Behind Closed Doors
As school-aged children mature and approach pre-adolescence and adolescence, they test limits in new ways, oft en less conspicuously than younger children might do (Collins, 1995). In addition, the internet off ers new temptations to children who may be intrigued and “inspired” to look at inappropriate websites. Some youngsters make secret purchases using their parents’ credit cards. Oft en these “adventures” happen in the privacy of the child’s own bedroom. Th is makes the mischievous deed even more compelling and exciting because the child perceives that he has gotten away with something. Secrecy clearly has a thrill about it. Such behaviors oft en go unchecked, until one day a parent discovers the child’s computer history and learns what sites he’s visited, or an interesting and unexpected package arrives at the front door. For children who struggle with impulse control, the immediate feedback they need is missing: the problematic behavior might go on for several weeks, or longer, until parents let their child know most emphatically that they have crossed the line. In dealing with these problems as they are manifested during these stages of development, it is important for parents to remember that there are two issues that drive all pre-adolescent and adolescent youngsters: (1) the need to save face and (2) the need to be in control. Getting caught is one way in which youngsters experience losing face. Being sneaky in order to get one’s way, despite parental proscription, is a way of manifesting control (Collins & Laursen, 2004; Vgotsky, 1978). Th e following letter, and the group members’ responses to it demonstrate this, among other issues.