The best formula we have for raising psychologically healthy children is prescribed in hundreds of places, including here.

The details may vary, but the essential message is the same: hold tight and let go. Ensure that the child has an anchor, that he feels bounded, that his anxiety can be controlled and his rage contained. These and similar ideas are insurance, but by no means a guarantee. Genetics and experience can throw even the healthiest individual off one developmental path and onto another.

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Corrective emotional experiences can help most who are lost and their way back. This may take many different forms: psychotherapy. The constancy of a loving and responsive teacher, coach, or mentor. Establishing a relationship with a grandparent, uncle, neighbor, or friend who becomes an emotional anchor. Even a pet can become part of the solution.

There are, however, variables of both nature and nurture that over and over again prove to be critical risk factors for developing personality disorders. Some of the disorders may be more subtle but ultimately no less damaging. When these factors are mixed, singly or in combination with genetic vulnerabilities, physical illness, and the stresses associated with poverty or natural disaster, the lens through which a child views self and others can become profoundly distorted.

We know that children who have at least one healthy anchor among two or more caregivers can be okay even in the midst of horrific trauma. It also stands to reason that children who have only one anchor are at greater risk than those who have two or more. Like the skydiver who has no backup chute or the proverbial farmer who keeps all of his eggs in one basket, this child has only one chance to get it right.


About Benjamin D. Garber, Ph.D

Dr. Ben Garber is a psychologist, expert consultant to family law matters, author and internationally acclaimed speaker.

He has published hundreds of popular press and dozens of peer-reviewed articles about child and family development and divorce. His six books include "Holding Tight/Letting Go: Raising Healthy Kids in Times of Terror and Technology" and "Developmental Psychology for Family Law Professionals."

Visit this page for Garber's books.

To purchase Garber's Book, "Holding Tight, Letting Go," visit this link: