This quote, attributed to humanist psychologist Carl Rogers, is one of my favourites:
“All children need for healthy cognitive growth is: Food, Shelter and Unconditional Love”.
You can hear Rogers say it here (1m 37sec).
Rogers was referring to his congruent self-concept theory of personality, which arose out of his extensive psychotherapy and counselling experience. Rogers saw unconditional regard as vital to our development of a congruent personality. More simply, say a child grows up in a conditional-love household where they tend to only receive positive regard when they do something good. The child may then learn to discount or block out what they perceive as bad aspects of themselves. This could then develop
into an incongruent self concept. Self-Concept Congruence refers to the distance between how someone sees themselves and what their experience actually reflects. For example, imagine a young adult who thinks they’re very bright, yet they generally have poor grades. This type of disparity leads to anxiety because it is highly incongruent. See picture.
Therefore, as Rogers said, “All children need is: Food, Shelter and Unconditional Love” This quote has been a major touchstone for me in how I attempt to raise my kid; because studying psychology sometimes actually makes it harder and not easier to parent. I study so many (sometimes competing) theories on child development, that to try and keep them all in my head at once is nearly impossible. One morning, even before breakfast, I went through all these thoughts with my 13 month old:
- Why does he keep crawling straight off the bed? He’s supposed to be averse to crossing the visual cliff. But he has no fear!
- Where did his object-permanence go? He had it yesterday!
- Was what I just said, authoritative or authoritarian?
- Is my behaviour always the perfect model for Social Learning Theory?
So, whenever I find myself getting high strung or overly stressed about my parenting, I’ll reassure myself with:
“Don’t worry about it. It’ll all work out. My mate Rogers said, all you need is Food, Shelter and Unconditional Love!”
However, when Rogers made that statement, I don’t think he had ever been awake at 3:46am, rocking a screaming-for-no-apparent-reason baby, when he had an exam to do the next morning at 10!. On the odd occasion something similar has happened to me I find myself cursing:
“Sure Carl, all you need is Food, Shelter and Love… Yeh, thats all you need! Because I tell you what – a baby whisperer wouldn’t go astray sometimes”.
Even still, aside from those very rare late-night/early-morning joys, Rogers is probably right. If you provide children with food, shelter and unconditional love; everything else will take care of itself.
- Tea for Thought – Congruence (consciouscuppa.wordpress.com)
- Quote This: Carl Rogers on self-discovered learning (undogmaticunschoolers.wordpress.com)
- Humanistic Theory and Therapy, Applied to the Psychotic Individual (brainblogger.com)