Consequences for a Child from Authoritarian Upbringing

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Every educator feels the need to create authority in front of the child. When they fail to acquire it in a natural way, they tend to impose it by force. Then they inevitably apply the wrong methods of authoritative procedure. The more someone fights for their authority, the less likely they are to gain it.

An authoritative parent or teacher wants to secure absolute authority over the child. The strict educator lacks self-confidence above all else. In the depths of his psyche, the authoritative educator does not expect the child to love him. He himself does not believe in the possibility of warm and sincere emotional relationships between people.

An authoritative educator is intrusive, overly strict and aggressive precisely because he is afraid – because his fear is the basic emotion with which he reacts to all events around him. Since he considers fear a necessary factor in creating interpersonal relationships, he then believes that he must develop it in his pupil as well. That is why he thinks that a child will treat him politely and respect him only if it is afraid of him.

Authoritarianism in upbringing is often displayed by people who have never experienced true love for themselves, or have been raised in a very rigid way. Authoritatively educated educator usually does not try to find a realistic path to the child’s personality, to understand it and to adapt to it. He prefers to automatically accept the educational actions of his own educators and apply them without thinking in the upbringing of his child.

A characteristic statement of a mother to whom we objected because she mercilessly beats her daughter when she does something she does not like:

“My father also beat me severely, so it didn’t hurt me,” she replied, “that’s why I became what I am, if he hadn’t beaten me, nothing would have become of me.”

The author’s father abused her as a child and left her with negative character traits, she says. She is rude to clients, caustic and malicious towards co-workers, ridicules her husband, abuses her child. People don’t like her, they avoid her, her husband hates her, and the child is afraid of her.

Neurotic personalities are formed in children who have been coddled too much by their educators, and whose neurotic personalities make it difficult for them to cope in life. Such people try to find satisfaction for their life’s failures in raising their child with a “firm hand” to ostensibly “harden” and become resilient enough to fight life’s problems. Because their behavior towards the child is governed by completely subjective motives, and not by a sincere focus on the child’s interests, they fall into the wrong attitudes towards the young person.

There are parents who do not like their child and perceive it as an unpleasant burden. There are teachers and professional educators who are “not interested” in their students. Sometimes authoritative upbringing — especially when it turns into extreme rudeness — is an expression of the sadistic traits of an educator’s personality.

We met a mother who hit her child on the head with a stick when he fidgeted in his chair. She often hit him “preventively”, even before he did anything wrong. She beat him until he screamed, which was an excuse to beat him again. We once heard her say with a mischievous smile:

‘See, I brought new sticks today, would you like me to try them? Just try to shout, I’ll beat you up right away! ‘

The child really cried out of fear. Barely awaiting his reaction, his mother mercilessly beat him with a new whip.

Authoritarian social order inevitably provokes authoritative upbringing of children. A dictatorial regime must, by its internal logic, require its subjects to raise children in a rigid way. This is why religious organizations that are advocates and guardians of reactionary state regimes regularly preach authority in dealing with children.

An authoritative educator creates a relationship of order and obedience, power and subordination, force and helplessness. He or she also does not recognize the child’s individuality and does not give it the freedom of personality. For every force there is an antidote, and that means conflict and a struggle for supremacy.

The child and his educator become entangled in a vicious circle of mutual struggle for supremacy. The struggle is usually waged over the years, in various ways and by various means. Both parents and children suffer severe consequences. And yet both of them continue to fight indefinitely, because they do not know how to leave the vicious circle.

The power of man over man is the weakness and tragic delusion of humanity. The struggle for mutual supremacy is the source of many sufferings, not only of individuals but also of entire generations. It is the basis of the selfish individualism of a civilized man who has not yet attained a satisfactory degree of psychic culture.

An emotionally mature man strives to establish a relationship of equality and mutual respect with his fellow men. He seeks not supremacy but co-operation; he does not demand submission, but provides help and shows understanding. When a person no longer feels the need to fight for prestige with the people around them, they become able to create and maintain healthy interpersonal relationships.

An intrusive educator forms a “short-sighted child” – it acquires the belief that it must be obedient because its parents want it to. With such an attitude towards life, the child loses sight of real life goals. It is the child’s duty to learn the discipline of community life.

Authoritarian upbringing is one of the main reasons why there are many people who do not tolerate discipline. But authoritative action achieves just the opposite: obedience only out of fear, and inner resistance against any discipline. If one practices for years in systematic resistance to discipline and social adjustment, it will be difficult to accept these basic demands later.

The child needs to be able to live independently. Achieving that goal is the basic purpose of learning. But this fact cannot be noticed if the child constantly gets the impression that it must learn for the sake of the educator. Resistance against an authoritative educator is also transferred by the child to work habits.

The child will not even notice the purpose of tactical and cultural treatment of people if educators impose such behavior on it as their personal request. It will defy various norms of cultural governance out of defiance, he says. Later, its raw and unpolished way of contact with people will become such a habit that even in adulthood it will not be able to get rid of it completely.

Authoritative upbringing supports a sense of threat, of fear for its meaning. The long struggle with the educator for prestige instills in the child a certain intolerance towards anyone who represents some force or authority. That is why people brought up in this way have difficulties in accepting someone else’s leadership, that is, their subordination.

People who have been brought up in too strict a way are usually very sensitive to the actions of others towards themselves. They register the slightest tactlessness towards their persona and get offended quickly. Due to hypersensitivity to their value, they are unusually irritable and prone to explosive reactions.

Authoritative upbringing inhibits spontaneity; the child is reluctant to accept activities on its own initiative because it is never certain whether the educator will agree. Such an educational procedure stifles the child’s initiative, and the sense of responsibility for work remains stunted. In more severe cases, passivity — when accompanied by defiance — turns into passive resistance.

Authoritative parenting leads to a child’s deafness when asked or required to do something in a cultural way. Such behavior often continues when it grows up. Each of us has experienced that an individual waiter, sales assistant, public servant “becomes deaf” when we treat them in such a way.

Authoritarian parenting is a favorite method of authoritarian parenting by which means instilling fear in children. Fear is the basic driver of the vast majority of neurotic reactions and behavioral disorders. Long-term fear, especially one that is artificially constantly supported in the child’s psyche, hinders the development of a sense of security and self-confidence. A healthy person cannot be built on fear.

Authoritative upbringing causes restlessness, irritability, creates the need for outbursts. Systematic intimidation causes timidity. A strictly raised child may experience stuttering, night terrors, tics, and other neurotic disorders. If the authoritative process continues throughout the developmental age, it is very likely that the personality traits created under the influence of fear will be maintained, and perhaps even strengthened.

The characteristic method of authoritative procedure are: non-stop warnings, objections, warnings, questions and orders. Among the authoritative personalities there is a type who believes that he must constantly “educate” the child. Such an educator intrusively interferes in the child’s every activity, comments on every movement of the child, always complains about something.

Nausea is a symptom of severe insecurity and helplessness in upbringing. By annoying the child with constant “upbringing”, the authoritative educator lives in the illusion that he is doing everything that can be done. The educator that is constantly busy with the child, is often considered its victim, because he does not get to anything else because of it. It is an expression of the neurotic need of an insecure person to “flirt with the martyr’s crown of his overburdening”.

People who are raised under the pressure of nagging often become tedious, annoying and nagging pedants. Despite defying their parents’ nagging for years, they still identify with them and accept their rule. The consequences can also be found in the character of an adult.

When an educator fails to make the child listen to him in everything, then he resorts to constant insults. He blames it for its shortcomings, scolds it, and points his finger at its mistakes. But this should be done tactfully, without insults and harsh words, without annoying repetition of one and the same objection. Along with the rebuke, the child should be encouraged, confidence should be expressed in it as well as satisfaction with its success and positive qualities. Then the child receives them with confidence in the educator and without resistance.

It is completely unnecessary to repeatedly warn a child because of an error. In most cases the child itself knows full well that it was wrong, but many parents and educators only know how to scold. Persistent criticizing not only does not correct children’s shortcomings, but also strengthens them, because they discourage the child and lead it to defiance, she adds.

Extorting promises is a triple educational mistake. A child does not promise to change its behavior because it really intends to change, but because it avoids punishment or other trouble. A strict educator is happy to extort from the child the promise that it will recover. But everyday practice shows that children’s promises are very unreliable.

It gives the child an opportunity to avoid correcting its behavior in a very easy way and to always find refuge in its “good intentions” for its mistakes. Despite promises, the child’s behavior does not improve, but usually worsens, because the child is less and less appreciated by the educator.

A strict educator is often biased towards children, biased in judging their shortcomings and reckless in punishing them. An authoritative educator regularly expects the child to behave badly and does not believe that it could be treated in a positive way. With his skepticism about the value of the child, he also cultivates distrust in it, and thus undermines his own authority.

He is very sensitive to his prestige, unusually insulting, he immediately associates all children’s outbursts with the reputation of his personality. The consequence of all these actions is always the same: the child’s distrust, resistance, defiance, and the ever-deepening degradation of the educator’s authority.

Parents and teachers often compare children in ability, behavior, and success. Such a comparison can be useful only if there are no significant contradictions between them. In this case, the comparison deepens the already existing contradictions among children. The opposite result is achieved from what educators expect.

A more successful, constantly valued and praised child becomes vain. Such a child becomes greedy, conceited, egocentric and selfish. It tries to show itself in the way its parents want it to be, at least seemingly, because it doesn’t really care about really positive behavior.

A child who is constantly shown an example of how to be a good student becomes envious and jealous of his or her competitor, and shows resentment towards its surroundings, which soon turns into resistance, defiance and open hostility. Such a student behaves worse and worse the more it is shown the example of the better. The more successful  becomes a wrecker, a liar, prone to vulgar behavior, wandering and other forms of defiant reaction.

Therefore, when children are compared, it is likely that they will develop in opposite directions, i.e., in personalities with opposing character traits. Then the parents wonder how their children differ “as if they were not siblings.”

There is a danger that authoritative educators set too high goals for the child, and burden it with demands and tasks that the child can satisfy only with maximum effort, or it cannot fully satisfy them at all. Every educator is a little vain. But vanity can be represented in someone’s personality with very different intensity.

Vanity educators do not take into account the child’s abilities, personal characteristics and interests. They are completely biased in assessing the child, overestimating its abilities. When a child goes to school, it is always expected to have the best success, regardless of whether the child is capable of being the best student in school.

In the psyche of a vainly raised child, there is a deep gap between the goals that the educator presents to it and its confidence in itself. The vain educator demands too much from the child, and at the same time does not encourage it enough to successfully solve life’s tasks.

It seeks to save its prestige by achieving at least formal successes that will satisfy ambitious educators. It succeeds in this as it moves among people who are already accustomed to admiring it. Such a situation is encountered in families who are in love with their favorite child, so they consider it a “miracle of a child”.

The so-called miracle of a child often does not achieve above-average life success but in the effect of its activity gives much less than it could give. Many excellent children fail in later life as soon as they are confronted with real life problems that they can no longer solve formally and seemingly.

It is characteristic of an insecure educator to constantly change his or her attitude toward the child. Once he is stern, another time he is lenient; now he scolds the child, now he praises it for a moment. An insecure educator is very capricious in requirements, once he allows it various mischief, and the second time forbids it to do the same. He is usually also very suggestible, i.e. he is easily subject to other people’s influence.

The last resort of helpless authoritative educators is punishment and physical abuse. In doing so, he does not notice the natural consequences of his awkward behavior, but acts in person, defending his prestige and avenging the damage to his reputation. With such punishment, the child feels very well that the educator is personal, that he is taking revenge, so this provokes fierce defiance.

In an authoritative process, punishment becomes permanent, and sometimes the main means of education. An upbringing based on beating children cannot actually be called upbringing but dressage. A child is a free person; so we can’t force it to govern properly if it won’t. Sooner or later, the child will develop defiance in the form of various ways of misbehavior.

Many parents and educators are happy to use beating as a form of punishment. Such punishment is never used for a child, and it regularly severely impairs its mental development. In the upbringing of children, beatings are such a means of a “short circuit”.

It would be completely unnatural for a child to respect and love an educator who inflicts physical pain on it and thus humiliates it. By abusing a child, the opposite can only be achieved – the child’s declining trust and authority. One of the basic tasks of proper upbringing is to develop a sense of community in a young person.

An abused child who wet the bed at night may be motivated by a desire for revenge on the parents. Abuse of physical superiority over a child is a common cowardice, because a child cannot resist an adult. It is more likely that the struggle with educators will lead it to brutality, egocentrism and asociality.

There are cases when child abuse turns into sadism, into torturing a child simply because the educator finds satisfaction in it. This is often due to the fact that he himself lived through a painful childhood, so now he unconsciously takes revenge on the child. Sadism is not nearly as rare as one might think at first. But in the hour of profound disturbances of social life, the hidden sadism of many people comes to light in full force.

Physical abuse of children causes severe consequences. The child can react to such an educational procedure in two ways: either it actively opposes it in terms of open defiance, or it turns to passive behavior which is sometimes accompanied by psychogenic disturbances in physical functions, e.g. stuttering, bedwetting, etc.