Cultural paradigms are likely to influence both independence and dependence, and forthese he must be trained. The child’s independence cannot be along purely selfishlines, he must accept the ways of his cultural society. The initial period of maternalindulgence must end and child training begin. This tends to happen when parentsbelieve he is old enough to be dangerous to himself or destructive to his environment. The nine-month-old infant is protected, the fourteen-month-old toddler is restrained, theeighteen-month-old infant must learn the simple niceties of behaviour, and the two-year-old must learn to communicate his needs.As one group of writers has put it:
“It must learn to walk where it has formerly been carried. It learns not to be picked upwhen it has experienced some small disaster. It must give up much of the cuddling,holding and petting which is the prerogative of the smallest darling. Childishapproximations of table manners and etiquette must be altered in favour of the customspreferred by adults. The child must learn to wait for its food, to keep its face clean, tosubmit to having its hair combed, and to eat in the regular stages designated by our tabletechniques. At some time or another all of these lengthened sequences invokefrustrations and elicit protest from the child.”
However not all children arrive at a satisfactory dependency-independence ratio. Somechildren become over-dependent, some too independent. In some parent-childrelationships the mother
accedes to the child’s excessive dependencydemands and because of her unwillingness, she is inconsistent in her treatment of thechild. (Stendler,
, 1963)Sears, commenting on reinforcement theory, explained how this type of over-dependency begins.
In a study of ordinal position in the family as a psychologicalvariable, he found amongst other things that the oldest child in the family was morelikely to have experienced anxiety in the nursing and weaning situations and at thesame time more nurturance at bedtime and more cautioning about sickness and dangerthan second and later children. Older children were also rated as the more dependent.Sears suggests that the anxiety produced in the nursing and weaning frustration wouldserve as the facilitating instigator to whatever behaviour had been predominant in thoseinfant situations in which the anxiety was aroused. Thus, since dependency behaviouris likely to be predominant at the time of nursing and weaning, anxiety produced innursing and weaning situations will strengthen the dependency needs.In extending Sears’ hypothesis, Stendler suggests certain critical periods in thesocialization process for the formation of
, 1963) These are theperiods when shifts in awareness of his position in relationship to the socializing agentoccur in the child. A child builds up a set of expectations with regard to how hisdependency needs are to be met. From time to time these expectations change as thechild matures in his perceptions and as his culture makes demands upon him. If there isa disturbance during one of these times of change, of such a nature that the child mustquickly and radically change his expectations, anxiety will arise. The child will attemptto resolve the anxiety by the method he has learned to resolve anxiety, i.e., demandsupon the mother for nurturance. In order to produce over-dependency, however, theanxiety must occur not when one goal response is interfered with, but when whole setsthat seriously threaten dependency needs are disturbed.Stendler identifies two other critical periods for the formation of over-dependency.(
, 1963) The first critical period begins when the child begins to test out themother to see if he can depend upon her. For most children this occurs toward the endof the first year of life. Earlier the infant has been learning to be dependent upon themother. Now he shows his sudden recognition of the importance of his mother by hisdemands upon her and especially for his mother’s proximity. In effect, he tests out hismother, to see if he really can depend upon her and to see if he can control her. Hecries when she leaves his presence and demands that she be in sight or readilyavailable when he needs help. Gesell
., report that as early as 28 weeks the baby“demands more of the one who feeds him”.
suggests that the most critical