There is one particular section of a lecture L. Ron Hubbard gave as part of the Science of Survival Lectures back in 1951, which I think of often when raising my now fully-turbocharged little munchkins. It is from the brilliant lecture entitled Theta-Mest Theory, where he is detailing the theory which lies at the very base of what makes Dianetics and Scientology work, with respect to the difference between MEST (matter / energy / space / time) and Theta – which, in Dianetics, is “thought, potentially independent of a material vessel or medium.”
In this particular, extremely pertinent section of the lecture, he is referring to how one can, in Dianetics, grant importance to and coax into being all of the goodness of the individual, and forget & nullify, more or less, the bad parts. He then goes on to explain in the lecture how this might be applied to raising children, and gives an amusing anecdote I think many of us parents can relate to:
“How would you raise a child using this same theory?”
“For instance, Indian children are very obedient, they’re very cheerful. They’re quite something to be around. An Indian tribe of the old days used to be in connivance on every child. They were all plotting against this child’s insanity because every time this child, voluntarily or otherwise, would pick up a stick of wood to put it on the fire, no matter who was there, they’d say, “Oh, what a good child.”
Now the child would go down to the brook and he was really intending to take this little bag of something down there and throw it away and somebody would say to him, “Oh, you’re going to get some water, what a good child.” “You’re helping your mother, what a good child.” “You’re being obedient. You’re a good child.” And when they were bad children, they ignored them. They just shut them off.
Now it requires pretty steady nerves and a lot of outdoors to do this. [laughter] The only reason I’m using it is just to demonstrate there what you validate in a child. ” — LRH
I wasn’t even a parent yet the first time I studied that, and even then – I thought it was brilliant. A million instances from my childhood flashed into my mind where my parents, knowingly or unknowingly, were doing basically the same thing with me. And now, having a little girl who is constantly exploring her world, finding her limits, finding out what she can and can’t do while wielding a stick over her head, finding out what she can and can’t do while crawling over and body-slamming her little brother, etc, etc, but while STILL having not a bad bone in her body — it definitely becomes a parenting challenge to validate and acknowledge the good, while trying to de-emphasize the bad.
And oddly enough, after touring through a few Montessori schools that I’m looking at having my daughter at in the fall, it seems they’ve got the same idea with respect to “plotting against the insanity of the child”. Even during the tour, I happened to see a little 4-year old who had been given a feather duster to clean up the classroom with. He of course dusted for approximately three seconds before realizing his feather duster also bore a striking resemblance to a light saber – and began practicing Jedi slashes & chops in the air with it. Then, right as he was winding up to evidently bisect one of his fellow classmates from behind with the feather duster, his teacher calmly said, “Oh, that’s fantastic – you found some dust behind your friend Eric! Great for cleaning that up!” He then looked sort of bewildered and began dusting behind his friend Eric.
My wife and I, seeing this, just smiled and thought of the last bit of that section of the lecture, where LRH goes on to say:
“I’ve seen Indians work this, by the way – Blackfeet. It’s the most fascinating thing you ever saw in your life.
This kid will suddenly look so bewildered. He’s caught off base. What he was actually intending to do was to blow up Bull Moose’s tent! And somebody says, “Oh, you’re taking that over to your father to him to give it to him. What a good child.”
“I guess I was.” [laughter]
As an added plug, I would absolutely recommend the book Science of Survival, and a good listen to all of the Science of Survival Lectures as essential ammo for any parent, potential parent, spouse or potential spouse, Science of Survival not only gives one the most detailed and accurate way to predict human behaviour, but also gives you all of the reasons behind it so that you are left with an amazing & workable understanding of how people tick. Ask anyone who’s read it.