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Psychological Dignity in Childhood
by Maria Cristina Azcona   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Posted: Friday, October 07, 2005

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by M C Azcona




Psychological Dignity in Childhood

by Maria Cristina Azcona






Psychological Dignity in childhood is a right to obtain respect from the adults towards every need of the personality’s integral growth, through equal opportunities despite differences of IQ potential, mental and psychological qualities. In order to develop an integral growth of the children’s personality, there are sine qua non conditions that society, and not only parents, must assure to all the minors. They are in a weaker position in comparison to adults, because they are not able to attain on their own a favorable environment. So, adults are responsible to provide it to them, as a moral obligation into a functional society system.


1. -Conditions:


1.1. - Children Personality


The children’s personality is in continuous modification. It is conformed by psychological, moral and intellectual basics of their future personality, in permanent evolution and change. Dynamism is the characteristic of children’s personality and this mobility generates a problem and a responsibility. The problem is that the child requires of a permanent attention till he or she has reached a stage of maturity that allows him/her to self-maintain the satisfaction of his/her psychological needs. The responsibility of the adults is to keep an eye all the time in childhood to assure the sufficient stimulation at the propitious moment.


 Intellectual basis


 Jean Piaget explained that there are stages separated one from the other by helicoidally organized movements from a more primitive period to a better-developed one. He said that we must stimulate the child’s intelligence in each period, because it will not return never more. He added that the children learn from their own experience and that thought is, at the very beginning, an action that is internalized to become an idea.


Psychological Basis


Sigmund Freud taught us of psychological periods that must be taken in consideration to help the children grow healthily. He explained that many inconvenient attitudes from parents might become traumas in the child’s mind at early ages. Many times we see that parents of these years don’t pay too much attention to Freud’s discovering and use to sleep with the children in the same bed or bedroom or slap their faces several times a week for any reason.

 One of his followers, Melanie Klein, developed an extraordinary theory. Klein produced a classification of baby’s personality basis in Depressive and Paranoid. She said that the relation with the breast determines the future type of personality, even in adulthood.

Dignity of the baby and even of the embryo is a chapter to be studied in apart, but no less important than the actual matter we are trying to elucidate here.

Many other Psychologists including Lacan, have intended to analyze and to explain the personality origins in babyhood.



Moral Basis


Jean Piaget talked about moral judgment of the child. He gave stadiums or stages of ethical thought. The evolution of morality in the child is in direct relation to the familiar education he/she receives from parents. Children, at first, don’t distinguish among truth and lies, good or bad behavior but on time, not only parents but also society, other children and teachers, give him/her a feedback that generates an intuitive learning through experiences.

Antisocial personalities, according to DSM IV list of psychiatric illnesses, are born in children that have difficult experiences at early ages.  

Phillip Lersch studied the ethical emotions and ethical feelings, as the clue to relate moral judgment to psychological affectivity.


1.2. - Children Environment


1.2.1. -Natural environment


The first condition to develop a harmonious personality is to have the following natural environment, in childhood:


-Fresh air, not contaminated by industrial toxins

-A garden, or a Square near his/her home, with enough place to play and observe the growth of domestic animals and plants.


-Natural noises, and natural silence, not interrupted by car claxons or noises from factories



 1.2 2. -Human environment


 The baby needs of different things than an older child, but in general we may say that the human environmental conditions for respect to dignity in childhood are:


-A family:


Who take care of him/her with: patience, calmness, sweetness, firmness, stability, presence,

Permanent attention


-A neighborhood


Which must be harmonious, peaceful, with enough order, not noisy. Without burglars or criminals. Secure.  With a regular and ordained traffic of vehicles.





-A school, clubs and institutions where the child may go to be socialized.

At those establishments, the child needs to have contact with other children and adults. They ought to treat him/her in good manners, without punching or abusing or any other expression of violence over him/her.

The child needs to be cultivated and not only instructed. Education, especially at school, must be full of a complete and integral gamma of activities around gym, arts and music, and not only Math, Language or Science.

All the children on Earth need to have same opportunities to be educated in the same way, including one of the global languages as English, Spanish and/or Esperanto.


-A group of friends

Isolation in rural places must be organized and compensated in vacations, so any of these children have the chance to be socialized at least in vocational colognes.



1.2. 3. -Spatial environment


-A home, shared with brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents, but no more.


There is a need of legislation in the global world around the minimum acceptable of livable conditions for children.

All the children have the same needs: these minimum conditions ought to be generalized and legislated. How much time is it supportable to live in a refugee campus for a child? Infancy will not return…


-A bed of his/herself


Dignity in childhood means respect and self-respect towards his/her nude body. Children need to be taught about shame because shame is the same as humiliation. He/she needs to learn about their right to be alone when they go to the bathroom or change their cloths.


-A room alone or shared with other children not shared with adults or adult couples.


Children need to sleep without the molesting presence of an adult body near to them. When they are totally asleep, they are not aware of their movements and they may possibly touch the adult’s genitals in an involuntary movement. It is not fair that the child may be exposed to the humiliating situation of stimulate the adult sexuality. Family abuse is a non -so -rare complication of millions of situations that are as much as reproachable although they are not criminal.

This is the very starting point of humiliation in childhood. The early stimulation of sexuality. When an adult does this, is robbing the innocence of a child, and is cutting out the flower of innocence, which is the best quality of those years of life.





Time: The child needs time to grow, to play and study. If a child is forced to work, he/she will not have enough time to learn how to become a grown-up.

Equality of opportunities is not working for a child.



2. -Needs


2.1. -Respect to his/her innocence


The child needs to be taught how to take care of his/her own toilette. Especially genitals.

Needs to be awaited till he/she reaches the sufficient maturity. Needs not to be hurried but also not to be overprotected. This is a matter of respect.

The child needs to be well treated, through patience, repetition of rules and dialogue. He/she needs to be listened about any problem. The child must not be beaten or maltreated.

Also the child must not be abused by manipulating their genitals in a sexual mood or sexual intention, although it was only a manual stimulation.

The child must not be forced to touch or see the genitals of others, even parents, even brothers or sisters, even friends or even through TV.


2.3. -Respect towards his/her mistakes that are born in immaturity


The child needs to be understood in his/her immaturity and to be awaited and nurtured to grow in those immature points. He/she is like a plant. The plant needs to be taken care off and the child is just the same.



2.4. - Respect to his/her psychological vulnerability:



The child needs to live in a calm psychological atmosphere where respect floats in the air

And everybody in his/her surroundings treats well the other one.

The children need not of TV shows full of violence, sex and drugs. They must be separated from negative environments where they could learn to become a delinquent, drug addict or perverted.

In many custody trials, we don’t see the necessary accent put in forcing the parents to attend psychotherapy. This is the straight point. The judicial system ought to maintain a stand by- observance during at least two or three years after a couple enters in legal battle for custody. Many times the custody is obtained by the less neurotic parent. And everything ends at that point. To do the best, to continue protecting the child from its parents, when we have seen psychiatric disorders in both parents, is the unique logical alternative. To do so, the Legal system must be updated, including controls of therapies by judges themselves.

Our society is respectful of adults right to their privacy, in their parental role. But every day I see in my consultations by families and children, bizarre behaviors of parents and lack of respect towards defenseless, innocent children. These come to the consultation and possibly will change. Many of them don’t come because they have clarity of thought around their bad behavior. They come to ask for a psycho diagnosis because schoolteacher forces them to give her the report. I spend many sessions explaining them that the main problem is not to obtain a promotion of school grade, but to change their own behavior, making the necessary insight of their own psychological illness.

And many more even don’t consult but also maltreat their children


2.3. - Limits with respect to his/her authentic freedom which does not mean abandonment 


The child needs a psychological space and open doors to develop his/her creative thought.

Children have differences in their mental speed and this speed must be determined to assure for them the best educational system.

The Systematic education must organize special courses for high IQ children and low IQ children, so they could be integrated to the normal school, but with additional special classes.

Many highly gifted children fall in depression because of the lack of opportunities to develop his/her natural speedy cleverness. They are not guilty of their special condition and is not fair to force them to assist to crowded classes where the rhythm of learning is much lower. Boredom finally leads them to severe depression and abandonment of systematic education.

Freedom does not mean necessarily chaos in schools. It means elasticity and adaptation of the adult to the child.

We are tired to listen to the children adaptation and assimilation of the adult’s world.

The moment has arrived to talk about Adult’s assimilation and adaptation to children and not in reverse, anymore.


2.4. -Equality of opportunities



First and foremost, children’s psychological dignity rest on the following pillars:

. -Equality of opportunities to grow in a loving family and then be socialized through school

. -Equality of good treatment just as adults treat one to the other, because their bodies are the same size.

  . -Respect to his/her innocent body

. -Respect towards his/her ignorance of morality, which determines wrong behaviors

. -Respect towards his/her intellectual immaturity

-         Respect to his/her psychological vulnerability to trauma. (TV programs, etc) 








Children are extremely defenseless in this Era. This is not a matter of legislations only. This is a matter of cultural change.

Every human being must understand, or need to be formed in this direction, that childhood is the most important part of psychological life, according to the investigations of Psychological Sciences. So, the experiences in these years will determinate all the future personality. If we don’t take care or treat more inoffensively and innocuously of our children, and if we don’t understand that children need a special science, a science of Childhood, enclosing Psychology and Physical characteristics, we will not build a better future, but the contrary.








Web Site: Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies

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Reviewed by Hiren Shah 10/7/2005
Very comprehensive article. My view is that most of all the innate potential of a child must manifest and come out and due provisions for that should be made during all stages of growing up. Some of the thoughts expressed are similar to my article on children's education-"Do you want to be a gardner or potter". Children have to be nurtured in the right manner rather than enforce patterns.
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