Loving By Leading: The Nature of a Child

NOVEMBER 11, 2019

Babies are so cute, cuddly, and appear so innocent, especially as newborns. By 4 months they are smiling and cooing in response to every smiling face. Then, as they begin crawling and walking, they are even more fascinating to watch. But something seems to change when they enter that second year. Toddlers become more self-assertive and independent, protesting when their desires conflict with ours. Suddenly, they refuse to stop running when we say, “Stop!” They begin to resist and rebel (e.g., fight diaper changes, refuse to sit in the car seat, contest teeth brushing, and throw food from the high chair). “What happened to my innocent baby?” you may ask. The fact is, he was never totally innocent, just less able to express his self-centered desires. 

Understanding the nature of a child is fundamental to how you will approach the rearing of your child. Will you be directive (active) or just facilitative (passive)? Will you lead him or follow his lead? Here are two opposing views about the nature of a child:

  1. Children are born innocent and it is the environment and parents who corrupt this innocence.

  2. Children are naturally self-focused and in need of guidance.

Years of psychological research and the practical experience of parenting tell us that children are not born innocent or others-conscious, but rather are self-centered and focused on their own physical needs and satisfaction.

In his parenting book Loving By Leading, Dr. Trumbull notes, “Conflict avoidance is a short-term solution that leads to a long-term problem. Will your child live foolishly by impulsively pleasing himself, or live wisely by displaying self-control over his natural impulses and being considerate of others?” Think about it.


Trumbull, DA. Loving by Leading: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Healthy and Responsible Children. 2018; pp 22-23. ISBN 9781732659810

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