academic demands are made, the child has no neural foundation to process highly symbolic and abstract information. We retard our children’s development in the early years and condemn them for failure later. With screen-media mimicry is the primary response. Violent content elicits violent behavior. Storytelling is creatively empowering. The child is creating the images they act our playfully.