Starting with the child in the mirror
Posted on 19th April 2021
The power of the mind is an incredible thing. There are things our brains can do, parts of our mind that we’ve never understood and potentially parts we will never understand. But the one thing that we do know is that our brains grow and develop just like the rest of the body. If you break a bone as a child, that bone will never develop properly and when that child’s grown up, there will always be that bone that didn’t grow as it should. The mind is just the same, although we can never fully understand it, it’s a part of our body and it can be changed and manipulated as it grows.
Children are extremely impressionable;their brains are still learning. And just as a child learns how to walk and talk, a child also absorbs what it’s told, the opinions that it’s fed. If you enforce opinions on a child, they will grow with the mind.
- A family friend tells a girl that she is unattractive, and her daughter will grow up hating her appearance. She will spend her teenage years avoiding mirrors, avoiding cameras because that’s what she’s been taught to do.
- A football coach tells their student they’re bad at sports, the child spends every PE lesson at school, too embarrassed to participate. That child spends years of their life doubting their own ability.
A child should never be told they are worthless, a child should never be fed opinions of themselves before they’ve had a chance to understand that not everything they’re told is true.
The things that happen to a child shape their future, shape their character, they shape the rest of that child’s life. Children will all respond to things completely differently. A child may bully others to make themselves feel adequate, a child may avoid others to prevent other people picking on them. Some children may spend the rest of their lives trying to prove themselves. The rational part of the brain isn't fully developed until approximately 25 years of age. Please read that again - the rational part. Until the rational part of a person’s brain has developed, they will never have had the life experience to fully understand how to respond to denigration. Some children will spend their entire childhoods trying to prove themselves.
- A teenager who’s been told they aren’t clever fails their GCSEs because they were so desperate to prove themselves, so desperate to have that exam slip to show their intelligence, that they worked too hard, burnt themselves out and became too mentally and physically drained to succeed. That worthless sheet of black and white paper, with nothing but a few words to define that teenager’s worth.
- A teacher uses his student as an example of what not to do when rehearsing for the school’s Christmas Nativity. She spends the next 10 years of her life doing everything she physically can, every show, every extra-curricular activity, reading every play, watching every show she can. She spends 5 years of her teenage life going hungry because every penny she has goes towards lessons in acting, singing and dancing. Starving herself so that, when the time comes, she can prove herself.
A person never gets their childhood back. They shouldn’t have to spend the whole time trying to prove themselves, they shouldn’t have to spend their childhoods hating themselves or things about themselves because that’s what’s been drummed into their head. It’s important to watch everything you say to a child, it’s important to consider what’s happened to a person to make them behave as they do but most importantly, we need to understand that everyone behaves in a certain way for reason. A government study showed 1 out of 11 children were emotionally abused, leading to things such as criminal behaviour, mental health problems amongst other problems later in life. No two minds are the same and you can never predict how a child will respond to emotional abuse.
Hattie Storey, studying A Level Drama and Theatre, English Language, and Technical Extended Certificate in Media Production