Classified among ‘strong children’– Duterte in preschool
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - March 30, 2017 - 12:00am

Children’s character defects acquired from birth to three years old can be cured during the following three to six-years-old in a good preschool when nature is still busy protecting the newly formed powers. If owing to negligence, wrong parental guidance or poor early schooling the defects are not corrected, not only do they remain, they get worse. This prevents the child from developing his moral awareness in elementary school or maximizing his intellectual capacity. By high school, his inferiority will cause other failures and possibly become a wastrel throughout life.

‘Becoming Duterte’ an in-depth interview by NYT

A week ago PhilStar reprinted a New York Times article “Becoming Duterte: The Making of a Phl Strongman.” It laid out specific events of his childhood up to adolescence that made his friends cultivate legends of his sadistic exploits. The oldest son of the provincial governor, he grew up in privilege. His mother wore out her horsewhip by subjecting him to beatings. As a teenager, he kept company with the toughest kids, getting into fights and learning rude expressions.

By 15, he was carrying a gun and wounded a fellow student whom he accused of bullying him. By 17 he says he killed a man in a drunken brawl. Punished in school, he retaliated by spraying the cassock of a Jesuit priest with ink for which he got expelled. Constantly skipping classes, it took him seven years to finish high school. His daredevil instincts made him learn to pilot a plane, which in a solo flight brushed through the rooftop of their house and fell a treetop.  His sister, Jocelyn Duterte recalled that a car accident put him in coma for two days.

A 1998 psychological assessment of Duterte prepared for his marriage annulment concluded he had “narcissistic personality disorder” and a “pervasive tendency to demean, humiliate and violate other’s rights.” It remains a paradox that his ailing wife campaigned for his presidency. Duterte’s family, friends, allies and critics find him charming and engaging. As Davao mayor he was known for helping people and has a soft spot for children.

The normal and deviated children

According to Montessori, a growing child has two streams of energy, which must be balanced – the physical energy of the body and the mental energy of the intelligence. These streams must work in unison to make the complete man. If separated, we should expect to find deviations from the normal.

The ‘strong children’

Children’s defects are usually discussed one at a time with a view to counteracting each with a separate form of treatment. Numerous though they are, we can simplify them as defects of two types of children: the “strong” and the “weak.”

Strong children resist and overcome obstacles. They are capricious with tendencies to violence, fits of rage and aggression. They are disobedient with a “destructive instinct.” Possessive, they’re often selfish and envious (shown by grabbing other’s things). Unable to focus attention, they have difficulties coordinating their hands. Thus, they tend to break or drop objects. They have an exaggerated imagination. Genuinely noisy, they tend to shout and scream. They are often unkind to smaller children and animals. They also disturb and tease.

Home environment adverse to development conditions such personality defects. Strong children are not felt as blessings. Parents tend to get rid of them. They’re entrusted to baby sitters or sent to nursery schools. The parents wonder what to do. Often, they treat them severely. The defects become worse.

The ‘weak children’

 Weak children are passive by nature. They succumb to unfavorable conditions. They’re idle, cry for what they want or want others to wait on them. They are easily bored and always wish to be entertained. They cling to grown-ups for they find everything frightful. They are often lying (a passive form of defense) or steal things (another form of compensation) etc. They may refuse to eat or indulge in over-eating. Disturbed sleep, fear of their dad and others may cause their insomnia.

Passive children attract attention. Their behavior is not considered a problem. Since they do nothing wrong, the mother thinks they’re good and obedient. Their clinging to their mother is taken as affection – this child loves his mother so much he won’t go to bed without her. But later on she notices his speech and movements are backward. In the end, she has to send him to a doctor. Child specialists then make a fortune from their maladies of the mind.

Few of these children have been able to find necessary conditions for a full development. Strong children, who need to anchor themselves to real challenging work, are scolded or spurned by adults thus develop their defects. Meantime weak children, who are so over-protected by their parents, fail to develop their self-confidence since they are kept away from many activities.

A child needs not a broken will but a strengthened will

Maria Montessori stated, “What the child needs is not a broken will but a strengthened will.” How does the will develop? By conditioning it to do what is right and proper. As the German philosopher Goethe in his Wilhelm Meister said, “I saw that invaluable happiness of liberty consisted not in doing what one please and what circumstances invite you to but in being able, without hindrance or restraint, to do what was right and proper.”

Although the teacher would let the children work alone, “she should never be afraid to destroy what is evil; it’s what is good she must fear to destroy.” Any activity that leads to order, self-development and to discipline is good.

Maximizing the child’s potential

Work chosen by the children and carried out without interference has its own laws. It has its beginning and ending like a day, and it must be allowed to come full circle. The sun rises and sets, and never becomes weary. No one comes and says to the sun, “You must stop working now or you will get too tired.”

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