PACING WITH THE YOUNGSTER: AN INSIGHT ON CHILD AND CHILDHOOD A child is the source of happiness for the adults. A child amuses us. They are stunning and lovely beings that appear to be angels who came down from heaven. People rejoice upon their nativity and are simply in awe while watching a child mature and develop…
The qualities of purity, innocence, delight, faith, hope, charity and magnificence are attributed to a child—traits that people seem to lose upon reaching adulthood. To better comprehend the concept of a child, the different perceptions associated with a child should be further tackled and scrutinized. Traditionally, a child has been defined as a comparative negative: a child is an individual who is not yet an adult (Van Bueren 1998) or an individual embodied being that is not an adult (Gittins 1998). However, the child is a transitory being that is constantly changing, growing and developing (Gittins 1998). During the time of Plato and Aristotle, about half a century before the birth of Christ, the classical Athenian attitude towards children saw them as simply cute, not to be taken too seriously, but to be loved and enjoyed (Frost 2010). Biologically, the child is defined as a human between the stages of birth and puberty. The legal definition of a child, on the contrary, implies that the child refers to a minor, younger than the age of maturity. Moreover, a child may be defined as someone who is under 18 years old especially when it comes to the law. For Pufall and Unsworth (2004), the child is an age-related concept which is the classificatory label given to the category of people who inhabit that temporal space or time of life called childhood. On the other hand, Gittins (1998) also pointed out that the child and the concept of childhood is a myth, a fiction, an adult construction. However, both have become symbolically central to our culture and psychologically crucial to our sense of self. Gittins (1998) further adds that the child exists in imagery that pervades our conscious and even in our unconscious minds; it is evident that images of a child are everywhere. Childhood, on the contrary, is believed to begin from the moment of conception (Van Bueren 1998). Pufall and Unsworth (2004) stressed that the term childhood embraces the temporality of the developmental aspects of children’s lives. Gittins (1998) emphasized that individuals’ memories of their own childhoods inform their ideas regarding who they think they are, who they think they once were, what they believe children are and therefore, what they believe a child and the concept of childhood should be. Mash and Wolfe (2010) recognize children as persons with a value independent of any other purpose. Each and every person consequently carries their own, usually well-hidden and frequently denied, emotional and irrational baggage relating to their own subjective experiences of having once been a child (Gittins 1998). On the contrary, according to Kozier et al (2004) if a child grew up in a family whose members appreciate, respect and cherish each other are likely to feel good about himself when he becomes an adult. Childhood, however, has its pessimistic views and disapproving constructions. One example is the Puritan Discourse of childhood that focuses on the belief of inherent wickedness (Kassem 2010). Kassem (2010) further suggests that the proponents of this view hold a construction of childhood as uncivilized. The idea of childhood is also reflected on two discourses that strengthen contemporary understandings of childhood: the Romantic discourse or the optimistic view of childhood and the discourse of tabula rasa or blank slate. Kehily (2004) cited that the Romantic disc ...
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