Developmental and task confusions

When the child experiences difficulties in achieving mastery in these different tasks, these become manifest in eating, sleeping and toileting problems. When they persist over time they are conceptualised as zonal, geographic and role confusions (Schmidt Neven, 2010). Zonal confusions occur primarily in relation to zones of the body that are concerned with eating and toileting. We may find parents over-preoccupied with the orifices of the child, with respect to what goes into one orifice, namely the mouth, and what comes out of the other, namely the anus. Geographical confusion is typified by sleeping difficulties when the child more or less permanently sleeps in the parent’s bed whilst usually one parent sleeps in the child’s bed. Role confusion is personified by the child who appears not to recognise any boundaries and when these are absent becomes confused about who is the parent and who is the child. It is not unusual for children to present problems in which all three confusions manifest themselves simultaneously, as they are all in a sense interconnected.

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