The Nervous Child eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 183 pages of information about The Nervous Child.

The force of suggestion acting upon the child’s mind can clearly be traced.  Once his attention is focused upon the particular movement by unwise emphasis on the part of the parents, he loses the power to control its occurrence.  This trio of common neuroses—­refusal of food, refusal of sleep, and habitual involuntary movement—­grows only in an atmosphere of unrest and apprehension.  Parents and nurses anxiously watch their development.  They are distressed beyond measure to note their steady growth in spite of every attempt which they make to control or forbid them.  And of all this unrest and unhappiness the child is acutely conscious.  The whole household may become obsessed with the misfortune which has befallen it, and the mother, losing all sense of proportion, feels that she cannot regain her peace of mind until it has been overcome.  The child is in need of mental and moral support from those around him, and all that he finds is an openly expressed apprehension and sense of impotence.  Even grown-up people, when their nerves are on edge, are apt to be obsessed by uncontrollable impulses or by vague and nameless apprehensions, and surely all have learnt the support they gain from contact and conversation with some one strong and sane, who treats their worries in such a matter-of-fact way that immediately they lose their power and become of no account.  The child with habit spasm cannot control these movements.  The more he is reproved or entreated, the less able does he find himself to hold them in check.  He does not wish them to continue.  He has lost control of what he once controlled, and the realisation of this is not pleasant, and may be alarming to him.  Yet when unconsciously he looks to his mother for support, he finds in her open dismay that which serves only to increase his uneasiness.  She must subdue her own feelings and give the child strength.  If she treats the whole thing in a matter-of-fact way, as a temporary disturbance which is of no importance in itself, and only has meaning because it implies that the brain has been over-stimulated, she will no longer exercise a prejudicial effect on the child.  If the bad habit is taken as a matter of course, if too much is not made of it, if the child is encouraged to think that nobody cares much about it at all, then recovery will soon take place.  It goes without saying that habit spasms and tics of all sorts are made worse by excessive emotional display and by nervous fatigue.  On the other hand, if the child becomes absorbed in some interesting occupation, the movements will disappear for the time being.


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The Nervous Child from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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