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Helping children develop strong self-identity

There is this idea in our society that peers should replace parents somewhere along the line. That it is a developmental stage and that parents are more important for a time and then peers must be more important. But this misses the most critical issue of all is that the reason parents must be more important is so that the attachment needs, the dependency needs can be provided for. What is to replace parents is not peers. What is to replace parents is a child´s sense of self, his personhood. This has always been the master plan. We have known this for over 100 years ever since the turn of the 19th century in the psychology in the development of the adolescent. This is what is supposed to happen. The problem is if peers replace parents prematurely, it crushes individuality. It goes in the opposite direction. The child loses a sense of themselves, no longer has his own mind, his own ideas. He borrows it from his peers and this is the worst case scenario in contributing to, I think, incredible immaturity in our society. So the short answer to that question is that no, peers are never the replacement for parents. A sense of personhood is the replacement for parents. A personhood strong enough to be able to hold onto yourself when you are with your peers and so that that individuality is not crushed.

Gordon Neufeld, PhD Psychologist & Author, shares advice for parents on what you can do to help your child grow and develop a strong self-identity


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Gordon Neufeld, PhD

Psychologist & Author

Dr. Gordon Neufeld is a Vancouver-based developmental psychologist with over 40 years of experience with children and youth and those responsible for them. A foremost authority on child development, Dr. Neufeld is an international speaker, a bestselling author, Hold On to Your Kids and a leading interpreter of the developmental paradigm. Dr. Neufeld has a widespread reputation for making sense of complex problems and for opening doors for change. While formerly involved in university teaching and private practice, he now devotes his time to teaching and training others, including educators and helping professionals. His Neufeld Institute is now a worldwide organization devoted to applying developmental science to the task of raising children. Dr. Neufeld appears regularly on radio and television. He is a father of five and a grandfather of three.

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