Kids who don’t learn to self-regulate become angry, emotional wrecks, much like the children at Mizzou right now. Kids learn to self-regulate from mommy.
Lots of keyboards have been mutilated in efforts to explain why college students are so damned oversensitive. Talking like them is like crossing a sea of trip wires. The Mizzou and Yale events are only the most recent in a long series of absurd outrages. My colleague Rob Tracinski rightly places an onus on school administrators and professors; but I wonder if another source also exists, a much more primary source. In short, I wonder if it’s fair to assign some blame to our nation’s mothering crisis.
The plain biological reality is that children develop their base of emotional security particularly through a secure attachment to their biological mothers from in the womb through the first three years of ex utero life. They also learn their interpersonal habits from watching their mothers (and fathers, but mostly mothers) handle stressful family situations.
The first is one reason why adopted children simply don’t do as well, in aggregate, as children born and raised in their own biological homes, no matter how caring and attentive adoptive parents are (and they generally are extremely so).
Starting in the womb, tiny children develop iron-strong biological and psychological attachments to their mothers. A mother’s heartbeat, voice, scents, and daily rhythms imprint on her children, and mean that nobody else is as good as she is for meeting their needs.
After babies are born into a cold world where suddenly they are not being held warmly 24/7 and they do not automatically have that little belly filled, they cling to their mothers to help them very slowly acclimate. If you have ever seen a baby stop crying when he hears his mother’s voice, you have seen one example of this bond.
Children Need to Develop ‘Felt Safety’
Children who have less-sustained interactions with their mothers in their early years (and in general) are more likely to be nervous, agitated, and hard to calm down. For an extreme example: We have a dear friend who adopted a little girl from a Eastern European orphanage when the little girl was 18 months old. Since she spent the first portion of her young life with not only no mother but also a set of not particularly warm caregivers, who were in very scarce supply to boot, Ellie has a very hard time managing her emotions. She cannot stand to be around babies, for fear they might cry. When she sees one, she acts pretty much like a Yale student facing an unwelcome idea: She physically shakes, she stutters, she even screams if pushed too hard.