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The distinctions of childhood neuroses.

The extensiveness of borderline neuro-mental states among children and teenagers has reached a previously unknown level — about 80% of children in Russia need medical-psychological assistance. Among youths, recognized as unqualified for army recruitment on the basis of health, 47% are mentally ill. Increased nervousness, excitement, emotional instability, tendency to conflicts, sleep deprivation — are typical symptoms, found in 8 out of 10 children.

Most authors underline the negative role of improper upbringing in the origin of neurotic reactions among children. The well-known specialist in children’s neuroses, Prof. A. I. Zacharov, emphasizes the following aspects:

  1. Parental demands, exceeding the abilities and needs of the children.
  2. Parental non-acceptance of children, expressed by an irritated-impatient attitude, frequent condemnations, threats and physical punishments, lack of necessary tenderness and caressing.
  3. Uncoordinated approach to upbringing, which is expressed by contrasting strict limitations and prohibitions from one parent and indulgent and permissive attitude from the other.
  4. Inconsistent upbringing, its inequality and contradictions.
  5. Instability in attitudes toward children: raised tone of voice, general emotional instability.
  6. Anxiety — constant worry about the child, the presence of excessive fears and overprotectiveness.

The expressions of childhood neuroses are varied: emotional instability and over-sensitivity, whining, easily changing mood, capriciousness, excitability, difficulty in falling asleep, uneasy dreams, night fears, thumb sucking, biting skin around nails, stuttering, eneuresis, nervous tics and so on. Some symptoms are seen more often in one age group, others — in another.

Let us present an example. A grandmother visits the doctor about her 9-year-old grandchild. Her parents often fought, created scandals, and finally divorced, the father left the family. Because of this, the child developed bronchial asthma, but no allergy or change in the bronchial-lung matter was revealed, and she did not have frequent colds. It turned out that the girl has a neurogenic form of asthma; the neurotic conflicts were the reason for the asthmatic attacks. This illness — is the cry of the child’s soul.

Another distinction of childhood neuroses is the change of behavior. Some children run away from home, skip classes, others begin to smoke, try alcohol. Most of these children wind up on the street and are raised by its rules. Who is to blame? The parents. The children must be loved, they must be reared, they must be prayed for. The betterment of the child’s mental state in large part depends on the parents, their spirituality, their relationship, on the atmosphere they create at home.

Children must be protected from any deleterious influence, because these days a whole slew of different types of obscenities are poured on their tender souls. Parental piety — is an effective example for children to imitate. Its opposites are drunkenness, non-spirituality, amoral behavior — alas, also an effective example, but one that is lethal. The Most Holy Patriarch Alexis II said, that "if there is no consciousness of sanctity in the soul, the abomination of desolation becomes entrenched in it."

Let us consider those psychopathological states, which can be revealed in infancy and early childhood and that demand medical attention.

Neuropathy — is characterized by increased irritability, capriciousness of the child, unstable mood, expressed by fearfulness. Such a child sleeps poorly, has a poor appetite, loses weight easily, his attention is diverted quickly. Subfebrility can be a symptom (small but persistently raised temperature, around 98.78-99.14), diarrhea, neurogenic vomiting.

The syndrome of early childhood autism (alienation) — is characterized by the lack of desire to socialize with peers or surrounding adults. The child is emotionally cold, indifferent to others, says little, sometimes completely refuses to associate, tends to move stereotypically. In newborns with this pathology, there is no "complex of animation" in response to emotional advances.

Hyperkinetic syndrome: its characteristics are uncontrolled motor functions, extreme (unhealthy) activity. The child is unbalanced, hysterical, acts with no consideration for the circumstances, unable to follow accepted rules of behavior. It is usually difficult for these children to adapt to school, they are overly restless, absent-minded, continually put a strain on others and provoke other children to wrong behavior. Sensing their defect, it seems like they do everything to others "on purpose" — and a vicious circle begins.

Hyperkinetic syndrome in its development has two tendencies. In one case, with God’s help, through the competent tactics of parents, psychologists, teachers and doctors, it weakens and disappears by 12-14. In the other — it transforms into psychopathy, and the individual becomes even less able to adjust, more isolated. The second tendency is extremely unpleasant.

Among neurotic disorders beginning in childhood or youth are tics — involuntary, fast, non-rhythmic movements of a limited group of muscles (blinking, twitching); non-organic eneuresis (involuntary urination day or night inappropriate to age); stuttering.

School neurosis can develop during the earliest school years. The reasons for this are the psychological unpreparedness of the child for school, unacceptance by his peers, humiliation, assault, excessive strictness and inexperience of the teacher. The child suffering from this neurosis looks depressed, refuses to go to school, imitates (often unknowingly) different illnesses. Parents should be attentive, be able to recognize his spiritual difficulties and help him. A medical consultation or the advice of an experienced psychologist would not be amiss.

But it is important to remember that child psychology does not enter into ideas such as faith in God and Orthodox spirituality, Christian virtue, churchgoing, does not mention sins and passions, that is, the science of the soul is developed, while at the same time denying the existence of the human soul and ignoring the Creator. While such secularization is possible, say, in geometry or car building, it is totally impermissible in a science studying the laws of a person’s spiritual life.

Psychology, while correctly expounding on many particulars and details, unfortunately does not see the whole picture. Raising children in the spirit of true virtue, not fictitious spiritual and emotional health, is impossible without faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and without the help of God. Only by God’s grace does the person’s soul become purified, enlightened and filled with understanding. Without grace it is not only incapable of perfection, but it cannot comprehend the entire tragedy of its disastrous state.

By God’s mercy, books and articles by religious psychologists are now appearing, including priests which were educated in psychology before entering the priesthood. Thus, the spiritual vacuum of psychology is being filled, which for well-known reasons has been dominant the last eight decades.

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