Definition of Withdrawal and its Symptoms
We talk about withdrawal when a child or young person in society is too calm, quiet, reluctant to socialize with his peers, and when he finds himself among them, he is too shy and incompetent. Such a child usually has no permanent friends, he prefers to be alone; when he joins other children’s play, he soon abandons it and is dissatisfied with it. It is difficult to persuade him to go to society, he does not know how to create close contact with his friends and often prefers to move in the company of adults. Or he hangs out with much younger children to whom he acts not as a companion but as a protector or commander. Such a child is too imaginative and reads a lot.
Gender Differences in Withdrawal
Withdrawal is a symptom by which a young person expresses his insecurity in front of his peers and distrust in them. It is a common side effect of cowardice. It is again more common in timid boys than in timid girls. This confirms our assumption that timidity and withdrawal occur in male children with greater intensity than in female children. But girls, as we have already observed, are more often timid and withdrawn than boys. The withdrawal of female children intensifies even more on the eve of puberty and in its onset. Probably this is at least partly in line with their innate psychic constitution. When boys, who by nature are probably more prone to daring behavior than girls, still develop cowardice, then there are probably deeper reasons for that. We assume that a boy must, on average, be exposed to more severe injuries to his emotional life than a girl in order to become timid, and then it is to a greater extent. Therefore, in addition to cowardice, other forms of passive behavioral disorders, such as withdrawal, incompetence, excessive shyness, lack of independence, etc., also occur more often.
Causes of Withdrawal in Children and Youth
We have seen that in male children, spoilage contributes more to their timidity than in female children. And pampering, ie egocentrism, maladaptation and hypersensitivity to one’s person increase the child’s withdrawal because they make it difficult for him to create natural social contact with his peers. But among the withdrawn children and youth, not all are equally whispered in every environment in which they hope. It is the spoiled children who often do not get along with their friends, at school, on the playground, wherever they must first affirm themselves with something in order to be noticed, to be accepted as full members of a collective. But such a child is sometimes quite different while in the family circle. There, he used to be the center of everyone’s attention, to give in and be served. That is why in that environment he allows himself to be arrogant and aggressive; he defies his parents, while in front of the teacher he is “less than a poppy seed”, he annoys and beats his brothers, and outside the house he does not dare to oppose his weaker peer.
Various real or only imaginary defects in the appearance of a young man become a particularly common cause of withdrawal in puberty and adolescence. This withdrawal, shyness and whispering are most pronounced in relation to persons of the opposite sex. This is due to the fact that in those years young people carry a particularly strong need for affirmation of their personality, especially in the sexual field, which is becoming a new and especially attractive area of self-esteem. That is why both a girl and a boy who do not feel full in their sexuality are very prone to shut themselves in, so they become inaccessible, distrustful, shaky and grumpy.
Withdrawal occurs even when parents keep the child constantly with them, do not give him the opportunity to practice in creating social contact with his peers. Then the child at a young age clings tightly to the mother’s lap and does not dare to separate from her. Later, such a young person stays away from his peers, does not know how to get involved in their society, does not participate in their endeavors, remains lonely at school, in a sports club, on a field trip and dancing. With his withdrawal, he wants to defend himself from possible troubles, failures and unforeseen difficulties in the company of his peers. She is afraid of that society and does not trust him because she has not had the opportunity to get to know him better, adapt to him and gain security in him.
When a young man socializes predominantly with adults, he develops into an old man. Withdrawal is a regular feature of this type of behavioral child.
Emotionally neglected and loveless children are also often withdrawn. The cold treatment with them over a number of years directly damaged their sociality, deprived them of motivation to cooperate with other people, prevented the development of social feelings in them. Then withdrawal is an expression of their self-sufficiency that can grow to complete asociality.
There are cases when, despite the child’s extreme withdrawal and loneliness, negative environmental factors that would be sufficiently responsible for the isolation of the young person cannot be detected. In such a case, a certain constitutional disposition of the child should be assumed for isolation, ie for insufficiently emotional connection with other people. These are children who carry elements of the so-called schizotymic personalities.
Retired children, especially those who show strong incompetence among other children, often fall victim to their peers. Towards an unruly child, peers usually take an attitude of underestimation, ridicule, and aggression. Then they tease him, beat him, drive him out of their company if he tries to join them. This, of course, intensifies the timidity and withdrawal of an already timid child. That is why it sometimes seeks the company of small, much younger children who cannot compete with it in anything. In this way, the restless child tries to create a compromise between his natural aspiration for society and his emotional restraint. But such an attempt to resolve the conflict cannot always satisfy him. However, a child cannot regret being rejected by his peers, so he sometimes takes revenge on his little friends for this failure, terrorizes them and abuses them in various ways.
Physical and Mental Health Issues
When we have a withdrawn and too calm child in front of us, we should first think about whether it is an insidious physical illness that undermines health and is reflected in mental functions. Anemic, severely malnourished, rickets, and other sickly children are often withdrawn. Then one should first repair their physical condition, and only then think about correcting educational procedures.
A mentally underdeveloped child often becomes withdrawn if he is constantly exposed to competition with peers who are more capable than him. This happens to an intellectually weaker child who is forced to attend regular school. There he experiences constant failures, less and less believes that he can keep up with his friends, so he leaves the cooperation with them and retreats into himself and into a passive attitude
towards work. Many deaf children react similarly until their deficiency is noticed, so they are not subjected to rehabilitation, ie an adequate way of schooling.
Children who suffer from various physical disabilities or are “stigmatized” by a functional disorder, such as stuttering, in many cases also become withdrawn. They do not believe that they can achieve recognition among their peers, they consider themselves among them less valuable and immature in their endeavors and successes, so they withdraw from contact with them. Such an attitude towards oneself is most supported by a wrong upbringing that has failed to encourage the young man enough to successfully compensate for his physical deficiency.
Remediation of Withdrawal
In the elimination of children’s withdrawal, loneliness and incompetence, the same methods should be used as in the remediation of cowardice. This is because in the treatment of mental disorders there is no benefit or success in suppressing certain symptoms; the disease should always be treated. Therefore, it makes no sense to fight against timidity, withdrawal or any other individual difficulties in the mental life. The child’s whole personality and the causes of the disorder should always be addressed. And the same causes, the same negative environmental factors can cause many and very different disease changes in a child’s behavior.
Non-social children should be gradually introduced into the company of peers, first into small ones and then into larger ones. Kindergartens, playgrounds, kindergartens, schools, Red Cross youth activists, a pioneer organization and more can help here. A timid child should be exposed carefully and gradually, but as often as possible, to those situations that he is most afraid of. Here we must reckon with resistance, and perhaps with increased anxiety. But the educator should ignore possible new forms of fear, because they are transient in nature and a sign of the child’s resistance against any new burden. It is the task of the educator to pretend to be clumsy, to remain consistent, not to get upset and not to lose patience. Persistent encouragement, independence and socialization of the child sooner or later always shows positive results.