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´╗┐Title: Gentle Measures in the Management and Training of the Young - Or, the Principles on Which a Firm Parental Authority May Be - Established and Maintained, Without Violence or Anger, and the Right - Development of the Moral and Mental Capacities Be Promoted by Methods - in Harmony with the Structure and the Characteristics of the Juvenile - Mind
Author: Abbott, Jacob, 1803-1879
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Gentle Measures in the Management and Training of the Young - Or, the Principles on Which a Firm Parental Authority May Be - Established and Maintained, Without Violence or Anger, and the Right - Development of the Moral and Mental Capacities Be Promoted by Methods - in Harmony with the Structure and the Characteristics of the Juvenile - Mind" ***

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[Illustration: AUTHORITY.]










Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1871,

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.










































It is not impossible that in the minds of some persons the idea of
employing gentle measures in the management and training of children may
seem to imply the abandonment of the principle of _authority_, as the
basis of the parental government, and the substitution of some weak and
inefficient system of artifice and manoeuvring in its place. To suppose
that the object of this work is to aid in effecting such a substitution as
that, is entirely to mistake its nature and design. The only government
of the parent over the child that is worthy of the name is one of
authority--complete, absolute, unquestioned _authority_. The object of this
work is, accordingly, not to show how the gentle methods which will be
brought to view can be employed as a substitute for such authority, but how
they can be made to aid in establishing and maintaining it.

_Three Methods_.

There are three different modes of management customarily employed
by parents as means of inducing their children to comply with their
requirements. They are,

1. Government by Manoeuvring and Artifice.

2. By Reason and Affection.

3. By Authority.

_Manoeuvring and Artifice_.

1. Many mothers manage their children by means of tricks and contrivances,
more or less adroit, designed to avoid direct issues with them, and to
beguile them, as it were, into compliance with their wishes. As, for
example, where a mother, recovering from sickness, is going out to take
the air with her husband for the first time, and--as she is still
feeble--wishes for a very quiet drive, and so concludes not to take little
Mary with her, as she usually does on such occasions; but knowing that if
Mary sees the chaise at the door, and discovers that her father and mother
are going in it, she will be very eager to go too, she adopts a system of
manoeuvres to conceal her design. She brings down her bonnet and shawl by
stealth, and before the chaise comes to the door she sends Mary out into
the garden with her sister, under pretense of showing her a bird's nest
which is not there, trusting to her sister's skill in diverting the child's
mind, and amusing her with something else in the garden, until the chaise
has gone. And if, either from hearing the sound of the wheels, or from
any other cause, Mary's suspicions are awakened--and children habitually
managed on these principles soon learn to be extremely distrustful and
suspicious--and she insists on going into the house, and thus discovers the
stratagem, then, perhaps, her mother tells her that they are only going to
the doctor's, and that if Mary goes with them, the doctor will give her
some dreadful medicine, and compel her to take it, thinking thus to deter
her from insisting on going with them to ride.

As the chaise drives away, Mary stands bewildered and perplexed on the
door-step, her mind in a tumult of excitement, in which hatred of the
doctor, distrust and suspicion of her mother, disappointment, vexation, and
ill humor, surge and swell among those delicate organizations on which the
structure and development of the soul so closely depend--doing perhaps an
irreparable injury. The mother, as soon as the chaise is so far turned that
Mary can no longer watch the expression of her countenance, goes away from
the door with a smile of complacency and satisfaction upon her face at the
ingenuity and success of her little artifice.

In respect to her statement that she was going to the doctor's, it may,
or may not, have been true. Most likely not; for mothers who manage their
children on this system find the line of demarkation between deceit and
falsehood so vague and ill defined that they soon fall into the habit of
disregarding it altogether, and of saying, without hesitation, any thing
which will serve the purpose in view.

_Governing by Reason and Affection_.

2. The theory of many mothers is that they must govern their children by
the influence of reason and affection. Their method may be exemplified by
supposing that, under circumstances similar to those described under the
preceding head, the mother calls Mary to her side, and, smoothing her hair
caressingly with her hand while she speaks, says to her,

"Mary, your father and I are going out to ride this afternoon, and I am
going to explain it all to you why you can not go too. You see, I have been
sick, and am getting well, and I am going out to ride, so that I may get
well faster. You love mamma, I am sure, and wish to have her get well soon.
So you will be a good girl, I know, and not make any trouble, but will stay
at home contentedly--won't you? Then I shall love you, and your papa will
love you, and after I get well we will take you to ride with us some day."

The mother, in managing the case in this way, relies partly on convincing
the reason of the child, and partly on an appeal to her affection.

_Governing by Authority_.

3. By the third method the mother secures the compliance of the child by
a direct exercise of authority. She says to her--the circumstances of the
case being still supposed to be the same--

"Mary, your father and I are going out to ride this afternoon, and I am
sorry, for your sake, that we can not take you with us."

"Why can't you take me?" asks Mary.

"I can not tell you why, now," replies the mother, "but perhaps I will
explain it to you after I come home. I think there _is_ a good reason, and,
at any rate, I have decided that you are not to go. If you are a good girl,
and do not make any difficulty, you can have your little chair out upon
the front door-step, and can see the chaise come to the door, and see your
father and me get in and drive away; and you can wave your handkerchief to
us for a good-bye."

Then, if she observes any expression of discontent or insubmission in
Mary's countenance, the mother would add,

"If you should _not_ be a good girl, but should show signs of making us any
trouble, I shall have to send you out somewhere to the back part of the
house until we are gone."

But this last supposition is almost always unnecessary; for if Mary has
been habitually managed on this principle she will _not_ make any
trouble. She will perceive at once that the question is settled--settled
irrevocably--and especially that it is entirely beyond the power of any
demonstrations of insubmission or rebellion that she can make to change it.
She will acquiesce at once.[A] She may be sorry that she can not go, but
she will make no resistance. Those children only attempt to carry their
points by noisy and violent demonstrations who find, by experience, that
such measures are usually successful. A child, even, who has become once
accustomed to them, will soon drop them if she finds, owing to a change
in the system of management, that they now never succeed. And a child who
never, from the beginning, finds any efficiency in them, never learns to
employ them at all.


Of the three methods of managing children exemplified in this chapter,
the last is the only one which can be followed either with comfort to the
parent or safety to the child; and to show how this method can be brought
effectually into operation by gentle measures is the object of this book.
It is, indeed, true that the importance of tact and skill in the training
of the young, and of cultivating their reason, and securing their
affection, can not be overrated. But the influences secured by these means
form, at the best, but a sandy foundation for filial obedience to rest
upon. The child is not to be made to comply with the requirements of his
parents by being artfully inveigled into compliance, nor is his obedience
to rest on his love for father and mother, and his unwillingness
to displease them, nor on his conviction of the rightfulness and
reasonableness of their commands, but on simple _submission to
authority_--that absolute and almost unlimited authority which all parents
are commissioned by God and nature to exercise over their offspring during
the period while the offspring remain dependent upon their care.



It being thus distinctly understood that the gentle measures in the
training of children herein recommended are not to be resorted to as a
_substitute_ for parental authority, but as the easiest and most effectual
means of establishing and maintaining that authority in its most absolute
form, we have now to consider what the nature of these gentle measures is,
and by what characteristics they are distinguished, in their action and
influence, from such as may be considered more or less violent and harsh.

Gentle measures are those which tend to exert a calming, quieting, and
soothing influence on the mind, or to produce only such excitements as
are pleasurable in their character, as means of repressing wrong and
encouraging right action. Ungentle measures are those which tend to inflame
and irritate the mind, or to agitate it with _painful_ excitements.

_Three Degrees of Violence_.

There seem to be three grades or forms of violence to which a mother may
resort in controlling her children, or, perhaps, rather three classes of
measures which are more or less violent in their effects. To illustrate
these we will take an example.

_Case supposed_.

One day Louisa, four years old, asked her mother for an apple. "Have you
had any already?" asked her mother.

"Only one," replied Louisa. "Then Bridget may give you another," said the

What Louisa said was not true. She had already eaten two apples. Bridget
heard the falsehood, but she did not consider it her duty to betray the
child, so she said nothing. The mother, however, afterwards, in the course
of the day, accidentally ascertained the truth.

Now, as we have said, there are three grades in the kind and character of
the measures which may be considered violent that a mother may resort to in
a case like this.

_Bodily Punishment_.

1. First, there is the infliction of bodily pain. The child may be whipped,
or tied to the bed-post, and kept in a constrained and uncomfortable
position for a long time, or shut up in solitude and darkness, or punished
by the infliction of bodily suffering in other ways.

And there is no doubt that there is a tendency in such treatment to correct
or cure the fault. But measures like these, whether successful or not, are
certainly violent measures. They shock the whole nervous system, sometimes
with the excitement of pain and terror, and always, probably, with that
of resentment and anger. In some cases this excitement is extreme. The
excessively delicate organization of the brain, through which such
agitations reach the sensorium, and which, in children of an early age, is
in its most tender and sensitive state of development, is subjected to a
most intense and violent agitation.

_Evil Effects of Violence in this Form_.

The evil effects of this excessive cerebral action may _perhaps_ entirely
pass away in a few hours, and leave no trace of injury behind; but then,
on the other hand, there is certainly reason to fear that such commotions,
especially if often repeated, tend to impede the regular and healthful
development of the organs, and that they may become the origin of
derangements, or of actual disorganizations, resulting very seriously in
future years. It is impossible, perhaps, to know with certainty whether
permanent ill effects follow in such cases or not. At any rate, such a
remedy is a violent one.

_The Frightening System_.

2. There is a second grade of violence in the treatment of such a case,
which consists in exciting pain or terror, or other painful or disagreeable
emotions, through the imagination, by presenting to the fancy of the child
images of phantoms, hobgoblins, and other frightful monsters, whose ire, it
is pretended, is greatly excited by the misdeeds of children, and who come
in the night-time to take them away, or otherwise visit them with terrible
retribution. Domestic servants are very prone to adopt this mode of
discipline. Being forbidden to resort to personal violence as a means of
exciting pain and terror, they attempt to accomplish the same end by other
means, which, however, in many respects, are still more injurious in their

_Management of Nurses and Servants_.

Nurses and attendants upon children from certain nationalities in Europe
are peculiarly disposed to employ this method of governing children placed
under their care. One reason is that they are accustomed to this mode of
management at home; and another is that many of them are brought up under
an idea, which prevails extensively in some of those countries, that it
is right to tell falsehoods where the honest object is to accomplish a
charitable or useful end. Accordingly, inasmuch as the restraining of the
children from wrong is a good and useful object, they can declare the
existence of giants and hobgoblins, to carry away and devour bad girls and
boys, with an air of positiveness and seeming honesty, and with a calm and
persistent assurance, which aids them very much in producing on the minds
of the children a conviction of the truth of what they say; while, on the
other hand, those who, in theory at least, occupy the position that
the direct falsifying of one's word is _never_ justifiable, act at a
disadvantage in attempting this method. For although, in practice, they are
often inclined to make an exception to their principles in regard to truth
in the case of what is said to young children, they can not, after all,
tell children what they know to be not true with that bold and confident
air necessary to carry full conviction to the children's minds. They are
embarrassed by a kind of half guilty feeling, which, partially at least,
betrays them, and the children do not really and fully believe what they
say. They can not suppose that their mother would really tell them what
she knew was false, and yet they can not help perceiving that she does not
speak and look as if what she was saying was actually true.

_Monsieur and Madame Croquemitaine_.

In all countries there are many, among even the most refined and highly
cultivated classes, who are not at all embarrassed by any moral delicacy
of this kind. This is especially the case in those countries in Europe,
particularly on the Continent, where the idea above referred to, of the
allowableness of falsehood in certain cases as a means for the attainment
of a good end, is generally entertained. The French have two terrible
bugbears, under the names of Monsieur and Madame Croquemitaine, who are as
familiar to the imaginations of French children as Santa Claus is, in a
much more agreeable way, to the juvenile fancy at our firesides. Monsieur
and Madame Croquemitaine are frightful monsters, who come down the chimney,
or through the roof, at night, and carry off bad children. They learn from
their _little fingers_--which whisper in their ears when they hold them
near--who the bad children are, where they live, and what they have done.
The instinctive faith of young children in their mother's truthfulness is
so strong that no absurdity seems gross enough to overcome it.

_The Black Man and the Policeman_.

There are many mothers among us who--though not quite prepared to call
in the aid of ghosts, giants, and hobgoblins, or of Monsieur and Madame
Croquemitaine, in managing their children--still, sometimes, try to eke out
their failing authority by threatening them with the "black man," or the
"policeman," or some other less, supernatural terror. They seem to imagine
that inasmuch as, while there is no such thing in existence as a hobgoblin,
there really are policemen and prisons, they only half tell an untruth by
saying to the recalcitrant little one that a policeman is coming to carry
him off to jail.

_Injurious Effects_.

Although, by these various modes of exciting imaginary fears, there is no
direct and outward infliction of bodily suffering, the effect produced on
the delicate organization of the brain by such excitements is violent in
the extreme. The paroxysms of agitation and terror which they sometimes
excite, and which are often spontaneously renewed by darkness and solitude,
and by other exciting causes, are of the nature of temporary insanity.
Indeed, the extreme nervous excitability which they produce sometimes
becomes a real insanity, which, though it may, in many cases, be finally
outgrown, may probably in many others lead to lasting and most deplorable

_Harsh Reproofs and Threatenings_.

3. There is a third mode of treatment, more common, perhaps, among _us_
than either of the preceding, which, though much milder in its character
than they, we still class among the violent measures, on account of
its operation and effects. It consists of stern and harsh rebukes,
denunciations of the heinousness of the sin of falsehood, with solemn
premonitions of the awful consequences of it, in this life and in that to
come, intended to awaken feelings of alarm and distress in the mind of the
child, as a means of promoting repentance and reformation. These are
not violent measures, it is true, so far as outward physical action is
concerned; but the effects which they produce are sometimes of quite a
violent nature, in their operation on the delicate nervous and mental
susceptibilities which are excited and agitated by them. If the mother
is successful in making the impression which such a mode of treatment is
designed to produce, the child, especially if a girl, is agitated and
distressed. Her nervous system is greatly disturbed. If calmed for a time,
the paroxysm is very liable to return. She wakes in the night, perhaps,
with an indefinable feeling of anxiety and terror, and comes to her
mother's bedside, to seek, in her presence, and in the sense of protection
which it affords, a relief from her distress.

The conscientious mother, supremely anxious to secure the best interests
of her child, may say that, after all, it is better that she should endure
this temporary suffering than not be saved from the sin. This is true. But
if she can be saved just as effectually without it, it is better still.

_The Gentle Method of Treatment_.

4. We now come to the gentle measures which may be adopted in a case of
discipline like this. They are endlessly varied in form, but, to illustrate
the nature and operation of them, and the spirit and temper of mind with
which they should be enforced, with a view of communicating; to the mind of
the reader some general idea of the characteristics of that gentleness of
treatment which it is the object of this work to commend, we will describe
an actual case, substantially as it really occurred, where a child, whom
we will still call Louisa, told her mother a falsehood about the apple, as
already related.

_Choosing the Right Time_.

Her mother--though Louisa's manner, at the time of giving her answer, led
her to feel somewhat suspicious--did not express her suspicions, but gave
her the additional apple. Nor did she afterwards, when she ascertained the
facts, say any thing on the subject. The day passed away as if nothing
unusual had occurred. When bed-time came she undressed the child and laid
her in her bed, playing with her, and talking with her in an amusing manner
all the time, so as to bring her into a contented and happy frame of
mind, and to establish as close a connection as possible of affection and
sympathy between them. Then, finally, when the child's prayer had been
said, and she was about to be left for the night, her mother, sitting in
a chair at the head of her little bed, and putting her hand lovingly upon
her, said:

_The Story_.

"But first I must tell you one more little story.

"Once there was a boy, and his name was Ernest. He was a pretty large boy,
for he was five years old."

Louisa, it must be recollected, was only four.

"He was a very pretty boy. He had bright blue eyes and curling hair. He
was a very good boy, too. He did not like to do any thing wrong. He always
found that it made him feel uncomfortable and unhappy afterwards when he
did any thing wrong. A good many children, especially good children, find
that it makes them feel uncomfortable and unhappy when they do wrong.
Perhaps you do."

"Yes, mamma, I do," said Louisa.

"I am glad of that," replied her mother; "that is a good sign."

"Ernest went one day," added the mother, continuing her story, "with his
little cousin Anna to their uncle's, in hopes that he would give them
some apples. Their uncle had a beautiful garden, and in it there was an
apple-tree which bore most excellent apples. They were large, and rosy, and
mellow, and sweet. The children liked the apples from that tree very much,
and Ernest and Anna went that day in hopes that their uncle would give them
some of them. He said he would. He would give them three apiece. He told
them to go into the garden and wait there until he came. They must not take
any apples off the tree, he said, but if they found any _under_ the tree
they might take them, provided that there were not more than three apiece;
and when he came he would take enough off the tree, he said, to make up the
number to three.

"So the children went into the garden and looked under the tree. They found
_two_ apples there, and they took them up and ate them--one apiece. Then
they sat down and began to wait for their uncle to come. While they were
waiting Anna proposed that they should not tell their uncle that they had
found the two apples, and so he would give them three more, which he would
take from the tree; whereas, if he knew that they had already had one
apiece, then he would only give them two more. Ernest said that his uncle
would ask them about it. Anna said, 'No matter, we can tell him that we did
not find any.'

"Ernest seemed to be thinking about it for a moment, and then, shaking his
head, said, 'No, I think we had better not tell him a lie!'

"So when he saw their uncle coming he said, 'Come, Anna, let us go and tell
him about it, just how it was. So they ran together to meet their uncle,
and told him that they had found two apples under the tree, one apiece,
and had eaten them. Then he gave them two more apiece, according to his
promise, and they went home feeling contented and happy.

"They might have had one more apple apiece, probably, by combining together
to tell a falsehood; but in that case they would have gone home feeling
guilty and unhappy."

_The Effect_.

Louisa's mother paused a moment, after finishing her story, to give Louisa
time to think about it a little.

"I think," she added at length, after a suitable pause, "that it was a
great deal better for them to tell the truth, as they did."

"I think so too, mamma," said Louisa, at the same time casting down her
eyes and looking a little confused.

"But you know," added her mother, speaking in a very kind and gentle tone,
"that you did not tell me the truth to-day about the apple that Bridget
gave you."

Louisa paused a moment, looked in her mother's face, and then, reaching up
to put her arms around her mother's neck, she said,

"Mamma, I am determined never to tell you another wrong story as long as I

_Only a Single Lesson, after all_.

Now it is not at all probable that if the case had ended here, Louisa would
have kept her promise. This was one good lesson, it is true, but it was
only _one_. And the lesson was given by a method so gentle, that no
nervous, cerebral, or mental function was in any degree irritated or
morbidly excited by it. Moreover, no one who knows any thing of the
workings of the infantile mind can doubt that the impulse in the right
direction given by this conversation was not only better in character, but
was greater in amount, than could have been effected by either of the other
methods of management previously described.

_How Gentle Measures operate_.

By the gentle measures, then, which are to be here discussed and
recommended, are meant such as do not react in a violent and irritating
manner, in any way, upon the extremely delicate, and almost embryonic
condition of the cerebral and nervous organization, in which the gradual
development of the mental and moral faculties are so intimately involved.
They do not imply any, the least, relaxation of the force of parental
authority, or any lowering whatever of the standards of moral obligation,
but are, on the contrary, the most effectual, the surest and the safest way
of establishing the one and of enforcing the other.



The first duty which devolves upon the mother in the training of her child
is the establishment of her _authority_ over him--that is, the forming in
him the habit of immediate, implicit, and unquestioning obedience to all
her commands. And the first step to be taken, or, rather, perhaps the first
essential condition required for the performance of this duty, is the
fixing of the conviction in her own mind that it _is_ a duty.

Unfortunately, however, there are not only vast numbers of mothers who do
not in any degree perform this duty, but a large proportion of them have
not even a theoretical idea of the obligation of it.

_An Objection_.

"I wish my child to be governed by reason and reflection," says one. "I
wish him to see the _necessity_ and _propriety_ of what I require of him,
so that he may render a ready and willing compliance with my wishes,
instead of being obliged blindly to submit to arbitrary and despotic

She forgets that the faculties of reason and reflection, and the power
of appreciating "the necessity and propriety of things," and of bringing
considerations of future, remote, and perhaps contingent good and evil to
restrain and subdue the impetuousness of appetites and passions eager for
present pleasure, are qualities that appear late, and are very slowly
developed, in the infantile mind; that no real reliance whatever can be
placed upon them in the early years of life; and that, moreover, one of the
chief and expressly intended objects of the establishment of the parental
relation is to provide, in the mature reason and reflection of the father
and mother, the means of guidance which the embryo reason and reflection of
the child could not afford during the period of his immaturity.

_The two great Elements of Parental Obligation_.

Indeed, the chief end and aim of the parental relation, as designed by the
Author of nature, may be considered as comprised, it would seem, in these
two objects, namely: first, the _support_ of the child by the _strength_
of his parents during the period necessary for the development of _his_
strength, and, secondly, his guidance and direction by their _reason_
during the development of his reason. The second of these obligations is no
less imperious than the first. To expect him to provide the means of his
support from the resources of his own embryo strength, would imply no
greater misapprehension on the part of his father and mother than to look
for the exercise of any really controlling influence over his conduct by
his embryo reason. The expectation in the two cases would be equally vain.
The only difference would be that, in the failure which would inevitably
result from the trial, it would be in the one case the body that would
suffer, and in the other the soul.

_The Judgment more slowly developed than the Strength_.

Indeed, the necessity that the conduct of the child should be controlled by
the reason of the parents is in one point of view greater, or at least more
protracted, than that his wants should be supplied by their power; for
the development of the thinking and reasoning powers is late and slow in
comparison with the advancement toward maturity of the physical powers. It
is considered that a boy attains, in this country, to a sufficient degree
of strength at the age of from _seven to ten_ years to earn his living; but
his reason is not sufficiently mature to make it safe to intrust him with
the care of himself and of his affairs, in the judgment of the law, till he
is of more than twice that age. The parents can actually thus sooner
look to the _strength_ of the child for his support than they can to his
_reason_ for his guidance.

_What Parents have to do in Respect to the Reasoning Powers of Children_.

To aid in the development and cultivation of the thinking and reasoning
powers is doubtless a very important part of a parent's duty. But to
cultivate these faculties is one thing, while to make any control which may
be procured for them over the mind of the child the basis of government, is
another. To explain the reasons of our commands is excellent, if it is
done in the right time and manner. The wrong time is when the question of
obedience is pending, and the wrong manner is when they are offered as
inducements to obey. We may offer reasons for _recommendations_, when
we leave the child to judge of their force, and to act according to our
recommendations or not, as his judgment shall dictate. But reasons should
never be given as inducements to obey a command. The more completely the
obedience to a command rests on the principle of simple submission to
authority, the easier and better it will be both for parent and child.

_Manner of exercising Authority_.

Let no reader fall into the error of supposing that the mother's making
her authority the basis of her government renders it necessary for her to
assume a stern and severe aspect towards her children, in her intercourse
with them; or to issue her commands in a harsh, abrupt, and imperious
manner; or always to refrain from explaining, at the time, the reasons for
a command or a prohibition. The more gentle the manner, and the more kind
and courteous the tones in which the mother's wishes are expressed, the
better, provided only that the wishes, however expressed, are really the
mandates of an authority which is to be yielded to at once without question
or delay. She may say, "Mary, will you please to leave your doll and take
this letter for me into the library to your father?" or, "Johnny, in five
minutes it will be time for you to put your blocks away to go to bed; I
will tell you when the time is out;" or, "James, look at the clock"--to
call his attention to the fact that the time is arrived for him to go to
school. No matter, in a word, under how mild and gentle a form the mother's
commands are given, provided only that the children are trained to
understand that they are at once to be obeyed.

_A second Objection_.

Another large class of mothers are deterred from making any efficient
effort to establish their authority over their children for fear of thereby
alienating their affections. "I wish my child to love me," says a mother of
this class. "That is the supreme and never-ceasing wish of my heart; and if
I am continually thwarting and constraining her by my authority, she will
soon learn to consider me an obstacle to her happiness, and I shall become
an object of her aversion and dislike."

There is some truth, no doubt, in this statement thus expressed, but it is
not applicable to the case, for the reason that there is no need whatever
for a mother's "continually thwarting and constraining" her children in her
efforts to establish her authority over them. The love which they will
feel for her will depend in a great measure upon the degree in which
she sympathizes and takes part with them in their occupations, their
enjoyments, their disappointments, and their sorrows, and in which she
indulges their child-like desires. The love, however, awakened by these
means will be not weakened nor endangered, but immensely strengthened and
confirmed, by the exercise on her part of a just and equable, but firm
and absolute, authority. This must always be true so long as a feeling of
respect for the object of affection tends to strengthen, and not to weaken,
the sentiment of love. The mother who does not govern her children is
bringing them up not to love her, but to despise her.

_Effect of Authority._

If, besides being their playmate, their companion, and friend, indulgent
in respect to all their harmless fancies, and patient and forbearing
with their childish faults and foolishness, she also exercises in cases
requiring it an authority over them which, though just and gentle, is yet
absolute and supreme, she rises to a very exalted position in their view.
Their affection for her has infused into it an element which greatly
aggrandizes and ennobles it--an element somewhat analogous to that
sentiment of lofty devotion which a loyal subject feels for his queen.

_Effect of the Want of Authority._

On the other hand, if she is inconsiderate enough to attempt to win a
place in her children's hearts by the sacrifice of her maternal authority,
she will never succeed in securing a place there that is worth possessing.
The children will all, girls and boys alike, see and understand her
weakness, and they will soon learn to look down upon her, instead of
looking up to her, as they ought. As they grow older they will all become
more and more unmanageable. The insubordination of the girls must generally
be endured, but that of the boys will in time grow to be intolerable, and
it will become necessary to send them away to school, or to adopt some
other plan for ridding the house of their turbulence, and relieving the
poor mother's heart of the insupportable burden she has to bear in finding
herself contemned and trampled upon by her own children. In the earlier
years of life the feeling entertained for their mother in such a case by
the children is simply that of contempt; for the sentiment of gratitude
which will modify it in time is very late to be developed, and has not yet
begun to act. In later years, however, when the boys have become young men,
this sentiment of gratitude begins to come in, but it only changes the
contempt into pity. And when years have passed away, and the mother is
perhaps in her grave, her sons think of her with a mingled feeling excited
by the conjoined remembrance of her helpless imbecility and of her true
maternal love, and say to each other, with a smile, "Poor dear mother! what
a time she had of it trying to govern us boys!"

If a mother is willing to have her children thus regard her with contempt
pure and simple while they are children, and with contempt transformed
into pity by the infusion of a tardy sentiment of gratitude, when they
are grown, she may try the plan of endeavoring to secure their love by
_indulging_ them without _governing_ them. But if she sets her heart on
being the object through life of their respectful love, she may indulge
them as much as she pleases; but she _must govern_ them.


A great deal is said sometimes about the evils of indulgence in the
management of children; and so far as the condemnation refers only to
indulgence in what is injurious or evil, it is doubtless very just. But
the harm is not in the indulgence itself--that is, in the act of affording
gratification to the child--but in the injurious or dangerous nature of the
things indulged in. It seems to me that children are not generally indulged
enough. They are thwarted and restrained in respect to the gratification of
their harmless wishes a great deal too much. Indeed, as a general rule, the
more that children are gratified in respect to their childish fancies
and impulses, and even their caprices, when no evil or danger is to be
apprehended, the better.

When, therefore, a child asks, "May I do this?" or, "May I do that?" the
question for the mother to consider is not whether the thing proposed is a
wise or a foolish thing to do--that is, whether it would be wise or foolish
for _her_, if she, with her ideas and feelings, were in the place of the
child--but only whether there is any harm or danger in it; and if not, she
should give her ready and cordial consent.

_Antagonism between Free Indulgence and Absolute Control_.

There is no necessary antagonism, nor even any inconsistency, between the
freest indulgence of children and the maintenance of the most absolute
authority over them. Indeed, the authority can be most easily established
in connection with great liberality of indulgence. At any rate, it will be
very evident, on reflection, that the two principles do not stand at all
in opposition to each other, as is often vaguely supposed. Children may be
greatly indulged, and yet perfectly governed. On the other hand, they may
be continually checked and thwarted, and their lives made miserable by a
continued succession of vexations, restrictions, and refusals, and yet not
be governed at all. An example will, however, best illustrate this.

_Mode of Management with Louisa_.

A mother, going to the village by a path across the fields, proposed to her
little daughter Louisa to go with her for a walk.

Louisa asked if she might invite her Cousin Mary to go too. "Yes," said
her mother; "I _think_ she is not at home; but you can go and see, if you

Louisa went to see, and returned in a few minutes, saying that Mary was
_not_ at home.

"Never mind," replied her mother; "it was polite in you to wish to invite

They set out upon the walk. Louisa runs hither and thither over the grass,
returning continually to her mother to bring her flowers and curiosities.
Her mother looks at them all, seems to approve of, and to sympathize in,
Louisa's wonder and delight, and even points out new charms in the objects
which she brings to her, that Louisa had not observed.

At length Louisa spied a butterfly.

"Mother," said she, "here's a butterfly. May I run and catch him?"

"You may try," said her mother.

Louisa ran till she was tired, and then came back to her mother, looking a
little disappointed.

"I could not catch him, mother."

"Never mind," said her mother, "you had a good time trying, at any rate.
Perhaps you will see another by-and-by. You may possibly see a bird, and
you can try and see if you can catch _him_."

So Louisa ran off to play again, satisfied and happy.

A little farther on a pretty tree was growing, not far from the path on one
side. A short, half-decayed log lay at the foot of the tree, overtopped and
nearly concealed by a growth of raspberry-bushes, grass, and wild flowers.

"Louisa," said the mother, "do you see that tree with the pretty flowers at
the foot of it?"

"Yes, mother."

"I would rather not have you go near that tree. Come over to this side of
the path, and keep on this side till you get by."

Louisa began immediately to obey, but as she was crossing the path she
looked up to her mother and asked why she must not go near the tree.

"I am glad you would like to know why," replied her mother, "and I will
tell you the reason as soon as we get past."

Louisa kept on the other side of the path until the tree was left well
behind, and then came back to her mother to ask for the promised reason.

"It was because I heard that there was a wasp's nest under that tree," said
her mother.

"A wasp's nest!" repeated Louisa, with a look of alarm.

"Yes," rejoined her mother, "and I was afraid that the wasps might sting

Louisa paused a moment, and then, looking back towards the tree, said,

"I am glad I did not go near it."

"And I am glad that you obeyed me so readily," said her mother. "I knew you
would obey me at once, without my giving any reason. I did not wish to tell
you the reason, for fear of frightening you while you were passing by the
tree. But I knew that you would obey me without any reason. You always do,
and that is why I always like to have you go with me when I take a walk."

[Illustration: INDULGENCE.]

Louisa is much gratified by this commendation, and the effect of it, and
of the whole incident, in confirming and strengthening the principle of
obedience in her heart, is very much greater than rebukes or punishments
for any overt act of disobedience could possibly be.

"But, mother," asked Louisa, "how did you know that there was a wasp's nest
under that tree?"

"One of the boys told me so," replied her mother.

"And do you really think there is one there?" asked Louisa.

"No," replied her mother, "I do not really think there is. Boys are very
apt to imagine such things."

"Then why would you not let me go there?" asked Louisa.

"Because there _might be_ one there, and so I thought it safer for you not
to go near."

Louisa now left her mother's side and resumed her excursions, running this
way and that, in every direction, over the fields, until at length, her
strength beginning to fail, she came back to her mother, out of breath, and
with a languid air, saying that she was too tired to go any farther.

"I am tired, too," said her mother; "we had better find a place to sit down
to rest."

"Where shall we find one?" asked Louisa.

"I see a large stone out there before us a little way," said her mother.
"How will that do?"

"I mean to go and try it," said Louisa; and, having seemingly recovered
her breath, she ran forward to try the stone. By the time that her mother
reached the spot she was ready to go on.

These and similar incidents marked the whole progress of the walk.

We see that in such a case as this firm government and free indulgence are
conjoined; and that, far from there being any antagonism between them, they
may work together in perfect harmony.

_Mode of Management with Hannah_.

On the other hand, there may be an extreme limitation in respect to a
mother's indulgence of her children, while yet she has no government over
them at all. We shall see how this might be by the case of little Hannah.

Hannah was asked by her mother to go with her across the fields to the
village under circumstances similar to those of Louisa's invitation, except
that the real motive of Hannah's mother, in proposing that Hannah should
accompany her, was to have the child's help in bringing home her parcels.

"Yes, mother," said Hannah, in reply to her mother's invitation, "I should
like to go; and I will go and ask Cousin Sarah to go too."

"Oh no," rejoined her mother, "why do you wish Sarah to go? She will only
be a trouble to us."

"She won't be any trouble at all, mother, and I mean to go and ask her,"
said Hannah; and, putting on her bonnet, she set off towards the gate.

"No, Hannah," insisted her mother, "you _must not_ go. I don't wish to have
Sarah go with us to-day."

Hannah paid no attention to this prohibition, but ran off to find Sarah.
After a few minutes she returned, saying that Sarah was not at home.

"I am glad of it," said her mother; "I told you not to go to ask her, and
you did very wrong to disobey me. I have a great mind not to let you go

Hannah ran off in the direction of the path, not caring for the censure or
for the threat, knowing well that they would result in nothing.

Her mother followed. When they reached the pastures Hannah began running
here and there over the grass.

"Hannah!" said her mother, speaking in a stern and reproachful tone; "what
do you keep running about so for all the time, Hannah? You'll get tired out
before we get to the village, and then you'll be teasing me to let you stop
and rest. Come and walk along quietly with me."

But Hannah paid no attention whatever to this injunction. She ran to and
fro among the rocks and clumps of bushes, and once or twice she brought to
her mother flowers or other curious things that she found.

"Those things are not good for any thing, child," said her mother. "They
are nothing but common weeds and trash. Besides, I told you not to run
about so much. Why can't you come and walk quietly along the path, like a
sensible person?"

Hannah paid no attention to this reiteration of her mother's command, but
continued to run about as before.

"Hannah," repeated her mother, "come back into the path. I have told you
again and again that you must come and walk with me, and you don't pay the
least heed to what I say. By-and-by you will fall into some hole, or tear
your clothes against the bushes, or get pricked with the briers. You must
not, at any rate, go a step farther from the path than you are now."

Hannah walked on, looking for flowers and curiosities, and receding farther
and farther from the path, for a time, and then returning towards it again,
according to her own fancy or caprice, without paying any regard to her
mother's directions.

"Hannah," said her mother, "you _must not_ go so far away from the path.
Then, besides, you are coming to a tree where there is a wasps' nest. You
must not go near that tree; if you do, you will get stung."

Hannah went on, looking for flowers, and gradually drawing nearer to the

"Hannah!" exclaimed her mother, "I tell you that you must not go near that
tree. You will _certainly_ get stung."

Hannah went on--somewhat hesitatingly and cautiously, it is true--towards
the foot of the tree, and, seeing no signs of wasps there, she began
gathering the flowers that grew at the foot of it.

"Hannah! Hannah!" exclaimed her mother; "I told you not to go near that
tree! Get your flowers quick, if you must get them, and come away."

Hannah went on gathering the flowers at her leisure.

"You will _certainly_ get stung," said her mother.

"I don't believe there is any hornets' nest here," replied Hannah.

"Wasps' nest," said her mother; "it was a wasps' nest."

"Or wasps' nest either," said Hannah.

"Yes," rejoined her mother, "the boys said there was."

"That's nothing," said Hannah; "the boys think there are wasps' nests in a
great many places where there are not any."

After a time Hannah, having gathered all the flowers she wished for, came
back at her leisure towards her mother.

"I told you not to go to that tree," said her mother, reproachfully.

"You told me I should certainly get stung if I went there," rejoined
Hannah, "and I didn't."

"Well, you _might_ have got stung," said her mother, and so walked on.

Pretty soon after this Hannah said that she was tired of walking so far,
and wished to stop and rest.

"No," replied her mother, "I told you that you would get tired if you ran
about so much; but you would do it, and so now I shall not stop for you at

Hannah said that _she_ should stop, at any rate; so she sat down upon a log
by the way-side. Her mother said that _she_ should go on and leave her.
So her mother walked on, looking back now and then, and calling Hannah to
come. But finding that Hannah did not come, she finally found a place to
sit down herself and wait for her.

_The Principle illustrated by this Case_.

Many a mother will see the image of her own management of her children
reflected without exaggeration or distortion in this glass; and, as the
former story shows how the freest indulgence is compatible with the
maintenance of the most absolute authority, this enables us to see how a
perpetual resistance to the impulses and desires of children may co-exist
with no government over them at all.

Let no mother fear, then, that the measures necessary to establish for her
the most absolute authority over her children will at all curtail her power
to promote their happiness. The maintenance of the best possible government
over them will not in any way prevent her yielding to them all the harmless
gratifications they may desire. She may indulge them in all their childish
impulses, fancies, and even caprices, to their heart's content, without
at all weakening her authority over them. Indeed, she may make these very
indulgences the means of strengthening her authority. But without the
authority she can never develop in the hearts of her children the only kind
of love that is worth possessing--namely, that in which the feeling of
affection is dignified and ennobled by the sentiment of respect.

_One more Consideration_.

There is one consideration which, if properly appreciated, would have an
overpowering influence on the mind of every mother in inducing her to
establish and maintain a firm authority over her child during the early
years of his life, and that is the possibility that he may not live to
reach maturity. Should the terrible calamity befall her of being compelled
to follow her boy, yet young, to his grave, the character of her grief, and
the degree of distress and anguish which it will occasion her, will depend
very much upon the memories which his life and his relations to her have
left in her soul. When she returns to her home, bowed down by the terrible
burden of her bereavement, and wanders over the now desolated rooms which
were the scenes of his infantile occupations and joys, and sees the now
useless playthings and books, and the various objects of curiosity and
interest with which he was so often and so busily engaged, there can, of
course, be nothing which can really assuage her overwhelming grief; but it
will make a vital difference in the character of this grief, whether the
image of her boy, as it takes its fixed and final position in her memory
and in her heart, is associated with recollections of docility, respectful
regard for his mother's wishes, and of ready and unquestioning submission
to her authority and obedience to her commands; or whether, on the other
hand, the picture of his past life, which is to remain forever in her
heart, is to be distorted and marred by memories of outbreaks, acts of
ungovernable impulse and insubordination, habitual disregard of all
authority, and disrespectful, if not contemptuous, treatment of his mother.

There is a sweetness as well as a bitterness of grief; and something like
a feeling of joy and gladness will spring up in the mother's heart, and
mingle with and soothe her sorrow, if she can think of her boy, when he
is gone, as always docile, tractable, submissive to her authority, and
obedient to her commands. Such recollections, it is true, can not avail to
remove her grief--perhaps not even to diminish its intensity; but they will
greatly assuage the bitterness of it, and wholly take away its _sting_.



Children have no natural instinct of obedience to their parents, though
they have other instincts by means of which the habit of obedience, as an
acquisition, can easily be formed.

The true state of the case is well illustrated by what we observe among the
lower animals. The hen can call her chickens when she has food for them, or
when any danger threatens, and they come to her. They come, however, simply
under the impulse of a desire for food or fear of danger, not from any
instinctive desire to conform their action to their mother's will; or, in
other words, with no idea of submission to parental authority. It is so,
substantially, with many other animals whose habits in respect to the
relation between parents and offspring come under human observation. The
colt and the calf follow and keep near the mother, not from any instinct of
desire to conform their conduct to her will, but solely from love of
food, or fear of danger. These last are strictly instinctive. They act
spontaneously, and require no training of any sort to establish or to
maintain them.

The case is substantially the same with children. They run to their mother
by instinct, when want, fear, or pain impels them. They require no teaching
or training for this. But for them to come simply because their mother
wishes them to come--to be controlled, in other words, by her will, instead
of by their own impulses, is a different thing altogether. They have no
instinct for that. They have only a _capacity for its development_.

_Instincts and Capacities_.

It may, perhaps, be maintained that there is no real difference between
instincts and capacities, and it certainly is possible that they may pass
into each other by insensible gradations. Still, practically, and in
reference to our treatment of any intelligent nature which is in course of
gradual development under our influence, the difference is wide. The dog
has an instinct impelling him to attach himself to and follow his master;
but he has no instinct leading him to draw his master's cart. He requires
no teaching for the one. It comes, of course, from the connate impulses of
his nature. For the other he requires a skillful and careful training. If
we find a dog who evinces no disposition to seek the society of man, but
roams off into woods and solitudes alone, he is useless, and we attribute
the fault to his own wolfish nature. But if he will not fetch and carry at
command, or bring home a basket in his mouth from market, the fault, if
there be any fault, is in his master, in not having taken the proper time
and pains to train him, or in not knowing how to do it. He has an instinct
leading him to attach himself to a human master, and to follow his master
wherever he goes. But he has no instinct leading him to fetch and carry, or
to draw carts for any body. If he shows no affection for man, it is his own
fault--that is, the fault of his nature. But if he does not fetch and carry
well, or go out of the room when he is ordered out, or draw steadily in a
cart, it is his teacher's fault. He has not been properly trained.

_Who is Responsible?_

So with the child. If he does not seem to know how to take his food, or
shows no disposition to run to his mother when he is hurt or when he is
frightened, we have reason to suspect something wrong, or, at least,
something abnormal, in his mental or physical constitution. But if he does
not obey his mother's commands--no matter how insubordinate or unmanageable
he may be--the fault does not, certainly, indicate any thing at all wrong
in _him_. The fault is in his training. In witnessing his disobedience,
our reflection should be, not "What a bad boy!" but "What an unfaithful or
incompetent mother!"

I have dwelt the longer on this point because it is fundamental As long as
a mother imagines, as so many mothers seem to do, that obedience on the
part of the child is, or ought to be, a matter of course, she will never
properly undertake the work of training him. But when she thoroughly
understands and feels that her children are not to be expected to submit
their will to hers, _except so far as she forms in them the habit of doing
this by special training_, the battle is half won.

_Actual Instincts of Children_.

The natural instinct which impels her children to come at once to her for
refuge and protection in all their troubles and fears, is a great source of
happiness to every mother. This instinct shows itself in a thousand ways.
"A mother, one morning"--I quote the anecdote from a newspaper[B] which
came to hand while I was writing this chapter--"gave her two little ones
books and toys to amuse them, while she went to attend to some work in an
upper room. Half an hour passed quietly, and then a timid voice at the foot
of the stairs called out:

"'Mamma, are you there?'

"'Yes, darling.'

"'All right, then!' and the child went back to its play.

"By-and-by the little voice was heard again, repeating,

"'Mamma, are you there?'


"'All right, then;' and the little ones returned again, satisfied and
reassured, to their toys."

The sense of their mother's presence, or at least the certainty of her
being near at hand, was necessary to their security and contentment in
their plays. But this feeling was not the result of any teachings that they
had received from their mother, or upon her having inculcated upon their
minds in any way the necessity of their keeping always within reach of
maternal protection; nor had it been acquired by their own observation or
experience of dangers or difficulties which had befallen them when too far
away. It was a native instinct of the soul--the same that leads the lamb
and the calf to keep close to their mother's side, and causes the unweaned
babe to cling to its mother's bosom, and to shrink from being put away into
the crib or cradle alone.

_The Responsibility rests upon the Mother_.

The mother is thus to understand that the principle of obedience is not
to be expected to come by nature into the heart of her child, but to be
implanted by education. She must understand this so fully as to feel that
if she finds that her children are disobedient to her commands--leaving out
of view cases of peculiar and extraordinary temptation--it is _her_ fault,
not theirs. Perhaps I ought not to say her _fault_ exactly, for she may
have done as well as she knows how; but, at any rate, her failure. Instead,
therefore, of being angry with them, or fretting and complaining about the
trouble they give her, she should leave them, as it were, out of the case,
and turn her thoughts to herself, and to her own management, with a view to
the discovery and the correcting of her own derelictions and errors. In
a word, she must set regularly and systematically about the work of
_teaching_ her children to subject their will to hers.

_Three Methods_.

I shall give three principles of management, or rather three different
classes of measures, by means of which children may certainly be made
obedient. The most perfect success will be attained by employing them all.
But they require very different degrees of skill and tact on the part
of the mother. The first requires very little skill. It demands only
steadiness, calmness, and perseverance. The second draws much more upon
the mother's mental resources, and the last, most of all. Indeed, as will
presently be seen, there is no limit to the amount of tact and ingenuity,
not to say genius, which may be advantageously exercised in the last
method. The first is the most essential; and it will alone, if faithfully
carried out, accomplish the end. The second, if the mother has the tact
and skill to carry it into effect, will aid very much in accomplishing the
result, and in a manner altogether more agreeable to both parties. The
third will make the work of forming the habit of obedience on the part of
the mother, and of acquiring it on the part of the child, a source of the
highest enjoyment to both. But then, unfortunately, it requires more skill
and dexterity, more gentleness of touch, so to speak, and a more delicate
constitution of soul, than most mothers can be expected to possess.

But let us see what the three methods are.

_First Method_.

1. The first principle is that the mother should so regulate her management
of her child, that he should _never_ gain any desired end by any act of
insubmission, but _always_ incur some small trouble, inconvenience, or
privation, by disobeying or neglecting to obey his mother's command.
The important words in this statement of the principle are _never_ and
_always_. It is the absolute certainty that disobedience will hurt him, and
not help him, in which the whole efficacy of the rule consists.

It is very surprising how small a punishment will prove efficacious if it
is only _certain_ to follow the transgression. You may set apart a certain
place for a prison--a corner of the sofa, a certain ottoman, a chair, a
stool, any thing will answer; and the more entirely every thing like an
air of displeasure or severity is excluded, in the manner of making the
preliminary arrangements, the better. A mother without any tact, or any
proper understanding of the way in which the hearts and minds of young
children are influenced, will begin, very likely, with a scolding.

"Children, you are getting very disobedient. I have to speak three or four
times before you move to do what I say. Now, I am going to have a prison.
The prison is to be that dark closet, and I am going to shut you up in
it for half an hour every time you disobey. Now, remember! The very next

_Empty Threatening_.

Mothers who govern by threatening seldom do any thing but threaten.
Accordingly, the first time the children disobey her, after such an
announcement, she says nothing, if the case happens to be one in which the
disobedience occasions her no particular trouble. The next time, when the
transgression is a little more serious, she thinks, very rightly
perhaps, that to be shut up half an hour in a dark closet would be a
disproportionate punishment. Then, when at length some very willful and
grave act of insubordination occurs, she happens to be in particularly
good-humor, for some reason, and has not the heart to shut "the poor thing"
in the closet; or, perhaps, there is company present, and she does not wish
to make a scene. So the penalty announced with so much emphasis turns out
to be a dead letter, as the children knew it would from the beginning.

_How Discipline may be both Gentle and Efficient_.

With a little dexterity and tact on the mother's part, the case may be
managed very differently, and with a very different result. Let us suppose
that some day, while she is engaged with her sewing or her other household
duties, and her children are playing around her, she tells them that in
some great schools in Europe, when the boys are disobedient, or violate the
rules, they are shut up for punishment in a kind of prison; and perhaps she
entertains them with invented examples of boys that would not go to prison,
and had to be taken there by force, and kept there longer on account of
their contumacy; and also of other noble boys, tall and handsome, and the
best players on the grounds, who went readily when they had done wrong and
were ordered into confinement, and bore their punishment like men, and who
were accordingly set free all the sooner on that account. Then she proposes
to them the idea of adopting that plan herself, and asks them to look
all about the room and find a good seat which they can have for their
prison--one end of the sofa, perhaps, a stool in a corner, or a box used as
a house for a kitten. I once knew an instance where a step before a door
leading to a staircase served as penitentiary, and sitting upon it for
a minute or less was the severest punishment required to maintain most
perfect discipline in a family of young children for a long time.

When any one of the children violated any rule or direction which had been
enjoined upon them--as, for example, when they left the door open in coming
in or going out, in the winter; or interrupted their mother when she was
reading, instead of standing quietly by her side and waiting until she
looked up from her book and gave them leave to speak to her; or used any
violence towards each other, by pushing, or pulling, or struggling for a
plaything or a place; or did not come promptly to her when called; or
did not obey at once the first command in any case, the mother would say
simply, "Mary!" or "James! Prison!" She would pronounce this sentence
without any appearance of displeasure, and often with a smile, as if they
were only playing prison, and then, in a very few minutes after they had
taken the penitential seat, she would say _Free_! which word set them at
liberty again.

_Must begin at the Beginning_.

I have no doubt that some mothers, in reading this, will say that such
management as this is mere trifling and play; and that real and actual
children, with all their natural turbulence, insubordination, and
obstinacy, can never be really governed by any such means. I answer that
whether it proves on trial to be merely trifling and play or not depends
upon the firmness, steadiness, and decision with which the mother
carries it into execution. Every method of management requires firmness,
perseverance, and decision on the part of the mother to make it successful,
but, with these qualities duly exercised, it is astonishing what slight and
gentle penalties will suffice for the most complete establishment of her
authority. I knew a mother whose children were trained to habits of almost
perfect obedience, and whose only method of punishment, so far as I know,
was to require the offender to stand on one foot and count five, ten, or
twenty, according to the nature and aggravation of the offense. Such a
mother, of course, begins early with her children. She trains them from
their earliest years to this constant subjection of their will to hers.
Such penalties, moreover, owe their efficiency not to the degree of pain
or inconvenience that they impose upon the offender, but mainly upon their
_calling his attention, distinctly_, after every offense, to the fact that
he has done wrong. Slight as this is, it will prove to be sufficient if it
_always_ comes--if no case of disobedience or of willful wrong-doing of any
kind is allowed to pass unnoticed, or is not followed by the infliction of
the proper penalty. It is in all cases the certainty, and not the severity,
of punishment which constitutes its power.

_Suppose one is not at the Beginning_.

What has been said thus far relates obviously to cases where the mother is
at the commencement of her work of training. This is the way to _begin_;
but you can not begin unless you are at the beginning. If your children
are partly grown, and you find that they are not under your command,
the difficulty is much greater. The principles which should govern the
management are the same, but they can not be applied by means so gentle.
The prison, it may be, must now be somewhat more real, the terms of
imprisonment somewhat longer, and there may be cases of insubordination so
decided as to require the offender to be carried to it by force, on account
of his refusal to go of his own accord, and perhaps to be held there, or
even to be tied. Cases requiring treatment so decisive as this must be very
rare with children under ten years of age; and when they occur, the
mother has reason to feel great self-condemnation--or at least great
self-abasement--at finding that she has failed so entirely in the first
great moral duty of the mother, which is to train her children to complete
submission to her authority from the beginning.

_Children coming under New Control_.

Sometimes, however, it happens that children are transferred from one
charge to another, so that the one upon whom the duty of government
devolves, perhaps only for a time, finds that the child or children put
under his or her charge have been trained by previous mismanagement to
habits of utter insubordination. I say, trained to such habits, for the
practice of allowing children to gain their ends by any particular means is
really training them to the use of those means. Thus multitudes of
children are taught to disobey, and trained to habits of insubmission and
insubordination, by the means most effectually adapted to that end.


When under these circumstances the children come under a new charge,
whether permanently or temporarily, the task of re-form in or their
characters is more delicate and difficult than where one can begin at the
beginning; but the principles are the same, and the success is equally
certain. The difficulty is somewhat increased by the fact that the person
thus provisionally in charge has often no natural authority over the child,
and the circumstances may moreover be such as to make it necessary to
abstain carefully from any measures that would lead to difficulty or
collision, to cries, complaints to the mother, or any of those other forms
of commotion or annoyance, which ungoverned children know so well how to
employ in gaining their ends. The mother may be one of those weak-minded
women who can never see any thing unreasonable in the crying complaints
made by their children against other people. Or she may be sick, and it may
be very important to avoid every thing that could agitate or disturb her.

_George and Egbert_.

This last was the case of George, a young man of seventeen, who came to
spend some time at home after an absence of two years in the city. He found
his mother sick, and his little brother, Egbert, utterly insubordinate and

"The first thing I have to do," said George to himself, when he observed
how things were, "is to get command of Egbert;" and as the first lesson
which he gave his little brother illustrates well the principle of gentle
but efficient punishment, I will give it here.

Egbert was ten years of age. He was very fond of going a-fishing, but he
was not allowed to go alone. His mother, very weak and vacillating about
some things, was extremely decided about this. So Egbert had learned to
submit to this restriction, as he would have done to all others if his
mother had been equally decided in respect to all.

The first thing that Egbert thought of the next morning after his brother's
return was that George might go a-fishing with him.

"I don't know," replied George, in a hesitating and doubtful tone. "I don't
know whether it will do for me to go a-fishing with you. I don't know
whether I can depend upon your always obeying me and doing as I say."

Egbert made very positive promises, and so it was decided to go. George
took great interest in helping Egbert about his fishing-tackle, and did all
in his power in other ways to establish friendly relations with him, and
at length they set out. They walked a little distance down what was in the
winter a wood road, and then came to a place where two paths led into a
wood. Either of them led to the river. But there was a brook to cross, and
for one of these paths there was a bridge. There was none for the other.
George said that they would take the former. Egbert, however, paid no
regard to this direction, but saying simply "No, I'd rather go this way,"
walked off in the other path.

"I was afraid you would not obey me," said George, and then turned and
followed Egbert into the forbidden path, without making any further
objection. Egbert concluded at once that he should find George as easily to
be managed as he had found other people.

_The Disobedience_.

When they came in sight of the brook, George saw that there was a narrow
log across it, in guise of a bridge. He called out to Egbert, who had gone
on before him, not to go over the log until _he_ came. But Egbert called
back in reply that there was no danger, that he could go across alone, and
so went boldly over. George, on arriving at the brook, and finding that the
log was firm and strong, followed Egbert over it. "I told you I could go
across it," said Egbert. "Yes," replied George, "and you were right in
that. You did cross it. The log is very steady. I think it makes quite a
good bridge."

Egbert said he could hop across it on one foot, and George gave him leave
to try, while he, George, held his fishing-pole for him. George followed
him over the log, and then told him that he was very sorry to say it, but
that he found that they could not go a-fishing that day. Egbert wished to
know the reason. George said it was a private reason and he could not tell
him then, but that he would tell him that evening after he had gone to bed.
There was a story about it, too, he said, that he would tell him at the
same time.

Egbert was curious to know what the reason could be for changing the plan,
and also to hear the story. Still he was extremely disappointed in having
to lose his fishing, and very much disposed to be angry with George for
not going on. It was, however, difficult to get very angry without knowing
George's reason, and George, though he said that the reason was a good
one--that it was a serious difficulty in the way of going a-fishing that
day, which had only come to his knowledge since they left home, steadily
persisted in declining to explain what the difficulty was until the
evening, and began slowly to walk back toward the house.

_Egbert becomes Sullen_.

Egbert then declared that, at any rate, he would not go home. If he could
not go a-fishing he would stay there in the woods. George readily fell in
with this idea. "Here is a nice place for me to sit down on this flat rock
under the trees," said he, "and I have got a book in my pocket. You can
play about in the woods as long as you please. Perhaps you will see a
squirrel; if you do, tell me, and I will come and help you catch him." So
saying, he took out his book and sat down under the trees and began to
read. Egbert, after loitering about sullenly a few minutes, began to walk
up the path, and said that he was going home.

George, however, soon succeeded in putting him in good-humor again by
talking with him in a friendly manner, and without manifesting any signs of
displeasure, and also by playing with him on the way. He took care to keep
on friendly terms with him all the afternoon, aiding him in his various
undertakings, and contributing to his amusement in every way as much as he
could, while he made no complaint, and expressed no dissatisfaction with
him in any way whatever.

_Final Disposition of the Case_.

After Egbert had gone to bed, and before he went to sleep, George made him
a visit at his bedside, and, after a little playful frolic with him, to put
him in special good-humor, said he would make his explanation.

"The reason why I had to give up the fishing expedition," he said, "was, I
found that I could not depend upon your obeying me."

Egbert, after a moment's pause, said that he did not disobey him; and when
George reminded him of his taking the path that he was forbidden to take,
and of his crossing the log bridge against orders, he said that that path
led to the river by the shortest way, and that he knew that the log was
firm and steady, and that he could go over it without falling in. "And
so you thought you had good reasons for disobeying me," rejoined George.
"Yes," said Egbert, triumphantly. "That is just it," said George. "You
are willing to obey, except when you think you have good reasons for
disobeying, and then you disobey. That's the way a great many boys do, and
that reminds me of the story I was going to tell you. It is about some

George then told Egbert a long story about a colonel who sent a captain
with a company of men on a secret expedition with specific orders, and the
captain disobeyed the orders and crossed a stream with his force, when he
had been directed to remain on the hither side of it, thinking himself that
it would be better to cross, and in consequence of it he and all his force
were captured by the enemy, who were lying in ambush near by, as the
colonel knew, though the captain did not know it. George concluded his
story with some very forcible remarks, showing, in a manner adapted to
Egbert's state of mental development, how essential it was to the character
of a good soldier that he should obey implicitly all the commands of his
superior, without ever presuming to disregard them on the ground of his
seeing good reason for doing so.

He then went on to relate another story of an officer on whom the general
could rely for implicit and unhesitating obedience to all his commands, and
who was sent on an important expedition with orders, the reasons for which
he did not understand, but all of which he promptly obeyed, and thus
brought the expedition to a successful conclusion. He made the story
interesting to Egbert by narrating many details of a character adapted
to Egbert's comprehension, and at the end drew a moral from it for his

_The Moral_.

This moral was not, as some readers might perhaps anticipate, and as,
indeed, many persons of less tact might have made it, that Egbert ought
himself, as a boy, to obey those in authority over him. Instead of this he
closed by saying: "And I advise you, if you grow up to be a man and ever
become the general of an army, never to trust any captain or colonel with
the charge of an important enterprise, unless they are men that know how
to obey." Egbert answered very gravely that he was "determined that he

Soon after this George bade him good-night and went away. The next day he
told Egbert not to be discouraged at his not having yet learned to obey.
"There are a great many boys older than you," he said, "who have not
learned this lesson; but you will learn in time. I can't go a-fishing with
you, or undertake any other great expeditions, till I find I can trust you
entirely to do exactly as I say in cases where I have a right to decide;
but you will learn before long, and then we can do a great many things
together which we can not do now."

_The Principles Illustrated_.

Any one who has any proper understanding of the workings of the juvenile
mind will see that George, by managing Egbert on these principles, would in
a short time acquire complete ascendency over him, while the boy would
very probably remain, in relation to his mother, as disobedient and
insubordinate as ever. If the penalty annexed to the transgression is made
as much as possible the necessary and natural consequence of it, and is
insisted upon calmly, deliberately, and with inflexible decision, but
without irritation, without reproaches, almost without any indications even
of displeasure, but is, on the contrary, lightened as much as possible
by sympathy and kindness, and by taking the most indulgent views, and
admitting the most palliating considerations in respect to the nature
of the offense, the result will certainly be the establishment of the
authority of the parent or guardian on a firm and permanent basis.

There are a great many cases of this kind, where a child with confirmed
habits of insubordination comes under the charge of a person who is not
responsible for the formation of these habits. Even the mother herself
sometimes finds herself in substantially this position with her own
children; as, for example, when after some years of lax and inefficient
government she becomes convinced that her management has been wrong, and
that it threatens to bring forth bitter fruits unless it is reformed. In
these cases, although the work is somewhat more difficult, the principles
on which success depends are the same. Slight penalties, firmly,
decisively, and invariably enforced--without violence, without scolding,
without any manifestation of resentment or anger, and, except in extreme
cases, without even expressions of displeasure--constitute a system which,
if carried out calmly, but with firmness and decision, will assuredly

_The real Difficulty_.

The case would thus seem to be very simple, and success very easy. But,
alas! this is far from being the case. Nothing is required, it is true, but
firmness, steadiness, and decision; but, unfortunately, these are the very
requisites which, of all others, it seems most difficult for mothers to
command. They can not govern their children because they can not govern

Still, if the mother possess these qualities in any tolerable degree, or is
able to acquire them, this method of training her children to the habit of
submitting implicitly to her authority, by calmly and good-naturedly, but
firmly and invariably, affixing some slight privation or penalty to every
act of resistance to her will, is the easiest to practice, and will
certainly be successful. It requires no ingenuity, no skill, no
contrivance, no thought--nothing but steady persistence in a simple
routine. This was the first of the three modes of action enumerated at the
commencement of this discussion. There were two others named, which, though
requiring higher qualities in the mother than simple steadiness of purpose,
will make the work far more easy and agreeable, where these qualities are

Some further consideration of the subject of punishment, with special
reference to the light in which it is to be regarded in respect to its
nature and its true mode of action, will occupy the next chapter.



It is very desirable that every parent and teacher should have a distinct
and clear conception of the true nature of punishment, and of the precise
manner in which it is designed to act in repressing offenses. This is
necessary in order that the punitive measures which he may employ may
accomplish the desired good, and avoid the evils which so often follow in
their train.

_Nature and Design of Punishment_.

The first question which is to be considered in determining upon the
principles to be adopted and the course to be pursued with children in
respect to punishment, is, which of the two views in respect to the nature
and design of punishment which prevail in the minds of men we will adopt in
shaping our system. For,

1. Punishment may be considered in the light of a vindictive retribution
for sin--a penalty demanded by the eternal principles of justice as the
natural and proper sequel and complement of the past act of transgression,
with or without regard to any salutary effects that may result from it in
respect to future acts. Or,

2. It may be considered as a remedial measure, adopted solely with
reference to its influence as a means of deterring the subject of it, or
others, from transgression in time to come.

According to the first view, punishment is a _penalty_ which _justice_
demands as a satisfaction for the past. According to the other it is a
_remedy_ which _goodness_ devises for the benefit of the future.

Theologians have lost themselves in endless speculations on the question
how far, in the government of God, punishment is to be considered as
possessing one or the other of these two characters, or both combined.
There seems to be also some uncertainty in the minds of men in relation to
the precise light in which the penalties of violated law are to be
regarded by civil governments, and the spirit in which they are to be
administered--they being apparently, as prescribed and employed by most
governments, in some respects, and to some extent, retributive and
vindictive, and in other respects remedial and curative.

It would seem, however, that in respect to school and family government
there could be no question on this point. The punishment of a child by a
parent, or of a pupil by a teacher, ought certainly, one would think,
to exclude the element of vindictive retribution altogether, and to be
employed solely with reference to the salutary influences that may be
expected from it in time to come. If the injunction "Vengeance is mine, I
will repay it, saith the Lord" is to be recognized at all, it certainly
ought to be acknowledged here.

This principle, once fully and cordially admitted, simplifies the subject
of punishment, as administered by parents and teachers, very much. One
extremely important and very striking result of it will appear from a
moment's reflection. It is this, namely:

It excludes completely and effectually all manifestations of irritation or
excitement in the infliction of punishment--all harsh tones of voice, all
scowling or angry looks, all violent or threatening gesticulations, and
every other mode, in fact, of expressing indignation or passion. Such
indications as these are wholly out of place in punishment considered as
the _application of a remedy_ devised beneficently with the sole view of
accomplishing a future good. They comport only with punishment considered
as vengeance, or a vindictive retribution for the past sin.

This idea is fundamental. The mother who is made angry by the misconduct of
her children, and punishes them in a passion, acts under the influence of a
brute instinct. Her family government is in principle the same as that
of the lower animals over their young. It is, however, at any rate, a
_government_; and such government is certainly better than none. But human
parents, in the training of their human offspring, ought surely to aim at
something higher and nobler. They who do so, who possess themselves fully
with the idea that punishment, as they are to administer it, is wholly
remedial in its character--that is to say, is to be considered solely with
reference to the future good to be attained by it, will have established in
their minds a principle that will surely guide them into right ways, and
bring them out successfully in the end. They will soon acquire the habit of
never threatening, of never punishing in anger, and of calmly considering,
in the case of the faults which they observe in their children, what course
of procedure will be most effectual in correcting them.

Parents seem sometimes to have an idea that a manifestation of something
like anger--or, at least, very serious displeasure on their part--is
necessary in order to make a proper impression in respect to its fault on
the mind of the child. This, however, I think, is a mistake. The impression
is made by what we _do_, and not by the indications of irritation or
displeasure which we manifest in doing it. To illustrate this, I will state
a case, narrating all its essential points just as it occurred. The case is
very analogous, in many particulars, to that of Egbert and George related
in the last chapter.

_Mary's Walk_.

"Mary," said Mary's aunt, Jane, who had come to make a visit at Mary's
mother's in the country, "I am going to the village this afternoon, and if
you would like you may go with me."

Mary was, of course, much pleased with this invitation.

"A part of the way," continued her aunt, "is by a path across the fields.
While we are there you must keep in the path all the time, for it rained a
little this morning, and I am afraid that the grass may not be quite dry."

"Yes, Aunt Jane; I'll keep in the path," said Mary.

So they set out on the walk together. When they came to the gate which led
to the path across the fields, Aunt Jane said, "Remember, Mary, you must
keep in the path."

Mary said nothing, but ran forward. Pretty soon she began to walk a little
on the margin of the grass, and, before long, observing a place where the
grass was short and where the sun shone, she ran out boldly upon it, and
then, looking down at her shoes, she observed that they were not wet. She
held up one of her feet to her aunt as she came opposite to the place,

"See, aunt, the grass is not wet at all."

"I see it is not," said her aunt. "I _thought_ it would not be wet; though
I was not sure but that it might be. But come," she added, holding out her
hand, "I have concluded not to go to the village, after all. We are going
back home."

"Oh, Aunt Jane!" said Mary, following her aunt as she began retracing her
steps along the path. "What is that for?"

"I have altered my mind," said her aunt.

"What makes you alter your mind?"

By this time Aunt Jane had taken hold of Mary's hand, and they were walking
together along the path towards home.

"Because you don't obey me," she said.

"Why, auntie," said Mary, "the grass was not wet at all where I went."

"No," said her aunt, "it was perfectly dry."

"And it did not do any harm at all for me to walk upon it," said Mary.

"Not a bit of harm," said her aunt.

"Then why are you going home?" asked Mary.

"Because you don't obey me," replied her aunt.

"You see," said her aunt, "there is one thing about this that you don't
understand, because you are such a little girl. You will understand it
by-and-by, when you grow older; and I don't blame you for not knowing it
now, because you are so young."

"What is it that I don't know?" asked Mary.

"I am afraid you would not understand it very well if I were to explain
it," replied her aunt.

"Try me," said Mary.

"Well, you see," replied her aunt, "I don't feel safe with any child that
does not obey me. This time no harm was done, because the grass happened to
be dry; but farther on there was a brook. I might have told you not to go
near the brink of the brook for fear of your falling in. Then you might
have gone, notwithstanding, if you thought there was no danger, just as you
went out upon the grass because you thought it was not wet, notwithstanding
my saying that you must keep in the path. So you see I never feel safe in
taking walks in places where there is any danger with children that I can
not always depend upon to do exactly what I say."

Mary was, of course, now ready to make profuse promises that she would
obey her aunt in future on all occasions and began to beg that she would
continue her walk to the village.

"No," said her aunt, "I don't think it would be quite safe for me to trust
to your promises, though I have no doubt you honestly mean to keep them.
But you remember you promised me that you would keep in the path when we
planned this walk; and yet when the time of temptation came you could not
keep the promise; but you will learn. When I am going on some perfectly
safe walk I will take you with me again; and if I stay here some time you
will learn to obey me so perfectly that I can take you with me to any
place, no matter how dangerous it may be."

Aunt Jane thus gently, but firmly, persisted in abandoning the walk to the
village, and returning home; but she immediately turned the conversation
away from the subject of Mary's fault, and amused her with stories and
aided her in gathering flowers, just as if nothing had happened; and when
she arrived at home she said nothing to any one of Mary's disobedience.
Here now was punishment calculated to make a very strong impression--but
still without scolding, without anger, almost, in fact, without even any
manifestations of displeasure. And yet how long can any reasonable person
suppose it would be before Mary would learn, if her aunt acted invariably
on the same principles, to submit implicitly to her will?

_A Different Management_.

Compare the probable result of this mode of management with the scolding
and threatening policy. Suppose Aunt Jane had called to Mary angrily,

"Mary! Mary! come directly back into the path. I told you not to go out of
the path, and you are a very naughty child to disobey me. The next time you
disobey me in that way I will send you directly home."

Mary would have been vexed and irritated, perhaps, and would have said to
herself, "How cross Aunt Jane is to-day!" but the "next time" she would
have been as disobedient as ever.

If mothers, instead of scowling, scolding, and threatening now, and putting
off doing the thing that ought to be done to the "next time," would do
that thing at once, and give up the scowling, scolding, and threatening
altogether, they would find all parties immensely benefited by the change.

It is evident, moreover, that by this mode of management the punishment is
employed not in the way of retribution, but as a remedy. Mary loses her
walk not on the ground that she deserved to lose it, but because it was not
safe to continue it.

_An Objection_.

Some mother may perhaps say, in reference to the case of Mary and her aunt,
that it may be all very well in theory, but that practically mothers have
not the leisure and the means for adopting such moderate measures. We can
not stop, she may say, every time we are going to the village, on important
business perhaps, and turn back and lose the afternoon on account of the
waywardness of a disobedient child.

My answer is that it will not have to be done _every time,_ but only very
seldom. The effect of acting once or twice on this principle, with the
certainty on the part of the child that the mother or the aunt will always
act so when the occasion calls for it, very soon puts an end to all
necessity for such action. Indeed, if Mary, in the instance above given,
had been managed in this way from infancy, she would not have thought of
leaving the path when forbidden to do so. It is only in some such case as
that of an aunt who knows how to manage right, coming as a visitor into the
family of a mother who manages wrong, that such an incident as this could

Still it must be admitted that the gentle methods of discipline, which
reason and common sense indicate as the true ones for permanently
influencing the minds of children and forming their characters, do, in
each individual case, require more time and care than the cuffs and slaps
dictated by passion. A box on the ear, such as a cat gives to a rebellious
kitten, is certainly the _quickest_ application that can be made. The
measures that are calculated to reach and affect the heart can not vie with
blows and scoldings in respect to the promptness of their action. Still,
the parent or the teacher who will begin to act on the principles here
recommended with children while they are young will find that such methods
are far more prompt in their action and more effectual in immediate results
than they would suppose, and that they will be the means of establishing
the only kind of authority that is really worthy of the name more rapidly
than any other.

The special point, however, with a view to which these illustrations are
introduced, is, as has been already remarked, that penalties of this
nature, and imposed in this spirit, are not vindictive, but simply remedial
and reformatory. They are not intended to satisfy the sense of justice for
what is past, but only to secure greater safety and happiness in time to

_The Element of Invariableness_.

Punishments may be very light and gentle in their character, provided they
are certain to follow the offense. It is in their _certainty_, and not in
their _severity_, that the efficiency of them lies. Very few children are
ever severely burnt by putting their fingers into the flame of a candle.
They are effectually taught not to put them in by very slight burnings,
on account of the _absolute invariableness_ of the result produced by the

Mothers often do not understand this. They attempt to cure some habitual
fault by scoldings and threats, and declarations of what they will
certainly do "next time," and perhaps by occasional acts of real severity
in cases of peculiar aggravation, instead of a quiet, gentle, and
comparatively trifling infliction in _every instance_ of the fault, which
would be altogether more effectual.

A child, for example, has acquired the habit of leaving the door open. Now
occasionally scolding him, when it is specially cold, and now and then
shutting him up in a closet for half an hour, will never cure him of the
fault. But if there were an automaton figure standing by the side of the
door, to say to him _every time_ that he came through without shutting it,
_Door_! which call should be a signal to him to go back and shut the door,
and then sit down in a chair near by and count ten; and if this slight
penalty was _invariably_ enforced, he would be most effectually cured of
the fault in a very short time.

Now, the mother can not be exactly this automaton, for she can not always
be there; but she can recognize the principle, and carry it into effect as
far as possible--that is, _invariably, when she is there_. And though she
will not thus cure the boy of the fault so soon as the automaton would do
it, she will still do it very soon.

_Irritation and Anger_.

Avoid, as much as possible, every thing of an irritating character in the
punishments inflicted, for to irritate frequently the mind of a child
tends, of course, to form within him an irritable and unamiable temper. It
is true, perhaps, that it is not possible absolutely to avoid this effect
of punishment in all cases; but a great deal may be done to diminish the
evil by the exercise of a little tact and ingenuity on the part of the
mother whose attention is once particularly directed to the subject.

The first and most important measure of precaution on this point is
the absolute exclusion of every thing like angry looks and words as
accompaniments of punishment. If you find that any wrong which your child
commits awakens irritation or anger in your mind, suspend your judgment
of the case and postpone all action until the irritation and anger have
subsided, and you can consider calmly and deliberately what to do, with
a view, not of satisfying your own resentment, but of doing good to the
child. Then, when you have decided what to do, carry your decision into
effect in a good-natured manner--firmly and inflexibly--but still without
any violence, or even harshness, of manner.

_Co-operation of the Offender_.

There are many cases in which, by the exercise of a little tact and
ingenuity, the parent can actually secure the _co-operation_ of the child
in the infliction of the punishment prescribed for the curing of a fault.
There are many advantages in this, when it can be done. It gives the child
an interest in curing himself of the fault; it makes the punishment more
effectual; and it removes almost all possibility of its producing any
irritation or resentment in his mind. To illustrate this we will give a
case. It is of no consequence, for the purpose of this article, whether it
is a real or an imaginary one.

Little Egbert, seven years old, had formed the habit so common among
children of wasting a great deal of time in dressing himself, so as not to
be ready for breakfast when the second bell rang. His mother offered him
a reward if he would himself devise any plan that would cure him of the

"I don't know what to do, exactly, to cure you," she said; "but if you will
think of any plan that will really succeed, I will give you an excursion in
a carriage."

"How far?" asked Egbert.

"Ten miles," said his mother. "I will take you in a carriage on an
excursion anywhere you say, for ten miles, if you will find out some way to
cure yourself of this fault."

"I think you ought to punish me," said Egbert, speaking in rather a timid

"That's just it," said his mother, "It is for you to think of some kind of
punishment that won't be too disagreeable for me to inflict, and which will
yet be successful in curing you of the fault. I will allow you a fortnight
to get cured. If you are not cured in a fortnight I shall think the
punishment is not enough, or that it is not of a good kind; but if it works
so well as to cure you in a fortnight, then you shall have the ride."

Egbert wished to know whether he must think of the punishment himself, or
whether his sister Mary might help him. His mother gave him leave to
ask any body to help him that he pleased. Mary, after some reflection,
recommended that, whenever he was not dressed in time, he was to have only
one lump of sugar, instead of four, in his tumbler of water for breakfast.

His usual drink at breakfast was a tumbler of water, with four lumps of
sugar in it. The first bell was rung at half-past six, and breakfast was
at half-past seven. His sister recommended that, as half an hour was ample
time for the work of dressing, Egbert should go down every morning and
report himself ready before the clock struck seven. If he failed of this,
he was to have only one lump of sugar, instead of four, in his glass of

There was some question about the necessity of requiring him to be ready
before seven; Egbert being inclined to argue that if he was ready by
breakfast-time, that would be enough. But Mary said no. "To allow you a
full hour to dress," she said, "when half an hour is enough, may answer
very well in respect to having you ready for breakfast, but it is no way to
cure you of the fault. That would enable you to play half of the time while
you are dressing, without incurring the punishment; but the way to cure you
is to make it sure that you will have the punishment to bear if you play at

So it was decided to allow only half an hour for the dressing-time.

Egbert's mother said she was a little afraid about the one lump of sugar
that was left to him when he failed.

"The plan _may_ succeed," she said; "I am very willing that you should try
it; but I am afraid that when you are tempted to stop and play in the midst
of your dressing, you will say, I shall have _one_ lump of sugar, at any
rate, and so will yield to the temptation. So perhaps it would be safer for
you to make the rule that you are not to have any sugar at all when you
fail. Still, _perhaps_ your plan will succeed. You can try it and see. I
should wish myself to have the punishment as slight as possible to produce
the effect."

By such management as this, it is plain that Egbert is brought into actual
co-operation with his mother in the infliction of a punishment to cure him
of a fault. It is true, that making such an arrangement as this, and then
leaving it to its own working, would lead to no result. As in the case of
all other plans and methods, it must be strictly, firmly, and perseveringly
followed up by the watchful efficiency of the mother. We can not
_substitute_ the action of the child for that of the parent in the work of
early training, but we can often derive very great advantage by securing
his cooperation.

_Playful Punishments_.

So true is it that the efficacy of any mode of punishment consists in the
_certainty of its infliction_, that even playful punishments are in many
cases sufficient to accomplish the cure of a fault. George, for example,
was in the habit of continually getting into disputes and mild quarrels
with his sister Amelia, a year or two younger than himself. "I know it is
very foolish," he said to his mother, when she was talking with him on the
subject one evening after he had gone to bed, and she had been telling
him a story, and his mind was in a calm and tranquil state. "It is very
foolish, but somehow I can't help it. I forget."

"Then you must have some punishment to make you remember," said his mother.

"But sometimes _she_ is the one to blame," said George, "and then she must
have the punishment."

"No," replied his mother. "When a lady and a gentleman become involved in
a dispute in polite society, it is always the gentleman that must be
considered to be to blame."

"But Amelia and I are not polite society," said George.

"You ought to be," said his mother. "At any rate, when you, an older
brother, get into disputes with your sister, it is because you have not
sense enough to manage so as to avoid them. If you were a little older and
wiser you would have sense enough."

"Well, mother, what shall the punishment be?" said George.

"Would you really like to have a punishment, so as to cure yourself of the
fault?" asked his mother.

George said that he _would_ like one.

"Then," said his mother, "I propose that every time you get into a dispute
with Amelia, you turn your jacket wrong side out, and wear it so a little
while as a symbol of folly."

George laughed heartily at this idea, and said he should like such a
punishment as that very much. It would only be fun, he said. His mother
explained to him that it would be fun, perhaps, two or three times, but
after that it would only be a trouble; but still, if they decided upon that
as a punishment, he must submit to it in every case. Every time he found
himself getting into any dispute or difficulty with his sister, he must
stop at once and turn his jacket inside out; and if he did not himself
think to do this, she herself, if she was within hearing, would simply say,
"Jacket!" and then he must do it.

"No matter which of us is most to blame?" asked George.

"You will always be the one that is most to blame," replied his mother,
"or, at least, almost always. When a boy is playing with a sister younger
than himself, _he_ is the one that is most to blame for the quarrelling.
His sister may be to blame by doing something wrong in the first instance;
but he is the one to blame for allowing it to lead to a quarrel. If it is a
little thing, he ought to yield to her, and not to mind it; and if it is
a great thing, he ought to go away and leave her, rather than to stop and
quarrel about it. So you see you will be the one to blame for the quarrel
in almost all cases. There may possibly be some cases where you will not
be to blame at all, and then you will have to be punished when you don't
deserve it, and you must bear it like a man. This is a liability that
happens under all systems."

"We will try the plan for one fortnight," she continued. "So now remember,
every single time that I hear you disputing or quarrelling with Amelia, you
must take off your jacket and put it on again wrong side out--no matter
whether you think you were to blame or not--and wear it so a few minutes.
You can wear it so for a longer or shorter time, just as you think is best
to make the punishment effectual in curing you of the fault. By the end of
the fortnight we shall be able to see whether the plan is working well and
doing any good."

"So now," continued his mother, "shut up your eyes and go to sleep. You are
a good boy to wish to cure yourself of such faults, and to be willing to
help me in contriving ways to do it. And I have no doubt that you will
submit to this punishment good-naturedly every time, and not make me any
trouble about it."

Let it be remembered, now, that the efficacy of such management as this
consists not in the devising of it, nor in holding such a conversation as
the above with the boy--salutary as this might be--but in the _faithfulness
and strictness with which it is followed up_ during the fortnight of trial.

In the case in question, the progress which George made in diminishing his
tendency to get into disputes with his sister was so great that his mother
told him, at the end of the first fortnight, that their plan had succeeded
"admirably"--so much so, she said, that she thought the punishment of
taking off his jacket and turning it inside out would be for the future
unnecessarily severe, and she proposed to substitute for it taking off his
cap, and putting it on wrong side before.

The reader will, of course, understand that the object of such an
illustration as this is not to recommend the particular measure here
described for adoption in other cases, but to illustrate the spirit and
temper of mind in which all measures adopted by the mother in the training
of her children should be carried into effect. Measures that involve no
threats, no scolding, no angry manifestations of displeasure, but are even
playful in their character, may be very efficient in action if they are
firmly and perseveringly maintained.

_Punishments that are the Natural Consequence of the Offense_.

There is great advantage in adapting the character of the punishment to
that of the fault--making it, as far as possible, the natural and proper
consequence of it. For instance, if the boys of a school do not come in
promptly at the close of the twenty minutes' recess, but waste five minutes
by their dilatoriness in obeying the summons of the bell, and the teacher
keeps them for _five minutes beyond the usual hour of dismissal_, to make
up for the lost time, the punishment may be felt by them to be deserved,
and it may have a good effect in diminishing the evil it is intended
to remedy; but it will probably excite a considerable degree of mental
irritation, if not of resentment, on the part of the children, which will
diminish the good effect, or is, at any rate, an evil which is to be
avoided if possible.

If now, on the other hand, he assigns precisely the same penalty in another
form, the whole of the good effect may be secured without the evil. Suppose
he addresses the boys just before they are to go out at the next recess, as

"I think, boys, that twenty minutes is about the right length of time for
the recess, all told--that is, from the time you go out to the time when
you are _all_ back in your seats again, quiet and ready to resume your
studies. I found yesterday that it took five minutes for you all to come
in--that is, that it was five minutes from the time the bell was rung
before all were in their seats; and to-day I shall ring the bell after
_fifteen_ minutes, so as to give you time to come in. If I find to-day that
it takes ten minutes, then I will give you more time to come in to-morrow,
by ringing the bell after you have been out _ten_ minutes."

"I am sorry to have you lose so much of your recess, and if you can make
the time for coming in shorter, then, of course, your recess can be longer.
I should not wonder if, after a few trials, you should find that you could
all come in and get into your places in _one_ minute; and if so, I shall
be very glad, for then you can have an uninterrupted recess of _nineteen_
minutes, which will be a great gain."

Every one who has had any considerable experience in the management of boys
will readily understand how different the effect of this measure will be
from that of the other, while yet the penalty is in both cases precisely
the same--namely, the loss, for the boys, of five minutes of their play.

_The Little Runaway_.

In the same manner, where a child three or four years old was in the habit,
when allowed to go out by himself in the yard to play, of running off into
the street, a very appropriate punishment would be to require him, for the
remainder of the day, to stay in the house and keep in sight of his mother,
on the ground that it was not safe to trust him by himself in the yard.
This would be much better than sending him to bed an hour earlier, or
subjecting him to any other inconvenience or privation having no obvious
connection with the fault. For it is of the greatest importance to avoid,
by every means, the exciting of feelings of irritation and resentment
in the mind of the child, so far as it is possible to do this without
impairing the efficiency of the punishment. It is not always possible to do
this. The efficiency of the punishment is, of course, the essential thing;
but parents and teachers who turn their attention to the point will find
that it is much less difficult than one would suppose to secure this
end completely without producing the too frequent accompaniments of
punishment--anger, ill-temper, and ill-will.

[Illustration: "IT IS NOT SAFE"]

In the case, for example, of the child not allowed to go out into the yard,
but required to remain in the house in sight of his mother, the mother
should not try to make the punishment _more heavy_ by speaking again and
again of his fault, and evincing her displeasure by trying to make the
confinement as irksome to the child as possible; but, on the other hand,
should do all in her power to alleviate it. "I am very sorry," she might
say, "to have to keep you in the house. It would be much pleasanter for you
to go out and play in the yard, if it was only safe. I don't blame you very
much for running away. It is what foolish little children, as little as
you, very often do. I suppose you thought it would be good fun to run out
a little way in the street. And it is good fun; but it is not safe.
By-and-by, when you grow a little larger, you won't be so foolish, and then
I can trust you in the yard at any time without having to watch you at all.
And now what can I get for you to amuse you while you stay in the house
with me?"

Punishment coming in this way, and administered in this spirit, will
irritate the mind and injure the temper comparatively little; and, instead
of being less; will be much more effective in accomplishing the _right
kind_ of cure for the fault, than any stern, severe, and vindictive
retribution can possibly be.

_The Question of Corporal Punishment_.

The question of resorting to corporal punishment in the training of the
young has been much, very much, argued and discussed on both sides by
writers on education; but it seems to me to be mainly a question of
competency and skill. If the parent or teacher has tact or skill enough,
and practical knowledge enough of the workings of the youthful mind, he can
gain all the necessary ascendency over it without resort to the violent
infliction of bodily pain in any form. If he has not these qualities, then
he must turn to the next best means at his disposal; for it is better that
a child should be trained and governed by the rod than not trained and
governed at all. I do not suppose that savages could possibly control their
children without blows; while, on the other hand, Maria Edgeworth would
have brought under complete submission to her will a family of the most
ardent and impulsive juveniles, perhaps without even a harsh word or a
frown. If a mother begins with children at the beginning, is just and true
in all her dealings with them, gentle in manner, but inflexibly firm in
act, and looks constantly for Divine guidance and aid in her conscientious
efforts to do her duty, I feel quite confident that it will never be
necessary for her to strike them. The necessity may, however, sooner or
later come, for aught I know, in the case of those who act on the contrary
principle. Under such management, the rod may come to be the only
alternative to absolute unmanageableness and anarchy.

There will be occasion, however, to refer to this subject more fully in a
future chapter.



The mode of action described in the last two chapters for training children
to habits of obedience consisted in discouraging disobedience by connecting
some certain, though mild and gentle disadvantage, inconvenience, or
penalty, with every transgression. In this chapter is to be considered
another mode, which is in some respects the converse of the first, inasmuch
as it consists in the encouragement of obedience, by often--not necessarily
always--connecting with it some advantage, or gain, or pleasure; or, as
it may be stated summarily, the cautious encouragement of obedience by

This method of action is more difficult than the other in the sense that it
requires more skill, tact, and delicacy of perception and discrimination to
carry it successfully into effect. The other demands only firm, but gentle
and steady persistence. If the penalty, however slight it may be, _always
comes,_ the effect will take care of itself. But judiciously to
administer a system of rewards, or even of commendations, requires tact,
discrimination, and skill. It requires some observation of the peculiar
characteristics of the different minds acted upon, and of the effects
produced, and often some intelligent modification of the measures is
required, to fit them to varying circumstances and times.

_Obedience must not be Bought_.

If the bestowing of commendation and rewards is made a matter of mere blind
routine, as the assigning of gentle penalties may be, the result will
become a mere system of _bribing_, or rather paying children to be good;
and goodness that is bought, if it deserves the name of virtue at all, is
certainly virtue of a very inferior quality.

Whether a reward conferred for obedience shall operate as a bribe, or
rather as a price paid--for a _bribe_, strictly speaking, is a price paid,
not for doing right, but for doing wrong--depends sometimes on very slight
differences in the management of the particular case--differences which an
undiscriminating mother will not be very ready to appreciate.

A mother, for example, going into the village on a summer afternoon, leaves
her children playing in the yard, under the general charge of Susan, who
is at work in the kitchen, whence she can observe them from time to time
through the open window. She thinks the children will be safe, provided
they remain in the yard. The only thing to be guarded against is the danger
that they may go out through the gate into the road.

_Two Different Modes of Management_.

Under some circumstances, as, for example, where the danger to which they
would be exposed in going into the road was very great, or where the mother
can not rely upon her power to control her children's conduct by moral
means in any way, the only safe method would be to fasten the gate. But if
she prefers to depend for their safety on their voluntary obedience to
her commands, and wishes, moreover, to promote the spirit of obedience by
rewarding rather than punishing, she can make her rewards of the nature of
hire or not, according to her mode of management.

If she wishes to _hire_ obedience, she has only to say to the children that
she is going into the village for a little time, and that they may play in
the yard while she is gone, but must not go out of the gate; adding, that
she is going to bring home some oranges or candies, which she will give
them if she finds that they have obeyed her, but which she will not give
them if they have disobeyed.

Such a promise, provided the children have the double confidence in their
mother which such a method requires--namely, first, a full belief that
she will really bring home the promised rewards, if they obey her; and
secondly--and this is a confidence much less frequently felt by children,
and much less frequently deserved by their mothers--a conviction that, in
case they disobey, no importunities on their part or promises for the next
time will induce their mother to give them the good things, but that the
rewards will certainly be lost to them unless they are deserved, according
to the conditions of the promise--in such a case--that is, when this double
confidence exists, the promise will have great influence upon the children.
Still, it is, in its nature, _hiring_ them to obey. I do not say that this
is necessarily a bad plan, though I think there is a better. Children may,
perhaps, be trained gradually to habits of obedience by a system of direct
rewards, and in a manner, too, far more agreeable to the parent and
better for the child than by a system of compulsion through threats and

_The Method of Indirect Rewarding_.

But there is another way of connecting pleasurable ideas and associations
with submission to parental authority in the minds of children, as a means
of alluring them to the habit of obedience--one that is both more efficient
in its results and more healthful and salutary in its action than the
practice of bestowing direct recompenses and rewards.

Suppose, for example, in the case above described, the mother, on leaving
the children, simply gives them the command that they are not to leave the
yard, but makes no promises, and then, on returning from the village with
the bonbons in her bag, simply asks Susan, when she comes in, whether the
children have obeyed her injunction not to leave the yard. If Susan says
yes, she nods to them, with a look of satisfaction and pleasure, and adds:
"I thought they would obey me. I am very glad. Now I can trust them again."

Then, by-and-by, towards the close of the day, perhaps, and when the
children suppose that the affair is forgotten, she takes an opportunity to
call them to her, saying that she has something to tell them.

"You remember when I went to the village to-day, I left you in the yard
and said that you must not go out of the gate, and you obeyed. Perhaps you
would have liked to go out into the road and play there, but you would not
go because I had forbidden it. I am very glad that you obeyed. I thought
of you when I was in the village, and I thought you would obey me. I felt
quite safe about you. If you had been disobedient children, I should have
felt uneasy and anxious. But I felt safe. When I had finished my shopping,
I thought I would buy you some bonbons, and here they are. You can go and
sit down together on the carpet and divide them. Mary can choose one, and
then Jane; then Mary, and then Jane again; and so on until they are all

_Difference in the Character of the Effects_.

It may, perhaps, be said by the reader that this is substantially the same
as giving a direct reward for the obedience. I admit that it is in some
sense _substantially_ the same thing, but it is not the same in form. And
this is one of those cases where the effect is modified very greatly by the
form. Where children are directly promised a reward if they do so and so,
they naturally regard the transaction as of the nature of a contract or a
bargain, such that when they have fulfilled the conditions on their part
the reward is their due, as, indeed, it really is; and they come and demand
it as such. The tendency, then, is, to divest their minds of all sense of
obligation in respect to doing right, and to make them feel that it is in
some sense optional with them whether to do right and earn the reward, or
not to do right and lose it.

In the case, however, last described, which seems at first view to differ
only in form from the preceding one, the commendation and the bonbons would
be so connected with the act of obedience as to associate very agreeable
ideas with it in the children's minds, and thus to make doing right appear
attractive to them on future occasions, while, at the same time, they would
not in any degree deprive the act itself of its spontaneous character, as
resulting from a sense of duty on their part, or produce the impression on
their minds that their remaining within the gate was of the nature of a
service rendered to their mother for hire, and afterwards duly paid for.

The lesson which we deduce from this illustration and the considerations
connected with it may be stated as follows:

_The General Principle_.

That the rewards conferred upon children with a view of connecting
pleasurable ideas and associations with good conduct should not take
the form of compensations stipulated for beforehand, and then conferred
according to agreement, as if they were of the nature of payment for
a service rendered, but should come as the natural expression of the
satisfaction and happiness felt by the mother in the good conduct of her
child--expressions as free and spontaneous on her part as the good conduct
was on the part of the child.

The mother who understands the full import of this principle, and whose
mind becomes fully possessed of it, will find it constantly coming into
practical use in a thousand ways. She has undertaken, for example, to teach
her little son to read. Of course learning to read is irksome to him. He
dislikes extremely to leave his play and come to take his lesson. Sometimes
a mother is inconsiderate enough to be pained at this. She is troubled to
find that her boy takes so little interest in so useful a work, and even,
perhaps, scolds him, and threatens him for not loving study. "If you don't
learn to read," she says to him, in a tone of irritation and displeasure,
"you will grow up a dunce, and every body will laugh at you, and you will
be ashamed to be seen."

_Children's Difficulties_.

But let her imagine that she herself was to be called away two or three
times a day, for half an hour, to study Chinese, with a very exacting
teacher, always more or less impatient and dissatisfied with her progress;
and yet the irksomeness and difficulty for the mother, in learning to
decipher Chinese, would be as nothing compared with that of the child in
learning to read. The only thing that could make the work even tolerable to
the mother would be a pretty near, distinct, and certain prospect of
going to China under circumstances that would make the knowledge of great
advantage to her. But the child has no such near, distinct, and certain
prospect of the advantages of knowing how to read. He has scarcely any
idea of these advantages at all. You can describe them to him, but the
description will have no perceptible effect upon his mind. Those faculties
by which we bring the future vividly before us so as to influence our
present action, are not yet developed. His cerebral organization has not
yet advanced to that condition, any more than his bones have advanced to
the hardness, rigidness, and strength of manhood. His mind is only capable
of being influenced strongly by what is present, or, at least, very near.
It is the design of Divine Providence that this should be so. The child
is not made to look forward much yet, and the mother who is pained and
distressed because he will not look forward, shows a great ignorance of the
nature of the infantile mind, and of the manner of its development. If
she finds fault with her boy for not feeling distinctly enough the future
advantages of learning to lead him to love study now, she is simply finding
fault with a boy for not being possessed of the most slowly developed
faculties of a man.

The way, then, to induce children to attend to such duties as learning to
read, is not to reason with them on the advantages of it, but to put it
simply on the ground of authority. "It is very irksome, I know, but you
must do it. When you are at play, and having a very pleasant time, I know
very well that it is hard for you to be called away to puzzle over your
letters and your reading. It was very hard for me when I was a child. It is
very hard for all children; but then it must be done."

The way in this, as in all other similar cases, to reduce the irksomeness
of disagreeable duties to a minimum is not to attempt to convince or
persuade the child, but to put the performance of them simply on the ground
of submission to authority. The child must leave his play and come to take
his lesson, not because he sees that it is better for him to learn to read
than to play all the time, nor because he is to receive a reward in the
form of compensation, but because his mother requires him to do it.

_Indirect Rewarding_.

If, therefore, she concludes, in order to connect agreeable ideas with the
hard work of learning to read, that she will often, at the close of the
lessons, tell him a little story, or show him a picture, or have a frolic
with him, or give him a piece of candy or a lump of sugar, or bestow upon
him any other little gratification, it is better not to promise these
things beforehand, so as to give to the coming of the child, when called,
the character of a service rendered for hire. Let him come simply
because he is called; and then let the gratifications be bestowed as the
expressions of his mother's satisfaction and happiness, in view of her
boy's ready obedience to her commands and faithful performance of his duty.

_Obedience, though Implicit, need not be Blind_.

It must not be supposed from what has been said that because a mother is
not to _rely upon_ the reason and forecast of the child in respect to
future advantages to accrue from efforts or sacrifices as motives of
present action, that she is not to employ the influence of these motives
at all. It is true that those faculties of the mind by which we apprehend
distant things and govern our conduct by them are not yet developed in the
child; but they are _to be_ developed, and the aid of the parent will be of
the greatest service in promoting the development of them. At proper
times, then, the pleasures and advantages of knowing how to read should be
described to the child, and presented moreover in the most attractive form.
The proper time for doing this would be when no lesson is in question--
during a ride or a walk, or in the midst of a story, or while looking at
a book of pictures. A most improper time would be when a command had
been given and was disregarded, or was reluctantly obeyed; for then such
representations would only tend to enfeeble the principle of authority by
bringing in the influence of reasonings and persuasions to make up for
its acknowledged inefficiency. It is one of those cases where a force is
weakened by reinforcement--as a plant, by being long held up by a stake,
comes in the end not to be able to stand alone.

So a mother can not in any way more effectually undermine her authority,
as _authority_, than by attempting to eke out its force by arguments and

_Authority not to be made Oppressive_.

While the parent must thus take care to establish the _principle of
authority_ as the ground of obedience on the part of his children, and must
not make their doing what he requires any the less acts of _obedience_,
through vainly attempting to diminish the hardship of obeying a command by
mingling the influence of reasonings and persuasions with it, he may in
other ways do all in his power--and that will be a great deal--to make the
acts of obedience easy, or, at least, to diminish the difficulty of them
and the severity of the trial which they often bring to the child.

One mode by which this may be done is by not springing disagreeable
obligations upon a child suddenly, but by giving his mind a little time
to form itself to the idea of what is to come. When Johnny and Mary are
playing together happily with their blocks upon the floor, and are,
perhaps, just completing a tower which they have been building, if their
mother comes suddenly into the room, announces to them abruptly that it is
time for them to go to bed, throws down the tower and brushes the blocks
into the basket, and then hurries the children away to the undressing, she
gives a sudden and painful shock to their whole nervous system, and greatly
increases the disappointment and pain which they experience in being
obliged to give up their play. The delay of a single minute would be
sufficient to bring their minds round easily and gently into submission to
the necessity of the case. If she comes to them with a smile, looks upon
their work a moment with an expression of interest and pleasure upon her
countenance, and then says,

"It is bed-time, children, but I would like to see you finish your tower."

One minute of delay like this, to soften the suddenness of the transition,
will make the act of submission to the necessity of giving up play and
going to bed, in obedience to the mother's command, comparatively easy,
instead of being, as it very likely would otherwise have been, extremely
vexatious and painful.

_Give a Little Time_.

In the same way, in bringing to a close an evening party of children at
play, if the lady of the house comes a little before the time and says to
them that after "one more play," or "two more plays," as the case may be,"
the party must come to an end," the closing of it would be made easy; while
by waiting till the hour had come, and then suddenly interrupting the
gayety, perhaps in the middle of a game, by the abrupt announcement to the
children that the clock has struck, and they must stop their plays and
begin to get ready to go home, she brings upon them a sudden shock of
painful surprise, disappointment, and, perhaps, irritation.

So, if children are to be called away from their play for any purpose
whatever, it is always best to give them a little notice, if it be only a
moment's notice, beforehand. "John, in a minute or two I shall wish you to
go and get some wood. You can be getting your things ready to be left."
"Mary, it is almost time for your lesson. You had better put Dolly to sleep
and lay her in the cradle." "Boys, in ten minutes it will be time for you
to go to school. So do not begin any new whistles, but only finish what you
have begun."

On the same principle, if boys are at play in the open air--at ball, or
skating, or flying kites--and are to be recalled by a bell, obedience to
the call will be made much more easy to them by a preliminary signal, as a
warning, given five minutes before the time.

Of course, it will not always be convenient to give these signals and these
times of preparation. Nor will it be always necessary to give them. To
determine how and in what cases it is best to apply the principle here
explained will require some tact and good judgment on the part of the
parent. It would be folly to lay down a rigid rule of this kind to be
considered as always obligatory. All that is desirable is that the mother
should understand the principle, and that she should apply it as far as she
conveniently and easily can do so. She will find in practice that when she
once appreciates the value of it, and observes its kind and beneficent
working, she will find it convenient and easy to apply it far more
generally than she would suppose.

_No weakening of Authority in this_.

It is very plain that softening thus the hardship for the child of any
act of obedience required of him by giving him a little time implies no
abatement of the authority of the parent, nor does it detract at all from
the implicitness of the obedience on the part of the child. The submission
to authority is as complete in doing a thing in five minutes if the order
was to do it in five minutes, as in doing it at once if the order was to do
it at once. And the mother must take great care, when thus trying to make
obedience more easy by allowing time, that it should be prompt and absolute
when the time has expired.

The idea is, that though the parent is bound fully to maintain his
authority over his children, in all its force, he is also bound to make the
exercise of it as little irksome and painful to them as possible, and to
prevent as much as possible the pressure of it from encroaching upon their
juvenile joys. He must insist inexorably on being obeyed; but he is bound
to do all in his power to make the yoke of obedience light and easily to be

_Influence on the healthful Development of the Brain_.

Indeed, besides the bearing of these views on the happiness of the
children, it is not at all improbable that the question of health may
be seriously involved in them. For, however certain we may be of the
immateriality of the soul in its essence, it is a perfectly well
established fact that all its operations and functions, as an animating
spirit in the human body, are fulfilled through the workings of material
organs in the brain; that these organs are in childhood in an exceedingly
immature, tender, and delicate condition; and that all sudden, sharp,
and, especially, painful emotions, greatly excite, and sometimes cruelly
irritate them.

When we consider how seriously the action of the digestive organs, in
persons in an ordinary state of health, is often interfered with by mental
anxiety or distress; how frequently, in persons subject to headaches, the
paroxysm is brought on by worryings or perplexities endured incidentally on
the preceding day; and especially how often violent and painful emotions,
when they are extreme, result in decided and sometimes in permanent and
hopeless insanity--that is, in an irreparable damage to some delicate
mechanism in the brain--we shall see that there is every reason for
supposing that all sudden shocks to the nervous system of children, all
violent and painful excitements, all vexations and irritations, and
ebullitions of ill-temper and anger, have a tendency to disturb the healthy
development of the cerebral organs, and may, in many cases, seriously
affect the future health and welfare, as well as the present happiness, of
the child.

It is true that mental disturbances and agitations of this kind can not be
wholly avoided. But they should be avoided as far as possible; and the
most efficient means for avoiding them is a firm, though calm and gentle,
establishment and maintenance of parental authority, and not, as many
mothers very mistakingly imagine, by unreasonable indulgences, and
by endeavors to manage their children by persuasions, bribings, and
manoeuvrings, instead of by commands. The most indulged children, and the
least governed, are always the most petulant and irritable; while a strong
government, if regular, uniform, and just, and if administered by gentle
measures, is the most effectual of all possible instrumentalities for
surrounding childhood with an atmosphere of calmness and peace.

In a word, while the mother is bound to do all in her power to render
submission to her authority easy and agreeable to her children, by
softening as much as possible the disappointment and hardship which her
commands sometimes occasion, and by connecting pleasurable ideas and
sensations with acts of obedience on the part of the child, she must not
at all relax the authority itself, but must maintain it under all
circumstances in its full force, with a very firm and decided, though still
gentle hand.



It is very clear that the most simple and the most obvious of the modes by
which a parent may establish among his children the habit of submission
to his authority, are those which have been already described, namely,
punishments and rewards--punishments, gentle in their character, but
invariably enforced, as the sure results of acts of insubordination; and
rewards for obedience, occasionally and cautiously bestowed, in such a
manner that they may be regarded as recognitions simply, on the part of
the parent, of the good conduct of his children, and expressions of his
gratification, and not in the light of payment or hire. These are obviously
the most simple modes, and the ones most ready at hand. They require no
exalted or unusual qualities on the part of father or mother, unless,
indeed, we consider gentleness, combined with firmness and good sense, as
an assemblage of rare and exalted qualities. To assign, and firmly and
uniformly to enforce, just but gentle penalties for disobedience, and to
recognize, and sometimes reward, special acts of obedience and submission,
are measures fully within the reach of every parent, however humble may be
the condition of his intelligence or his attainments of knowledge.

_Another Class of Influences_.

There is, however, another class of influences to be adopted, not as a
substitute for these simple measures, but in connection and co-operation
with them, which will be far more deep, powerful, and permanent in their
results, though they require much higher qualities in the parent for
carrying them successfully into effect. This higher method consists in
a _systematic effort to develop in the mind of the child a love of the
principle of obedience_, by express and appropriate training.

_Parents not aware of the Extent of their Responsibility_.

Many parents, perhaps indeed nearly all, seem, as we have already shown,
to act as if they considered the duty of obedience on the part of their
children as a matter of course. They do not expect their children to read
or to write without being taught; they do not expect a dog to fetch and
carry, or a horse to draw and to understand commands and signals, without
being _trained_. In all these cases they perceive the necessity of training
and instruction, and understand that the initiative is with _them_. If a
horse, endowed by nature with average good qualities, does not work well,
the fault is attributed at once to the man who undertook to train him. But
what mother, when her child, grown large and strong, becomes the trial and
sorrow of her life by his ungovernable disobedience and insubordination,
takes the blame to herself in reflecting that he was placed in her hands
when all the powers and faculties of his soul were in embryo, tender,
pliant, and unresisting, to be formed and fashioned at her will?

_The Spirit of filial Obedience not Instinctive_.

Children, as has already been remarked, do not require to be taught
and trained to eat and drink, to resent injuries, to cling to their
possessions, or to run to their mother in danger or pain. They have natural
instincts which provide for all these things. But to speak, to read, to
write, and to calculate; to tell the truth, and to obey their parents;
to forgive injuries, to face bravely fancied dangers and bear patiently
unavoidable pain, are attainments for which no natural instincts can
adequately provide. There are instincts that will aid in the work, but none
that can of themselves be relied upon without instruction and training. In
actual fact, children usually receive their instruction and training in
respect to some of these things incidentally--as it happens--by the rough
knocks and frictions, and various painful experiences which they encounter
in the early years of life. In respect to others, the guidance and
aid afforded them is more direct and systematic. Unfortunately the
establishment in their minds of the principle of obedience comes ordinarily
under the former category. No systematic and appropriate efforts are
made by the parent to implant it. It is left to the uncertain and fitful
influences of accident--to remonstrances, reproaches, and injunctions
called forth under sudden excitement in the various emergencies of domestic
discipline, and to other means, vague, capricious, and uncertain, and
having no wise adaptedness to the attainment of the end in view.

_Requires appropriate Training_.

How much better and more successfully the object would be accomplished if
the mother were to understand distinctly at the outset that the work of
training her children to the habit of submission to her authority is a
duty, the responsibility of which devolves not upon her children, but upon
her; that it is a duty, moreover, of the highest importance, and one that
demands careful consideration, much forethought, and the wise adaptation of
means to the end.


The first thought of some parents may possibly be, that they do not know of
any other measures to take in order to teach their children submission to
their authority, than to reward them when they obey and punish them when
they disobey. To show that there are other methods, we will consider a
particular case.

Mary, a young lady of seventeen, came to make a visit to her sister.
She soon perceived that her sister's children, Adolphus and Lucia, were
entirely ungoverned. Their mother coaxed, remonstrated, advised, gave
reasons, said "I wouldn't do this," or "I wouldn't do that,"--did every
thing, in fact, except simply to command; and the children, consequently,
did pretty much what they pleased. Their mother wondered at their
disobedience and insubordination, and in cases where these faults resulted
in special inconvenience for herself she bitterly reproached the children
for their undutiful behavior. But the reproaches produced no effect.

"The first thing that I have to do," said Mary to herself, in observing
this state of things, "is to teach the children to obey--at least to obey
_me_. I will give them their first lesson at once."

_Mary makes a Beginning_.

So she proposed to them to go out with her into the garden and show her
the flowers, adding that if they would do so she would make each of them a
bouquet. She could make them some very pretty bouquets, she said, provided
they would help her, and would follow her directions and obey her
implicitly while gathering and arranging the flowers.

This the children promised to do, and Mary went with them into the garden.
There, as she passed about from border to border, she gave them a great
many different directions in respect to things which they were to do, or
which they were not to do. She gathered flowers, and gave some to one
child, and some to the other, to be held and carried--with special
instructions in respect to many details, such as directing some flowers to
be put together, and others to be kept separate, and specifying in what
manner they were to be held or carried. Then she led them to a bower where
there was a long seat, and explained to them how they were to lay the
flowers in order upon the seat, and directed them to be very careful not to
touch them after they were once laid down. They were, moreover, to leave a
place in the middle of the seat entirely clear. They asked what that was
for. Mary said that they would see by-and-by. "You must always do just as
I say," she added, "and perhaps I shall explain the reason afterwards, or
perhaps you will see what the reason is yourselves."

After going on in this way until a sufficient number and variety of flowers
were collected, Mary took her seat in the vacant place which had been left,
and assigned the two portions of the seat upon which the flowers had been
placed to the children, giving each the charge of the flowers upon one
portion, with instructions to select and give to her such as she should
call for. From the flowers thus brought she formed two bouquets, one for
each of the children. Then she set them both at work to make bouquets for
themselves, giving them minute and special directions in regard to every
step. If her object had been to cultivate their taste and judgment, then it
would have been better to allow them to choose the flowers and determine
the arrangement for themselves; but she was teaching them _obedience_, or,
rather, beginning to form in them the _habit_ of obedience; and so, the
more numerous and minute the commands the better, provided that they were
not in them selves unreasonable, nor so numerous and minute as to be
vexatious, so as to incur any serious danger of their not being readily and
good-humoredly obeyed.



When the bouquets were finished Mary gave the children, severally, the
two which had been made for them; and the two which they had made for
themselves she took into the house and placed them in glasses upon the
parlor mantel-piece, and then stood back with the children in the middle of
the room to admire them.

"See how pretty they look! And how nicely the work went on while we were
making them! That was because you obeyed me so well while we were doing it.
You did exactly as I said in every thing."

_A Beginning only_.

Now this was an excellent _first lesson_ in training the children to the
habit of obedience. It is true that it was _only_ a first lesson. It was a
beginning, but it was a very good beginning. If, on the following day, Mary
had given the children a command which it would be irksome to them to obey,
or one which would have called for any special sacrifice or self-denial on
their part, they would have disregarded it. Still they would have been a
little less inclined to disregard it than if they had not received their
first lesson; and there can be no doubt that if Mary were to continue her
training in the same spirit in which she commenced it she would, before
many weeks, acquire a complete ascendency over them, and make them entirely
submissive to her will.

And yet this is a species of training the efficacy of which depends on
influences in which the hope of reward or the fear of punishment does not
enter. The bouquets were not promised to the children at the outset, nor
were they given to them at last as rewards. It is true that they saw
the advantages resulting from due subordination of the inferiors to the
superior in concerted action, and at the end they felt a satisfaction
in having acted right; but these advantages did not come in the form of
rewards. The efficacy of the lesson depended on a different principle

_The Philosophy of it_.

The philosophy of it was this: Mary, knowing that the principle of
obedience in the children was extremely weak, and that it could not stand
any serious test, contrived to bring it into exercise a great many times
under the lightest possible pressure. She called upon them to do a great
many different things, each of which was very easy to do, and gave them
many little prohibitions which it required a very slight effort of
self-denial on their part to regard; and she connected agreeable
associations in their minds with the idea of submission to authority,
through the interest which she knew they would feel in seeing the work
of gathering the flowers and making the bouquets go systematically and
prosperously on, and through the commendation of their conduct which she
expressed at the end.

Such persons as Mary do not analyze distinctly, in their thoughts,
nor could they express in words, the principles which underlie their
management; but they have an instinctive mental perception of the
adaptation of such means to the end in view. Other people, who observe how
easily and quietly they seem to obtain an ascendency over all children
coming within their influence, and how absolute this ascendency often
becomes, are frequently surprised at it. They think there is some mystery
about it; they say it is "a knack that some people have;" but there is no
mystery about it at all, and nothing unusual or strange, except so far as
practical good sense, considerate judgment, and intelligent observation and
appreciation of the characteristics of childhood are unusual and strange.

Mary was aware that, although the principle of obedience is seldom or
never entirely obliterated from the hearts of children--that is, that
the impression upon their minds, which, though it may not be absolutely
instinctive, is very early acquired, that it is incumbent on them to obey
those set in authority over them, is seldom wholly effaced, the sentiment
had become extremely feeble in the minds of Adolphus and Lucia; and that it
was like a frail and dying plant, which required very delicate and careful
nurture to quicken it to life and give it its normal health and vigor. Her
management was precisely of this character. It called the weak and feeble
principle into gentle exercise, without putting it to any severe test, and
thus commenced the formation of a _habit of action_. Any one will see that
a course of training on these principles, patiently and perseveringly
continued for the proper time, could not fail of securing the desired end,
except in cases of children characterized by unusual and entirely abnormal

We can not here follow in detail the various modes in which such a manager
as Mary would adapt her principle to the changing incidents of each day,
and to the different stages of progress made by her pupils in learning to
obey, but can only enumerate certain points worthy of the attention of
parents who may feel desirous to undertake such a work of training.

_Three practical Directions_.

1. Relinquish entirely the idea of expecting children to be _spontaneously_
docile and obedient, and the practice of scolding or punishing them
vindictively when they are not so. Instead of so doing, understand that
docility and obedience on their part is to be the result of wise, careful,
and persevering, though gentle training on the part of the parent.

2. If the children have already formed habits of disobedience and
insubordination, do not expect that the desirable change can be effected by
sudden, spasmodic, and violent efforts, accompanied by denunciations and
threats, and declarations that you are going to "turn over a new leaf." The
attempt to change perverted tendencies in children by such means is like
trying to straighten a bend in the stem of a growing tree by blows with a

3. Instead of this, begin without saying at all what you are going to do,
or finding any fault with the past, and, with a distinct recognition of the
fact that whatever is bad in the _native tendencies_ of your children's
minds is probably inherited from their parents, and, perhaps, specially
from yourself, and that whatever is wrong in their _habits of action_ is
certainly the result of bad training, proceed cautiously and gently, but
perseveringly and firmly, in bringing the bent stem gradually up to the
right position. In doing this, there is no amount of ingenuity and skill,
however great, that may not be usefully employed; nor is there, on the
other hand, except in very rare and exceptional cases, any parent who has
an allotment so small as not to be sufficient to accomplish the end, if
conscientiously and faithfully employed.



In order to give a more clear idea of what I mean by forming habits of
obedience in children by methods other than those connected with a system
of rewards and punishments, I will specify some such methods, introducing
them, however, only as illustrations of what is intended. For, while in
respect to rewards and punishments something like special and definite
rules and directions may be given, these other methods, as they depend on
the tact, ingenuity, and inventive powers of the parents for their success,
depend also in great measure upon these same qualities for the discovery
of them. The only help that can be received from without must consist of
suggestions and illustrations, which can only serve to communicate to the
mind some general ideas in respect to them.

_Recognizing the Right._

1. A very excellent effect is produced in forming habits of obedience in
children, by simply _noticing_ their good conduct when they do right, and
letting them see that you notice it. When children are at play upon the
carpet, and their mother from time to time calls one of them--Mary, we will
say--to come to her to render some little service, it is very often the
case that she is accustomed, when Mary obeys the call at once, leaving
her play immediately and coming directly, to say nothing about the prompt
obedience, but to treat it as a matter of course. It is only in the
cases of failure that she seems to notice the action. When Mary, greatly
interested in what for the moment she is doing, delays her coming, she
says, "You ought to come at once, Mary, when I call you, and not make me
wait in this way." In the cases when Mary did come at once, she had said

Mary goes back to her play after the reproof, a little disturbed in mind,
at any rate, and perhaps considerably out of humor.

Now Mary may, perhaps, be in time induced to obey more promptly under this
management, but she will have no heart in making the improvement, and she
will advance reluctantly and slowly, if at all. But if, at the first time
that she comes promptly, and then, after doing the errand, is ready to go
back to her play, her mother says, "You left your play and came at once
when I called you. That was right. It pleases me very much to find that I
can depend upon your being so prompt, even when you are at play," Mary will
go back to her play pleased and happy; and the tendency of the incident
will be to cause her to feel a spontaneous and cordial interest in the
principle of prompt obedience in time to come.

Johnny is taking a walk through the fields with his mother. He sees a
butterfly and sets off in chase of it. When he has gone away from the path
among the rocks and bushes as far as his mother thinks is safe, she calls
him to come back. In many cases, if the boy does not come at once in
obedience to such a call, he would perhaps receive a scolding. If he does
come back at once, nothing is said. In either case no decided effect would
be produced upon him.

But if his mother says, "Johnny, you obeyed me at once when I called you.
It must be hard, when you are after a butterfly and think you have almost
caught him, to stop immediately and come back to your mother when she calls
you; but you did it," Johnny will be led by this treatment to feel a desire
to come back more promptly still the next time.

_A Caution._

Of course there is an endless variety of ways by which you can show your
children that you notice and appreciate the efforts they make to do right.
Doubtless there is a danger to be guarded against. To adopt the practice of
noticing and commending what is right, and paying _no attention whatever_
to what is wrong, would be a great perversion of this counsel. There is
a danger more insidious than this, but still very serious and real,
of fostering a feeling of vanity and self-conceit by constant and
inconsiderate praise. These things must be guarded against; and to secure
the good aimed at, and at the same time to avoid the evil, requires the
exercise of the tact and ingenuity which has before been referred to. But
with proper skill and proper care the habit of noticing and commending, or
even noticing alone, when children do right, and of even being more
quick to notice and to be pleased with the right than to detect and be
dissatisfied with the wrong, will be found to be a very powerful means of
training children in the right way.

Children will act with a great deal more readiness and alacrity to preserve
a good character which people already attribute to them, than to relieve
themselves of the opprobrium of a bad one with which they are charged. In
other words, it is much easier to allure them to what is right than to
drive them from what is wrong.

_Giving Advice._

2. There is, perhaps, nothing more irksome to children than to listen to
advice given to them in a direct and simple form, and perhaps there is
nothing that has less influence upon them in the formation of their
characters than advice so given. And there is good reason for this; for
either the advice must be general, and of course more or less abstract,
when it is necessarily in a great measure lost upon them, since their
powers of generalization and abstraction are not yet developed; or else,
if it is practical and particular at all, it must be so with reference to
their own daily experience in life--in which case it becomes more irksome
still, as they necessarily regard it as an indirect mode of fault-finding.
Indeed, this kind of advice is almost certain to assume the form of
half-concealed fault-finding, for the subject of the counsel given would
be, in almost all cases, suggested by the errors, or shortcomings, or
failures which had been recently observed in the conduct of the children.
The art, then, of giving to children general advice and instruction in
respect to their conduct and behavior, consists in making it definite
and practical, and at the same time contriving some way of divesting it
entirely of all direct application to themselves in respect to their _past_
conduct. Of course, the more we make it practically applicable to them in
respect to the future the better.

There are various ways of giving advice of this character. It requires some
ingenuity to invent them, and some degree of tact and skill to apply them
successfully. But the necessary tact and skill would be easily acquired by
any mother whose heart is really set upon finding gentle modes of leading
her child into the path of duty.

_James and his Cousins_.

James, going to spend one of his college vacations at his uncle's, was
taken by his two cousins, Walter and Ann--eight and six years old--into
their room. The room was all in confusion. There was a set of book-shelves
upon one side, the books upon them lying tumbled about in all directions.
There was a case containing playthings in another place, the playthings
broken and in disorder; and two tables, one against the wall, and the other
in the middle of the room, both covered with litter. Now if James had
commenced his conversation by giving the children a lecture on the disorder
of their room, and on the duty, on their part, of taking better care of
their things, the chief effect would very probably have been simply to
prevent their wishing to have him come to their room again.

But James managed the case differently. After going about the room for
a few minutes with the children, and looking with them at their various
treasures, and admiring what they seemed to admire, but without finding any
fault, he sat down before the fire and took the children upon his lap--one
upon each knee--and began to talk to them. Ann had one of her picture-books
in her hand, some of the leaves torn, and the rest defaced with dog's-ears.

"Now, Walter," said James, "I'm going to give you some advice. I am going
to advise you what to do and how to act when you go to college. By-and-by
you will grow to be a young man, and will then, perhaps, go to college."

The idea of growing to be a young man and going to college was very
pleasing to Walter's imagination, and brought his mind into what may be
called a receptive condition--that is, into a state to receive readily, and
entertain with favor, the thoughts which James was prepared to present.

James then went on to draw a very agreeable picture of Walter's leaving
home and going to college, with many details calculated to be pleasing
to his cousin's fancy, and came at length to his room, and to the
circumstances under which he would take possession of it. Then he told
him of the condition in which different scholars kept their respective
rooms--how some were always in disorder, and every thing in them
topsy-turvy, so that they had no pleasant or home-like aspect at all; while
in others every thing was well arranged, and kept continually in that
condition, so as to give the whole room, to every one who entered it, a
very charming appearance.

"The books on their shelves were all properly arranged," he said, "all
standing up in order--those of a like size together. Jump down, Ann, and go
to your shelves, and arrange the books on the middle shelf in that way, to
show him what I mean."

Ann jumped down, and ran with great alacrity to arrange the books according
to the directions. When she had arranged one shelf, she was proceeding to
do the same with the next, but James said she need not do any more then.
She could arrange the others, if she pleased, at another time, he said.
"But come back now," he added, "and hear the rest of the advice."

"I advise you to keep your book-shelves in nice order at college," he
continued; "and so with your apparatus and your cabinet. For at college,
you see, you will perhaps have articles of philosophical apparatus, and a
cabinet of specimens, instead of playthings. I advise you, if you should
have such things, to keep them all nicely arranged upon their shelves."

Here James turned his chair a little, so that he and the children could
look towards the cabinet of playthings. Walter climbed down from his
cousin's lap and ran off to that side of the room, and there began hastily
to arrange the playthings.

"Yes," said James, "that is the way. But never mind that now. I think you
will know how to arrange your philosophical instruments and your cabinet
very nicely when you are in college; and you can keep your playthings in
order in your room here, while you are a boy, if you please. But come back
now and hear the rest of the advice."

So Walter came back and took his place again upon James's knee.

"And I advise you," continued James, "to take good care of your books when
you are in college. It is pleasanter, at the time, to use books that are
clean and nice, and then, besides, you will like to take your college books
with you, after you leave college, and keep them as long as you live, as
memorials of your early days, and you will value them a great deal more if
they are in good order."

Here Ann opened the book which was in her hand, and began to fold back the
dog's-ears and to smooth down the leaves.

_The Principle Involved_.

In a word, by the simple expedient of shifting the time, in the imagination
of the children, when the advice which he was giving them would come to its
practical application, he divested it of all appearance of fault-finding
in respect to their present conduct, and so secured not merely its ready
admission, but a cordial welcome for it, in their minds.

Any mother who sees and clearly apprehends the principle here illustrated,
and has ingenuity enough to avail herself of it, will find an endless
variety of modes by which she can make use of it, to gain easy access to
the hearts of her children, for instructions and counsels which, when they
come in the form of fault-finding advice, make no impression whatever.

_Expectations of Results must be Reasonable_.

Some persons, however, who read without much reflection, and who do not
clearly see the principle involved in the case above described, and do not
understand it as it is intended--that is, as a single specimen or example
of a mode of action capable of an endless variety of applications, will
perhaps say, "Oh, that was all very well. James's talk was very good for
the purpose of amusing the children for a few minutes while he was visiting
them, but it is idle to suppose that such a conversation could produce any
permanent or even lasting impression upon them; still less, that it could
work any effectual change in respect to their habits of order."

That is very true. In the work of forming the hearts and minds of children
it is "line upon line, and precept upon precept" that is required; and it
can not be claimed that one such conversation as that of James is any thing
more than _one line_. But it certainly is that. It would be as unreasonable
to expect that one single lesson like that could effectually and completely
accomplish the end in view, as that one single watering of a plant will
suffice to enable it to attain completely its growth, and enable it to
produce in perfection its fruits or its flowers.

But if a mother often clothes thus the advice or instruction which she has
to give to her children in some imaginative guise like this, advising them
what to do when they are on a journey, for example, or when they are making
a visit at the house of a friend in the country; or, in the case of a boy,
what she would counsel him to do in case he were a young man employed by a
farmer to help him on his farm, or a clerk in a store, or a sea-captain in
charge of a ship, or a general commanding a force in the field; or, if a
girl, what dangers or what undesirable habits or actions she should avoid
when travelling in Europe, or when, as a young lady, she joins in picnics
or goes on excursions, or attends concerts or evening parties, or in any of
the countless other situations which it is pleasant for young persons to
picture to their minds, introducing into all, so far as her ingenuity and
skill enable her to do it, interesting incidents and details, she will find
that she is opening to herself an avenue to her children's hearts for the
sound moral principles that she wishes to inculcate upon them, which she
can often employ easily, pleasantly, and very advantageously, both to
herself and to them.

When a child is sick, it may be of little consequence whether the medicine
which is required is agreeable or disagreeable to the taste. But with moral
remedies the case is different. Sometimes the whole efficiency of the
treatment administered as a corrective for a moral disorder depends
upon the readiness and willingness with which it is taken. To make it
disagreeable, consequently, in such cases, is to neutralize the intended
action of it--a result which the methods described in this chapter greatly
tend to avoid.



This book may, perhaps, sometimes fall into the hands of persons who have,
temporarily or otherwise, the charge of young children without any absolute
authority over them, or any means, or even any right, to enforce their
commands, as was the case, in fact, with the older brothers or sister
referred to in the preceding illustrations. To such persons, these indirect
modes of training children in habits of subordination to their will, or
rather of yielding to their influence, are specially useful. Such persons
may be interested in the manner in which Delia made use of the children's
dolls as a means of guiding and governing their little mothers.


Della had a young sister named Maria, and a cousin whose name was Jane.
Jane used often to come to make Maria a visit, and when together the
children were accustomed to spend a great deal of time in playing with
their dolls. Besides dressing and undressing them, and playing take them
out to excursions and visits, they used to talk with them a great deal, and
give them much useful and valuable information and instruction.


Now Delia contrived to obtain a great influence and ascendency over the
minds of the children by means of these dolls. She fell at once into the
idea of the children in regard to them, and treated them always as if they
were real persons; often speaking of them and to them, in the presence of
the other children, in the most serious manner. This not only pleased the
children very much, but enabled Della, under pretense of talking to the
dolls, to communicate a great deal of useful instruction to the children,
and sometimes to make very salutary and lasting impressions upon their

_Lectures to the Dolls_.

For instance, sometimes when Jane was making Maria a visit, and the two
children came into her room with their dolls in their arms, she would speak
to them as if they were real persons, and then taking them in her hands
would set them before her on her knee, and give them a very grave lecture
in respect to the proper behavior which they were to observe during the
afternoon. If Delia had attempted to give precisely the same lecture to the
children themselves, they would very soon have become restless and uneasy,
and it would have made very little impression upon them. But being
addressed to the dolls, they would be greatly interested in it, and would
listen with the utmost attention; and there is no doubt that the counsels
and instructions which she gave made a much stronger impression upon their
minds than if they had been addressed directly to the children themselves.
To give an idea of these conversations I will report one of them in full.

"How do you do, my children?" she said, on one such occasion. "I am very
glad to see you. How nice you look! You have come, Andella (Andella was the
name of Jane's doll), to make Rosalie a visit. I am very glad. You will
have a very pleasant time, I am sure; because you never quarrel. I observe
that, when you both wish for the same thing, you don't quarrel for it and
try to pull it away from one another; but one waits like a lady until the
other has done with it. I expect you have been a very good girl, Andella,
since you were here last."

Then, turning to Jane, she asked, in a somewhat altered tone, "Has she been
a good girl, Jane?"

"She has been a _pretty_ good girl," said Jane, "but she has been sick."

"Ah!" said Della in a tone of great concern, and looking again at Andella,
"I heard that you had been sick. I heard that you had an attack of Aurora
Borealis, or something like that. And you don't look very well now. You
must take good care of yourself, and if you don't feel well, you must
ask your mother to bring you in to me and I will give you a dose of my
medicine--my _aqua saccharina_. I know you always take your medicine like a
little heroine when you are sick, without making any difficulty or trouble
at all."

_Aqua saccharina_ was the Latin name which Delia gave to a preparation
of which she kept a supply in a small phial on her table, ready to
make-believe give to the dolls when they were sick. Maria and Jane were
very fond of playing that their dolls were sick and bringing them to Della
for medicine, especially as Della always recommended to them to taste the
medicine themselves from a spoon first, in order to set their children a
good example of taking it well.

Sometimes Della would let the children take the phial away, so as to have
it always at hand in case the dolls should be taken suddenly worse. But in
such cases as this the attacks were usually so frequent, and the mothers
were obliged to do so much tasting to encourage the patients, that the
phial was soon brought back nearly or quite empty, when Delia used to
replenish it by filling it nearly full of water, and then pouring a
sufficient quantity of the saccharine powder into the mouth of it from the
sugar-bowl with a spoon. Nothing more was necessary except to shake up the
mixture in order to facilitate the process of solution, and the medicine
was ready.

_A Medium of Reproof._

Delia was accustomed to use the dolls not only for the purpose of
instruction, but sometimes for reproof, in many ingenious ways. For
instance, one day the children had been playing upon the piazza with blocks
and other playthings, and finally had gone into the house, leaving all the
things on the floor of the piazza, instead of putting them away in their
places, as they ought to have done. They were now playing with their dolls
in the parlor.

Delia came to the parlor, and with an air of great mystery beckoned the
children aside, and said to them, in a whisper, "Leave Andella and Rosalie
here, and don't say a word to them. I want you to come with me. There is a
secret--something I would not have them know on any account."

So saying, she led the way on tiptoe, followed by the children out of the
room, and round by a circuitous route to the piazza.

"There!" said she, pointing to the playthings; "see! all your playthings
left out! Put them away quick before Andella and Rosalie see them. I would
not have them know that their mothers leave their playthings about in that
way for any consideration. They would think that they might do so too, and
that would make you a great deal of trouble. You teach them, I have no
doubt, that they must always put their playthings away, and they must see
that you set them a good example. Put these playthings all away quick, and
carefully, and we will not let them know any thing about your leaving them

So the children went to work with great alacrity, and put the playthings
all away. And this method of treating the case was much more effectual in
making them disposed to avoid committing a similar fault another time than
any direct rebukes or expressions of displeasure addressed personally to
them would have been.

Besides, a scolding would have made them unhappy, and this did not make
them unhappy at all; it amused and entertained them. If you can lead
children to cure themselves of their faults in such a way that they shall
have a good time in doing it, there is a double gain.

In due time, by this kind of management, and by other modes conceived and
executed in the same spirit, Bella gained so great an ascendency over the
children that they were far more ready to conform to her will, and to
obey all her directions, than they would have been to submit to the most
legitimate authority that was maintained, as such authority too often is,
by fault-finding and threats, and without any sympathy with the fancies and
feelings which reign over the hearts of the children in the little world in
which they live.



The subject of sympathy between children and parents is to be considered in
two aspects: first, that of the child with the parent; and secondly, that
of the parent with the child. That is to say, an emotion may be awakened in
the child by its existence and manifestation in the parent, and secondly,
it may be awakened in the parent by its existence in the child.

We are all ready to acknowledge in words the great power and influence
of sympathy, but very few are aware how very vast this power is, and how
inconceivably great is the function which this principle fulfills in the
formation of the human character, and in regulating the conduct of men.

_Mysterious Action of the Principle of Sympathy_.

There is a great mystery in the nature of it, and in the manner of its
action. This we see very clearly in the simplest and most striking material
form of it--the act of gaping. Why and how does the witnessing of the act
of gaping in one person, or even the thought of it, produce a tendency
to the same action in the nerves and muscles of another person? When we
attempt to trace the chain of connection through the eye, the brain, and
the thoughts--through which line of agencies the chain of cause and effect
must necessarily run--we are lost and bewildered.

Other states and conditions in which the mental element is more apparent
are communicated from one to another in the same or, at least, in some
analogous way. Being simply in the presence of one who is amused, or happy,
or sad, causes us to feel amused, or happy, or sad ourselves--or, at least,
has that tendency--even if we do not know from what cause the emotion which
is communicated to us proceeds. A person of a joyous and happy disposition
often brightens up at once any little circle into which he enters, while
a morose and melancholy man carries gloom with him wherever he goes.
Eloquence, which, if we were to hear it addressed to us personally and
individually, in private conversation, would move us very little, will
excite us to a pitch of the highest enthusiasm if we hear it in the midst
of a vast audience; even though the words, and the gestures, and the
inflections of the voice, and the force with which it reaches our ears,
were to be precisely the same in the two cases. And so a joke, which would
produce only a quiet smile if we read it by ourselves at the fireside
alone, will evoke convulsions of laughter when heard in a crowded theatre,
where the hilarity is shared by thousands.

A new element, indeed, seems to come into action in these last two cases;
for the mental condition of one mind is not only communicated to another,
but it appears to be increased and intensified by the communication. Each
does not feel _merely_ the enthusiasm or the mirth which would naturally
be felt by the other, but the general emotion is vastly heightened by its
being so largely shared. It is like the case of the live coal, which does
not merely set the dead coal on fire by being placed in contact with it,
but the two together, when together, burn far more brightly than when

_Wonderful Power of Sympathy_.

So much for the reality of this principle; and it is almost impossible
to exaggerate the extent and the magnitude of the influence it exerts in
forming the character and shaping the ideas and opinions of men, and in
regulating all their ordinary habits of thought and feeling. People's
opinions are not generally formed or controlled by arguments or reasonings,
as they fondly suppose. They are imbibed by sympathy from those whom they
like or love, and who are, or have been, their associates. Thus people,
when they arrive at maturity, adhere in the main to the associations, both
in religion and in politics, in which they have been brought up, from the
influence of sympathy with those whom they love. They believe in this or
that doctrine or system, not because they have been convinced by proof,
but chiefly because those whom they love believe in them. On religious
questions the arguments are presented to them, it is true, while they are
young, in catechisms and in other forms of religious instruction, and in
politics by the conversations which they overhear; but it is a mistake to
suppose that arguments thus offered have any material effect as processes
of ratiocination in producing any logical conviction upon their minds. An
English boy is Whig or Tory because his father, and his brothers, and his
uncles are Whigs or Tories. He may, indeed, have many arguments at his
command with which to maintain his opinions, but it is not the force of the
arguments that has convinced him, nor do they have any force as a means of
convincing the other boys to whom he offers them. _They_ are controlled by
their sympathies, as he is by his. But if he is a popular boy, and makes
himself a favorite among his companions, the very fact that he is of this
or that party will have more effect upon the other boys than the most
logical and conclusive trains of reasoning that can be conceived.

So it is with the religious and political differences in this and in every
other country. Every one's opinions--or rather the opinion of people in
general, for of course there are many individual exceptions--are formed
from sympathy with those with whom in mind and heart they have been in
friendly communication during their years of childhood and youth. And even
in those cases where persons change their religious opinions in adult age,
the explanation of the mystery is generally to be found, not in seeking for
the _argument that convinced them_, but for the _person that led them_,
in the accomplishment of the change. For such changes can very often, and
perhaps generally, be traced to some person or persons whose influence over
them, if carefully scrutinized, would be found to consist really not in the
force of the arguments they offered, but in the magic power of a silent and
perhaps unconscious sympathy. The way, therefore, to convert people to our
ideas and opinions is to make them like us or love us, and then to avoid
arguing with them, but simply let them perceive what our ideas and opinions

The well-known proverb, "Example is better than precept," is only another
form of expressing the predominating power of sympathy; for example can
have little influence except so far as a sympathetic feeling in the
observer leads him to imitate it. So that, example is better than precept
means only that sympathy has more influence in the human heart than

_The Power of Sympathy in Childhood_.

This principle, so powerful at every period of life, is at its maximum
in childhood. It is the origin, in a very great degree, of the spirit of
imitation which forms so remarkable a characteristic of the first years
of life. The child's thoughts and feelings being spontaneously drawn into
harmony with the thoughts and feelings of those around him whom he loves,
leads, of course, to a reproduction of their actions, and the prevalence
and universality of the effect shows how constant and how powerful is the
cause. So the great secret of success for a mother, in the formation of the
character of her children, is to make her children respect and love her,
and then simply to _be_ herself what she wishes them to be.

And to make them respect and love her, is to control them by a firm
government where control is required, and to indulge them almost without
limit where indulgence will do no harm.

_Special Application of the Principle_.

But besides this general effect of the principle of sympathy in aiding
parents in forming the minds and hearts of their children, there are a
great many cases in which a father or mother who understands the secret of
its wonderful and almost magic power can avail themselves of it to produce
special effects. One or two examples will show more clearly what I mean.

William's aunt Maria came to pay his mother a visit in the village where
William's mother lived. On the same day she went to take a walk with
William--who is about nine years old--to see the village. As they went
along together upon the sidewalk, they came to two small boys who were
trying to fly a kite. One of the boys was standing upon the sidewalk,
embarrassed a little by some entanglement of the string.

"Here, you fellow!" said William, as he and his aunt approached the spot,
"get out of the way with your kite, and let us go by."

The boy hurried out of the way, and, in so doing, got his kite-string more
entangled still in the branches of a tree which grew at the margin of the

Now William's aunt might have taken the occasion, as she and her nephew
walked along, to give him some kind and friendly instruction or counsel
about the duty of being kind to every body in any difficulty, trouble, or
perplexity, whether they are young or old; showing him how we increase the
general sum of happiness in so doing, and how we feel happier ourselves
when we have done good to any one, than when we have increased in any way,
or even slighted or disregarded, their troubles. How William would receive
such a lecture would depend a great deal upon his disposition and state of
mind. But in most cases such counsels, given at such a time, involving, as
they would, some covert though very gentle censure, would cause the heart
of the boy to close itself in a greater or less degree against them, like
the leaves of a sensitive-plant shrinking from the touch. The reply would
very probably be, "Well, he had no business to be on the sidewalk, right in
our way."

William and his aunt walked on a few steps. His aunt then stopped,
hesitatingly, and said,

"How would it do to go back and help that boy disentangle his kite-string?
He's a little fellow, and does not know so much about kites and
kite-strings as you do."

Here the suggestion of giving help to perplexity and distress came
associated with a compliment instead of what implied censure, and the
leaves of the sensitive-plant expanded at once, and widely, to the genial

"Yes," said William; "let's go."

So his aunt turned and went back a step or two, and then said, "You can go
and do it without me. I'll wait here till you come back. I don't suppose
you want any help from me. If you do, I'll come."

"No," aid William, "I can do it alone."

So William ran on with great alacrity to help the boys clear the string,
and then came back with a beaming face to his aunt, and they walked on.

William's aunt made no further allusion to the affair until the end of
the walk, and then, on entering the gate, she said, "We have had a very
pleasant walk, and you have taken very good care of me. And I am glad we
helped those boys out of their trouble with the kite."

"So am I," said William.

_Analysis of the Incident_.

Now it is possible that some one may say that William was wrong in his
harsh treatment of the boys, or at least in his want of consideration for
their perplexity; and that his aunt, by her mode of treating the case,
covered up the wrong, when it ought to have been brought distinctly to view
and openly amended. But when we come to analyze the case, we shall find
that it is not at all certain that there was any thing wrong on William's
part in the transaction, so far as the state of his heart, in a moral point
of view, is concerned. All such incidents are very complicated in their
nature, and in their bearings and relations. They present many aspects
which vary according to the point of view from which they are regarded.
Even grown people do not always see all the different aspects of an affair
in respect to which they are called upon to act or to form an opinion, and
children, perhaps, never; and in judging their conduct, we must always
consider the aspect in which the action is presented to their minds. In
this case, William was thinking only of his aunt. He wished to make her
walk convenient and agreeable to her. The boy disentangling his string on
the sidewalk was to him, at that time, simply an obstacle in his aunt's
way, and he dealt with it as such, sending the boy off as an act of
kindness and attention to his aunt solely. The idea of a sentient being
suffering distress which he might either increase by harshness or relieve
by help was not present in his mind at all. We may say that he ought
to have thought of this. But a youthful mind, still imperfect in its
development, can not be expected to take cognizance at once of all the
aspects of a transaction which tends in different directions to different
results. It is true, that he ought to have thought of the distress of the
boys, if we mean that he ought to be taught or trained to think of such
distress when he witnessed it; and that was exactly what his aunt was
endeavoring to do. We ourselves have learned, by long experience of life,
to perceive at once the many different aspects which an affair may present,
and the many different results which may flow in various directions from
the same action; and we often inconsiderately blame children, simply
because their minds are yet so imperfectly developed that they can not take
simultaneous cognizance of more than one or two of them. This is the true
philosophy of most of what is called heedlessness in children, and for
which, poor things, they receive so many harsh reprimands and so much

A little girl, for example, undertakes to water her sister's plants. In her
praiseworthy desire to do her work well and thoroughly, she fills the mug
too full, and spills the water upon some books that are lying upon the
table. The explanation of the misfortune is simply that her mind was
filled, completely filled, with the thoughts of helping her sister. The
thought of the possibility of spilling the water did not come into it at
all. There was no room for it while the other thought, so engrossing, was
there; and to say that she _ought_ to have thought of both the results
which might follow her action, is only to say that she ought to be older.

_Sympathy as the Origin of childish Fears_.

The power of sympathy in the mind of a child--that is, its tendency
to imbibe the opinions or sentiments manifested by others in their
presence--may be made very effectual, not only in inculcating principles of
right and wrong, but in relation to every other idea or emotion. Children
are afraid of thunder and lightning, or of robbers at night, or of ghosts,
because they perceive that their parents, or older brothers or sisters, are
afraid of them. Where the parents do not believe in ghosts, the children
are not afraid of them; unless, indeed, there are domestics in the house,
or playmates at school, or other companions from whom they take the
contagion. So, what they see that their parents value they prize
themselves. They imbibe from their playmates at school a very large
proportion of their tastes, their opinions, and their ideas, not through
arguments or reasoning, but from sympathy; and most of the wrong or foolish
notions of any kind that they have acquired have not been established in
their minds by false reasoning, but have been taken by sympathy, as a
disease is communicated by infection; and the remedy is in most cases, not
reasoning, but a countervailing sympathy.

_Afraid of a Kitten_.

Little Jane was very much afraid of a kitten which her brother brought
home--the first that she had known. She had, however, seen a picture of a
tiger or some other feline animal devouring a man in a forest, and had
been frightened by it; and she had heard too, perhaps, of children being
scratched by cats or kittens. So, when the kitten was brought in and put
down on the floor, she ran to her sister in great terror, and began to cry.

Now her sister might have attempted to reason with her by explaining the
difference between the kitten and the wild animals of the same class in the
woods, and by assuring her that thousands of children have kittens to play
with and are never scratched by them so long as they treat them kindly--and
all without producing any sensible effect. But, instead of this, she
adopted a different plan. She took the child up into her lap, and after
quieting her fears, began to talk to the kitten.

"Poor little pussy," said she, "I am glad you have come. You never scratch
any body, I am sure, if they are kind to you. Jennie will give you some
milk some day, and she and I will like to see you lap it up with your
pretty little tongue. And we will give you a ball to play with some day
upon the carpet. See, Jennie, see! She is going to lie down upon the rug.
She is glad that she has come to such a nice home. Now she is putting her
head down, but she has not any pillow to lay it upon. Wouldn't you like a
pillow, kitty? Jennie will make you a pillow some day, I am sure, if you
would like one. Jennie is beginning to learn to sew, and she could make you
a nice pillow, and stuff it with cotton wool. Then we can see you lying
down upon the rug, with the pillow under your head that Jennie will have
made for you--all comfortable."

Such a talk as this, though it could not be expected entirely and at once
to dispel Jennie's unfounded fears, would be far more effectual towards
beginning the desired change than any arguments or reasoning could possibly

Any mother who will reflect upon the principle here explained will at once
recall to mind many examples and illustrations of its power over the hearts
and minds of children which her own experience has afforded. And if she
begins practically and systematically to appeal to it, she will find
herself in possession of a new element of power--new, at least, to her
realization--the exercise of which will be as easy and agreeable to herself
as it will be effective in its influence over her children.



I think there can be no doubt that the most effectual way of securing the
confidence and love of children, and of acquiring an ascendency over them,
is by sympathizing with them in their child-like hopes and fears, and joys
and sorrows--in their ideas, their fancies, and even in their caprices, in
all cases where duty is not concerned. Indeed, the more child-like, that
is, the more peculiar to the children themselves, the feelings are that we
enter into with them, the closer is the bond of kindness and affection that
is formed.

_An Example_.

If a gentleman coming to reside in a new town concludes that it is
desirable that he should be on good terms with the boys in the streets,
there are various ways by which he can seek to accomplish the end.
Fortunately for him, the simplest and easiest mode is the most effectual.
On going into the village one day, we will suppose he sees two small boys
playing horse. One boy is horse, and the other driver. As they draw near,
they check the play a little, to be more decorous in passing by the
stranger. He stops to look at them with a pleased expression of
countenance, and then says, addressing the driver, with a face of much
seriousness, "That's a first-rate horse of yours. Would you like to sell
him? He seems to be very spirited." The horse immediately begins to prance
and caper. "You must have paid a high price for him. You must take good
care of him. Give him plenty of oats, and don't drive him hard when it is
hot weather. And if ever you conclude to sell him, I wish you would let me

So saying, the gentleman walks on, and the horse, followed by his driver,
goes galloping forward in high glee.

Now, by simply manifesting thus a fellow-feeling with the boys in their
childish play, the stranger not only gives a fresh impulse to their
enjoyment at the time, but establishes a friendly relationship between them
and him which, without his doing any thing to strengthen or perpetuate it,
will of itself endure for a long time. If he does not speak to the boys
again for months, every time they meet him they will be ready to greet him
with a smile.

The incident will go much farther towards establishing friendly relations
between him and them than any presents that he could make them--except so
far as his presents were of such a kind, and were given in such a way, as
to be expressions of kindly feeling towards them--that is to say, such as
to constitute of themselves a manifestation of sympathy.

The uncle who gives his nephews and nieces presents, let them be ever so
costly or beautiful, and takes no interest in their affairs, never inspires
them with any feeling of personal affection. They like him as they like the
apple-tree which bears them sweet and juicy apples, or the cow that gives
them milk--which is on their part a very different sentiment from that
which they feel for the kitten that plays with them and shares their
joys--or even for their dolls, which are only pictured in their imagination
as sharing them.

_Sophronia and Aurelia_.

Miss Sophronia calls at a house to make a visit. A child of seven or eight
years of age is playing upon the floor. After a little time, at a pause
in the conversation, she calls the child--addressing her as "My little
girl"--to come to her. The child--a shade being cast over her mind by being
thus unnecessarily reminded of her littleness--hesitates to come. The
mother says, "Come and shake hands with the lady, my dear!" The child comes
reluctantly. Miss Sophronia asks what her name is, how old she is, whether
she goes to school, what she studies there, and whether she likes to go to
school, and at length releases her. The child, only too glad to be free
from such a tiresome visitor, goes back to her play, and afterwards the
only ideas she has associated with the person of her visitor are those
relating to her school and her lessons, which may or may not be of an
agreeable character.

Presently, after Miss Sophronia has gone, Miss Aurelia comes in. After some
conversation with the mother, she goes to see what the child is building
with her blocks. After looking on for a moment with an expression of
interest in her countenance, she asks her if she has a doll. The child says
she has four. Miss Aurelia then asks which she likes best, and expresses a
desire to see that one. The child, much pleased, runs away to bring it, and
presently comes back with all four. Miss Aurelia takes them in her hands,
examines them, talks about them, and talks to them; and when at last the
child goes back to her play, she goes with the feeling in her heart that
she has found a new friend.

Thus, to bring ourselves near to the hearts of children, we must go to them
by entering into _their world_. They can not come to us by entering ours.
They have no experience of it, and can not understand it. But we have had
experience of theirs, and can enter it if we choose; and in that way we
bring ourselves very near to them.

_Sympathy must be Sincere_.

But the sympathy which we thus express with children, in order to be
effectual, must be sincere and genuine, and not pretended. We must renew
our own childish ideas and imaginations, and become for the moment, in
feeling, one with them, so that the interest which we express in what they
are saying or doing may be real, and not merely assumed. They seem to have
a natural instinct to distinguish between an honest and actual sharing
of their thoughts and emotions, and all mere condescension and pretense,
however adroitly it may be disguised.

_Want of Time_.

Some mothers may perhaps say that they have not time thus to enter into
the ideas and occupations of their children. They are engrossed with the
serious cares of life, or busy with its various occupations. But it does
not require time. It is not a question of time, but of manner. The farmer's
wife, for example, is busy ironing, or sewing, or preparing breakfast for
her husband and sons, who are expected every moment to come in hungry from
their work. Her little daughter, ten years old, comes to show her a shawl
she has been making from a piece of calico for her doll. The busy
mother thinks she must say, "Yes; but run away now, Mary; I am very
busy!"--because that is the easiest and quickest thing to say; but it is
just as easy and just as quick to say, "What a pretty shawl! Play now that
you are going to take Minette out for a walk in it!" The one mode sends the
child away repulsed and a little disappointed; the other pleases her and
makes her happy, and tends, moreover, to form a new bond of union and
sympathy between her mother's heart and her own. A merchant, engrossed all
day in his business, comes home to his house at dinner-time, and meets his
boy of fifteen on the steps returning from his school. "Well, James," he
says, as they walk together up stairs, "I hope you have been a good boy at
school to-day." James, not knowing what to say, makes some inaudible or
unmeaning reply. His father then goes on to say that he hopes his boy will
be diligent and attentive to his studies, and improve his time well, as
his future success in life will depend upon the use which he makes of
his advantages while he is young; and then leaves him at the head of the
stairs, each to go to his room.

All this is very well. Advice given under such circumstances and in such a
way produces, undoubtedly, a certain good effect, but it does not tend at
all to bring the father and son together. But if, instead of giving this
common-place advice, the father asks--supposing it to be winter at the
time--"Which kind of skates are the most popular among the boys nowadays,
James?" Then, after hearing his reply, he asks him what _his_ opinion is,
and whether any great improvement has been made within a short time, and
whether the patent inventions are any of them of much consequence. The
tendency of such a conversation as this, equally brief with the other, will
be to draw the father and son more together. Even in a moral point of view,
the influence would be, indirectly, very salutary; for although no moral
counsel or instruction was given at the time, the effect of such a
participation in the thoughts with which the boy's mind is occupied is to
strengthen the bond of union between the heart of the boy and that of his
father, and thus to make the boy far more ready to receive and be guided by
the advice or admonitions of his father on other occasions.

Let no one suppose, from these illustrations, that they are intended to
inculcate the idea that a father is to lay aside the parental counsels
and instructions that he has been accustomed to give to his children, and
replace them by talks about skates! They are only intended to show
one aspect of the difference of effect produced by the two kinds of
conversation, and that the father, if he wishes to gain and retain an
influence over the hearts of his boys, must descend sometimes into the
world in which they live, and with which their thoughts are occupied,
and must enter it, not merely as a spectator, or a fault-finder, or a
counsellor, but as a sharer, to some extent, in the ideas and feelings
which are appropriate to it.

_Ascendency over the Minds of Children_.

Sympathizing with children in their own pleasures and enjoyments, however
childish they may seem to us when we do not regard them, as it were, with
children's eyes, is, perhaps, the most powerful of all the means at our
command for gaining a powerful ascendency over them. This will lead us not
to interfere with their own plans and ideas, but to be willing that they
should be happy in their own way. In respect to their duties, those
connected, for example, with their studies, their serious employments,
and their compliance with directions of any kind emanating from superior
authority, of course their will must be under absolute subjection to that
of those who are older and wiser than they. In all such things they must
bring their thoughts and actions into accord with ours. In these things
they must come to us, not we to them. But in every thing that relates
to their child-like pleasures and joys, their modes of recreation and
amusement, their playful explorations of the mysteries of things, and the
various novelties around them in the strange world into which they find
themselves ushered--in all these things we must not attempt to bring them
to us, but must go to them. In this, their own sphere, the more perfectly
they are at liberty, the better; and if we join them in it at all, we must
do so by bringing our ideas and wishes into accord with theirs.

_Foolish Fears_.

The effect of our sympathy with children in winning their confidence and
love, is all the more powerful when it is exercised in cases where they are
naturally inclined not to expect sympathy--that is, in relation to feelings
which they would suppose that older persons would be inclined to condemn.
Perhaps the most striking example of this is in what is commonly called
foolish fears. Now a fear is foolish or otherwise, not according to the
absolute facts involving the supposed danger, but according to the means
which the person in question has of knowing the facts. A lady, for example,
in passing along the sidewalk of a great city comes to a place where
workmen are raising an immense and ponderous iron safe, which, slowly
rising, hangs suspended twenty feet above the walk. She is afraid to pass
under it. The foreman, however, who is engaged in directing the operation,
passing freely to and fro under the impending weight, as he has occasion,
and without the least concern, smiles, perhaps, at the lady's "foolish
fears." But the fears which might, perhaps, be foolish in him, are not so
in her, since he _knows_ the nature and the strength of the machinery
and securities above, and she does not. She only knows that accidents do
sometimes happen from want of due precaution in raising heavy weights, and
she does not know, and has no means of knowing, whether or not the due
precautions have been taken in this case. So she manifests good sense, and
not folly, in going out of her way to avoid all possibility of danger.

This is really the proper explanation of a large class of what are usually
termed foolish fears. Viewed in the light of the individual's knowledge of
the facts in the case, they are sensible fears, and not foolish ones at

A girl of twelve, from the city, spending the summer in the country, wishes
to go down to the river to join her brothers there, but is stopped by
observing a cow in a field which she has to cross. She comes back to the
house, and is there laughed at for her foolishness in being; "afraid of a

But why should she not be afraid of a cow? She has heard stories of people
being gored by bulls, and sometimes by cows, and she has no means whatever
of estimating the reality or the extent of the danger in any particular
case. The farmer's daughters, however, who laugh at her, know the cow in
question perfectly well. They have milked her, and fed her, and tied her up
to her manger a hundred times; so, while it would be a very foolish thing
for them to be afraid to cross a field where the cow was feeding, it is a
very sensible thing for the stranger-girl from the city to be so.

Nor would it certainly change the case much for the child, if the farmer's
girls were to assure her that the cow was perfectly peaceable, and that
there was no danger; for she does not know the girls any better than she
does the cow, and can not judge how far their statements or opinions are to
be relied upon. It may possibly not be the cow they think it is. They are
very positive, it is true; but very positive people are often mistaken.
Besides, the cow may be peaceable with them, and yet be disposed to attack
a stranger. What a child requires in such a case is sympathy and help, not

[Illustration: AFRAID OF THE COW.]

This, in the case supposed, she meets in the form of the farmer's son, a
young man browned in face and plain in attire, who comes along while she
stands loitering at the fence looking at the cow, and not daring after all,
notwithstanding the assurances she has received at the house, to cross
the field. His name is Joseph, and he is a natural gentleman--a class of
persons of whom a much larger number is found in this humble guise, and a
much smaller number in proportion among the fashionables in elegant life,
than is often supposed. "Yes," says Joseph, after hearing the child's
statement of the case, "you are right. Cows are sometimes vicious, I know;
and you are perfectly right to be on your guard against such as you do not
know when you meet them in the country. This one, as it happens, is very
kind; but still, I will go through the field with you."

So he goes with her through the field, stopping on the way to talk a little
to the cow, and to feed her with an apple which he has in his pocket.

It is in this spirit that the fears, and antipathies, and false
imaginations of children are generally to be dealt with; though, of course,
there may be many exceptions to the general rule.

_When Children are in the Wrong_.

There is a certain sense in which we should feel a sympathy with children
in the wrong that they do. It would seem paradoxical to say that in any
sense there should be sympathy with sin, and yet there is a sense in which
this is true, though perhaps, strictly speaking, it is sympathy with the
trial and temptation which led to the sin, rather than with the act of
transgression itself. In whatever light a nice metaphysical analysis would
lead us to regard it, it is certain that the most successful efforts that
have been made by philanthropists for reaching the hearts and reforming the
conduct of criminals and malefactors have been prompted by a feeling of
compassion for them, not merely for the sorrows and sufferings which they
have brought upon themselves by their wrongdoing, but for the mental
conflicts which they endured, the fierce impulses of appetite and passion,
more or less connected with and dependent upon the material condition of
the bodily organs, under the onset of which their feeble moral sense, never
really brought into a condition of health and vigor, was over-borne. These
merciful views of the diseased condition and action of the soul in the
commission of crime are not only in themselves right views for man to take
of the crimes and sins of his fellow-man, but they lie at the foundation of
all effort that can afford any serious hope of promoting reformation.

This principle is eminently true in its application to children. They need
the influence of a kind and considerate sympathy when they have done wrong,
more, perhaps, than at any other time; and the effects of the proper
manifestation of this sympathy on the part of the mother will, perhaps, be
greater and more salutary in this case than in any other. Of course the
sympathy must be of the right kind, and must be expressed in the right way,
so as not to allow the tenderness or compassion for the wrong-doer to be
mistaken for approval or justification of the wrong.

_Case supposed_.

A boy, for instance, comes home from school in a state of great distress,
and perhaps of indignation and resentment, on account of having been
punished. Mothers sometimes say at once, in such a case, "I don't pity you
at all. I have no doubt you deserved it." This only increases the tumult of
commotion in the boy's mind, without at all tending to help him to feel a
sense of his guilt. His mind, still imperfectly developed, can not take
cognizance simultaneously of all the parts and all the aspects of a
complicated transaction. The sense of his wrong-doing, which forms in his
teacher's and in his mother's mind so essential a part of the transaction,
is not present in his conceptions at all. There is no room for it, so
totally engrossed are all his faculties with the stinging recollections of
suffering, the tumultuous emotions of anger and resentment, and now with
the additional thought that even his mother has taken part against him. The
mother's conception of the transaction is equally limited and imperfect,
though in a different way. She thinks only that if she were to treat the
child with kindness and sympathy, she would be taking the part of a bad boy
against his teacher; whereas, in reality, she might do it in such a way as
only to be taking the part of a suffering boy against his pain.

It would seem that the true and proper course for a mother to take with
a child in such a case would be to soothe and calm his agitation, and to
listen, if need be, to his account of the affair, without questioning
or controverting it at all, however plainly she may see that, under the
blinding and distorting influence of his excitement, he is misrepresenting
the facts. Let him tell his story. Listen to it patiently to the end. It is
not necessary to express or even to form an opinion on the merits of it.
The ready and willing hearing of one side of a case does not commit the
tribunal to a decision in favor of that side. On the other hand, it is the
only way to give weight and a sense of impartiality to a decision against

Thus the mother may sympathize with her boy in his troubles, appreciate
fully the force of the circumstances which led him into the wrong, and help
to soothe and calm his agitation, and thus take his part, and place herself
closely to him in respect to his suffering, without committing herself at
all in regard to the original cause of it; and then, at a subsequent time,
when the tumult of his soul has subsided, she can, if she thinks best, far
more easily and effectually lead him to see wherein he was wrong.



We are very apt to imagine that the disposition to do right is, or ought to
be, the natural and normal condition of childhood, and that doing wrong is
something unnatural and exceptional with children. As a consequence, when
they do right we think there is nothing to be said. That is, or ought to
be, a matter of course. It is only when they do wrong that we notice
their conduct, and then, of course, with censure and reproaches. Thus our
discipline consists mainly, not in gently leading and encouraging them in
the right way, but in deterring them, by fault-finding and punishment, from
going wrong.

Now we ought not to forget that in respect to moral conduct as well as to
mental attainments children know nothing when they come into the world, but
have every thing to learn, either from the instructions or from the
example of those around them. We do not propose to enter at all into the
consideration of the various theological and metaphysical theories held by
different classes of philosophers in respect to the native constitution
and original tendencies of the human soul, but to look at the phenomena
of mental and moral action in a plain and practical way, as they present
themselves to the observation of mothers in the every-day walks of life.
And in order the better to avoid any complication with these theories, we
will take first an extremely simple case, namely, the fault of making too
much noise in opening and shutting the door in going in and out of a room.
Georgie and Charlie are two boys, both about five years old, and both prone
to the same fault. We will suppose that their mothers take opposite
methods to correct them; Georgie's mother depending upon the influence of
commendation and encouragement when he does right, and Charlie's, upon the
efficacy of reproaches and punishments when he does wrong.

_One Method_.

Georgie, eager to ask his mother some question, or to obtain some
permission in respect to his play, bursts into her room some morning with
great noise, opening and shutting the door violently, and making much
disturbance. In a certain sense he is not to blame for this, for he is
wholly unconscious of the disturbance he makes. The entire cognizant
capacity of his mind is occupied with the object of his request. He not
only had no intention of doing any harm, but has no idea of his having done

His mother takes no notice of the noise he made, but answers his question,
and he goes away making almost as much noise in going out as he did in
coming in.

The next time he comes in it happens--entirely by accident, we will
suppose--that he makes a little less noise than before. This furnishes his
mother with her opportunity.

"Georgie," she says, "I see you are improving."

"Improving?" repeats Georgie, not knowing to what his mother refers.

"Yes," said his mother; "you are improving, in coming into the room without
making a noise by opening and shutting the door. You did not make nearly
as much noise this time as you did before when you came in. Some boys,
whenever they come into a room, make so much noise in opening and shutting
the door that it is very disagreeable. If you go on improving as you have
begun, you will soon come in as still as any gentleman."

The next time that Georgie comes in, he takes the utmost pains to open and
shut the door as silently as possible.

He makes his request. His mother shows herself unusually ready to grant it.

"You opened and shut the door like a gentleman," she says. "I ought to do
every thing for you that I can, when you take so much pains not to disturb
or trouble me."

_Another Method_.

Charlie's mother, on the other hand, acts on a different principle. Charlie
comes in sometimes, we will suppose, in a quiet and proper manner. His
mother takes no notice of this. She considers it a matter of course.
By-and-by, however, under the influence of some special eagerness, he makes
a great noise. Then his mother interposes. She breaks out upon him with,

"Charlie, what a noise you make! Don't you know better than to slam the
doer in that way when you come in? If you can't learn to make less noise in
going in and out, I shall not let you go in and out at all."

Charlie knows very well that this is an empty threat. Still, the utterance
of it, and the scolding that accompanies it, irritate him a little, and the
only possible good effect that can be expected to result from it is to make
him try, the next time he comes in, to see how small an abatement of the
noise he usually makes will do, as a kind of make-believe obedience to his
mother's command. He might, indeed, honestly answer his mother's angry
question by saying that he does _not_ know better than to make such a
noise. He does not know why the noise of the door should be disagreeable
to his mother. It is not disagreeable to _him_. On the contrary, it
is agreeable. Children always like noise, especially if they make it
themselves. And although Charlie has often been told that he must not make
any noise, the reason for this--namely, that though noise is a source of
pleasure, generally, to children, especially when they make it themselves,
it is almost always a source of annoyance and pain to grown persons--has
never really entered his mind so as to be actually comprehended us
a practical reality. His ideas in respect to the philosophy of the
transaction are, of course, exceedingly vague; but so far as he forms any
idea, it is that his mother's words are the expression of some mysterious
but unreasonable sensitiveness on her part, which awakens in her a spirit
of fault-finding and ill-humor that vents itself upon him in blaming him
for nothing at all; or, as he would express it more tersely, if not so
elegantly, that she is "very cross." In other words, the impression made
by the transaction upon his moral sense is that of wrong-doing on his
_mother's part_, and not at all on his own.

It is evident, when we thus look into the secret workings of this method
of curing children of their faults, that even when it is successful in
restraining certain kinds of outward misconduct, and is thus the means
of effecting some small amount of good, the injury which it does by its
reaction on the spirit of the child may be vastly greater, through the
irritation and ill-humor which it occasions, and the impairing of his
confidence in the justice and goodness of his mother. Before leaving this
illustration, it must be carefully observed that in the first-mentioned
case--namely, that of Georgie--the work of curing the fault in question is
not to be at all considered as _effected_ by the step taken by his mother
which has been already described. That was only a beginning--a _right_
beginning, it is true, but still only a beginning. It produced in him a
cordial willingness to do right, in one instance. That is a great thing,
but it is, after all, only one single step. The work is not complete until
a _habit_ of doing right is formed, which is another thing altogether, and
requires special and continual measures directed to this particular end.
Children have to be _trained_ in the way they should go--not merely shown
the way, and induced to make a beginning of entering it. We will now try
to show how the influence of commendation and encouragement may be brought
into action in this more essential part of the process.

_Habit to be Formed_.

Having taken the first step already described, Georgie's mother finds
some proper opportunity, when she can have the undisturbed and undivided
attention of her boy--perhaps at night, after he has gone to his crib or
his trundle-bed, and just before she leaves him; or, perhaps, at some time
while she is at work, and he is sitting by her side, with his mind calm,
quiet, and unoccupied.

"Georgie," she says, "I have a plan to propose to you."

Georgie is eager to know what it is.

"You know how pleased I was when you came in so still to-day."

Georgie remembers it very well.

"It is very curious," continued his mother, "that there is a great
difference between grown people and children about noise. Children _like_
almost all kinds of noises very much, especially, if they make the noises
themselves; but grown people dislike them even more, I think, than children
like them. If there were a number of boys in the house, and I should tell
them that they might run back and forth through the rooms, and rattle and
slam all the doors as they went as loud as they could, they would like it
very much. They would think it excellent fun."

"Yes," says Georgie, "indeed, they would. I wish you would let us do it
some day."

"But grown people," continues his mother, "would not like such an amusement
at all. On the contrary, such a racket would be excessively disagreeable to
them, whether they made it themselves or whether somebody else made it. So,
when children come into a room where grown people are sitting, and make a
noise in opening and shutting the door, it is very disagreeable. Of course,
grown people always like those children the best that come into a room
quietly, and in a gentlemanly and lady-like manner."

As this explanation comes in connection with Georgia's having done right,
and with the commendation which he has received for it, his mind and heart
are open to receive it, instead of being disposed to resist and exclude it,
as he would have been if the same things exactly had been said to him in
connection with censure and reproaches for having acted in violation of the

"Yes, mother," says he, "and I mean always to open and shut the door as
still as I can."

"Yes, I know you _mean_ to do so," rejoined his mother, "but you will
forget, unless you have some plan to make you remember it until the _habit
is formed_. Now I have a plan to propose to help you form the habit. When
you get the habit once formed there will be no more difficulty.

"The plan is this: whenever you come into a room making a noise, I will
simply say, _Noise_. Then you will step back again softly and shut the
door, and then come in again in a quiet and proper way. You will not go
back for punishment, for you would not have made the noise on purpose, and
so would not deserve any punishment. It is only to help you remember, and
so to form the habit of coming into a room in a quiet and gentlemanly

Now Georgie, especially if all his mother's management of him is conducted
in this spirit, will enter into this plan with great cordiality.

"I should not propose this plan," continued his mother, "if I thought that
when I say _Noise_, and you have to go out and come in again, it would
put you out of humor, and make you cross or sullen. I am sure you will be
good-natured about it, and even if you consider it a kind of punishment,
that you will go out willingly, and take the punishment like a man; and
when you come in again you will come in still, and look pleased and happy
to find that you are carrying out the plan honorably."

Then if, on the first occasion when he is sent back, he _does_ take it
good-naturedly, this must be noticed and commended.

Now, unless we are entirely wrong in all our ideas of the nature and
tendencies of the infantile mind, it is as certain that a course of
procedure like this will be successful in curing the fault which is the
subject of treatment, as that water will extinguish fire. It cures it, too,
without occasioning any irritation, annoyance, or ill-humor in the mind
either of mother or child. On the contrary, it is a source of real
satisfaction and pleasure to them both, and increases and strengthens the
bond of sympathy by which their hearts are united to each other.

_The Principle involved_.

It must be understood distinctly that this case is given only as an
illustration of a principle which is applicable to all cases. The act
of opening and shutting a door in a noisy manner is altogether too
insignificant a fault to deserve this long discussion of the method of
curing it, were it not that methods founded on the same principles, and
conducted in the same spirit, are applicable universally in all that
pertains to the domestic management of children. And it is a method, too,
directly the opposite of that which is often--I will not say generally, but
certainly very often--pursued. The child tells the truth many times, and
in some cases, perhaps, when the inducement was very strong to tell an
untruth. We take no notice of these cases, considering it a matter of
course that he should tell the truth. We reserve our action altogether for
the first case when, overcome by a sudden temptation, he tells a lie, and
then interpose with reproaches and punishment. Nineteen times he gives up
what belongs to his little brother or sister of his own accord, perhaps
after a severe internal struggle. The twentieth time the result of the
struggle goes the wrong way, and he attempts to retain by violence what
does not belong to him. We take no notice of the nineteen cases when the
little fellow did right, but come and box his ears in the one case when he
does wrong.

_Origin of the Error_.

The idea on which this mode of treatment is founded--namely, that it is
a _matter of course_ that children should do right, so that when they do
right there is nothing to be said, and that doing wrong is the abnormal
condition and exceptional action which alone requires the parent to
interfere--is, to a great extent, a mistake. Indeed, the _matter of course_
is all the other way. A babe will seize the plaything of another babe
without the least compunction long after it is keenly alive to the
injustice and wrongfulness of having its own playthings taken by any other
child. So in regard to truth. The first impulse of all children, when they
have just acquired the use of language, is to use it in such a way as to
effect their object for the time being, without any sense of the sacred
obligation of making the words always correspond truly with the facts. The
principles of doing justice to the rights of others to one's own damage,
and of speaking the truth when falsehood would serve the present purpose
better, are principles that are developed or acquired by slow degrees, and
at a later period. I say developed _or_ acquired--for different classes of
metaphysicians and theologians entertain different theories in respect to
the way by which the ideas of right and of duty enter into the human mind.
But all will agree in this, that whatever may be the origin of the moral
sense in man, it does not appear as a _practical element of control for the
conduct_ till some time after the animal appetites and passions have begun
to exercise their power. Whether we regard this sense as arising from a
development within of a latent principle of the soul, or as an essential
element of the inherited and native constitution of man, though remaining
for a time embryonic and inert, or as a habit acquired under the influence
of instruction and example, all will admit that the period of its
appearance as a perceptible motive of action is so delayed, and the time
required for its attaining sufficient strength to exercise any real and
effectual control over the conduct extends over so many of the earlier
years of life, that no very material help in governing the appetites and
passions and impulses can be reasonably expected from it at a very early
period. Indeed, conscience, so far as its existence is manifested at all in
childhood, seems to show itself chiefly in the form of the simple _fear of
detection_ in what there is reason to suppose will lead, if discovered, to
reproaches or punishment.

At any rate, the moral sense in childhood, whatever may be our philosophy
in respect to the origin and the nature of it, can not be regarded as a
strong and settled principle on which we can throw the responsibility of
regulating the conduct, and holding it sternly to its obligations. It
is, on the contrary, a very tender plant, slowly coming forward to the
development of its beauty and its power, and requiring the most gentle
fostering and care on the part of those intrusted with the training of the
infant mind; and the influence of commendation and encouragement when the
embryo monitor succeeds in its incipient and feeble efforts, will be far
more effectual in promoting its development, than that of censure and
punishment when it fails.

_Important Caution_.

For every good thing there seems to be something in its form and semblance
that is spurious and bad. The principle brought to view in this chapter has
its counterfeit in the indiscriminate praise and flattery of children by
their parents, which only makes them self-conceited and vain, without at
all promoting any good end. The distinction between the two might be easily
pointed out, if time and space permitted; but the intelligent parent, who
has rightly comprehended the method of management here described, and the
spirit in which the process of applying it is to be made, will be in no
danger of confounding one with the other.

This principle of noticing and commending, within proper limits and
restrictions, what is right, rather than finding fault with what is wrong,
will be found to be as important in the work of instruction as in the
regulation of conduct. We have, in fact, a very good opportunity of
comparing the two systems, as it is a curious fact that in certain things
it is almost the universal custom to adopt one method, and in certain
others, the other.

_The two Methods exemplified_.

There are, for example, two arts which children have to learn, in the
process of their mental and physical development, in which their faults,
errors, and deficiencies are never pointed out, but in the dealings of
their parents with them all is commendation and encouragement. They are the
arts of walking and talking.

The first time that a child attempts to walk alone, what a feeble,
staggering, and awkward exhibition it makes. And yet its mother shows,
by the excitement of her countenance, and the delight expressed by her
exclamations, how pleased she is with the performance; and she, perhaps,
even calls in persons from the next room to see how well the baby can
walk! Not a word about imperfections and failings, not a word about the
tottering, the awkward reaching out of arms to preserve the balance, the
crookedness of the way, the anxious expression of the countenance, or
any other faults. These are left to correct themselves by the continued
practice which encouragement is sure to lead to.

It is true that words would not be available in such a case for
fault-finding; for a child when learning to walk would be too young to
understand them. But the parent's sense of the imperfections of the
performance might be expressed in looks and gestures which the child would
understand; but he sees, on the contrary, nothing but indications of
satisfaction and pleasure, and it is very manifest how much he is
encouraged by them. Seeing the pleasure which his efforts give to the
spectators, he is made proud and happy by his success, and goes on making
efforts to improve with alacrity and delight.

It is the same with learning to talk. The mistakes, deficiencies, and
errors of the first rude attempts are seldom noticed, and still more seldom
pointed out by the parent. On the contrary, the child takes the impression,
from the readiness with which its words are understood and the delight it
evidently gives its mother to hear them, that it is going on triumphantly
in its work of learning to talk, instead of feeling that its attempts are
only tolerated because they are made by such a little child, and that they
require a vast amount of correction, alteration, and improvement, before
they will be at all satisfactory. Indeed, so far from criticising and
pointing out the errors and faults, the mother very frequently meets the
child half way in its progress, by actually adopting the faults and errors
herself in her replies. So that when the little beginner in the use of
language, as he wakes up in his crib, and stretching out his hands to his
mother says, "I want _to get up_" she comes to take him, and replies, her
face beaming with delight, "My little darling! you shall _get up_;" thus
filling his mind with happiness at the idea that his mother is not only
pleased that he attempts to speak, but is fully satisfied, and more than
satisfied, with his success.

The result is, that in learning to walk and to talk, children always
go forward with alacrity and ardor. They practise continually and
spontaneously, requiring no promises of reward to allure them to effort,
and no threats of punishment to overcome repugnance or aversion. It might
be too much to say that the rapidity of their progress and the pleasure
which they experience in making it, are owing wholly to the commendation
and encouragement they receive--for other causes may co-operate with these.
But it is certain that these influences contribute very essentially to the
result. There can be no doubt at all that if it were possible for a mother
to stop her child in its efforts to learn to walk and to talk, and explain
to it, no matter how kindly, all its shortcomings, failures, and mistakes,
and were to make this her daily and habitual practice, the consequence
would be, not only a great diminution of the ardor and animation of the
little pupil, in pressing forward in its work, but also a great retardation
in its progress.

_Example of the other Method_.

Let us now, for the more full understanding of the subject, go to the other
extreme, and consider a case in which the management is as far as possible
removed from that above referred to. We can not have a better example
than the method often adopted in schools and seminaries for teaching
composition; in other words, the art of expressing one's thoughts in
written language--an art which one would suppose to be so analogous to
that of learning to talk--that is, to express one's thoughts in _oral_
language--that the method which was found so eminently successful in the
one would be naturally resorted to in the other. Instead of that, the
method often pursued is exactly the reverse. The pupil having with infinite
difficulty, and with many forebodings and anxious fears, made his first
attempt, brings it to his teacher. The teacher, if he is a kind-hearted and
considerate man, perhaps briefly commends the effort with some such dubious
and equivocal praise as it is "Very well for a beginner," or "As good a
composition as could be expected at the first attempt," and then proceeds
to go over the exercise in a cool and deliberate manner, with a view of
discovering and bringing out clearly and conspicuously to the view, not
only of the little author himself, but often of all his classmates and
friends, every imperfection, failure, mistake, omission, or other fault
which a rigid scrutiny can detect in the performance. However kindly he
may do this, and however gentle the tones of his voice, still the work is
criticism and fault-finding from beginning to end. The boy sits on thorns
and nettles while submitting to the operation, and when he takes his marked
and corrected manuscript to his seat, he feels mortified and ashamed, and
is often hopelessly discouraged.

_How Faults are to be Corrected_.

Some one may, perhaps, say that pointing out the errors and faults of
pupils is absolutely essential to their progress, inasmuch as, unless they
are made to see what their faults are, they can not be expected to correct
them. I admit that this is true to a certain extent, but by no means to
so great an extent as is often supposed. There are a great many ways of
teaching pupils to do better what they are going to do, besides showing
them the faults in what they have already done.

Thus, without pointing out the errors and faults which he observes, the
teacher may only refer to and commend what is right, while he at the same
time observes and remembers the prevailing faults, with a view of adapting
his future instructions to the removal of them. These instructions, when
given, will take the form, of course, of general information on the art of
expressing one's thoughts in writing, and on the faults and errors to be
avoided, perhaps without any, or, at least, very little allusion to those
which the pupils themselves had committed. Instruction thus given, while it
will have at least an equal tendency with the other mode to form the pupils
to habits of correctness and accuracy, will not have the effect upon their
mind of disparagement of what they have already done, but rather of aid and
encouragement for them in regard to what they are next to do. In following
the instructions thus given them, the pupils will, as it were, leave the
faults previously committed behind them, being even, in many instances,
unconscious, perhaps, of their having themselves ever committed them.

The ingenious mother will find various modes analogous to this, of leading
her children forward into what is right, without at all disturbing their
minds by censure of what is wrong--a course which it is perfectly safe to
pursue in the case of all errors and faults which result from inadvertence
or immaturity. There is, doubtless, another class of faults--those of
willful carelessness or neglect--which must be specially pointed out to the
attention of the delinquents, and a degree of discredit attached to the
commission of them, and perhaps, in special cases, some kind of punishment
imposed, as the most proper corrective of the evil. And yet, even in cases
of carelessness and neglect of duty, it will generally be found much
more easy to awaken ambition, and a desire to improve, in a child, by
discovering, if possible, something good in his work, and commending that,
as an encouragement to him to make greater exertion the next time, than
to attempt to cure him of his negligence by calling his attention to the
faults which he has committed, as subjects of censure, however obvious the
faults may be, and however deserving of blame.

The advice, however, made in this chapter, to employ commendation and
encouragement to a great extent, rather than criticism and fault-finding,
in the management and instruction of children, must, like all other general
counsels of the kind, be held subject to all proper limitations and
restrictions. Some mother may, perhaps, object to what is here advanced,
saying, "If I am always indiscriminately praising my child's doings, he
will become self-conceited and vain, and he will cease to make progress,
being satisfied with what he has already attained." Of course he will, and
therefore you must take care not to be always and indiscriminately praising
him. You must exercise tact and good judgment, or at any rate, common
sense, in properly proportioning your criticism and your praise. There
are no principles of management, however sound, which may not be
so exaggerated, or followed with so blind a disregard of attendant
circumstances, as to produce more harm than good.

It must be especially borne in mind that the counsels here given in
relation to curing the faults of children by dealing more with what is good
in them than what is bad, are intended to apply to faults of ignorance,
inadvertence, or habit only, and not to acts of known and willful wrong.
When we come to cases of deliberate and intentional disobedience to
a parent's commands, or open resistance to his authority, something
different, or at least something more, is required.

_The Principle of Universal Application._

In conclusion, it is proper to add that the principle of influencing human
character and action by noticing and commending what is right, rather than
finding fault with what is wrong, is of universal application, with the
mature as well as with the young. The susceptibility to this influence is
in full operation in the minds of all men everywhere, and acting upon it
will lead to the same results in all the relations of society. The way
to awaken a penurious man to the performance of generous deeds is not
by remonstrating with him, however kindly, on his penuriousness, but by
watching his conduct till we find some act that bears some semblance of
liberality, and commending him for that. If you have a neighbor who is
surly and troublesome--tell him that he is so, and you make him worse
than ever. But watch for some occasion in which he shows you some little
kindness, and thank him cordially for such a good neighborly act, and he
will feel a strong desire to repeat it. If mankind universally understood
this principle, and would generally act upon it in their dealings with
others--of course, with such limitations and restrictions as good sense
and sound judgment would impose--the world would not only go on much more
smoothly and harmoniously than it does now, but the progress of improvement
would, I think, in all respects be infinitely more rapid.



A great portion of the errors and mistakes, and of what we call the
follies, of children arise from simple ignorance. Principles of philosophy,
whether pertaining to external nature or to mental action, are involved
which have never come home to their minds. They may have been presented,
but they have not been understood and appreciated. It requires some tact,
and sometimes delicate observation, on the part of the mother to determine
whether a mode of action which she sees ought to be corrected results from
childish ignorance and inexperience, or from willful wrong-doing. Whatever
may be the proper treatment in the latter case, it is evident that in the
former what is required is not censure, but instruction.


A mother came into the room one day and found Johnny disputing earnestly
with his Cousin Jane on the question which was the tallest--Johnny very
strenuously maintaining that he was the tallest, _because he was a boy_.
His older brother, James, who was present at the time, measured them, and
found that Johnny in reality was the tallest.

Now there was nothing wrong in his feeling a pride and pleasure in the
thought that he was physically superior to his cousin, and though it was
foolish for him to insist himself on this superiority in a boasting way,
it was the foolishness of ignorance only. He had not learned the
principle--which half mankind do not seem ever to learn during the whole
course of their lives--that it is far wiser and better to let our good
qualities appear naturally of themselves, than to claim credit for them
beforehand by boasting. It would have been much wiser for Johnny to have
admitted at the outset that Jane might possibly be taller than he, and then
to have awaited quietly the result of the measuring.

But we can not blame him much for not having learned this particular wisdom
at five years of age, when so many full-grown men and women never learn it
at all.

Nor was there any thing blameworthy in him in respect to the false logic
involved in his argument, that his being a boy made him necessarily taller
than his cousin, a girl of the same age. There was a _semblance_ of proof
in that fact--what the logicians term a presumption. But the reasoning
powers are very slowly developed in childhood. They are very seldom aided
by any instruction really adapted to the improvement of them; and we ought
not to expect that such children can at all clearly distinguish a semblance
from a reality in ideas so extremely abstruse as those relating to the
logical connection between the premises and the conclusion in a process of

In this case as in the other we expect them to understand at once, without
instruction, what we find it extremely difficult to learn ourselves; for
a large portion of mankind prove themselves utterly unable ever to
discriminate between sound arguments and those which are utterly
inconsequent and absurd.

In a word, what Johnny requires in such a case as this is, not ridicule to
shame him out of his false reasoning, nor censure or punishment to cure him
of his boasting, but simply instruction.

And this instruction it is much better to give _not_ in direct connection
with the occurrence which indicated the want of it. If you attempt to
explain to your boy the folly of boasting in immediate connection with some
act of boasting of his own, he feels that you are really finding fault with
him; his mind instinctively puts itself into a position of defense, and the
truth which you wish to impart to it finds a much less easy admission.

If, for example, in this case Johnny's mother attempts on the spot to
explain to him the folly of boasting, and to show how much wiser it is for
us to let our good qualities, if we have any, speak for themselves, without
any direct agency of ours in claiming the merit of them, he listens
reluctantly and nervously as to a scolding in disguise. If he is a boy well
managed, he waits, perhaps, to hear what his mother has to say, but it
makes no impression. If he is badly trained, he will probably interrupt his
mother in the midst of what she is saying, or break away from her to go on
with his play.

_A right Mode of Treatment._

If now, instead of this, the mother waits until the dispute and the
transaction of measuring have passed by and been forgotten, and then takes
some favorable opportunity to give the required _instruction_, the result
will be far more favorable. At some time, when tired of his play, he comes
to stand by her to observe her at her work, or perhaps to ask her for a
story; or, after she has put him to bed and is about to leave him for the
night, she says to him as follows:

"I'll tell you a story about two boys, Jack and Henry, and you shall tell
me which of them came off best. They both went to the same school and were
in the same class, and there was nobody else in the class but those two.
Henry, who was the most diligent scholar, was at the head of the class, and
Jack was below him, and, of course, as there were only two, he was at the

"One day there was company at the house, and one of the ladies asked the
boys how they got along at school. Jack immediately said, 'Very well. I'm
next to the head of my class.' The lady then praised him, and said that
he must be a very good scholar to be so high in his class. Then she asked
Henry how high he was in his class. He said he was next to the foot.

"The lady was somewhat surprised, for she, as well as the others present,
supposed that Henry was the best scholar; they were all a little puzzled
too, for Henry looked a little roguish and sly when he said it. But just
then the teacher came in, and she explained the case; for she said that the
boys were in the same class, and they were all that were in it; so that
Henry, who was really at the head, was next but one to the foot, while
Jack, who was at the foot, was next but one to the head. On having this
explanation made to the company, Jack felt very much confused and ashamed,
while Henry, though he said nothing, could not help feeling pleased.

"And now," asks the mother, in conclusion, "which of these boys do you
think came off the best?"

Johnny answers that Henry came out best.

"Yes," adds his mother, "and it is always better that people's merits, if
they have any, should come out in other ways than by their own boasting of

It is true that this case of Henry and Jack does not correspond
exactly--not even nearly, in fact--with that of Johnny and his cousin. Nor
is it necessary that the instruction given in these ways should logically
conform to the incident which calls them forth. It is sufficient that there
should be such a degree of analogy between them, that the interest and turn
of thought produced by the incident may prepare the mind for appreciating
and receiving the lesson. But the mother may bring the lesson nearer if she

"I will tell you another story," she says. "There were two men at a fair.
Their names were Thomas and Philip.

"Thomas was boasting of his strength. He said he was a great deal stronger
than Philip. 'Perhaps you are,' said Philip. Then Thomas pointed to a big
stone which was lying upon the ground, and dared Philip to try which could
throw it the farthest. 'Very well,' said Philip, 'I will try, but I think
it very likely you will beat me, for I know you are very strong.' So they
tried, and it proved that Philip could throw it a great deal farther than
Thomas could. Then Thomas went away looking very much incensed and very
much ashamed, while Philip's triumph was altogether greater for his not
having boasted."

"Yes," says Johnny, "I think so."

The mother may, if she pleases, come still nearer than this, if she wishes
to suit Johnny's individual case, without exciting any resistance in his
heart to the reception of her lesson. She may bring his exact case into
consideration, provided she changes the names of the actors, so that
Johnny's mind may be relieved from the uneasy sensitiveness which it is so
natural for a child to feel when his own conduct is directly the object
of unfavorable comment. It is surprising how slight a change in the mere
outward incidents of an affair will suffice to divert the thoughts of the
child from himself in such a case, and enable him to look at the lesson to
be imparted without personal feeling, and so to receive it more readily.

Johnny's mother may say, "There might be a story in a book about two boys
that were disputing a little about which was the tallest. What do you think
would be good names for the boys, if you were making up such a story?"

When Johnny has proposed the names, his mother could go on and give an
almost exact narrative of what took place between Johnny and his cousin,
offering just such instructions and such advice as she would like to offer;
and she will find, if she manages the conversation with ordinary tact and
discretion, that the lessons which she desires to impart will find a ready
admission to the mind of her child, simply from the fact that, by divesting
them of all direct personal application, she has eliminated from them the
element of covert censure which they would otherwise have contained. Very
slight disguises will, in all such cases, be found to be sufficient to veil
the personal applicability of the instruction, so far as to divest it of
all that is painful or disagreeable to the child. He may have a vague
feeling that you mean him, but the feeling will not produce any effect of
irritation or repellency.

Now, the object of these illustrations is to show that those errors and
faults which, when we look at their real and intrinsic character, we see to
be results of ignorance and inexperience, and not instances of willful
and intentional wrong-doing, are not to be dealt with harshly, and made
occasions of censure and punishment. The child does not deserve censure
or punishment in such cases; what he requires is instruction. It is the
bringing in of light to illuminate the path that is before him which he has
yet to tread, and not the infliction of pain, to impress upon him the evil
of the missteps he made, in consequence of the obscurity, in the path
behind him.

Indeed, in such cases as this, it is the influence of pleasure rather than
pain that the parent will find the most efficient means of aiding him; that
is, in these cases, the more pleasant and agreeable the modes by which he
can impart the needed knowledge to the child--in other words, the more
attractive he can make the paths by which he can lead his little charge
onward in its progress towards maturity--the more successful he will be.

_Ignorance of Material Properties and Laws._

In the example already given, the mental immaturity consisted in imperfect
acquaintance with the qualities and the action of the mind, and the
principles of sound reasoning; but a far larger portion of the mistakes
and failures into which children fall, and for which they incur undeserved
censure, are due to their ignorance of the laws of external nature, and of
the properties and qualities of material objects.

A boy, for example, seven or eight years old, receives from his father a
present of a knife, with a special injunction to be careful of it. He
is, accordingly, very careful of it in respect to such dangers as he
understands, but in attempting to bore a hole with it in a piece of wood,
out of which he is trying to make a windmill, he breaks the small blade.
The accident, in such a case, is not to be attributed to any censurable
carelessness, but to want of instruction in respect to the strength of such
a material as steel, and the nature and effects of the degree of tempering
given to knife-blades. The boy had seen his father bore holes with a
gimlet, and the knife-blade was larger--in one direction at least, that is,
in breadth--than the gimlet, and it was very natural for him to suppose
that it was stronger. What a boy needs in such a case, therefore, is not a
scolding, or punishment, but simply information.

A girl of about the same age--a farmer's daughter, we will suppose--under
the influence of a dutiful desire to aid her mother in preparing the table
for breakfast, attempts to carry across the room a pitcher of milk which is
too full, and she spills a portion of it upon the floor.

_The Intention good_.

[Illustration: THE INTENTION GOOD.]

The mother, forgetting the good intention which prompted the act, and
thinking only of the inconvenience which it occasions her, administers at
once a sharp rebuke. The cause of the trouble was, simply, that the child
was not old enough to understand the laws of momentum and of oscillation
that affect the condition of a fluid when subjected to movements more or
less irregular. She has had no theoretical instruction on the subject,
and is too young to have acquired the necessary knowledge practically, by
experience or observation.

It is so with a very large portion of the accidents which befall children.
They arise not from any evil design, nor even any thing that can properly
be called carelessness, on their part, but simply from the immaturity of
their knowledge in respect to the properties and qualities of the material
objects with which they have to deal.

It is true that children may be, and often, doubtless, are, in fault for
these accidents. The boy may have been warned by his father not to attempt
to bore with his knife-blade, or the girl forbidden to attempt to carry the
milk-pitcher. The fault, however, would be, even in these cases, in the
disobedience, and not in the damage that accidentally resulted from it. And
it would be far more reasonable and proper to reprove and punish the fault
when no evil followed than when a damage was the result; for in the
latter case the damage itself acts, ordinarily, as a more than sufficient

_Misfortunes befalling Men_.

These cases are exactly analogous to a large class of accidents and
calamities that happen among men. A ship-master sails from port at a time
when there are causes existing in the condition of the atmosphere, and in
the agencies in readiness to act upon it, that must certainly, in a few
hours, result in a violent storm. He is consequently caught in the gale,
and his topmasts and upper rigging are carried away. The owners do not
censure him for the loss which they incur, if they are only assured that
the meteorological knowledge at the captain's command at the time of
leaving port was not such as to give him warning of the danger; and
provided, also, that his knowledge was as advanced as could reasonably be
expected from the opportunities which he had enjoyed. But we are very much
inclined to hold children responsible for as much knowledge of the sources
of danger around them as we ourselves, with all our experience, have been
able to acquire, and are accustomed to condemn and sometimes even to punish
them, for want of this knowledge.

Indeed, in many cases, both with children and with men, the means of
knowledge in respect to the danger may be fully within reach, and yet
the situation may be so novel, and the combination of circumstances so
peculiar, that the connection between the causes and the possible evil
effects does not occur to the minds of the persons engaged. An accident
which has just occurred at the time of this present writing will illustrate
this. A company of workmen constructing a tunnel for a railway, when they
had reached the distance of some miles from the entrance, prepared a number
of charges for blasting the rock, and accidentally laid the wires connected
with the powder in too close proximity to the temporary railway-track
already laid in the tunnel. The charges were intended to be fired from an
electric battery provided for the purpose; but a thunder-cloud came up, and
the electric force from it was conveyed by the rails into the tunnel and
exploded the charges, and several men were killed. No one was inclined to
censure the unfortunate men for carelessness in not guarding against a
contingency so utterly unforeseen by them, though it is plain that, as
is often said to children in precisely analogous cases, they _might have

_Children's Studies_.--_Spelling_.

There is, perhaps, no department of the management of children in which
they incur more undeserved censure, and even punishment, and are treated
with so little consideration for faults arising solely from the immaturity
of their minds, than in the direction of what may be called school studies.
Few people have any proper appreciation of the enormous difficulties which
a child has to encounter in learning to read and spell. How many parents
become discouraged, and manifest their discouragement and dissatisfaction
to the child in reproving and complaints, at what they consider his slow
progress in learning to spell--forgetting that in the English language
there are in common, every-day use eight or ten thousand words, almost all
of which are to be learned separately, by a bare and cheerless toil of
committing to memory, with comparatively little definite help from the
sound. We have ourselves become so accustomed to seeing the word _bear_,
for example, when denoting the animal, spelt _b e a r_, that we are very
prone to imagine that there is something naturally appropriate in those
letters and in that collocation of them, to represent that sound when used
to denote that idea. But what is there in the nature and power of
the letters to aid the child in perceiving--or, when told, in
remembering--whether, when referring to the animal, he is to write _bear_,
or _bare_, or _bair_, or _bayr_, or _bere_, as in _where_. So with the word
_you._ It seems to us the most natural thing in the world to spell it _y
o u_. And when the little pupil, judging by the sound, writes it _y u_, we
mortify him by our ridicule, as if he had done something in itself absurd.
But how is he to know, except by the hardest, most meaningless, and
distasteful toil of the memory, whether he is to write _you_, or _yu_, or
_yoo,_ or _ewe_, or _yew_, or _yue_, as in _flue_, or even _yo_ as in
_do_, and to determine when and in what cases respectively he is to use
those different forms?

The truth is, that each elementary sound that enters into the composition
of words is represented in our language by so many different combinations
of letters, in different cases, that the child has very little clue from
the sound of a syllable to guide him in the spelling of it. We ourselves,
from long habit, have become so accustomed to what we call the right
spelling--which, of course, means nothing more than the customary one--that
we are apt to imagine, as has already been said, that there is some natural
fitness in it; and a mode of representing the same sound, which in one case
seems natural and proper, in another appears ludicrous and absurd. We smile
to see _laugh_ spelled _larf,_ just as we should to see _scarf_ spelled
_scaugh_, or _scalf_, as in _half_; and we forget that this perception of
apparent incongruity is entirely the result of long habit in us, and has no
natural foundation, and that children can not be sensible of it, or have
any idea of it whatever. They learn, in learning to talk, what sound serves
as the name by which the drops of water that they find upon the grass in
the morning is denoted, but they can have no clue whatever to guide them
in determining which of the various modes by which precisely that sound is
represented in different words, as _dew, do, due, du, doo_, and _dou_,
is to be employed in this case, and they become involved in hopeless
perplexity if they attempt to imagine "_how it ought to be spelled_;" and
we think them stupid because they can not extricate themselves from the
difficulty on our calling upon them to "think!" No doubt there is a
reason for the particular mode of spelling each particular word in the
language--but that reason is hidden in the past history of the word and in
facts connected with its origin and derivation from some barbarous or dead
language, and is as utterly beyond the reach of each generation of spellers
as if there were no such reasons in existence. There can not be the
slightest help in any way from the exercise of the thinking or the
reasoning powers.

It is true that the variety of the modes by which a given sound may be
represented is not so great in all words as it is in these examples, though
with respect to a vast number of the words in common use the above are
fair specimens. They were not specially selected, but were taken almost at
random. And there are very few words in the language the sound of which
might not be represented by several different modes.

Take, for example, the three last words of the last sentence, which, as the
words were written without any thought of using them for this purpose,
may be considered, perhaps, as a fair specimen of words taken actually
at random. The sound of the word _several_ might be expressed in perfect
accordance with the usage of English spelling, as _ceveral, severul,
sevaral, cevural_, and in many other different modes. The combinations
_dipherant, diferunt, dyfferent, diffurunt_, and many others, would as
well represent the sound of the second word as the usual mode. And so with
_modes_, which, according to the analogy of the language, might as well
be expressed by _moads, mowdes, moades, mohdes_, or even _mhodes_, as in

An exceptionally precise speaker might doubtless make some slight
difference in the sounds indicated by the different modes of representing
the same syllable as given above; but to the ordinary appreciation of
childhood the distinction in sound between such combinations, for
example, as _a n t_ in _constant_ and _e n t_ in _different_ would not be

Now, when we consider the obvious fact that the child has to learn
mechanically, without any principles whatever to guide him in discovering
which, out of the many different forms, equally probable, judging simply
from analogy, by which the sound of the word is to be expressed, is the
right one; and considering how small a portion of his time each day is or
can be devoted to this work, and that the number of words in common use,
all of which he is expected to know how to spell correctly by the time that
he is twelve or fifteen years of age, is probably ten or twelve thousand
(there are in Webster's dictionary considerably over a hundred thousand);
when we take these considerations into account, it would seem that a
parent, on finding that a letter written by his daughter, twelve or
fourteen years of age, has all but three or four words spelled right,
ought to be pleased and satisfied, and to express his satisfaction for the
encouragement of the learner, instead of appearing to think only of the
few words that are wrong, and disheartening and discouraging the child by
attempts to make her ashamed of her spelling.

The case is substantially the same with the enormous difficulties to be
encountered in learning to read and to write. The names of the letters, as
the child pronounces them individually, give very little clue to the sound
that is to be given to the word formed by them. Thus, the letters _h i
t_, as the child pronounces them individually--_aitch, eye, tee_--would
naturally spell to him some such word as _achite_, not _hit_ at all. And as
for the labor and difficulty of writing, a mother who is impatient at the
slow progress of her children in the attainment of the art would be
aided very much in obtaining a just idea of the difficulties which they
experience by sitting upon a chair and at a table both much too high for
her, and trying to copy Chinese characters by means of a hair-pencil, and
with her left hand--the work to be closely inspected every day by a stern
Chinaman of whom she stands in awe, and all the minutest deviations from
the copy pointed out to her attention with an air of dissatisfaction and

_Effect of Ridicule_.

There is, perhaps, no one cause which exerts a greater influence in
chilling the interest that children naturally feel in the acquisition of
knowledge, than the depression and discouragement which result from having
their mistakes and errors--for a large portion of which they are in no
sense to blame--made subjects of censure or ridicule. The effect is still
more decided in the case of girls than in that of boys, the gentler sex
being naturally so much more sensitive. I have found in many cases,
especially in respect to girls who are far enough advanced to have had a
tolerably full experience of the usual influences of schools, that the fear
of making mistakes, and of being "thought stupid," has had more effect in
hindering and retarding progress, by repressing the natural ardor of the
pupil, and destroying all alacrity and courage in the efforts to advance,
than all other causes combined.


How ungenerous, and even cruel, it is to reproach or ridicule a child for
stupidity, is evident when we reflect that any supposed inferiority in
his mental organization can not, by any possibility, be _his_ fault. The
question what degree of natural intelligence he shall be endowed with, in
comparison with other children, is determined, not by himself, but by his
Creator, and depends, probably, upon conditions of organization in his
cerebral system as much beyond his control as any thing abnormal in the
features of his face, or blindness, or deafness, or any other physical
disadvantage. The child who shows any indications of inferiority to others
in any of these respects should be the object of his parent's or his
teacher's special tenderness and care. If he is near-sighted, give him, at
school, a seat as convenient as possible to the blackboard or the map.
If he is hard of hearing, place him near the teacher; and for reasons
precisely analogous, if you suspect him to be of inferior capacity, help
him gently and tenderly in every possible way. Do every thing in your power
to encourage him, and to conceal his deficiencies both from others and from
himself, so far as these objects can be attained consistently with the
general good of the family or of the school.

And, at all events, let those who have in any way the charge of children
keep the distinction well defined in their minds between the faults which
result from evil intentions, or deliberate and willful neglect of known
duty, and those which, whatever the inconvenience they may occasion, are in
part or in whole the results of mental or physical immaturity. In all our
dealings, whether with plants, or animals, or with the human soul, we
ought, in our training, to act very gently in respect to all that pertains
to the embryo condition.



In order rightly to understand the true nature of that extraordinary
activity which is so noticeable in all children that are in a state of
health, so as to be able to deal with it on the right principles and in a
proper manner, it is necessary to turn our attention somewhat carefully to
certain scientific truths in respect to the nature and action of force in
general which are now abundantly established, and which throw great
light on the true character of that peculiar form of it which is so
characteristic of childhood, and is, indeed, so abundantly developed by
the vital functions of almost all young animals. One of the fundamental
principles of this system of scientific truth is that which is called the
persistence of force.

_The Persistence of Force_.

By the persistence of force is meant the principle--one now established
with so much certainty as to command the assent of every thinking man who
examines the subject--that in the ordinary course of nature no force is
either ever originated or ever destroyed, but only changed in form.
In other words, that all existing forces are but the continuation or
prolongation of other forces preceding them, either of the same or other
forms, but precisely equivalent in amount; and that no force can terminate
its action in any other way than by being transmuted into some other force,
either of the same or of some other form; but still, again, precisely
equivalent in amount.

It was formerly believed that a force might under certain circumstances
be _originated_--created, as it were--and hence the attempts to contrive
machines for perpetual motion--that is, machines for the _production_
of force. This idea is now wholly renounced by all well-informed men as
utterly impossible in the nature of things. All that human mechanism can do
is to provide modes for using advantageously a force previously existing,
without the possibility of either increasing or diminishing it. No existing
force can be destroyed. The only changes possible are changes of direction,
changes in the relation of intensity to quantity, and changes of form.

The cases in which a force is apparently increased or diminished, as well
as those in which it seems to disappear, are all found, on examination, to
be illusive. For example, the apparent increase of a man's power by the use
of a lever is really no increase at all. It is true that, by pressing upon
the outer arm with his own weight, he can cause the much greater weight
of the stone to rise; but then it will rise only a very little way in
comparison with the distance through which his own weight descends. His own
weight must, in fact, descend through a distance as much greater than that
by which the stone ascends, as the weight of the stone is greater than his
weight. In other words, so far as the balance of the forces is concerned,
the whole amount of the _downward motion_ consists of the smaller weight
descending through a greater distance, which will be equal to the whole
amount of that of the larger one ascending through a smaller distance; and,
to produce a preponderance, the whole amount of the downward force must be
somewhat greater. Thus the lever only _gathers_ or _concentrates_ force, as
it were, but does not at all increase it.

It is so with all the other contrivances for managing force for the
accomplishment of particular purposes. None of them, increase the force,
but only alter its form and character, with a view to its better adaptation
to the purpose in view.

Nor can any force be extinguished. When a bullet strikes against a solid
wall, the force of its movement, which seems to disappear, is not lost; it
is converted into heat--the temperature of both the bullet and of that part
of the wall on which it impinges being raised by the concussion. And it is
found that the amount of the heat which is thus produced is always in exact
proportion to the quantity of mechanical motion which is stopped; this
quantity depending on the weight of the bullet, and on the velocity with
which it was moving. And it has been ascertained, moreover, by the most
careful, patient, and many times repeated experiments and calculations,
that the quantity of this heat is exactly the same with that which, through
the medium of steam, or by any other mode of applying it, may be made to
produce the same quantity of mechanical motion that was extinguished in the
bullet. Thus the force was not destroyed, but only converted into another

And if we should follow out the natural effects of this heat into which the
motion of the bullet was transferred, we should find it rarefying the air
around the place of concussion, and thus lifting the whole mass of the
atmosphere above it, and producing currents of the nature of wind, and
through these producing other effects, thus going on forever; the force
changing its form, but neither increasing or diminishing its quantity
through a series of changes without end.

_The Arrest and temporary Reservation of Force_.

Now, although it is thus impossible that any force should be destroyed, or
in any way cease to exist in one form without setting in action a precisely
equal amount in some other form, it may, as it were, pass into a condition
of _restraint_, and remain thus suspended and latent for an indefinite
period--ready, however, to break into action again the moment that the
restraint is removed. Thus a perfectly elastic spring may be bent by a
certain force, and retained in the bent position a long time. But the
moment that it is released it will unbend itself, exercising in so doing
precisely the degree of force expended in bending it. In the same manner
air may be compressed in an air-gun, and held thus, with the force, as it
were, imprisoned, for any length of time, until at last, when the detent is
released by the trigger, the elastic force comes into action, exercising in
its action a power precisely the same as that with which it was compressed.

Force or power may be thus, as it were, stored up in a countless variety of
ways, and reserved for future action; and, when finally released, the whole
amount may be set free at once, so as to expend itself in a single impulse,
as in case of the arrow or the bullet; or it may be partially restrained,
so as to expend itself gradually, as in the case of a clock or watch. In
either case the total amount expended will be precisely the same--namely,
the exact equivalent of that which was placed in store.

_Vegetable and Animal Life_.

There are a vast number of mechanical contrivances in use among men for
thus putting force in store, as it were, and then using it more or less
gradually, as may be required. And nature, moreover, does this on a scale
so stupendous as to render all human contrivances for this purpose utterly
insignificant in comparison. The great agent which nature employs in this
work is vegetation. Indeed, it may truly be said that the great function
of vegetable life, in all the infinitude of forms and characters which it
assumes, is to _receive and store up force_ derived from the emanations of
the sun.

Animal life, on the other hand, exists and fulfills its functions by
the _expenditure_ of this force. Animals receive vegetable productions
containing these reserves of force into their systems, which systems
contain arrangements for liberating the force, and employing it for the
purposes it is intended to subserve in the animal economy.

The manner in which these processes are performed is in general terms as
follows: The vegetable absorbs from the earth and from the air substances
existing in their natural condition--that is, united according to their
strongest affinities. These substances are chiefly water, containing
various mineral salts in solution, from the ground, and carbonic acid from
the air. These substances, after undergoing certain changes in the vessels
of the plant, are exposed to the influence of the rays of the sun in the
leaves. By the power of these rays--including the calorific, the luminous,
and the actinic--the natural affinities by which the above-mentioned
substances were united are overcome, and they are formed into new
combinations, in which they are united by very weak affinities. Of course,
they have a strong tendency to break away from the new unions, and fall
back into the old. But, by some mysterious and incomprehensible means,
the sun has power to lock them, so to speak, in their new forms, so as to
require a special condition of things for the releasing of them. Thus
they form a reserve of force, which can be held in restraint until the
conditions required for their release are realized.

The process can be illustrated more particularly by a single case. Water,
one of the substances absorbed by plants, is composed of oxygen and
hydrogen, which are united by an affinity of prodigious force. It is the
same with carbon and oxygen, in a compound called carbonic acid, which is
also one of the principal substances absorbed by plants from the air. Now
the heat and other emanations from the sun, acting upon these substances in
the leaves, forces the hydrogen and the carbon away from their strong bond
of union with oxygen, and sets the oxygen free, and then combines the
carbon and hydrogen into a sort of unwilling union with each other--a union
from which they are always ready and eager to break away, that they may
return to their union with the object of their former and much stronger
attachment--namely, oxygen; though they are so locked, by some mysterious
means, that they can not break away except when certain conditions
necessary to their release are realized.


The substances thus formed by a weak union of carbon with hydrogen are
called hydrocarbons. They comprise nearly all the highly inflammable
vegetable substances. Their being combustible means simply that they have
a great disposition to resume their union with oxygen--combustion being
nothing other than a more or less violent return of a substance to a union
with oxygen or some other such substance, usually one from which it had
formerly been separated by force--giving out again by its return, in the
form of heat, the force by which the original separation had been effected.

A compound formed thus of substances united by very weak affinities, so
that they are always ready to separate from each other and form new unions
under the influence of stronger affinities, is said to be in a state of
_unstable equilibrium._ It is the function of vegetable life to create
these unstable combinations by means of the force derived from the sun; and
the combinations, when formed, of course hold the force which formed them
in reserve, ready to make itself manifest whenever it is released. Animals
receive these substances into their systems in their food. A portion of
them they retain, re-arranging the components in some cases so as to form
new compounds, but still unstable. These they use in constructing the
tissues of the animal system, and some they reserve for future use. As
fast as they require the heat and the force which are stored in them they
expend, them, thus recovering the force which was absorbed in the formation
of them, and which now, on being released, re-appears in the three forms of
_animal heat, muscular motion_, and _cerebral_ or _nervous energy_.

There are other modes besides the processes of animal life by which the
reserved force laid up by the vegetable process in these unstable compounds
may be released. In many cases it releases itself under ordinary exposures
to the oxygen of the atmosphere. A log of wood--which is composed chiefly
of carbon and hydrogen in an unstable union--lying upon the ground will
gradually _decay_, as we term it--that is, its elements will separate from
each other, and form new unions with the elements of the surrounding air,
thus returning to their normal condition. They give out, in so doing, a low
degree of heat, which, being protracted through a course of years, makes
up, in the end, the precise equivalent of that expended by the sun in
forming the wood--that is, the power expended in the formation of the wood
is all released in the dissolution of it.

This process may be greatly accelerated by heat. If a portion of the wood
is raised in temperature to a certain point, the elements begin to combine
with the oxygen near, with so much violence as to release the reserved
power with great rapidity. And as this force re-appears in the form of
heat, the next portions of the wood are at once raised to the right
temperature to allow the process of reoxidation to go on rapidly with them.
This is the process of combustion. Observations and experiments on decaying
wood have been made, showing that the amount of heat developed by the
combustion of a mass of wood, though much more intense for a time, is
the same in _amount_ as that which is set free by the slower process of
re-oxidation by gradual decay; both being the equivalent of the amount
absorbed by the leaves from the sun, in the process of deoxidizing the
carbon and hydrogen when the wood was formed.

The force imprisoned in these unstable compounds may be held in reserve for
an unlimited period, so long as all opportunity is denied them of returning
the elements that compose them to their original combinations. Such a case
occurs when large beds of vegetable substances are buried under layers
of sediment which subsequently become stone, and thus shut the
hydrocarbonaceous compounds beneath them from all access to oxygen. The
beds of coal thus formed retain their reserved force for periods of immense
duration; and when at length the material thus protected is brought to
the surface, and made to give up its treasured power, it manifests its
efficiency in driving machinery, propelling trains, heating furnaces, or
diffusing warmth and comfort around the family fireside. In all these
cases the heat and power developed from the coal is heat and power derived
originally from the sun, and now set free, after having lain dormant
thousands and perhaps millions of years.

This simple case of the formation of hydrocarbons from the elements
furnished by carbonic acid and water is only adduced as an illustration of
the general principle. The modes by which the power of the sun actually
takes effect in the decomposition of stable compounds, and the formation
of unstable ones from the elements thus obtained, are innumerable, and
the processes as well as the combinations that result are extremely
complicated. These processes include not only the first formation of the
unstable compounds in the leaf, but also an endless series of modifications
and re-arrangements which they subsequently undergo, as well in the other
organs of the plant as in those of the animal when they are finally
introduced into an animal system. In all, however, the general result is
substantially the same--namely, the forcing of elements into unnatural
combinations, so to speak, by the power of the sun acting through the
instrumentality of vegetation, in order that they may subsequently, in the
animal system, give out that power again by the effort they make to release
themselves from the coercion imposed upon them, and to return to the
natural unions in which they can find again stability and repose.

One of the chief elements employed in the formation of these
weakly-combined substances is _nitrogen_--its compounds being designated as
nitrogenous substances, and noted, as a class, for the facility with which
they are decomposed. Nitrogen is, in fact, the great _weak-holder_ of
nature. Young students in chemistry, when they learn that nitrogen is
distinguished by the weakness of its affinities for other elements, and its
consequent great _inertness_ as a chemical agent, are often astonished
to find that its compounds--such as nitric acid, nitre, which gives its
explosive character to gunpowder, nitro-glycerine, gun-cotton, and various
other explosive substances which it helps to form--are among the most
remarkable in nature for the violence and intensity of their action, and
for the extent to which the principle of vitality avails itself of them as
magazines of _force_, upon which to draw in the fulfillment of its various


But this is really just what should be expected. It is the very _weakness
of the hold_ which nitrogen maintains upon the elements combined with it
that facilitates their release, and affords them the opportunity to seize
with so much avidity and violence on those for which they have a strong

It is as if a huntsman should conduct a pack of ferocious dogs into a field
occupied by a flock of sheep, quietly grazing, holding the dogs securely
by very strong leashes. The quiet and repose of the field might not be
seriously disturbed; but if, on the other hand, a child comes in, leading
the dogs by threads which they can easily sunder, a scene of the greatest
violence and confusion would ensue.

In the same manner, when nitrogen, holding the particles of oxygen with
which it is combined in the compounds above named by a very feeble control,
brings them into the presence of other substances for which they have a
very strong affinity, they release themselves at once from their weak
custodian, and rush into the combinations which their nature demands with
so much avidity as to produce combustions, deflagrations, and explosions of
the most violent character.

The force which the elements display in these reunions is always--and this
is one aspect of the great discovery of modern times in respect to the
_persistence_ or _constancy_ of force which has already been referred
to--precisely the same in amount as that which was required for dissevering
them from their original combinations with such substances at some previous
time. The _processes of vegetation_ are the chief means employed for
effecting the original separations, by the power of the sun, and for
forming the unstable compounds by which this power is held in reserve. The
_animal system_, on the other hand, takes in these compounds, remodels them
so far as is required to adapt them to its structure, assimilates them, and
then, as occasion requires quires, it releases the concealed force, which
then manifests itself in the forms of _animal heat_, of _muscular motion_,
and of _cerebral and nervous power_.

In what way, and to what extent, the knowledge of these truths should
influence us in the management and training of children in respect to their
extraordinary activity, is the question we have next to consider.

_Practical Applications of these Principles_.

If we watch a bird for a little while hopping along upon the ground, and up
and down between the ground and the branches of a tree, we shall at first
be surprised at his incessant activity, and next, if we reflect a little,
at the utter aimlessness and uselessness of it. He runs a little way along
the path; then he hops up upon a twig, then down again upon the ground;
then "makes believe" peck at something which he imagines or pretends that
he sees in the grass; then, canting his head to one side and upward, the
branch of a tree there happens to strike his eye, upon which he at once
flies up to it. Perching himself upon it for the moment, he utters a burst
of joyous song, and then, instantly afterwards, down he comes upon the
ground again, runs along, stops, runs along a little farther, stops again,
looks around him a moment, as if wondering what to do next, and then flies
off out of our field of view. If we could follow, and had patience to watch
him so long, we should find him continuing this incessantly changing but
never-ceasing activity all the day long.

We sometimes imagine that the bird's movements are to be explained by
supposing that he is engaged in the search for food in these evolutions.
But when we reflect how small a quantity of food his little crop will
contain, we shall be at once convinced that a large proportion of his
apparent pecking for food is only make-believe, and that he moves thus
incessantly not so much on account of the end he seeks to attain by it, as
on account of the very pleasure of the motion. He hops about and pecks,
not for the love of any thing he expects to find, but just for the love of
hopping and pecking.

The real explanation is that the food which he has taken is delivering up,
within his system, the force stored in it that was received originally from
the beams of the sun, while the plant which produced it was growing. This
force must have an outlet, and it finds this outlet in the incessant
activity of the bird's muscles and brain. The various objects which attract
his attention without, _invite_ the force to expend itself in _certain
special directions_; but the impelling cause is within, and not without;
and were there nothing without to serve as objects for its action, the
necessity of its action would be none the less imperious. The lion, when
imprisoned in his cage, walks to and fro continuously, if there is room for
him to take two steps and turn; and if there is not room for this, he moves
his head incessantly from side to side. The force within him, which his
vital organs are setting at liberty from its imprisonment in his food, must
in some way find issue.

Mothers do not often stop to speculate upon, and may even, perhaps, seldom
observe the restless and incessant activity of birds, but that of their
children forces itself upon their attention by its effects in disturbing
their own quiet avocations and pleasures; and they often wonder what can be
the inducement which leads to such a perpetual succession of movements
made apparently without motive or end. And, not perceiving any possible
inducement to account for it, they are apt to consider this restless
activity so causeless and unreasonable as to make it a fault for which the
child is to be censured or punished, or which they are to attempt to cure
by means of artificial restraints. They would not attempt such repressions
as this if they were aware that all this muscular and mental energy of
action in the child is only the outward manifestation of an inward force
developed in a manner wholly independent of its will--a force, too, which
must spend itself in some way or other, and that, if not allowed to do this
in its own way, by impelling the limbs and members to outward action, it
will do so by destroying the delicate mechanism within. We see this in the
case of men who are doomed for long periods to solitary confinement. The
force derived from their food, and released within their systems by the
vital processes, being cut off by the silence and solitude of the dungeon
from all usual and natural outlets, begins to work mischief within, by
disorganizing the cerebral and other vital organs, and producing insanity
and death.

_Common Mistake_.

We make a great mistake when we imagine that children are influenced in
their activity mainly by a desire for the objects which they attain by it.
It is not the ends attained, but the pleasurable feeling which the action
of the internal force, issuing by its natural channels, affords them, and
the sense of power which accompanies the action. An end which presents
itself to be attained invites this force to act in one direction rather
than another, but it is the action, and not the end, in which the charm

Give a child a bow and arrow, and send him out into the yard to try it, and
if he does not happen to see any thing to shoot at, he will shoot at random
into the air. But if there is any object which will serve as a mark in
sight, it seems to have the effect of drawing his aim towards it. He shoots
at the vane on the barn, at an apple on a tree, a knot in a fence--any
thing which will serve the purpose of a mark. This is not because he has
any end to accomplish in hitting the vane, the apple, or the knot, but only
because there is an impulse within him leading him to shoot, and if there
happens to be any thing to shoot at, it gives that impulse a direction.

It is precisely the same with the incessant muscular activity of a child.
He comes into a room and sits down in the first seat that he sees. Then he
jumps up and runs to another, then to another, until he has tried all the
seats in the room. This is not because he particularly wishes to try the
seats. He wishes to _move_, and the seats happen to be at hand, and they
simply give direction to the impulse. If he were out of doors, the same
office would be fulfilled by a fence which he might climb over, instead of
going through an open gate close by; or a wall that he could walk upon with
difficulty, instead of going, without difficulty, along a path at the foot
of it; or a pole which he could try to climb, when there was no motive for
climbing it but a desire to make muscular exertion; or a steep bank where
he can scramble up, when there is nothing that he wishes for on the top of

In other words, the things that children do are not done for the sake of
the things, but for the sake of the _doing_.

Parents very often do not understand this, and are accordingly continually
asking such foolish questions as, "George, what do you wish to climb over
that fence for, when there is a gate all open close by?" "James, what good
do you expect to get by climbing up that tree, when you know there is
nothing on it, not even a bird's nest?" and, "Lucy, what makes you keep
jumping up all the time and running about to different places? Why can't
you, when you get a good seat, sit still in it?"

The children, if they understood the philosophy of the case, might answer,
"We don't climb over the fence at all because we wish to be on the other
side of it; or scramble up the bank for the sake of any thing that is on
the top of it; or run about to different places because we wish to be in
the places particularly. It is the internal force that is in us working
itself off, and it works itself off in the ways that come most readily to

_Various Modes in which the Reserved Force reappears_.

The force thus stored in the food and liberated within the system by
the vital processes, finds scope for action in several different ways,
prominent among which are, First, in the production of animal heat;
Secondly, in muscular contractions and the motions of the limbs and members
resulting from them; and Thirdly, in mental phenomena connected with the
action of the brain and the nerves. This last branch of the subject is yet
enveloped in great mystery; but the proof seems to be decisive that the
nervous system of man comprises organs which are actively exercised in the
performance of mental operations, and that in this exercise they consume
important portions of the vital force. If, for example, a child is actually
engaged at play, and we direct him to take a seat and sit still, he will
find it very difficult to do so. The inward force will soon begin to
struggle within him to find an issue. But if, while he is so sitting, we
begin to relate to him some very surprising or exciting story, to occupy
his _mind_, he will become motionless, and very likely remain so until the
story is ended. It is supposed that in such cases the force is drawn off,
so to speak, through the cerebral organs which it is employed in keeping in
play, as the instruments by which the emotions and ideas which the story
awakens in the mind are evolved. This part of the subject, as has already
been remarked, is full of mystery; but the general fact that a portion of
the force derived from the food is expended in actions of the brain and
nervous system seems well established.

Indeed, the whole subject of the reception and the storing up of force from
the sun by the processes of vegetable and animal life, and the subsequent
liberation of it in the fulfillment of the various functions of the animal
system, is full of difficulties and mysteries. It is only a very simple
view of the _general principle_ which is presented in these articles. In
nature the operations are not simple at all. They are involved in endless
complications which are yet only to a very limited extent unravelled. The
general principle is, however, well established; and if understood, even as
a general principle, by parents and teachers, it will greatly modify their
action in dealing with the incessant restlessness and activity of the
young. It will teach them, among other things, the following practical

_Practical Rules_.

1. Never find fault with children for their incapacity to keep still. You
may stop the supply of force, if you will, by refusing to give them food;
but if you continue the supply, you must not complain of its manifesting
itself in action. After giving your boy his breakfast, to find fault with
him for being incessantly in motion when his system has absorbed it, is
simply to find fault with him for being healthy and happy. To give children
food and then to restrain the resulting activity, is conduct very analogous
to that of the engineer who should lock the action of his engine, turn all
the stop-cocks, and shut down the safety-valve, while he still went on all
the time putting in coal under the boiler. The least that he could expect
would be a great hissing and fizzling at all the joints of his machine; and
it would be only by means of such a degree of looseness in the joints as
would allow of the escape of the imprisoned force in this way that could
prevent the repression ending in a frightful catastrophe.

Now, nine-tenths of the whispering and playing of children in school, and
of the noise, the rudeness, and the petty mischief of children at home, is
just this hissing and fizzling of an imprisoned power, and nothing more.

In a word, we must favor and promote, by every means in our power, the
activity of children, not censure and repress it. We may endeavor to turn
it aside from wrong channels--that is, to prevent its manifesting itself in
ways injurious to them or annoying to others. We must not, however, attempt
to divert it from these channels by damming it up, but by opening other
channels that will draw it away in better directions.

2. In encouraging the activity of children, and in guiding the direction
of it in their hours of play, we must not expect to make it available for
useful results, other than that of promoting their own physical development
and health. At least, we can do this only in a very limited degree. Almost
all useful results require for their attainment a long continuance of
efforts of the same kind--that is, expenditure of the vital force by the
continued action of the same organs. Now, it is a principle of nature
that while the organs of an animal system are in process of formation and
growth, they can exercise their power only for a very brief period at a
time without exhaustion. This necessitates on the part of all young animals
incessant changes of action, or alternations of action and repose. A farmer
of forty years of age, whose organs are well developed and mature, will
chop wood all day without excessive fatigue. Then, when he comes home at
night, he will sit for three hours in the evening upon the settle by his
fireside, _thinking_--his mind occupied, perhaps, upon the details of the
management of his farm, or upon his plans for the following day. The vital
force thus expends itself for many successive hours through his muscles,
and then, while his muscles are at rest, it finds its egress for several
other hours through the brain. But in the _child_ the mode of action must
change every few minutes. He is made tired with five minutes' labor. He
is satisfied with five minutes' rest. He will ride his rocking-horse, if
alone, a short time, and then he comes to you to ask you to tell him a
story. While listening to the story, his muscles are resting, and the force
is spending its strength in working the mechanism of the brain. If you make
your story too long, the brain, in turn, becomes fatigued, and he feels
instinctively impelled to divert the vital force again into muscular

If, instead of being alone with his rocking-horse, he has company there,
he will _seem_ to continue his bodily effort a long time; but he does not
really do so, for he stops continually, to talk with his companion, thus
allowing his muscles to rest for a brief period, during which the vital
force expends its strength in carrying on trains of thought and emotion
through the brain.

He is not to be blamed for this seeming capriciousness. These frequent
changes in the mode of action are a necessity, and this necessity evidently
unfits him for any kind of monotonous or continued exertion--the only kind
which, in ordinary cases, can be made conducive to any useful results.

3. Parents at home and teachers at school must recognize these
physiological laws, relating to the action of the young, and make their
plans and arrangements conform to them. The periods of confinement to any
one mode of action in the very young, and especially mental action, must
be short; and they must alternate frequently with other modes. That rapid
succession of bodily movements and of mental ideas, and the emotions
mingling and alternating with them, which constitutes what children call
play, must be regarded not simply as an indulgence, but as a necessity for
them. The play must be considered as essential as the study, and that not
merely for the very young but for all, up to the age of maturity. For older
pupils, in the best institutions of the country, some suitable provision is
made for this want; but the mothers of young children at home are often at
a loss by what means to effect this purpose, and many are very imperfectly
aware of the desirableness, and even the necessity, of doing this. As for
the means of accomplishing the object--that is, providing channels for the
complete expenditure of this force in the safest and most agreeable manner
for the child, and the least inconvenient and troublesome for others, much
must depend upon the tact, the ingenuity, and the discretion of the mother.
It will, however, be a great point gained for her when she once fully
comprehends that the _tendency_ to incessant activity, and even to
turbulence and noise, on the part of her child, only shows that he is
all right in his vital machinery, and that this exuberance of energy is
something to be pleased with and directed, not denounced and restrained.



The reader may, perhaps, recollect that in the last chapter there was
an intimation that a portion of the force which was produced, or rather
liberated and brought into action, by the consumption of food in the vital
system, expended itself in the development of thoughts, emotions, and other
forms of mental action, through the organization of the brain and of the

_Expenditure of Force through the Brain._

The whole subject of the expenditure of material force in maintaining those
forms of mental action which are carried on through the medium of bodily
organs, it must be admitted, is involved in great obscurity; for it is only
a glimmering of light which science has yet been able to throw into
this field. It is, however, becoming the settled opinion, among all
well-informed persons, that the soul, during the time of its connection
with a material system in this life, performs many of those functions
which we class as mental, through the medium, or instrumentality, in some
mysterious way, of material organs, just as we all know is the case with
the sensations--that is, the impressions made through the organs of sense;
and that the maintaining of these mental organs, so to speak, in action,
involves a certain expenditure of some form of physical force, the source
of this force being in the food that is consumed in the nourishment of the

There is certainly no apparent reason why there should be any antecedent
presumption against the supposition that the soul performs the act of
remembering or of conceiving an imaginary scene through the instrumentality
of a bodily organ, more than that it should receive a sensation of light or
of sound through such a channel. The question of the independent existence
and the immateriality of the thinking and feeling principle, which takes
cognizance of these thoughts and sensations, is not at all affected by any
inquiries into the nature of the instrumentality by means of which, in a
particular stage of its existence, it performs these functions.

_Phenomena explained by this Principle_.

This truth, if it be indeed a truth, throws great light on what would
be otherwise quite inexplicable in the playful activity of the
mental faculties of children. The curious fantasies, imaginings, and
make-believes--the pleasure of listening to marvellous and impossible
tales, and of hearing odd and unpronounceable words or combination of words
--the love of acting, and of disguises--of the impersonation of inanimate
objects--of seeing things as they are not, and of creating and giving
reality to what has no existence except in their own minds--are all the
gambollings and frolics, so to speak, of the embryo faculties just becoming
conscious of their existence, and affording, like the muscles of motion, so
many different issues for the internal force derived from the food. Thus
the action of the mind of a child, in holding an imaginary conversation
with a doll, or in inventing or in relating an impossible fairy story, or
in converting a switch on which he pretends to be riding into a prancing
horse, is precisely analogous to that of the muscles of the lamb, or the
calf, or any other young animal in its gambols--that is, it is the result
of the force which the vital functions are continually developing within
the system, and which flows and must flow continually out through whatever
channels are open to it; and in thus flowing, sets all the various systems
of machinery into play, each in its own appropriate manner.

In any other view of the subject than this, many of the phenomena of
childhood would be still more wonderful and inexplicable than they are.
One would have supposed, for example, that the imagination--being, as
is commonly thought, one of the most exalted and refined of the mental
faculties of man--would be one of the latest, in the order of time, to
manifest itself in the development of the mind; instead of which it is,
in fact, one of the earliest. Children live, in a great measure, from the
earliest age in an ideal world--their pains and their pleasures, their joys
and their fears being, to a vast extent, the concomitants of phantasms and
illusions having often the slightest bond of connection with the realities
around them. The realities themselves, moreover, often have far greater
influence over them by what they suggest than by what they are.

Indeed, the younger the child is, within reasonable limits, the more
susceptible he seems to be to the power of the imagination, and the more
easily his mind and heart are reached and influenced through this avenue.
At a very early period the realities of actual existence and the phantasms
of the mind seem inseparably mingled, and it is only after much experience
and a considerable development of his powers, that the line of distinction
between them becomes defined. The power of investing an elongated bag of
bran with the attributes and qualities of a thinking being, so as to make
it an object of solicitude and affection, which would seem to imply a high
exercise of one of the most refined and exalted of the human faculties,
does not come, as we might have expected, at the end of a long period of
progress and development, but springs into existence, as it were, at once,
in the very earliest years. The progress and development are required to
enable the child to perceive that the rude and shapeless doll is _not_ a
living and lovable thing. This mingling of the real and imaginary worlds
shows itself to the close observer in a thousand curious ways.

The true explanation of the phenomenon seems to be that the various embryo
faculties are brought into action by the vital force at first in a very
irregular, intermingled, and capricious manner, just as the muscles are
in the endless and objectless play of the limbs and members. They develop
themselves and grow by this very action, and we ought not only to indulge,
but to cherish the action in all its beautiful manifestations by every
means in our power. These mental organs, so to speak--that is, the organs
of the brain, through which, while its connection with the body continues,
the mind performs its mental functions--grow and thrive, as the muscles do,
by being reasonably kept in exercise.

It is evident, from these facts, that the parent should be pleased with,
and should encourage the exercise of these embryo powers in his children;
and both father and mother may be greatly aided in their efforts to devise
means for reaching and influencing their hearts by means of them, and
especially through the action of the imagination, which will be found, when
properly employed, to be capable of exercising an almost magical power
of imparting great attractiveness and giving great effect to lessons of
instruction which, in their simple form, would be dull, tiresome, and
ineffective. Precisely what is meant by this will be shown more clearly by
some examples.

_Methods exemplified_.

One of the simplest and easiest modes by which a mother can avail herself
of the vivid imagination of the child in amusing and entertaining him,
is by holding conversations with representations of persons, or even of
animals, in the pictures which she shows him. Thus, in the case, for
example, of a picture which she is showing to her child sitting in her
lap--the picture containing, we will suppose, a representation of a little
girl with books under her arm--she may say,

"My little girl, where are you going?--I am going" (speaking now in a
somewhat altered voice, to represent the voice of the little girl) "to
school.--Ah! you are going to school. You don't look quite old enough to
go to school. Who sits next to you at school?--George Williams.--George
Williams? Is he a good boy?--Yes, he's a very good boy.--I am glad you have
a good boy, and one that is kind to you, to sit by you. That must be very
pleasant." And so on, as long as the child is interested in listening.

Or, "What is your name, my little girl?--My name is Lucy.--That's a pretty
name! And where do you live?--I live in that house under the trees.--Ah! I
see the house. And where is your room in that house?--My room is the
one where you see the window open.--I see it. What have you got in your
room?--I have a bed, and a table by the window; and I keep my doll there. I
have got a cradle for my doll, and a little trunk to keep her clothes in.
And I have got--" The mother may go on in this way, and describe a great
number and variety of objects in the room, such as are calculated to
interest and please the little listener.

It is the pleasurable exercise of some dawning faculty or faculties acting
through embryo organs of the brain, by which the mind can picture to
itself, more or less vividly, unreal scenes, which is the source of the
enjoyment in such cases as this.

A child may be still more interested, perhaps, by imaginary conversations
of this kind with pictures of animals, and by varying the form of them in
such a way as to call a new set of mental faculties into play; as, for

"Here is a picture of a squirrel. I'll ask him where he lives. 'Bunny!
bunny! stop a minute; I want to speak to you. I want you to tell me where
you live.--I live in my hole.--Where is your hole?--It is under that big
log that you see back in the woods.' Yes" (speaking now to the child), "I
see the log. Do you see it? Touch it with your finger. Yes, that must be
it. But I don't see any hole. 'Bunny' (assuming now the tone of speaking
again to the squirrel), 'I don't see your hole.--No, I did not mean that
any body should see it. I made it in a hidden place in the ground, so as
to have it out of sight.--I wish I could see it, and I wish more that I
could look down into it and see what is there. What is there _in_ your
hole, bunny?--My nest is there, and my little bunnies.--How many little
bunnies have you got?'"--And so on, to any extent that you desire.

It is obvious that conversations of this kind may be made the means of
conveying, indirectly, a great deal of instruction to young children on a
great variety of subjects; and lessons of duty may be inculcated thus in a
very effective manner, and by a method which is at the same time easy and
agreeable for the mother, and extremely attractive to the child.

This may seem a very simple thing, and it is really very simple; but any
mother who has never resorted to this method of amusing and instructing her
child will be surprised to find what an easy and inexhaustible resource for
her it may become. Children are always coming to ask for stories, and the
mother often has no story at hand, and her mind is too much preoccupied to
invent one. Here is a ready resort in every such emergency.

"Very well," replies the mother to such a request, "I'll tell you a story;
but I must have a picture to my story. Find me a picture in some book."

The child brings a picture, no matter what. There is no possible picture
that will not suggest to a person possessed of ordinary ingenuity an
endless number of talks to interest and amuse the child. To take an extreme
case, suppose the picture is a rude pencil drawing of a post, and nothing
besides. You can imagine a boy hidden behind the post, and you can call to
him, and finally obtain an answer from him, and have a long talk with him
about his play and who he is hiding from, and what other way he has of
playing with his friend. Or you can talk with the post directly. Ask him
where he came from, who put him in the ground, and what he was put in the
ground for, and what kind of a tree he was when he was a part of a tree
growing in the woods; and, following the subject out, the conversation may
be the means of not only amusing the child for the moment, but also
of gratifying his curiosity, and imparting a great amount of useful
information to him which will materially aid in the development of his

Or you may ask the post whether he has any relatives, and he may reply that
he has a great many cousins. He has some cousins that live in the city, and
they are called lamp-posts, and their business is to hold lamps to light
people along the streets; and he has some other cousins who stand in a long
row and hold up the telegraph-wire to carry messages from one part of the
world to another; and so on without end. If all this may done by means of a
rude representation of a simple post, it may easily be seen that no picture
which the child can possibly bring can fail to serve as a subject for such

Some mothers may, perhaps, think it must require a great deal of ingenuity
and skill to carry out these ideas effectively in practice, and that is
true; or rather, it is true that there is in it scope for the exercise of
a great deal of ingenuity and skill, and even of genius, for those who
possess these qualities; but the degree of ingenuity required for a
commencement in this method is very small, and that necessary for complete
success in it is very easily acquired.

_Personification of Inanimate Objects_.

It will at once occur to the mother that any inanimate object may be
personified in this way and addressed as a living and intelligent being.
Your child is sick, I will suppose, and is somewhat feverish and fretful.
In adjusting his dress you prick him a little with a pin, and the pain
and annoyance acting on his morbid sensibilities bring out expressions of
irritation and ill-humor. Now you may, if you please, tell him that he must
not be so impatient, that you did not mean to hurt him, that he must not
mind a little prick, and the like, and you will meet with the ordinary
success that attends such admonitions. Or, in the spirit of the foregoing
suggestions, you may say,

"Did the pin prick you? I'll catch the little rogue, and hear what he has
to say for himself. Ah, here he is--I've caught him! I'll hold him fast.
Lie still in my lap, and we will hear what he has to say.

"'Look up here, my little prickler, and tell me what your name is.--My name
is pin.--Ah, your name is pin, is it? How bright you are! How came you to
be so bright?--Oh, they brightened me when they made me.--Indeed! And how
did they make you?--They made me in a machine.--In a machine? That's very
curious! How did they make you in the machine? Tell us all about it!--They
made me out of wire. First the machine cut off a piece of the wire long
enough to make me, and then I was carried around to different parts of the
machine to have different things done to me. I went first to one part to
get straightened. Don't you see how straight I am?--Yes, you are very
straight indeed.--Then I went to another part of the machine and had my
head put on; and then I went to another part and had my point sharpened;
and then I was polished, and covered all over with a beautiful silvering,
to make me bright and white.'"

And so on indefinitely. The mother may continue the talk as long as the
child is interested, by letting the pin give an account of the various
adventures that happened to it in the course of its life, and finally call
it to account for pricking a poor little sick child.

Any mother can judge whether such a mode of treating the case, or the more
usual one of gravely exhorting the child to patience and good-humor, when
sick, is likely to be most effectual in soothing the nervous irritation of
the little patient, and restoring its mind to a condition of calmness and

The mother who reads these suggestions in a cursory manner, and contents
herself with saying that they are very good, but makes no resolute and
persevering effort to acquire for herself the ability to avail herself of
them, will have no idea of the immense practical value of them as a means
of aiding her in her work, and in promoting the happiness of her children.
But if she will make the attempt, she will most certainly find enough
encouragement in her first effort to induce her to persevere.


She must, moreover, not only originate, herself, modes of amusing the
imagination of her children, but must fall in with and aid those which
_they_ originate. If your little daughter is playing with her doll, look up
from your work and say a few words to the doll or the child in a grave and
serious manner, assuming that the doll is a living and sentient being. If
your boy is playing horses in the garden while you are there attending to
your flowers, ask him with all gravity what he values his horse at, and
whether he wishes to sell him. Ask him whether he ever bites, or breaks out
of his pasture; and give him some advice about not driving him too fast up
hill, and not giving him oats when he is warm. He will at once enter into
such a conversation in the most serious manner, and the pleasure of his
play will be greatly increased by your joining with him in maintaining the

There is a still more important advantage than the temporary increase to
your children's happiness by acting on this principle. By thus joining with
them, even for a few moments, in their play, you establish a closer bond
of sympathy between your own heart and theirs, and attach them to you more
strongly than you can do by any other means. Indeed, in many cases the most
important moral lessons can be conveyed in connection with these illusions
of children, and in a way not only more agreeable but far more effective
than by any other method.

_Influence without Claim to Authority_.

Acting through the imagination of children--if the art of doing so is once
understood--will prove at once an invaluable and an inexhaustible resource
for all those classes of persons who are placed in situations requiring
them to exercise an influence over children without having any proper
authority over them; such, for example, as uncles and aunts, older brothers
and sisters, and even visitors residing more or less permanently in a
family, and desirous, from a wish to do good, of promoting the welfare and
the improvement of the younger members of it. It often happens that such
a visitor, without any actual right of authority, acquires a greater
influence over the minds of the children than the parents themselves; and
many a mother, who, with all her threatenings and scoldings, and even
punishments, can not make herself obeyed, is surprised at the absolute
ascendency which some inmate residing in the family acquires over them by
means so silent, gentle, and unpretending, that they seem mysterious and
almost magical. "What is the secret of it?" asks the mother sometimes in
such a case. "You never punish the children, and you never scold them, and
yet they obey you a great deal more readily and certainly than they do me."

There are a great many different means which may be employed in combination
with each other for acquiring this kind of ascendency, and among them the
use which may be made of the power of the imagination in the young is one
of the most important.

_The Intermediation of the Dolls again_.

A young teacher, for example, in returning from school some day, finds the
children of the family in which she resides, who have been playing with
their dolls in the yard, engaged in some angry dispute. The first impulse
with many persons in such a case might be to sit down with the children
upon the seat where they were playing, and remonstrate with them, though
in a very kind and gentle manner, on the wrongfulness and folly of such
disputings, to show them that the thing in question is not worth disputing
about, that angry feelings are uncomfortable and unhappy feelings, and that
it is, consequently, not only a sin, but a folly to indulge in them.

Now such a remonstrance, if given in a kind and gentle manner, will
undoubtedly do good. The children will be somewhat less likely to become
involved in such a dispute immediately after it than before, and in process
of time, and through many repetitions of such counsels, the fault may
be gradually cured. Still, at the time, it will make the children
uncomfortable, by producing in their minds a certain degree of irritation.
They will be very apt to listen in silence, and with a morose and sullen
air; and if they do not call the admonition a scolding, on account of the
kind and gentle tones in which it is delivered, they will be very apt to
consider it much in that light.

Suppose, however, that, instead of dealing with the case in this
matter-of-fact and naked way, the teacher calls the imagination of the
children to her aid, and administers her admonition and reproof indirectly,
through the dolls. She takes the dolls in her hand, asks their names, and
inquires which of the two girls is the mother of each. The dolls' names are
Bella and Araminta, and the mothers' are Lucy and Mary.

"But I might have asked Araminta herself," she adds; and, so saying, she
holds the doll before her, and enters into a long imaginary conversation
with her, more or less spirited and original, according to the talent and
ingenuity of the young lady, but, in any conceivable case, enough so to
completely absorb the attention of the children and fully to occupy their
minds. She asks each of them her name, and inquires of each which of the
girls is her mother, and makes first one of them, and then the other, point
to her mother in giving her answer. By this time the illusion is completely
established in the children's minds of regarding their dolls as living
beings, responsible to mothers for their conduct and behavior; and the
young lady can go on and give her admonitions and instructions in respect
to the sin and folly of quarrelling to them--the children listening. And it
will be found that by this management the impression upon the minds of the
children will be far greater and more effective than if the counsels were
addressed directly to them; while, at the same time, though they may even
take the form of very severe reproof, they will produce no sullenness or
vexation in the minds of those for whom they are really intended. Indeed,
the very reason why the admonition thus given will be so much more
effective is the fact that it does _not_ tend in any degree to awaken
resentment and vexation, but associates the lesson which the teacher wishes
to convey with amusement and pleasure.

"You are very pretty"--she says, we will suppose, addressing the
dolls--"and you look very amiable. I suppose you _are_ very amiable."

Then, turning to the children, she asks, in a confidential undertone, "Do
they ever get into disputes and quarrels?"

"_Sometimes,_" says one of the children, entering at once into the idea of
the teacher.

"Ah!" the teacher exclaims, turning again to the dolls. "I hear that you
dispute and quarrel sometimes, and I am very sorry for it. That is very
foolish. It is only silly little children that we expect will dispute and
quarrel. I should not have supposed it possible in the case of such young
ladies as you. It is a great deal better to be yielding and kind. If one of
you says something that the other thinks is not true, let it pass without
contradiction; it is foolish to dispute about it. And so if one has any
thing that the other wants, it is generally much better to wait for it than
to quarrel. It is hateful to quarrel. Besides, it spoils your beauty. When
children are quarrelling they look like little furies."

The teacher may go on in this way, and give a long moral lecture to the
dolls in a tone of mock gravity, and the children will listen to it with
the most profound attention; and it will have a far greater influence upon
them than the same admonitions addressed directly to _them_.

So effectually, in fact, will this element of play in the transaction open
their hearts to the reception of good counsel, that even direct admonitions
to _them_ will be admitted with it, if the same guise is maintained; for
the teacher may add, in conclusion, addressing now the children themselves
with the same mock solemnity:

"That is a very bad fault of your children--very bad, indeed. And it is one
that you will find very hard to correct. You must give them a great deal
of good counsel on the subject, and, above all, you must be careful to set
them a good example yourselves. Children always imitate what they see in
their mothers, whether it is good or bad. If you are always amiable and
kind to one another, they will be so too."

The thoughtful mother, in following out the suggestions here given, will
see at once how the interest which the children take in their dolls, and
the sense of reality which they feel in respect to all their dealings with
them, opens before her a boundless field in respect to modes of reaching
and influencing their minds and hearts.

_The Ball itself made to teach Carefulness_.

There is literally no end to the modes by which persons having the charge
of young children can avail themselves of their vivid imaginative powers
in inculcating moral lessons or influencing their conduct. A boy, we will
suppose, has a new ball. Just as he is going out to play with it his father
takes it from him to examine it, and, after turning it round and looking at
it attentively on every side, holds it up to his ear. The boy asks what his
father is doing. "I am listening to hear what he says." "And what does he
say, father?" "He says that you won't have him to play with long." "Why
not?" "I will ask him, why not?" (holding the ball again to his ear). "What
does he say, father?" "He says he is going to run away from you and hide.
He says you will go to play near some building, and he means, when you
throw him or knock him, to fly against the windows and break the glass, and
then people will take your ball away from you." "But I won't play near any
windows." "He says, at any rate you will play near some building, and when
you knock him he means to fly up to the roof and get behind a chimney, or
roll down into the gutter where you can't get him." "But, father, I am not
going to play near any building at all." "Then you will play in some place
where there are holes in the ground, or thickets of bushes near, where he
can hide." "No, father, I mean to look well over the ground, and not play
in any place where there is any danger at all." "Well, we shall see; but
the little rogue is determined to hide somewhere." The boy takes his ball
and goes out to play with it, far more effectually cautioned than he could
have been by any direct admonition.

_The Teacher and the Tough Logs_

A teacher who was engaged in a district school in the country, where the
arrangement was for the older boys to saw and split the wood for the fire,
on coming one day, at the recess, to see how the work was going on, found
that the boys had laid one rather hard-looking log aside. They could not
split that log, they said.

"Yes," said the teacher, looking at the log, "I don't wonder. I know that
log. I saw him before. His name is Old Gnarly. He says he has no idea
of coming open for a parcel of boys, even if they _have_ got beetle and
wedges. It takes a man, he says, to split _him_."

The boys stood looking at the log with a very grave expression of
countenance as they heard these words.

"Is that what he says?" asked one of them. "Let's try him again, Joe."

"It will do no good," said the teacher, "for he won't come open, if he can
possibly help it. And _there's_ another fellow (pointing). His name is
Slivertwist. If you get a crack in him, you will find him full of twisted
splinters that he holds himself together with. The only way is to cut them
through with a sharp axe. But he holds on so tight with them that I don't
believe you can get him open. He says he never gives up to boys."

So saying, the teacher went away. It is scarcely necessary to say to any
one who knows boys that the teacher was called out not long afterwards to
see that Old Gnarly and Old Slivertwist were both split up fine--the
boys standing around the heaps of well-prepared fire-wood which they had
afforded, and regarding them with an air of exultation and triumph.

_Muscles reinvigorated through the Action of the Mind_.

An older sister has been taking a walk, with little Johnny, four years old,
as her companion. On their return, when within half a mile of home, Johnny,
tired of gathering flowers and chasing butterflies, comes to his sister,
with a fatigued and languid air, and says he can not walk any farther, and
wants to be carried.

"I can't carry you very well," she says, "but I will tell you what we will
do; we will stop at the first tavern we come to and rest. Do you see that
large flat stone out there at the turn of the road? That is the tavern, and
you shall be my courier. A courier is a man that goes forward as fast as he
can on his horse, and tells the tavern-keeper that the traveller is coming,
and orders supper. So you may gallop on as fast as you can go, and,
when you get to the tavern, tell the tavern-keeper that the princess is
coming--I am the princess--and that he must get ready an excellent supper."

The boy will gallop on and wait at the stone. When his sister arrives
she may sit and rest with him a moment, entertaining him by imagining
conversations with the inn-keeper, and then resume their walk.

"Now," she may say, "I must send my courier to the post-office with a
letter. Do you see that fence away forward? That fence is the post-office.
We will play that one of the cracks between the boards is the letter-box.
Take this letter (handing him any little scrap of paper which she has
taken from her pocket and folded to represent a letter) and put it in the
letter-box, and speak to the postmaster through the crack, and tell him to
send the letter as soon as he can."

Under such management as this, unless the child's exhaustion is very great,
his sense of it will disappear, and he will accomplish the walk not only
without any more complaining, but with a great feeling of pleasure. The
nature of the action in such a case seems to be that the vital force, when,
in its direct and ordinary passage to the muscles through the nerves, it
has exhausted the resources of that mode of transmission, receives in some
mysterious way a reinforcement to its strength in passing round, by a new
channel, through the organs of intelligence and imagination.

These trivial instances are only given as examples to show how infinitely
varied are the applications which may be made of this principle of
appealing to the imagination of children, and what a variety of effects may
be produced through its instrumentality by a parent or teacher who once
takes pains to make himself possessed of it. But each one must make himself
possessed of it by his own practice and experience. No general instructions
can do any thing more than to offer the suggestion, and to show how a
beginning is to be made.



The duty of telling the truth seems to us, until we have devoted special
consideration to the subject, the most simple thing in the world, both to
understand and to perform; and when we find young children disregarding it
we are surprised and shocked, and often imagine that it indicates something
peculiar and abnormal in the moral sense of the offender. A little
reflection, however, will show us how very different the state of the case
really is. What do we mean by the obligation resting upon us to tell the
truth? It is simply, in general terms, that it is our duty to make our
statements correspond with the realities which they purport to express.
This is, no doubt, our duty, as a general rule, but there are so many
exceptions to this rule, and the principles on which the admissibility
of the exceptions depend are so complicated and so abstruse, that it is
wonderful that children learn to make the necessary distinctions as soon as
they do.

_Natural Guidance to the Duty of telling the Truth_.

The child, when he first acquires the art of using and understanding
language, is filled with wonder and pleasure to find that he can represent
external objects that he observes, and also ideas passing through his mind,
by means of sounds formed by his organs of speech. Such sounds, he finds,
have both these powers--that is, they can represent realities or fancies.
Thus, when he utters the sounds _I see a bird_, they may denote either a
mere conception in his mind, or an outward actuality. How is he possibly to
know, by any instinct, or intuition, or moral sense when it is right for
him to use them as representations of a mere idea, and when it is wrong for
him to use them, unless they correspond with some actual reality?

The fact that vivid images or conceptions may be awakened in his mind by
the mere hearing of certain sounds made by himself or another is something
strange and wonderful to him; and though he comes to his consciousness of
this susceptibility by degrees, it is still, while he is acquiring it, and
extending the scope and range of it, a source of continual pleasure to him.
The necessity of any correspondence of these words, and of the images which
they excite, with actual realities, is a necessity which arises from the
relations of man to man in the social state, and he has no means whatever
of knowing any thing about it except by instruction.

There is not only no ground for expecting that children should perceive any
such necessity either by any kind of instinct, or intuition, or embryo
moral sense, or by any reasoning process of which his incipient powers are
capable; but even if he should by either of these means be inclined to
entertain such an idea, his mind would soon be utterly confused in regard
to it by what he observes constantly taking place around him in respect to
the use of language by others whose conduct, much more than their precepts,
he is accustomed to follow as his guide.

_A very nice Distinction_.

A mother, for example, takes her little son, four or five years old, into
her lap to amuse him with a story. She begins: "When I was a little boy I
lived by myself. All the bread and cheese I got I laid upon the shelf," and
so on to the end. The mother's object is accomplished. The boy is amused.
He is greatly interested and pleased by the wonderful phenomenon taking
place within him of curious images awakened in his mind by means of sounds
entering his ear--images of a little boy living alone, of his reaching up
to put bread and cheese upon a shelf, and finally of his attempting to
wheel a little wife home--the story ending with the breaking and downfall
of the wheelbarrow, wife and all. He does not reflect philosophically upon
the subject, but the principal element of the pleasure afforded him is the
wonderful phenomenon of the formation of such vivid and strange images in
his mind by means of the mere sound of his mother's voice.

He knows at once, if any half-formed reflections arise in his mind at all,
that what his mother has told him is not true--that is, that the words and
images which they awaken in his mind had no actual realities corresponding
with them. He knows, in the first place, that his mother never was a boy,
and does not suppose that she ever lived by herself, and laid up her bread
and cheese upon a shelf. The whole story, he understands, if he exercises
any thought about it whatever--wheelbarrow catastrophe and all--consists
only of words which his mother speaks to him to give him pleasure.

By-and-by his mother gives him a piece of cake, and he goes out into the
garden to play. His sister is there and asks him to give her a piece of his
cake. He hesitates. He thinks of the request long enough to form a distinct
image in his mind of giving her half of it, but finally concludes not to do
so, and eats it all himself.

When at length he comes in, his mother accidentally asks him some question
about the cake, and he says he gave half of it to his sister. His mother
seems much pleased. He knew that she would be pleased. He said it, in fact,
on purpose to please her. The words represented no actual reality, but only
a thought passing through his mind, and he spoke, in a certain sense, for
the purpose of giving his mother pleasure. The case corresponds in all
these particulars with that of his mother's statement in respect to her
being once a little boy and living by herself. Those words were spoken by
her to give him pleasure, and he said what he did to give her pleasure.
To give her pleasure! the reader will perhaps say, with some surprise,
thinking that to assign such a motive as that is not, by any means, putting
a fair and proper construction upon the boy's act. His design was, it will
be said, to shield himself from censure, or to procure undeserved praise.
And it is, no doubt, true that, on a nice analysis of the motives of the
act, such as we, in our maturity, can easily make, we shall find that
design obscurely mingled with them. But the child does not analyze. He can
not. He does not look forward to ultimate ends, or look for the hidden
springs that lie concealed among the complicated combinations of impulses
which animate him. In the case that we are supposing, all that we can
reasonably believe to be present to his mind is a kind of instinctive
feeling that for him to say that he ate the cake all himself would bring a
frown, or at least a look of pain and distress, to his mother's face, and
perhaps words of displeasure for him; while, if he says that he gave half
to his sister, she will look pleased and happy. This is as far as he sees.
And he may be of such an age, and his mental organs may be in so embryonic
a condition, that it is as far as he ought to be expected to look; so that,
as the case presents itself to his mind in respect to the impulse which at
the moment prompts him to act, he said what he did from a desire to give
his mother pleasure, and not pain. As to the secret motive, which might
have been his ultimate end, _that_ lay too deeply concealed for him to
be conscious of it. And we ourselves too often act from the influence
of hidden impulses of selfishness, the existence of which we are wholly
unconscious of, to judge him too harshly for his blindness.

At length, by-and-by, when his sister conies in, and the untruth is
discovered, the boy is astonished and bewildered by being called to account
in a very solemn manner by his mother on account of the awful wickedness of
having told a lie!

_How the Child sees it_.

Now I am very ready to admit that, notwithstanding the apparent resemblance
between these two cases, this resemblance is only apparent and superficial;
but the question is, whether it is not sufficient to cause such a child
to confound them, and to be excusable, until he has been enlightened by
appropriate instruction, for not clearly distinguishing the cases where
words must be held strictly to conform to actual realities, from those
where it is perfectly right and proper that they should only represent
images or conceptions of the mind.

A father, playing with his children, says, "Now I am a bear, and am going
to growl." So he growls. Then he says, "Now I am a dog, and am going to
bark." He is not a bear, and he is not a dog, and the children know it.
His words, therefore, even to the apprehension of the children, express an
untruth, in the sense that they do not correspond with any actual reality.
It is not a wrongful untruth. The children understand perfectly well that
in such a case as this it is not in any sense wrong to say what is not
true. But how are they to know what kind of untruths are right, and what
kind are wrong, until they are taught what the distinction is and upon what
it depends.

Unfortunately many parents confuse the ideas, or rather the moral sense of
their children, in a much more vital manner by untruths of a different kind
from this--as, for example, when a mother, in the presence of her children,
expresses a feeling of vexation and annoyance at seeing a certain visitor
coming to make a call, and then, when the visitor enters the room, receives
her with pretended pleasure, and says, out of politeness, that she is very
glad to see her. Sometimes a father will join with his children, when
peculiar circumstances seem, as he thinks, to require it, in concealing
something from their mother, or deceiving her in regard to it by
misrepresentations or positive untruths. Sometimes even the mother will do
this in reference to the father. Of course such management as this must
necessarily have the effect of bringing up the children to the idea that
deceiving by untruths is a justifiable resort in certain cases--a doctrine
which, though entertained by many well-meaning persons, strikes a fatal
blow at all confidence in the veracity of men; for whenever we know of any
persons that they entertain this idea, it is never afterwards safe to trust
in what they say, since we never can know that the case in hand is not,
for some reason unknown to us, one of those which justify a resort to

But to return to the case of the children that are under the training of
parents who will not themselves, under any circumstances, falsify their
word--that is, will never utter words that do not represent actual reality
in any of the wrongful ways. Such children can not be expected to know of
themselves, or to learn without instruction, what the wrongful ways are,
and they never do learn until they have made many failures. Many, it is
true, learn when they are very young. Many evince a remarkable tenderness
of conscience in respect to this as well as to all their other duties, so
fast as they are taught them. And some become so faithful and scrupulous in
respect to truth, at so early an age, that their parents quite forget the
progressive steps by which they advanced at the beginning. We find many a
mother who will say of her boy that he never told an untruth, but we do not
find any man who will say of himself, that when he was a boy he never told

_Imaginings and Rememberings easily mistaken for each other_.

But besides the complicated character of the general subject, as it
presents itself to the minds of children--that is, the intricacy to them of
the question when there must be a strict correspondence between the words
spoken and an actual reality, and when they may rightly represent mere
images or fancies of the mind--there is another great difficulty in their
way, one that is very little considered and often, indeed, not at all
understood by parents--and that is, that in the earliest years the
distinction between realities and mere fancies of the mind is very
indistinctly drawn. Even in our minds the two things are often confounded.
We often have to pause and think in order to decide whether a mental
perception of which we are conscious is a remembrance of a reality, or a
revival of some image formed at some previous time, perhaps remote, by a
vivid description which we have read or heard, or even by our own fancy.
"Is that really so, or did I dream it?" How often is such a question heard.
And persons have been known to certify honestly, in courts of justice, to
facts which they think they personally witnessed, but which were really
pictured in their minds in other ways. The picture was so distinct and
vivid that they lost, in time, the power of distinguishing it from other
and, perhaps, similar pictures which had been made by their witnessing the
corresponding realities.

Indeed, instead of being surprised that these different origins of present
mental images are sometimes confounded, it is actually wonderful that they
can generally be so clearly distinguished; and we can not explain, even to
ourselves, what the difference is by which we do distinguish them.

For example, we can call up to our minds the picture of a house burning
and a fireman going up by a ladder to rescue some person appearing at the
window. Now the image, in such a case, may have had several different modes
of origin. 1. We may have actually witnessed such a scene the evening
before. 2. Some one may have given us a vivid description of it. 3. We may
have fancied it in writing a tale, and 4. We may have dreamed it. Here are
four different prototypes of a picture which is now renewed, and there is
something in the present copy which enables us, in most cases, to determine
at once what the real prototype was. That is, there is something in the
picture which now arises in our mind as a renewal or repetition of the
picture made the day before, which makes us immediately cognizant of the
cause of the original picture--that is, whether it came from a reality that
we witnessed, or from a verbal or written description by another person, or
whether it was a fanciful creation of our own mind while awake, or a dream.
And it is extremely difficult for us to discover precisely what it is, in
the present mental picture, which gives us this information in respect to
the origin of its prototype. It is very easy to say, "Oh, we _remember_."
But remember is only a word. We can only mean by it, in such a case as
this, that there is some _latent difference_ between the several images
made upon our minds to-day of things seen, heard of, fancied, or dreamed
yesterday, by which we distinguish each from all the others. But the most
acute metaphysicians--men who are accustomed to the closest scrutiny of the
movements and the mode of action of their minds--find it very difficult to
discover what this difference is.

_The Result in the Case of Children_.

Now, in the case of young children, the faculties of perception
and consciousness and the power of recognizing the distinguishing
characteristics of the different perceptions and sensations of their minds
are all immature, and distinctions which even to mature minds are not so
clear but that they are often confounded, for them form a bewildering
maze. Their minds are occupied with a mingled and blended though beautiful
combination of sensations, conceptions, fancies, and remembrances, which
they do not attempt to separate from each other, and their vocal organs are
animated by a constant impulse to exercise themselves with any utterances
which the incessant and playful gambollings of their faculties frame. In
other words, the vital force liberated by the digestion of the food seeks
an issue now in this way and now in that, through every variety of mental
and bodily action. Of course, to arrange and systematize these actions,
to establish the true relations between all these various faculties and
powers, and to regulate the obligations and duties by which the exercise
of them should be limited and controlled, is a work of time, and is to be
effected, not by the operation of any instinct or early intuition, but by
a course of development--effected mainly by the progress of growth and
experience, though it is to be aided and guided by assiduous but gentle
training and instruction.

If these views are correct, we can safely draw from them the following

_Practical Conclusions_.

1. We must not expect from children that they will from the beginning
understand and feel the obligation to speak the truth, any more than we
look for a recognition, on their part, of the various other principles of
duty which arise from the relations of man to man in the social state. We
do not expect that two babies creeping upon the floor towards the same
plaything should each feel instinctively impelled to grant the other the
use of it half of the time. Children must be taught to tell the truth, just
as they must be taught the principles of justice and equal rights. They
generally get taught by experience--that is, by the rough treatment and
hard knocks which they bring upon themselves by their violation of these
principles. But the faithful parent can aid them in acquiring the necessary
knowledge in a far easier and more agreeable manner by appropriate

2. The mother must not be distressed or too much troubled when she finds
that her children, while very young are prone to fall into deviations from
the truth, but only to be made to feel more impressed with the necessity of
renewing her own efforts to teach them the duty, and to train them to the
performance of it.

3. She must not be too stern or severe in punishing the deviations from
truth in very young children, or in expressing the displeasure which
they awaken in her mind. It is instruction, not expressions of anger or
vindictive punishment, that is required in most cases. Explain to them the
evils that would result if we could not believe what people say, and tell
them stories of truth-loving children on the one hand, and of false and
deceitful children on the other. And, above all, notice, with indications
of approval and pleasure, when the child speaks the truth under
circumstances which might have tempted him to deviate from it. One instance
of this kind, in which you show that you observe and are pleased by his
truthfulness, will do more to awaken in his heart a genuine love for the
truth than ten reprovals, or even punishments, incurred by the violation of
it. And in the same spirit we must make use of the religious considerations
which are appropriate to this subject--that is, we must encourage the child
with the approval of his heavenly Father, when he resists the temptation
to deviate from the truth, instead of frightening him, when he falls, by
terrible denunciations of the anger of God against liars; denunciations
which, however well-deserved in the cases to which they are intended
to apply, are not designed for children in whose minds the necessary
discriminations, as pointed out in this chapter, are yet scarcely formed.

_Danger of confounding Deceitfulness and Falsehood_.

4. Do not confound the criminality of deceitfulness by acts with falsehood
by words, by telling the child, when he resorts to any artifice or
deception in order to gain his ends, that it is as bad to deceive as to
lie. It is not as bad, by any means. There is a marked line of distinction
to be drawn between falsifying one's word and all other forms of deception,
for there is such a sacredness in the spoken word, that the violation of
it is in general far more reprehensible than the attempt to accomplish the
same end by mere action. If a man has lost a leg, it may be perfectly right
for him to wear a wooden one which is so perfectly made as to deceive
people--and even to wear it, too, with the _intent_ to deceive people by
leading them to suppose that both his legs are genuine--while it would be
wrong; for him to assert in words that this limb was not an artificial one.
It is right to put a chalk egg in a hen's nest to deceive the hen, when, if
the hen could understand language, and if we were to suppose hens "to have
any rights that we are bound to respect," it would be wrong to _tell_ her
that it was a real egg. It would be right for a person, when his house
was entered by a robber at night, to point an empty gun at the robber to
frighten him away by leading him to think that the gun was loaded; but it
would be wrong, as I think--though I am aware that many persons would think
differently--for him to say in words that the gun was loaded, and that he
would fire unless the robber went away. These cases show that there is a
great difference between deceiving by false appearances, which is sometimes
right, and doing it by false statements, which, as I think, is always
wrong. There is a special and inviolable sacredness, which every lover of
the truth should attach to his spoken word.

5. We must not allow the leniency with which, according to the views here
presented, we are to regard the violations of truth by young persons,
while their mental faculties and their powers of discrimination are yet
imperfectly developed, to lead us to lower the standard of right in their
minds, so as to allow them to imbibe the idea that we think that falsehood
is, after all, no great sin, and still less, to suppose that we consider it
sometimes, in extreme cases, allowable. We may, indeed, say, "The truth is
not to be spoken at all times," but to make the aphorism complete we must
add, that _falsehood_ is to be spoken _never_. There is no other possible
ground for absolute confidence in the word of any man except the conviction
that his principle is, that it is _never, under any circumstances, or to
accomplish any purpose whatever,_ right for him to falsify it.

A different opinion, I am aware, prevails very extensively among mankind,
and especially among the continental nations of Europe, where it seems to
be very generally believed that in those cases in which falsehood will on
the whole be conducive of greater good than the truth it is allowable to
employ it. But it is easy to see that, so far as we know that those around
us hold to this philosophy, all reasonable ground for confidence in
their statements is taken away; for we never can know, in respect to any
statement which they make, that the case is not one of those in which, for
reasons not manifest to us, they think it is expedient--that is, conducive
in some way to good--to state what is not true.

While, therefore, we must allow children a reasonable time to bring their
minds to a full sense of the obligation of making their words always
conform to what is true, instead of shaping them so as best to attain their
purposes for the time being--which is the course to which their earliest
natural instincts prompt them--and must deal gently and leniently with
their incipient failures, we must do all in our power to bring them forward
as fast as possible to the adoption of the very highest standard as their
rule of duty in this respect; inculcating it upon them, by example as well
as by precept, that we can not innocently, under any circumstances, to
escape any evil, or to gain any end, falsify our word. For there is no evil
so great, and no end to be attained so valuable, as to justify the adoption
of a principle which destroys all foundation for confidence between man and



It is a very unreasonable thing for parents to expect young children to be
reasonable. Being reasonable in one's conduct or wishes implies the taking
into account of those bearings and relations of an act which are more
remote and less obvious, in contradistinction from being governed
exclusively by those which are immediate and near. Now, it is not
reasonable to expect children to be influenced by these remote
considerations, simply because in them the faculties by which they are
brought forward into the mind and invested with the attributes of reality
are not yet developed. These faculties are all in a nascent or formative
state, and it is as idle to expect them, while thus immature, to fulfill
their functions for any practical purpose, as it would be to expect a baby
to expend the strength of its little arms in performing any useful labor.

_Progress of Mental Development_.

The mother sometimes, when she looks upon her infant lying in her arms, and
observes the intentness with which he seems to gaze upon objects in the
room--upon the bright light of the window or of the lamp, or upon the
pictures on the wall--wonders what he is thinking of. The truth probably is
that he is not thinking at all; he is simply _seeing_--that is to say, the
light from external objects is entering his eyes and producing images upon
his sensorium, and that is all. He _sees_ only. There might have been a
similar image of the light in his mind the day before, but the reproduction
of the former image which constitutes memory does not probably take place
at all in his case if he is very young, so that there is not present to his
mind, in connection with the present image, any reproduction of the former
one. Still less does he make any mental comparison between the two. The
mother, as she sees the light of to-day, may remember the one of yesterday,
and mentally compare the two; may have many _thoughts_ awakened in her mind
by the sensation and the recollection--such as, this is from a new kind of
oil, and gives a brighter light than the other; that she will use this kind
of oil in all her lamps, and will recommend it to her friends, and so on
indefinitely. But the child has none of these thoughts and can have none;
for neither have the faculties been developed within him by which they are
conceived, nor has he had the experience of the previous sensations to form
the materials for framing them. He is conscious of the present sensations,
and that is all.

As he advances, however, in his experience of sensations, and as his mental
powers gradually begin to be unfolded, what may be called _thoughts_ arise,
consisting at first, probably, of recollections of past sensations
entering into his consciousness in connection with the present ones. These
combinations, and the mental acts of various kinds which are excited by
them, multiply as he advances towards maturity; but the images produced by
present realities are infinitely more vivid and have a very much greater
power over him than those which memory brings up from the past, or that his
fancy can anticipate in the future.

This state of things, though there is, of course, a gradual advancement in
the relative influence of what the mind can conceive, as compared with that
which the senses make real, continues substantially the same through all
the period of childhood and youth. In other words, the organs of sense and
of those mental faculties which are directly occupied with the sensations,
are the earliest to be developed, as we might naturally suppose would be
the case; and, by consequence, the sensible properties of objects and
the direct and immediate effects of any action, are those which have a
controlling influence over the volitions of the mind during all the earlier
periods of its development. The _reason_, on the other hand, which, as
applied to the practical affairs of life, has for its function the bringing
in of the more remote bearings and relations of a fact, or the indirect
and less obvious results of an action, is very slowly developed. It is
precisely on this account that the period of immaturity in the human
species is so long protracted in comparison with that of the inferior
animals. The lives of these animals are regulated by the cognizance simply
of the sensible properties of objects, and by the immediate results of
their acts, and they accordingly become mature as soon as their senses and
their bodily organs are brought completely into action. But man, who is
to be governed by his reason--that is, by much more far-reaching and
comprehensive views of what concerns him--requires a much longer period to
fit him for independent action, since he must wait for the development of
those higher faculties which are necessary for the attainment of these
extended views; and during this period he must depend upon the reason of
his parents instead of being governed by his own.

_Practical Effect of these Truths_.

The true course, then, for parents to pursue is not to expect too much from
the ability of their children to see what is right and proper for them, but
to decide all important questions themselves, using their own experience
and their own power of foresight as their guide. They are, indeed, to
cultivate and train the reasoning and reflective powers of their children,
but are not to expect them in early life to be sufficiently developed and
strengthened to bear any heavy strain, or to justify the placing of any
serious reliance upon them. They must, in a word, treat the reason and the
judgment of their children as the farmer treats the strength of his colt,
which he exercises and, to a certain extent, employs, but never puts upon
it any serious burden.

It results from this view of the case that it is not wise for a parent to
resort to arguing or reasoning with a child, as a substitute for authority,
or even as an aid to make up for a deficiency of authority, in regard to
what it is necessary that the child should do. No doubt it is a good plan
sometimes to let the child decide for himself, but when you pretend to
allow him to decide let him do it really. When you go out with him to take
a walk, if it is so nearly immaterial which way you go that you are willing
that he should determine the question, then lay the case before him, giving
him the advantages and disadvantages of the different ways, and let him
decide; and then act according to his decision. But if you have determined
in your own mind which way to go, simply announce your determination; and
if you give reasons at all, do not give them in such a way as to convey the
idea to his mind that his obligation to submit is to rest partly on his
seeing the force of them. For every parent will find that this principle is
a sound one and one of fundamental importance in the successful management
of children--namely, that it is much easier for a child to do what he does
not like to do as an act of simple submission to superior authority, than
for him to bring himself to an accordance with the decision by hearing and
considering the reasons. In other words, it is much easier for him to obey
your decision than to bring himself to the same decision against his own

_In serious Cases no Reliance to be placed on the Reason of the Child_.

In all those cases, therefore, in which the parent can not safely allow the
children really to decide, such as the question of going to school, going
to church, taking medicine, remaining indoors on account of indisposition
or of the weather, making visits, choice of playmates and companions, and
a great many others which it would not be safe actually to allow them
to decide, it is true kindness to them to spare their minds the painful
perplexity of a conflict. Decide for them. Do not say, "Oh, I would not
do this or that"--whatever it may be--"because"--and then go on to assign
reasons thought of perhaps at the moment to meet the emergency, and indeed
generally false; but, "Yes, I don't wonder that you would like to do it.
I should like it if I were you. But it can not be done." When there is
medicine to be taken, do not put the child in misery for half an hour while
you resort to all sorts of arguments, and perhaps artifices, to bring him
to a willingness to take it; but simply present it to him, saying, "It is
something very disagreeable, I know, but it must be taken;" and if it is
refused, allow of no delay, but at once, though without any appearance of
displeasure, and in the gentlest-manner possible, force it down. Then,
after the excitement of the affair has passed away, and you have your
little patient in your lap, and he is in good-humor--this is all, of
course, on the supposition that he is not very sick--say to him, "You would
not take your medicine a little while ago, and we had to force it down: I
hope it did not hurt you much."

The child will probably make some fretful answer.

[Illustration: STORY OF THE HORSE.]

"It is not surprising that you did not like to take it. All children, while
they are too young to be reasonable, and all animals, such as horses and
cows, when they are sick, are very unwilling to take their medicine, and we
often have to force it down. You will, perhaps, refuse to take yours a good
many times yet before you are old enough to see that it is a great deal
easier to take it willingly than it is to have it forced down."

And then go on and tell him some amusing story of the difficulty some
people had in forcing medicine down the throat of a sick horse, who did not
know enough to take it like a man.

The idea is--for this case is only meant as an illustration of a general
principle--that the comfort and enjoyment of children, as well as the easy
and successful working of parental government, is greatly promoted by
deciding for the children at once, and placing their action on the simple
ground of obedience to authority in all those cases where the _decision can
not really and honestly be_ left to the children themselves.

To listen reluctantly to the persistent arguments of children in favor of
their being allowed to do what we are sure that we shall decide in the end
that it is not best for them to do, and to meet them with counter arguments
which, if they are not actually false, as they are very apt to be in such
a case, are utterly powerless, from the incapacity of the children to
appreciate them, on account of their being blinded by their wishes, is not
to strengthen the reasoning powers, but to confuse and bewilder them, and
impede their development.

_Mode of Dealing with the Reason of a Child_.

The effect, however, will be excellent of calling into exercise the reason
and the judgment of the child in cases where the conclusion which he
arrives at can be safely allowed to determine his action. You can help him
in such cases by giving him any information that he desires, but do not
embarrass him, and interfere with his exercising his own judgment by
obtruding advice. Allow him in this way to lay out his own garden, to plan
the course of a walk or a ride, and to decide upon the expenditure of his
own pocket-money, within certain restrictions in respect to such things
as would be dangerous or hurtful to himself, or annoying to others. As he
grows older you can give him the charge of the minor arrangements on a
journey, such as taking care of a certain number of the parcels carried
in the hand, choosing a seat in the car, selecting and engaging a hand on
arriving at the place of destination. Commit such things to his charge only
so fast as you can really intrust him with power to act, and then, with
slight and not obtrusive supervision on your part, leave the responsibility
with him, noticing encouragingly whatever of fidelity and success you
observe, and taking little notice--generally in fact, none at all--of such
errors and failures as result simply from inexperience and immaturity.

In a word, make no attempt to seek support from his judgment, or by
convincing his reason, in important cases, where his feelings or wishes are
involved, but in all such cases rest your decisions solely upon your own
authority. But then, on the other hand, in unimportant cases, where no
serious evil can result whichever of the various possible courses are
taken, call his judgment into exercise, and abide by its decisions. Give
him the responsibility if he likes to take it, but with the responsibility
give him the power.

Substantially the same principles as explained above, in their application
to the exercise of the judgment, apply to the cultivation of the reasoning
powers--that is to say, in the act of arguing, or drawing conclusions from
premises. Nothing can be more unprofitable and useless, to say nothing of
its irritating and vexatious effect, than maintaining an argument with a
child--or with any body else, in fact--to convince him against his will.
Arguing very soon degenerates, in such a case, into an irritating and
utterly useless dispute. The difference of opinion which gives occasion for
such discussions arises generally from the fact that the child sees only
certain of the more obvious and immediate relations and bearings of the
subject in question, which is, in fact, all that can be reasonably expected
of him, and forms his opinion from these alone. The parent, on the other
hand, takes a wider view, and includes among the premises on which his
conclusion is founded considerations which have never been brought to the
attention of the child. The proper course, therefore, for him to pursue
in order to bring the child's mind into harmony with his own, is not to
ridicule the boy's reasoning, or chide him for taking so short-sighted a
view of the subject, or to tell him it is very foolish for him to talk as
he does, or silence him by a dogmatic decision, delivered in a dictatorial
and overbearing manner, all of which is too often found to characterize the
discussions between parents and children, but calmly and quietly to present
to him the considerations bearing upon the question which he has not yet
seen. To this end, and to bring the mind of the child into that listening
and willing state without which all arguments and even all attempts at
instruction are wasted, we must listen candidly to what he says himself,
put the best construction upon it, give it its full force; see it, in a
word, as nearly as possible as _he_ sees it, and let him know that we
do so. Then he will be much more ready to receive any additional
considerations which we may present to his mind, as things that must also
be taken into account in forming a final judgment on the question.

A boy, for example, who is full of health and increasing vigor, and in
whom, of course, those organs on which the consciousness of strength and
the impulses of courage depend are in the course of rapid and healthy
development, in reading to his mother a story in which a thief that came
into a back store-room of a house in the evening, with a bag, to steal
meal, was detected by the owner and frightened away, looks up from his book
and says, in a very valiant manner,

"If I had been there, and had a gun, I would have shot him on the spot."

_The Rough Mode of Treatment_.

Now, if the mother wishes to confuse and bewilder, and to crush down, so to
speak, the reasoning faculties of her child, she may say,

"Nonsense, George! It is of no use for you to talk big in that way. You
would not dare to fire a gun in such a case, still less, to shoot a man.
The first thing you would do would be to run away and hide. And then,
besides, it would be very wicked for you to kill a man in that way. You
would be very likely to get yourself hung for murder. Besides, the Bible
says that we must not resist evil; so you should not talk so coolly about
shooting a man."

The poor boy would be overpowered by such a rebuke as this, and perhaps
silenced. The incipient and half-formed ideas in his mind in respect to the
right of self-defense, the virtue of courage, the sanctity of life, the
nature and the limits of the doctrine of non-resistance, would be all
thrown together into a jumble of hopeless confusion in his mind, and
the only result would be his muttering to himself, after a moment of
bewilderment and vexation, "I _would_ shoot him, anyhow." Such treatment
would not only fail to convince him that his idea was wrong, but would
effectually close his heart against any such conviction.

_The Gentle Mode of Treatment_.

But let the mother first see and recognize those bearings and relations of
the question which the boy sees--that is, those which are the most direct
and immediate--and allow them their full force, and she establishes a
sympathy between his mind and hers, and prepares the way for his being led
by her to taking into the account other considerations which, though of
greater importance, are not so obvious, and which it would be wholly
unreasonable to expect that the boy would see himself, since they do not
come within the range of observation that could be reached spontaneously by
the unaided faculties of such a child. Suppose the mother says, in reply to
her boy's boastful declaration that he would shoot the robber,

"There would be a certain degree of justice in that, no doubt."

"Yes," rejoins the boy, "it would be no more than he deserved."

"When a man engages in the commission of a crime," adds the mother, "he
runs the risk of all the perils that he exposes himself to, from the
efforts of people to defend their property, and perhaps their lives; so
that, perhaps, _he_ would have no right to complain if people did shoot at

"Not a bit of right," says the boy.

"But then there are some other things to be considered," says the mother,
"which, though they do not show that it would be unjust towards him, might
make it bad for _us_ to shoot him."

"What things?" asks the boy.

The mother having candidly admitted whatever there was of truth in the
boy's view of the subject, and thus placed herself, as it were, side by
side with him, he is prepared to see and admit what she is going to point
out to his observation--not as something directly antagonistic to what he
has said, but as something additional, something which is _also_ to be
taken into the account.

"In the first place," continues the mother, "there would be the body to be
disposed of, if you were to shoot him. How should we manage about that?"

It would make a great difference in such a case in respect to the danger
of putting the boy's mind into a state of antagonism against his mother's
presentation of the case, whether she says, "How shall _we_ manage about
that?" or, "How will _you_ manage about that?"

"Oh," replies the boy, "we would send to where he lives, and let his people
come and take him away; or, if he was in a city, we would call in the

"That would be a good plan," says his mother. "We would call in the police,
if there were any police at hand. But then there would be the blood all
over the carpet and the floor."

"There would not be any carpet on the floor in a store-room," says the boy.

"True," replies the mother; "you are right there; so that there would not
be, after all, any great trouble about the blood. But the man might not be
killed outright, and it might be some time before the policemen would come,
and we should see him all that time writhing and struggling in dreadful
convulsions, which would fix horrid impressions upon our minds, that would
haunt us for a long time afterwards."

The mother could then go on to explain that, if the man had a wife and
children, any one who had killed the husband and father would pity them as
long as he lived, and could never see them or hear them spoken of without
feeling pain, and even some degree of self-reproach; although, so far as
the man himself was concerned, it might be that no injustice had been done.
After the excitement was over, too, he would begin to make excuses for the
man, thinking that perhaps he was poor, and his children were suffering for
bread, and it was on their account that he was tempted to steal, and this,
though it would not justify, might in some degree palliate the act for
which he was slain; or that he had been badly brought up, having never
received any proper instruction, but had been trained and taught from his
boyhood to pilfer and steal.

These and many analogous considerations might be presented to the child,
going to show that, whatever the rule of strict justice in respect to the
criminal may enjoin, it is not right to take the life of a wrong-doer
merely to prevent the commission of a minor offense. The law of the land
recognizes this principle, and does not justify the taking of life except
in extreme cases, such as those of imminent personal danger.

A friendly conversation of this kind, carried on, not in a spirit of
antagonism to what the boy has said, but in the form of presenting
information novel to him in respect to considerations which were to be
taken into the account in addition to those which he had himself perceived,
will have a great effect not only in modifying his opinion in this case,
but also in impressing him with the general idea that, before adopting a
decisive opinion on any subject, we must take care to acquaint ourselves
not merely with the most direct and obvious relations of it, but must look
farther into its bearings and results, so that our conclusion may have a
solid foundation by reposing upon as many as possible of the considerations
which ought really to affect it. Thus, by avoiding all appearance of
antagonism, we secure a ready reception for the truths we offer, and
cultivate the reasoning powers at the same time.

_General Principles_.

The principles, then, which are meant to be illustrated and enforced in
this chapter are these:

1. That the mental faculties of children on which the exercise of judgment
and of the power of reasoning depend are not among those which are the
earliest developed, and they do not attain, in the first years of life, to
such a degree of strength or maturity as to justify placing any serious
reliance upon them for the conduct of life.

2. Parents should, accordingly, not put them to any serious test, or impose
any heavy burden upon them; but should rely solely on their own authority,
as the expression of their own judgment, and not upon their ability to
convince the judgment of the child, in important cases, or in those where
its inclinations or its feelings are concerned.

3. But they may greatly promote the healthy development of these faculties
on the part of their children, by bringing to their view the less obvious
bearings and relations of various acts and occurrences on which judgment
is to be passed, in cases where their feelings and inclinations are not
specially concerned--doing this either in the form of explaining their own
parental principles of management, or practically, by intrusting them with
responsibility, and giving them a degree of actual power commensurate with
it, in cases where it is safe to do so; and,

4. They may enlarge the range of the children's ideas, and accustom them to
take wider views of the various subjects which occupy their attention, by
discussing with them the principles involved in the several cases; but such
discussions must be conducted in a calm, gentle, and considerate manner,
the parent looking always upon what the child says in the most favorable
light, putting the best construction upon it, and admitting its force,
and then presenting such additional views as ought also to be taken into
account, with moderate earnestness, and in an unobtrusive manner, thus
taking short and easy steps himself in order to accommodate his own rate of
progress to the still imperfectly developed capabilities of the child.

In a word, it is with the unfolding of the mental faculties of the young as
it is with the development of their muscles and the improvement of their
bodily powers; and just as the way to teach a child to walk is not to drag
him along hurriedly and forcibly by the arm faster than he can himself form
the necessary steps, but to go slowly, accommodating your movements to
those which are natural to him, and encouraging him by letting him perceive
that his own efforts produce appreciable and useful results--so, in
cultivating any of their thinking and reasoning powers, we must not put at
the outset too heavy a burden upon them, but must call them gently into
action, within the limits prescribed by the degree of maturity to which
they have attained, standing a little aside, as it were, in doing so, and
encouraging them to do the work themselves, instead of taking it out of
their hands and doing it for them.



In respect to the course to be pursued in relation to the requests and
wishes of children, the following general rules result from the principles
inculcated in the chapter on Judgment and Reasoning, or, at least, are in
perfect accordance with them--namely:

_Absolute Authority in Cases of vital Importance_.

1. In respect to all those questions in the decision of which their
permanent and essential welfare are involved, such as those relating to
their health, the company they keep, the formation of their characters, the
progress of their education, and the like, the parent should establish and
maintain in the minds of the children from their earliest years, a distinct
understanding that the decision of all such questions is reserved for
his own or her own exclusive jurisdiction. While on any of the details
connected with these questions the feelings and wishes of the child ought
to be ascertained, and, so far as possible, taken into the account, the
course to be pursued should not, in general, be discussed with the child,
nor should their objections be replied to in any form. The parent should
simply take such objections as the judge takes the papers in a case which
has been tried before him, and reserve his decision. The principles by
which the parent is governed in the course which he pursues, and the
reasons for them, may be made the subject of very free conversation, and
may be fully explained, provided that care is taken that this is never done
when any practical question is pending, such as would give the explanations
of the parent the aspect of persuasions, employed to supply the deficiency
of authority too weak to enforce obedience to a command. It is an excellent
thing to have children see and appreciate the reasonableness of their
parents' commands, provided that this reasonableness is shown to them in
such a way that they are not led to imagine that their being able to see it
is in any sense a condition precedent of obedience.

_Great Indulgence in Cases not of vital Importance_.

2. The authority of the parent being thus fully established in regard to
all those things which, being of paramount importance in respect to
the child's present and future welfare, ought to be regulated by the
comparative far-seeing wisdom of the parent, with little regard to the
evanescent fancies of the child, it is on every account best, in respect to
all other things, to allow to the children the largest possible indulgence.
The largest indulgence for them in their occupations, their plays, and even
in their caprices and the freaks of their fancy, means _freedom of action_
for their unfolding powers of body and mind; and freedom of action for
these powers means the most rapid and healthy development of them.

The rule is, in a word, that, after all that is essential for their health,
the formation of their characters, and their progress in study is secured,
by being brought under the dominion of absolute parental authority, in
respect to what remains the children are to be indulged and allowed to have
their own way as much as possible. When, in their plays, they come to you
for permission to do a particular thing, do not consider whether or not it
seems to you that you would like to do it yourself, but only whether there
is any _real and substantial objection to their doing it_.

_The Hearing to come before the Decision, not after it_.

The courts of justice adopt what seems to be a very sensible and a very
excellent mode of proceeding, though it is exactly the contrary to the one
which many parents pursue, and that is, they hear the case _first_, and
decide afterwards. A great many parents seem to prefer to decide first, and
then hear--that is to say, when the children come to them with any request
or proposal, they answer at once with a refusal more or less decided, and
then allow themselves to be led into a long discussion on the subject, if
discussion that may be called which consists chiefly of simple persistence
and importunity on one side, and a gradually relaxing resistance on the
other, until a reluctant consent is finally obtained.

Now, just as it is an excellent way to develop and strengthen the muscles
of a child's arms, for his father to hold the two ends of his cane in his
hands while the child grasps it by the middle, and then for them to pull
against each other, about the yard, until, finally, the child is allowed to
get the cane away; so the way to cherish and confirm the habit of "teasing"
in children is to maintain a discussion with them for a time in respect to
some request which is at first denied, and then finally, after a protracted
and gradually weakening resistance, to allow them to gain the victory
and carry their point. On the other hand, an absolutely certain way of
preventing any such habit from being formed, and of effectually breaking it
up when it is formed, is the simple process of hearing first, and deciding

When, therefore, children come with any request, or express any wish, in
cases where no serious interests are involved, in deciding upon the answer
to be given, the mother should, in general, simply ask herself, not Is it
wise? Will they succeed in it? Will they enjoy it? Would I like to do it
if I were they?--but simply, Is there any harm or danger in it? If not,
readily and cordially consent. But do not announce your decision till
_after_ you have heard all that they have to say, if you intend to hear
what they have to say at all.

If there are any objections to what the children propose which affect the
question in relation to it as a means of _amusement for them_, you may
state them in the way of information for them, _after_ you have given your
consent. In that way you present the difficulties as subjects for their
consideration, and not as objections on your part to their plan. But,
however serious the difficulties may be in the way of the children's
accomplishing the object which they have in view, they constitute no
objection to their making the attempt, provided that their plans involve no
serious harm or damage to themselves, or to any other person or interest.

_The Wrong Way_.

Two boys, for example, William and James, who have been playing in the yard
with their little sister Lucy, come in to their mother with a plan for a
fish-pond. They wish for permission to dig a hole in a corner of the yard
and fill it with water, and then to get some fish out of the brook to put
into it.

The mother, on hearing the proposal, says at once, without waiting for any

"Oh no, I would not do that. It is a very foolish plan. You will only get
yourselves all muddy. Besides, you can't catch any fishes to put into it,
and if you do, they won't live. And then the grass is so thick that you
could not get it up to make your hole."

But William says that they can dig the grass up with their little spades.
They had tried it, and found that they could do so.

And James says that they have already tried catching the fishes, and found
that they could do it by means of a long-handled dipper; and Lucy says that
they will all be very careful not to get themselves wet and muddy.

"But you'll get your feet wet standing on the edge of the brook," says the
mother. "You can't help it."

"No, mother," replies James, "there is a large flat stone that we can stand
upon, and so keep our feet perfectly dry. See!"

So saying, he shows his own feet, which are quite dry.

Thus the discussion goes on; the objections made--being, as usual in such
cases, half of them imaginary ones, brought forward only for effect--are
one after another disposed of, or at least set aside, until at length the
mother, as if beaten off her ground after a contest, gives a reluctant and
hesitating consent, and the children go away to commence their work only
half pleased, and separated in heart and affection, for the time being,
from their mother by not finding in her, as they think, any sympathy with
them, or disposition to aid them in their pleasures.

They have, however, by their mother's management of the case, received an
excellent lesson in arguing and teasing. They have found by it, what they
have undoubtedly often found on similar occasions before, that their
mother's first decision is not at all to be taken as a final one; that they
have only to persevere in replying to her objections and answering her
arguments, and especially in persisting in their importunity, and they will
be pretty sure to gain their end at last.

This mode of management, also, has the effect of fixing the position of
their mother in their minds as one of antagonism to them in respect to
their childish pleasures.

_The Right Way_.

If in such a case as this the mother wishes to avoid these evils, the way
is plain. She must first consider the proposal herself, and come to her own
decision in regard to it. Before coming to a decision, she may, if she
has leisure and opportunity, make additional inquiries in respect to the
details of the plan; or, if she is otherwise occupied, she may consider
them for a moment in her own mind. If the objections are decisive, she
should not state them at the time, unless she specially wishes them not to
have a fair hearing; for when children have a plan in mind which they are
eager to carry out, their very eagerness entirely incapacitates them for
properly appreciating any objections which may be offered to it. It is on
every account better, therefore--as a general rule--not to offer any such
objections at the time, but simply to give your decision.

On the other hand, if there is no serious evil to be apprehended in
allowing children to attempt to carry any particular plan they form into
effect, the foolishness of it, in a practical point of view, or even the
impossibility of success in accomplishing the object proposed, constitute
no valid objection to it; for children amuse themselves as much, and
sometimes learn as much, and promote as effectually the development of
their powers and faculties, by their failures as by their successes.

In the case supposed, then, the mother, in order to manage it right, would
first consider for a moment whether there was any decisive objection to the
plan. This would depend, perhaps, upon the manner in which the children
were dressed at the time, or upon the amount of injury that would be done
to the yard; and this question would in its turn depend, in many cases, on
the comparative value set by the mother upon the beauty of her yard, and
the health, development, and happiness of her children. But supposing that
she sees--which she can do in most instances at a glance--that there can no
serious harm be done by the experiment, but only that it is a foolish plan
so far as the attainment of the object is concerned, and utterly hopeless
of success, which, considering that the real end to be attained is the
healthy development of the children's powers by the agreeable exercise of
them in useless as well as in useful labors, is no objection at all, then
she should answer at once, "Yes, you can do that if you like; and perhaps I
can help you about planning the work."

After saying this, any pointing out of obstacles and difficulties on her
part does not present itself to their minds in the light of opposition to
their plan, but of aid in helping it forward, and so places her, in their
view, _on their side_, instead of in antagonism to them.

"What do you propose to do with the earth that you take out of the hole?"
she asks.

The children had, perhaps, not thought of that.

"How would it do," continues the mother, "to put it in your wheelbarrow and
let it stay there, so that in case your plan should not succeed--and men,
in any thing that they undertake, always consider it wise to take into
account the possibility that they may not succeed--you can easily bring it
all back and fill up the hole again."

The children think that would be a very good plan.

"And how are you going to fill your hole with water when you get it dug
out?" asks the mother.

They were going to carry the water from the pump in a pail.

"And how are you going to prevent spilling the water over upon your
trousers and into your shoes while carrying it?"

"Oh, we will be very careful," replied William.

"How would it do only to fill the pail half full each time," suggests the
mother. "You would have to go more times, it is true, but that would be
better than getting splashed with water."

The boys think that that would be a very good plan.

In this manner the various difficulties to be anticipated may be brought to
the notice of the children, while, they and their mother being in harmony
and sympathy with each other--and not in opposition--in the consideration
of them, she can bring them forward without any difficulty, and make them
the means of teaching the children many useful lessons of prudence and

_Capriciousness in Play_.

The mother, then, after warning the children that they must expect to
encounter many unexpected difficulties in their undertaking, and telling
them that they must not be too much disappointed if they should find that
they could not succeed, dismisses them to their work. They proceed to dig
the hole, putting the materials in the wheelbarrow, and then fill up the
hole with water brought in half pailfuls at a time from the pump; but are
somewhat disappointed to find that the water soaks away pretty rapidly into
the ground, and that, moreover, it is so turbid, and the surface is so
covered with little leaves, sticks, and dust, as to make it appear very
doubtful whether they would be able to see the fishes if they were to
succeed in catching any to put in. However, they take their long-handled
dipper and proceed towards the brook. On the way they stop to gather some
flowers that grow near the path that leads through the field, when the idea
suddenly enters Lucy's head that it would be better to make a garden than
a fish-pond; flowers, as she says, being so much prettier than fishes. So
they all go back to their mother and explain the change of their plan. They
ask for leave to dig up a place which they had found where the ground was
loose and sandy, and easy to dig, and to set out flowers in it which they
had found in the field already in bloom. "We are going to give up the
fish-pond," they say in conclusion, "because flowers are so much prettier
than fishes."

The mother, instead of finding fault with them for being so capricious and
changeable in their plans, says, "I think you are right. Fishes look pretty
enough when they are swimming in the brook, but flowers are much prettier
to transport and take care of. But first go and fill up the hole you made
for the pond with the earth that is in the wheelbarrow; and when you have
made your garden and moved the flowers into it, I advise you to get the
watering-pot and give them a good watering."

It may be said that children ought to be brought up in habits of steadiness
and perseverance in what they undertake, and that this kind of indulgence
in their capriciousness would have a very bad tendency in this respect. The
answer is, that there are times and seasons for all the different kinds
of lessons which children have to learn, and that when in their hours of
recreation they are amusing themselves in play, lessons in perseverance and
system are out of place. The object to be sought for _then_ is the exercise
and growth of their bodily organs and members, the development of their
fancy and imagination, and their powers of observation of nature. The work
of training them to habits of system and of steady perseverance in
serious pursuits, which, though it is a work that ought by no means to be
neglected, is not the appropriate work of such a time.

_Summary of Results_.

The general rules for the government of the parent in his treatment of
his children's requests and wishes are these: In all matters of essential
importance he is to decide himself and simply announce his decision,
without giving any reasons _for the purpose of justifying it_, or for
_inducing submission to it_.

And in all matters not of essential importance he is to allow the children
the greatest possible freedom of action.

And the rule for children is that they are always to obey the command the
first time it is given, without question, and to take the first answer to
any request without any objection or demurring whatever.

It is very easy to see how smoothly and happily the affairs of domestic
government would go on if these rules were established and obeyed. All that
is required on the part of parents for their complete establishment is,
first, a clear comprehension of them, and then a calm, quiet, and gentle,
but still inflexible firmness in maintaining them. Unfortunately, however,
such qualities as these, simple as they seem, are the most rare. If,
instead of gentle but firm consistency and steadiness of action, ardent,
impulsive, and capricious energy and violence were required, it would be
comparatively easy to find them. How seldom do we see a mother's management
of her children regulated by a calm, quiet, gentle, and considerate
decision that thinks before it speaks in all important matters, and when it
speaks, is firm; and yet, which readily and gladly accords to the children
every liberty and indulgence which can do themselves or others no harm. And
on the other hand, how often do we see foolish laxity and indulgence in
yielding to importunity in cases of vital importance, alternating with
vexatious thwartings, rebuffs, and refusals in respect to desires and
wishes the gratification of which could do no injury at all.



The disposition to ask questions, which is so universal and so strong a
characteristic of childhood, is the open door which presents to the mother
the readiest and most easy access possible to the mind and heart of her
child. The opportunities and facilities thus afforded to her would be the
source of the greatest pleasure to herself, and of the greatest benefit
to her child, if she understood better how to avail herself of them. I
propose, in this chapter, to give some explanations and general directions
for the guidance of mothers, of older brothers and sisters, and of
teachers--of all persons, in fact, who may, from time to time, have young
children under their care or in their society. I have no doubt that some of
my rules will strike parents, at first view, as paradoxical and, perhaps,
almost absurd; but I hope that on more mature reflection they will be found
to be reasonable and just.

_The Curiosity of Children not a Fault_.

1. The curiosity of children is not a fault, and therefore we must never
censure them for asking questions, or lead them to think that we consider
the disposition to do so a fault on their part; but, on the other hand,
this disposition is to be encouraged as much as possible.

We must remember that a child, when his powers of observation begin to be
developed, finds every thing around him full of mystery and wonder. Why
some things are hard and some are soft--why some things will roll and some
will not--why he is not hurt when he falls on the sofa, and is hurt when he
falls on the floor--why a chair will tumble over when he climbs up by the
rounds of it, while yet the steps of the stairs remain firm and can be
ascended without danger--why one thing is black, and another red, and
another green--why water will all go away of itself from his hands or his
dress, while mud will not--why he can dig in the ground, but can not dig
in a floor--all is a mystery, and the little adventurer is in a continual
state of curiosity and wonder, not only to learn the meaning of all these
things, but also of desire to extend his observations, and find out more
and more of the astonishing phenomena that are exhibited around him. The
good feeling of the mother, or of any intelligent friend who is willing
to aid him in his efforts, is, of course, invaluable to him as a means of
promoting his advancement in knowledge and of developing his powers.

Remember, therefore, that the disposition of a child to ask questions is
not a fault, but only an indication of his increasing mental activity,
and of his desire to avail himself of the only means within his reach of
advancing his knowledge and of enlarging the scope of his intelligence in
respect to the strange and wonderful phenomena constantly observable around

_Sometimes, perhaps, a Source of Inconvenience_.

Of course there will be times when it is inconvenient for the parent to
attend to the questions of the child, and when he must, consequently, be
debarred of the pleasure and privilege of asking them; but even at such
times as these the disposition to ask them must not be attributed to him as
a fault. Never tell him that he is "a little tease"--that "you are tired
to death of answering his questions"--that he is "a chatter-box that would
weary the patience of Job;" or that, if he will "sit still for half an
hour, without speaking a word, you will give him a reward." If you are
going to be engaged, and so can not attend to him, say to him that you
_wish_ you could talk with him, and answer the questions, but that you are
going to be busy and can not do it; and then, after providing him with some
other means of occupation, require him to be silent: though even then you
ought to relieve the tedium of silence for him by stopping every ten or
fifteen minutes from your reading, or your letter-writing, or the planning
of your work, or whatever your employment may be, and giving your attention
to him for a minute or two, and affording him an opportunity to relieve the
pressure on his mind by a little conversation.

_Answers to be short and simple_.

2. Give generally to children's questions the shortest and simplest answers

One reason why parents find the questions of children so fatiguing to them,
is that _they attempt too much_ in their answers. If they would give the
right kind of answers, they would find the work of replying very easy,
and in most of their avocations it would occasion them very little
interruption. These short and simple answers are all that a child requires.
A full and detailed explanation of any thing they ask about is as tiresome
for them to listen to as it is for the mother to frame and give; while a
short and simple reply which advances them one step in their knowledge of
the subject is perfectly easy for the mother to give, and is, at the same
time, all that they wish to receive.

For example, let us suppose that the father and mother are taking a ride on
a summer afternoon after a shower, with little Johnny sitting upon the seat
between them in the chaise. The parents are engaged in conversation with
each other, we will suppose, and would not like to be interrupted. Johnny
presently spies a rainbow on a cloud in the east, and, after uttering an
exclamation of delight, asks his mother what made the rainbow. She hears
the question, and her mind, glancing for a moment at the difficulty of
giving an intelligible explanation of so grand a phenomenon to such a
child, experiences an obscure sensation of perplexity and annoyance, but
not quite enough to take off her attention from her conversation; so she
goes on and takes no notice of Johnny's inquiry. Johnny, accordingly, soon
repeats it, "Mother! mother! what makes the rainbow?"

At length her attention is forced to the subject, and she either tells
Johnny that she can't explain it to him--that he is not old enough to
understand it; or, perhaps, scolds him for interrupting her with so many
teasing questions.

In another such case, the mother, on hearing the question, pauses long
enough to look kindly and with a smile of encouragement upon her face
towards Johnny, and to say simply, "The sun," and then goes on with her
conversation. Johnny says "Oh!" in a tone of satisfaction. It is a new and
grand idea to him that the sun makes the rainbow, and it is enough to fill
his mind with contemplation for several minutes, during which his parents
go on without interruption in their talk. Presently Johnny asks again,

"Mother, _how_ does the sun make the rainbow?"

His mother answers in the same way as before, "By shining on the cloud:"
and, leaving that additional idea for Johnny to reflect upon and
receive fully into his mind, turns again to her husband and resumes her
conversation with him after a scarcely perceptible interruption.

Johnny, after having reflected in silence some minutes, during which he has
looked at the sun and at the rainbow, and observed that the cloud on which
the arch is formed is exactly opposite to the sun, and fully exposed to his
beams, is prepared for another step, and asks,

"Mother, how does the sun make a rainbow by shining on the cloud?"

His mother replies that it shines on millions of little drops of rain in
the cloud, and makes them of all colors, like drops of dew on the ground,
and all the colors together make the rainbow.

Here are images presented to Johnny's mind enough to occupy his thoughts
for a considerable interval, when perhaps he will have another question
still, to be answered by an equally short and simple reply; though,
probably, by this time his curiosity will have become satisfied in respect
to his subject of inquiry, and his attention will have been arrested by
some other object.

To answer the child's questions in this way is so easy, and the pauses
which the answers lead to on the part of the questioner are usually so
long, that very little serious interruption is occasioned by them to any
of the ordinary pursuits in which a mother is engaged; and the little
interruption which is caused is greatly overbalanced by the pleasure which
the mother will experience in witnessing the gratification and improvement
of the child, if she really loves him, and is seriously interested in the
development of his thinking and reasoning powers.

_Answers should attempt to communicate but little Instruction_.

3. The answers which are given to children should not only be short and
simple in form, but each one should be studiously designed to communicate
as small an amount of information as possible.

[Illustration: "MOTHER, WHAT MAKES IT SNOW?"]

This may seem, at first view, a strange idea, but the import of it simply
is that, in giving the child his intellectual nourishment, you must act as
you do in respect to his bodily food--that is, divide what he is to receive
into small portions, and administer a little at a time. If you give him too
much at once in either case, you are in danger of choking him.

For example, Johnny asks some morning in the early winter, when the first
snow is falling, and he has been watching it for some time from the window
in wonder and delight, "Mother, what makes it snow?" Now, if the mother
imagines that she must give any thing like a full answer to the question,
her attention must be distracted from her work to enable her to frame it;
and if she does not give up the attempt altogether, and rebuke the boy for
teasing her with "so many silly questions," she perhaps suspends her work,
and, after a moment's perplexing thought, she says the vapor of the water
from the rivers and seas and damp ground rises into the air, and there at
last congeals into flakes of snow, and these fall through the air to the

The boy listens and attempts to understand the explanation, but he is
bewildered and lost in the endeavor to take in at once this extended
and complicated process--one which is, moreover, not only extended and
complicated, but which is composed of elements all of which are entirely
new to him.

If the mother, however, should act on the principle of communicating as
small a portion of the information required as it is possible to give
in one answer, Johnny's inquiry would lead, probably, to a conversation
somewhat like the following, the answers on the part of the mother being so
short and simple as to require no perceptible thought on her part, and
so occasioning no serious interruption to her work, unless it should be
something requiring special attention.

"Mother," asks Johnny, "what makes it snow?"

"It is the snow-flakes coming down out of the sky," says his mother. "Watch

"Oh!" says Johnny, uttering the child's little exclamation of satisfaction.
He looks at the flakes as they fall, catching one after another with his
eye, and following it in its meandering descent. He will, perhaps, occupy
himself several minutes in silence and profound attention, in bringing
fully to his mind the idea that a snow-storm consists of a mass of
descending flakes of snow falling through the air. To us, who are familiar
with this fact, it seems nothing to observe this, but to him the analyzing
of the phenomenon, which before he had looked upon as one grand spectacle
filling the whole sky, and only making an impression on his mind by its
general effect, and resolving it into its elemental parts of individual
flakes fluttering down through the air, is a great step. It is a step which
exercises his nascent powers of observation and reflection very deeply, and
gives him full occupation for quite a little interval of time. At length,
when he has familiarized himself with this idea, he asks again, perhaps,

"Where do the flakes come from, mother?"

"Out of the sky."

"Oh!" says Johnny again, for the moment entirely satisfied.

One might at first think that these words would be almost unmeaning, or, at
least, that they would give the little questioner no real information. But
they do give him information that is both important and novel. They advance
him one step in his inquiry. Out of the sky means, to him, from a great
height. The words give him to understand that the flakes are not formed
where they first come into his view, but that they descend from a higher
region. After reflecting on this idea a moment, he asks, we will suppose,

"How high in the sky, mother?"

Now, perhaps, a mother might think that there was no possible answer to be
given to such a question as this except that "she does not know;" inasmuch
as few persons have any accurate ideas of the elevation in the atmosphere
at which snow-clouds usually form. But this accurate information is not
what the child requires. If the mother possessed it, it would be useless
for her to attempt to communicate it to him. In the sense in which he
asks the question she _does_ understand it, and can give him a perfectly
satisfactory answer.

"How high is it in the sky, mother, to where the snow comes from?" asks the

"Oh, _very_ high--higher than the top of the house," replies the mother.

"As high as the top of the chimney?"

"Yes, higher than that."

"As high as the moon?"

"No, not so high as the moon."

"How high is it then, mother?"

"About as high as birds can fly."

"Oh!" says Johnny, perfectly satisfied.

The answer is somewhat indefinite, it is true, but its indefiniteness is
the chief element in the value of it. A definite and precise answer, even
if one of that character were ready at hand, would be utterly inappropriate
to the occasion.

_An Answer may even be good which gives no Information at all_.

4. It is not even always necessary that an answer to a child's question
should convey _any information at all_. A little conversation on the
subject of the inquiry, giving the child an opportunity _to hear and to use
language_ in respect to it, is often all that is required.

It must be remembered that the power to express thoughts, or to represent
external objects by language, is a new power to young children, and, like
all other new powers, the mere exercise of it gives great pleasure. If a
person in full health and vigor were suddenly to acquire the art of flying,
he would take great pleasure in moving, by means of his wings, through
the air from one high point to another, not because he had any object in
visiting those high points, but because it would give him pleasure to find
that he could do so, and to exercise his newly acquired power. So with
children in their talk. They talk often, perhaps generally, for the sake of
the _pleasure of talking_, not for the sake of what they have to say. So,
if you will only talk with them and allow them to talk to you about any
thing that interests them, they are pleased, whether you communicate to
them any new information or not. This single thought, once fully understood
by a mother, will save her a great deal of trouble in answering the
incessant questions of her children. The only essential thing in many cases
is to _say something_ in reply to the question, no matter whether what you
say communicates any information or not.

If a child asks, for instance, what makes the stars shine so, and his
mother answers, "Because they are so bright," he will be very likely to be
as well satisfied as if she attempted to give a philosophical explanation
of the phenomenon. So, if he asks what makes him see himself in the
looking-glass, she may answer, "You see an _image_ of yourself there. They
call it an image. Hold up a book and see if you can see an image of that in
the glass too." He is pleased and satisfied. Nor are such answers useless,
as might at first be supposed. They give the child practice in the use of
language, and, if properly managed, they may be made the means of greatly
extending his knowledge of language and, by necessary consequence, of the
ideas and realities which language represents.

"Father," says Mary, as she is walking with her father in the garden, "what
makes some roses white and some red?" "It is very curious, is it not?" says
her father. "Yes, father, it is very curious indeed. What makes it so?"
"There must be _some_ cause for it" says her father. "And the apples that
grow on some trees are sweet, and on others they are sour. That is curious
too." "Yes, very curious indeed," says Mary. "The _leaves_ of trees seem to
be always green," continues her father, "though the flowers are of various
colors." "Yes, father," says Mary. "Except," adds her father, "when they
turn yellow, and red, and brown, in the fall of the year."

A conversation like this, without attempting any thing like an answer to
the question with which it commenced, is as satisfactory to the child, and
perhaps as useful in developing its powers and increasing its knowledge
of language, as any attempt to explain the phenomenon would be; and the
knowledge of this will make it easy for the mother to dispose of many a
question which might seriously interrupt her if she conceived it necessary
either to attempt a satisfactory explanation of the difficulty, or not to
answer it at all.

_Be always ready to say "I don't know_."

5. The mother should be always ready and willing to say "I don't know," in
answer to children's questions.

Parents and teachers are very often somewhat averse to this, lest, by
often confessing their own ignorance, they should lower themselves in the
estimation of their pupils or their children. So they feel bound to give
some kind of an explanation to every difficulty, in hopes that it may
satisfy the inquirer, though it does not satisfy themselves. But this is
a great mistake. The sooner that pupils and children understand that the
field of knowledge is utterly boundless, and that it is only a very small
portion of it that their superiors in age and attainment have yet explored,
the better for all concerned. The kind of superiority, in the estimation of
children, which it is chiefly desirable to attain, consists in their always
finding that the explanation which we give, whenever we attempt any, is
_clear, fair_, and _satisfactory_, not in our being always ready to offer
an explanation, whether satisfactory or not.

_Questions on Religious Subjects._

The considerations presented in this chapter relate chiefly to the
questions which children ask in respect to what they observe taking place
around them in external nature. There is another class of questions and
difficulties which they raise--namely, those that relate to religious
and moral subjects; and to these I have not intended now to refer. The
inquiries which children make on these subjects arise, in a great measure,
from the false and puerile conceptions which they are so apt to form in
respect to spiritual things, and from which they deduce all sorts of
absurdities. The false conceptions in which their difficulties originate
are due partly to errors and imperfections in our modes of teaching them
on these subjects, and partly to the immaturity of their powers, which
incapacitates them from clearly comprehending any elements of thought that
lie beyond the direct cognizance of the senses. We shall, however, have
occasion to refer to this subject in another chapter.

In respect, however, to all that class of questions which children ask in
relation to the visible world around them, the principles here explained
may render the mother some aid in her intercourse with the little learners
under her charge, if she clearly understands and intelligently applies
them. And she will find the practice of holding frequent conversations
with them, in these ways, a source of great pleasure to her, as well as
of unspeakable advantage to them. Indeed, the conversation of a kind
and intelligent mother is far the most valuable and important means of
education for a child during many years of its early life. A boy whose
mother is pleased to have him near her, who likes to hear and answer his
questions, to watch the gradual development of his thinking and reasoning
powers, and to enlarge and extend his knowledge of language--thus
necessarily and of course expanding the range and scope of his ideas--will
find that though his studies, strictly so called--that is, his learning to
read, and the committing to memory lessons from books--may be deferred,
yet, when he finally commences them he will go at once to the head of his
classes at school, through the superior strength and ampler development
which his mental powers will have attained.



The money question in the management and training of children has a
distinct bearing on the subjects of some of the preceding chapters. It is
extremely important, first, in respect to opportunities which are afforded
in connection with the use of money for cultivating and developing the
qualities of sound judgment and of practical wisdom; and then, in the
second place, the true course to be pursued with them in respect to money
forms a special point to be considered in its bearing upon the subject of
the proper mode of dealing with their wishes and requests.

_Evil Results of a very Common Method_.

If a parent wishes to eradicate from the mind of his boy all feelings of
delicacy and manly pride, to train him to the habit of obtaining what he
wants by importunity or servility, and to prevent his having any means of
acquiring any practical knowledge of the right use of money, any principles
of economy, or any of that forethought and thrift so essential to sure
prosperity in future life, the best way to accomplish these ends would seem
to be to have no system in supplying him with money in his boyish days, but
to give it to him only when he asks for it, and in quantities determined
only by the frequency and importunity of his calls.

Of course under such a system the boy has no inducement to take care of
his money, to form any plans of expenditure, to make any calculations, to
practise self-denial to-day for the sake of a greater good to-morrow. The
source of supply from which he draws money, fitful and uncertain as it may
be in what it yields to him, he considers unlimited; and as the amount
which he can draw from it does not depend at all upon his frugality, his
foresight, or upon any incipient financial skill that he may exercise, but
solely upon his adroitness in coaxing, or his persistence in importunity,
it is the group of bad qualities, and not the good, which such management
tends to foster. The effect of such a system is, in other words, not to
encourage the development and growth of those qualities on which thrift and
forehandedness in the management of his affairs in future life, and, in
consequence, his success and prosperity, depend; but, on the contrary, to
cherish the growth of all the mean and ignoble propensities of human nature
by accustoming him, so far as relates to this subject, to gain his ends by
the arts of a sycophant, or by rude pertinacity.

Not that this system always produces these results. It may be, and perhaps
generally is, greatly modified by other influences acting upon the mind of
the child at the same time, as well as by the natural tendencies of the
boy's character, and by the character and general influence upon him of his
father and mother in other respects. It can not be denied, however, that
the above is the tendency of a system which makes a boy's income of
spending-money a matter of mere chance, on which no calculations can be
founded, except so far as he can increase it by adroit manoeuvring or by
asking for it directly, with more or less of urgency or persistence, as the
case may require; that is to say, by precisely those means which are the
most ignoble and most generally despised by honorably-minded men as means
for the attainment of any human end.

Now one of the most important parts of the education of both girls and
boys, whether they are to inherit riches, or to enjoy a moderate income
from the fruits of their own industry, or to spend their lives in extreme
poverty, is to teach them the proper management and use of money. And this
may be very effectually done by giving them a fixed and definite income to
manage, and then throwing upon them the responsibility of the management of
it, with such a degree of guidance, encouragement, and aid as a parent can
easily render.

_Objection to the Plan of a regular Allowance_.

There are no parents among those who will be likely to read this book of
resources so limited that they will not, from time to time, allow their
children _some_ amount of spending-money in a year. All that is necessary,
therefore, is to appropriate to them this amount and pay it to them, or
credit them with it, in a business-like and regular manner. It is true that
by this system the children will soon begin to regard their monthly or
weekly allowance as their due; and the parent will lose the pleasure, if
it is any pleasure to him or her, of having the money which they give
them regarded in each case as a present, and received with a sense of
obligation. This is sometimes considered an objection to this plan. "When
I furnish my children with money," says the parent, "as a gratification, I
wish to have the pleasure of _giving_ it to them. Whereas, on this proposed
plan of paying it to them regularly at stated intervals, they will come
to consider each payment as simply the payment of a debt. I wish them to
consider it as a gratuity on my part, so that it may awaken gratitude and
renew their love for me."

There is some seeming force in this objection, though it is true that the
adoption of the plan of a systematic appropriation, as here recommended,
does not prevent the making of presents of money, or of any thing else, to
the children, whenever either parent desires to do so. Still the plan will
not generally be adopted, except by parents in whose minds the laying of
permanent foundations for their children's welfare and happiness through
life, by training them from their earliest years to habits of forecast and
thrift, and the exercise of judgment and skill in the management of money,
is entirely paramount to any petty sentimental gratification to themselves,
while the children are young.

_Two Methods_.

In case the parent--it may be either the father or the mother--decides to
adopt the plan of appropriating systematically and regularly a certain
sum to be at the disposal of the child, there are two modes by which the
business may be transacted--one by paying over the money itself in the
amounts and at the stated periods determined upon, and the other by opening
an account with the child, and giving him credit from time to time for the
amount due, charging on the other side the amounts which he draws.

1. _Paying the money_. This is the simplest plan. If it is adopted, the
money must be ready and be paid at the appointed time with the utmost
exactitude and certainty. Having made the arrangement with a child that he
is to have a certain sum--six cents, twelve cents, twenty-five cents, or
more, as the case may be--every Saturday night, the mother--if it is the
mother who has charge of the execution of the plan--must consider it a
sacred debt, and must be _always_ ready. She can not expect that her
children will learn regularity, punctuality, and system in the management
of their money affairs, if she sets them the example of laxity and
forgetfulness in fulfilling her engagements, and offering excuses for
non-payment when the time comes, instead of having the money ready when it
is due. The money, when paid, should not, in general, be carried by the
children about the person, but they should be provided with a purse or
other safe receptacle, which, however, should be entirely in their custody,
and so exposed to all the accidents to which any carelessness in the
custody would expose it. The mother must remember that the very object of
the plan is to have the children learn by experience to take care of money
themselves, and that she defeats that object by virtually relieving them
of this care. It should, therefore, be paid to them with the greatest
punctuality, especially at the first introduction of the system, and with
the distinct understanding that the charge and care of keeping it devolves
entirely upon them from the time of its passing into their hands.

2. _Opening an account_. The second plan, and one that will prove much the
most satisfactory in its working--though many mothers will shrink from it
on the ground that it would make them a great deal of trouble--is to keep
an account. For this purpose a small book should be made, with as many
leaves as there are children, so that for each account there can be two
pages. The book should be ruled for accounts, and the name of each child
should be entered at the head of the two pages appropriated to his account.
Then, from time to time, the amount of his allowance that has fallen due
should be entered on the credit side, and any payment made to him on the

The plan of keeping an account in this way obviates the necessity of paying
money at stated times, for the account will show at any time how much is

There are some advantages in each of these modes. Much depends on the age
of the children, and still more upon the facilities which the father or
mother have at hand for making entries in writing. To a man of business,
accustomed to accounts, who could have a book made small enough to go into
his wallet, or to a mother who is systematic in her habits, and has in her
work-table or her secretary facilities for writing at any time, the plan
of opening an account will be found much the best. It will afford an
opportunity of giving the children a great deal of useful knowledge in
respect to account-keeping--or, rather, by habituating them from an early
age to the management of their affairs in this systematic manner, will
train them from the beginning to habits of system and exactness. A very
perceptible effect in this direction will be produced on the minds of
children, even while they have not yet learned to read, and so can not
understand at all the written record made of their pecuniary transactions.
They will, at any rate, understand that a written record is made; they will
take a certain pride and pleasure in it, and impressions will be produced
which may have an effect upon their habits of accuracy and system in their
pecuniary transactions through all future life.

_Interest on Balances_.

One great advantage of the plan of having an account over that of paying
cash at stated times is, that it affords an opportunity for the father or
mother to allow interest for any balances left from time to time in their
hands, so as to initiate the children into a knowledge of the nature and
the advantages of productive investments, and familiarize them with the
idea that money reserved has within it a principle of increase. The
interest allowed should be altogether greater than the regular rate, so as
to make the advantage of it in the case of such small sums appreciable
to the children--but not too great. Some judgment and discretion must be
exercised on this as on all other points connected with the system.

The arrangements for the keeping of an account being made, and the account
opened, there is, of course, no necessity, as in the case of payments made
simply in cash, that the business should be transacted at stated times. At
any time when convenient, the entry may be made of the amount which has
become due since the time of the last entry. And when, from time to time,
the child wishes for money, the parent will look at his account and see if
there is a balance to his credit. If there is, the child will be entitled
to receive whatever he desires up to the amount of the balance. Once in a
month, or at any other times when convenient, the account can be settled,
and the balance, with the accrued interest, carried to a new account.

All this, instead of being a trouble, will only be a source of interest and
pleasure to the parent, as well as to the children themselves, and, without
occupying any sensible portion of time, will be the means of gradually
communicating a great deal of very useful instruction.

_Employment of the Money_.

It will have a great effect in "training up children in the way in which
they should go," in respect to the employment of money, if a rule is made
for them that a certain portion, one-quarter or one-half, for example, of
all the money which comes into their possession, both from their regular
allowance and from gratuities, is to be laid aside as a permanent
investment, and an account at some Savings Bank be opened, or some other
formal mode of placing it be adopted--the bank-book or other documentary
evidence of the amount so laid up to be deposited among the child's

In respect to the other portion of the money--namely, that which is to be
employed by the children themselves as spending-money, the disbursement
of it should be left _entirely at their discretion_, subject only to the
restriction that they are not to buy any thing that will be injurious or
dangerous to themselves, or a means of disturbance or annoyance to others.
The mother may give them any information or any counsel in regard to the
employment of their money, provided she does not do it in the form of
expressing any _wish_, on her part, in regard to it. For the very object
of the whole plan is to bring out into action, and thus to develop and
strengthen, the judgment and discretion of the child; and just as children
can not learn to walk by always being carried, so they can not learn to be
good managers without having the responsibility of actual management, on a
scale adapted to their years, thrown really upon them. If a boy wishes
to buy a bow and arrow, it may in some cases be right not to give him
permission to do it, on account of the danger accompanying the use of such
a plaything. But if he wishes to buy a kite which the mother is satisfied
is too large for him to manage, or if she thinks there are so many trees
about the house that he can not prevent its getting entangled in them, she
must not object to it on that account. She can explain these dangers to the
boy, if he is inclined to listen, but not in a way to show that she herself
wishes him not to buy the kite. "Those are the difficulties which you may
meet with," she may say, "but you may buy the kite if you think best."

Then when he meets with the difficulties, when he finds that he can not
manage the kite, or that he loses it among the trees, she must not triumph
over him, and say, "I told you how it would be. You would not take my
advice, and now you see how it is." On the contrary, she must help him, and
try to alleviate his disappointment, saying, "Never mind. It is a loss,
certainly. But you did what you thought was best at the time, and we all
meet with losses sometimes, even when we have done what we thought was
best. You will make a great many other mistakes, probably, hereafter
in spending money, and meet with losses; and this one will give you an
opportunity of learning to bear them like a man."

_The most implicit Faith to be kept with Children in Money Transactions_.

I will not say that a father, if he is a man of business, ought to be as
jealous of his credit with his children as he is of his credit at the bank;
but I think, if he takes a right view of the subject, he will be extremely
sensitive in respect to both. If he is a man of high and honorable
sentiments, and especially if he looks forward to future years when his
children shall have arrived at maturity, or shall be approaching towards
it, and sees how important and how delicate the pecuniary relations between
himself and them may be at that time, he will feel the importance of
beginning by establishing, at the very commencement, not only by means of
precept, but by example, a habit of precise, systematic, and scrupulous
exactitude in the fulfillment of every pecuniary obligation. It is not
necessary that he should do any thing mean or small in his dealings with
them in order to accomplish this end. He may be as liberal and as generous
with them in many ways as he pleases, but he must keep his accounts with
them correctly. He must always, without any demurring or any excuse, be
ready to fulfill his engagements, and teach them to fulfill theirs.

_Possible Range of Transactions between Parents and Children_.

The parent, after having initiated his children into the regular
transaction of business by his mode of managing their allowance-fund, may
very advantageously extend the benefits of the system by engaging with them
from time to time in other affairs, to be regulated in a business-like and
systematic manner. For example, if one of his boys has been reserving a
portion of his spending-money as a watch-fund, and has already half enough
for the purchase, the father may offer to lend him the balance and take a
mortgage of the watch, to stand until the boy shall have taken it up out of
future savings; and he can make out a mortgage-deed expressing in a few and
simple words the fact that the watch is pledged to him as security for the
sum advanced, and is not to become the absolute property of the boy till
the money for which it is pledged is paid. In the course of years, a great
number of transactions in this way may take place between the father or
mother and their boy, each of which will not only be a source of interest
and enjoyment to both parties, but will afford the best possible means of
imparting, not only to the child directly interested in them, but to the
other children, a practical knowledge of financial transactions, and of
forming in them the habit of conducting all their affairs in a systematic
and business-like manner.

The number and variety of such transactions in which the modes of doing
business among men may be imitated with children, greatly to their
enjoyment and interest, is endless. I could cite an instance when what was
called a bank was in operation for many years among a certain number of
children, with excellent effect. One was appointed president, another
cashier, another paying-teller. There was a ledger under the charge of the
cashier, with a list of stockholders, and the number of shares held by
each, which was in proportion to the respective ages of the children. The
bank building was a little toy secretary, something in the form of a safe,
into which there mysteriously appeared, from time to time, small sums of
money; the stockholders being as ignorant of the source from which the
profits of the bank were derived as most stockholders probably are in the
case of larger and more serious institutions. Once in six months, or at
other periods, the money was counted, a dividend was declared, and the
stockholders were paid in a regular and business-like manner.

The effect of such methods as these is not only to make the years of
childhood pass more pleasantly, but also to prepare them to enter, when
the time comes, upon the serious business of life with some considerable
portion of that practical wisdom in the management of money which is often,
when it is deferred to a later period, acquired only by bitter experience
and through much suffering.

Indeed, any parent who appreciates and fully enters into the views
presented in this chapter will find, in ordinary cases, that his children
make so much progress in business capacity that he can extend the system so
as to embrace subjects of real and serious importance before the children
arrive at maturity. A boy, for instance, who has been trained in this way
will be found competent, by the time that he is ten or twelve years old,
to take the contract for furnishing himself with caps, or boots and shoes,
and, a few years later, with all his clothing, at a specified annual sum.
The sum fixed upon in the case of caps, for example, should be intermediate
between that which the caps of a boy of ordinary heedlessness would cost,
and that which would be sufficient with special care, so that both the
father and the son could make money, as it were, by the transaction. Of
course, to manage such a system successfully, so that it could afterwards
be extended to other classes of expenses, requires tact, skill, system,
patience, and steadiness on the part of the father or mother who should
attempt it; but when the parent possesses these qualities, the time and
attention that would be required would be as nothing compared with the
trouble, the vexation, the endless dissatisfaction on both sides, that
attend upon the ordinary methods of supplying children's wants--to say
nothing of the incalculable benefit to the boy himself of such a training,
as a part of his preparation for future life.

_Evil Results to be feared_.

Nor is it merely upon the children themselves, and that after they enter
upon the responsibilities of active life, that the evils resulting from
their having had no practical training in youth in respect to pecuniary
responsibilities and obligations, that evil consequences will fall. The
great cities are full of wealthy men whose lives are rendered miserable by
the recklessness in respect to money which is displayed by their sons and
daughters as they advance towards maturity, and by the utter want, on their
part, of all sense of delicacy, and of obligation or of responsibility of
any kind towards their parents in respect to their pecuniary transactions.
Of course this must, in a vast number of cases, be the result when the boy
is brought up from infancy with the idea that the only limit to his supply
of money is his ingenuity in devising modes of putting a pressure upon
his father. Fifteen or twenty years spent in managing his affairs on this
principle must, of course, produce the fruit naturally to be expected from
such seed.

_The great Difficulty_.

It would seem, perhaps, at first view, from what has been said in this
chapter, that it would be a very simple and easy thing to train up children
thus to correct ideas and habits in respect to the use of money; and
it would be so--for the principles involved seem to be very plain and
simple--were it not that the _qualities which it requires in the parent_
are just those which are most rare. Deliberateness in forming the plan,
calmness and quietness in proposing it, inflexible but mild and gentle
firmness in carrying it out, perfect honesty in allowing the children to
exercise the power and responsibility promised them, and an indulgent
spirit in relation to the faults and errors into which they fall in the
exercise of it--these and other such qualities are not very easily found.
To make an arrangement with a child that he is to receive a certain sum
every Saturday, and then after two or three weeks to forget it, and when
the boy comes to call for it, to say, petulantly, "Oh, don't come to bother
me about that now--I am busy; and besides, I have not got the money now;"
or, when a boy has spent all his allowance on the first two or three days
of the week, and comes to beg importunately for more, to say, "It was very
wrong in you to spend all your money at once, and I have a great mind not
to give you any more. I will, however, do it just this time, but I shall
not again, you may depend;" or, to borrow money in some sudden emergency
out of the fund which a child has accumulated for a special purpose, and
then to forget or neglect to repay it--to manage loosely and capriciously
in any such ways as these will be sure to make the attempt a total failure;
that is to say, such management will be sure to be a failure in respect to
teaching the boy to act on right principles in the management of money, and
training him to habits of exactness and faithfulness in the fulfillment of
his obligations. But in making him a thoughtless, wasteful, teasing, and
selfish boy while he remains a boy, and fixing him, when he comes to
manhood, in the class of those who are utterly untrustworthy, faithless in
the performance of their promises, and wholly unscrupulous in respect to
the means by which they obtain money, it may very probably turn out to be a
splendid success.



It might, perhaps, be thought that, in a book which professes to show
how an efficient government can be established and maintained by _gentle
measures_, the subject of corporal punishment could have no place. It seems
important, however, that there should be here introduced a brief though
distinct presentation of the light in which, in a philosophical point of
view, this instrumentality is to be regarded.

_The Teachings of Scripture_.

The resort to corporal punishment in the training of children seems to be
spoken of in many passages contained in the Scriptures as of fundamental
necessity. But there can be no doubt that the word _rod_, as used in those
passages, is used simply as the emblem of parental authority. This is in
accordance with the ordinary custom of Hebrew writers in those days, and
with the idiom of their language, by which a single visible or tangible
object was employed as the representative or expression of a general
idea--as, for example, the sword is used as the emblem of magisterial
authority, and the sun and the rain, which are spoken of as being sent with
their genial and fertilizing power upon the evil and the good, denote not
specially and exclusively those agencies, but all the beneficent influences
of nature which they are employed to represent. The injunctions, therefore,
of Solomon in respect to the use of the rod are undoubtedly to be
understood as simply enjoining upon parents the necessity of bringing up
their children _in complete subjection_ to their authority. No one can
imagine that he could wish the rod to be used when complete subjection to
the parental authority could be secured by more gentle means. And how this
is to be done it is the object precisely of this book to show.

In this sense, therefore--and it is undoubtedly the true sense--namely,
that children must be _governed by the authority of the parent_, the
passages in question express a great and most essential truth. It is
sometimes said that children must be governed by reason, and this is true,
but it is the reason of their parents, and not their own which must hold
the control. If children were endowed with the capacity of seeing what is
best for them, and with sufficient self-control to pursue what is best
against the counter-influences of their animal instincts and propensities,
there would be no necessity that the period of subjection to parental
authority should be extended over so many years. But so long as their
powers are yet too immature to be safely relied upon, they must, of
necessity, be subject to the parental will; and the sooner and the more
perfectly they are made to understand this, and to yield a willing
submission to the necessity, the better it will be, not only for their
parents, but also for themselves.

The parental authority must, therefore, be established--by gentle means,
if possible--but it must by all means be established, and be firmly
maintained. If you can not govern your child without corporal punishment,
it is better to resort to it than not to govern him at all. Taking a wide
view of the field, I think there may be several cases in which a resort to
the infliction of physical pain as the only available means of establishing
authority may be the only alternative. There are three cases of this kind
that are to be specially considered.

[Illustration: THE RUNAWAY]

_Possible Cases in which it is the only Alternative.--Savages_.

1. In savage or half-civilized life, and even, perhaps, in so rude a state
of society as must have existed in some parts of Judea when the Proverbs of
Solomon were written, it is conceivable that many parents, owing to their
own ignorance, and low animal condition, would have no other means at their
command for establishing their authority over their children than scoldings
and blows. It must be so among savages. And it is certainly better, if the
mother knows no other way of inducing her boy to keep within her sight,
that she should whip him when he runs away, than that he should be bitten
by serpents or devoured by bears. She _must_ establish her authority in
some way, and if this is the best that she is capable of pursuing, she must
use it.

_Teachers whose Tasks surpass their Skill_.

2. A teacher, in entering upon the charge of a large school of boys made
unruly by previous mismanagement, may, perhaps, possibly find himself
unable to establish submission to his authority without this resource. It
is true that if it is so, it is due, in a certain sense, to want of skill
on the teacher's part; for there are men, and women too, who will take any
company of boys that you can give them, and, by a certain skill, or tact,
or knowledge of human nature, or other qualities which seem sometimes
to other persons almost magical, will have them all completely under
subjection in a week, and that without violence, without scolding, almost
without even a frown. The time may, perhaps, come when every teacher, to
be considered qualified for his work, must possess this skill. Indeed, the
world is evidently making great and rapid progress in this direction. The
methods of instruction and the modes by which the teacher gains and holds
his influence over his pupils have been wonderfully improved in recent
times, so that where there was one teacher, fifty years ago, who was really
beloved by his pupils, we have fifty now. In Dr. Johnson's time, which was
about a hundred and fifty years ago, it would seem that there was no other
mode but that of violent coercion recognized as worthy to be relied upon in
imparting instruction, for he said that he knew of no way by which Latin
could be taught to boys in his day but "by having it flogged into them."

From such a state of things to that which prevails at the present day there
has been an astonishing change. And now, whether a teacher is able to
manage an average school of boys without physical force is simply a
question of tact, knowledge of the right principles, and skill in applying
them on his part. It is, perhaps, yet too soon to expect that all teachers
can possess, or can acquire, these qualifications to such a degree as to
make it safe to forbid the infliction of bodily pain in any case, but the
time for it is rapidly approaching, and in some parts of the country it
has, perhaps, already arrived. Until that time comes, every teacher who
finds himself under the necessity of beating a boy's body in order to
attain certain moral or intellectual ends ought to understand that the
reason is the incompleteness of his understanding and skill in dealing
directly with his mind; though for this incompleteness he may not himself
be personally at all to blame.

_Children spoiled by Neglect and Mismanagement_.

3. I am even willing to admit that one or more boys in a family may reach
such a condition of rudeness and insubordination, in consequence of neglect
or mismanagement on the part of their parents in their early years, and
the present clumsiness and incapacity of the father in dealing with the
susceptibilities and impulses of the human soul, that the question will lie
between keeping them within some kind of subordination by bodily punishment
or not controlling them at all. If a father has been so engrossed in his
business that he has neglected his children, has never established any
common bond of sympathy between himself and them, has taken no interest in
their enjoyments, nor brought them by moral means to an habitual subjection
to his will; and if their mother is a weak, irresolute woman, occupying
herself with the pursuits and pleasures of fashionable society, and leaving
her children to the management of servants, the children will, of course,
in general, grow up exacting, turbulent, and ungovernable; and when,
with advancing maturity, their increasing strength and vigor makes this
turbulence and disorder intolerable in the house, and there is, as of
course there usually will be in such a case, no proper knowledge and skill
in the management of the young on the part of either parent to remedy the
evil by gentle measures, the only alternative in many cases may be either
a resort to violent punishment, or the sending away of the unmanageable
subjects to school. The latter part of the alternative is the best, and,
fortunately, it is the one generally adopted. But where it can not be
adopted, it is certainly better that the boys should be governed by the rod
than to grow up under no government at all.

_Gentle Measures effectual where Rightfully and Faithfully employed_.

However it may be with respect to the exceptional cases above enumerated,
and perhaps some others, there can, I think, be no doubt that parents who
should train their children from the beginning on the principles explained
in this volume, and upon others analogous to them, would never, in any
case, have to strike a blow. They would accomplish the end enjoined by the
precepts of Solomon, namely, the complete subjection of their children to
their authority, by improved methods not known in his day, or, at least,
not so fully developed that they could then be relied upon. They who
imagine that parents are bound to use the rod as the instrumentality,
because the Scriptures speak of the rod as the means of establishing
parental authority best known in those days, instead of employing the more
effective methods which the progress of improvement has developed and made
available at the present day, ought, in order to be consistent, to insist
on the retention of the harp in religious worship, because David enjoins
it upon believers to "praise the Lord with harp:" to "sing unto him with
psaltery, and an instrument of ten strings." The truth is, that what we are
to look at in such injunctions is the end that is to be attained, which is,
in this last case, the impressive and reverential exaltation of Almighty
God in our minds by the acts of public worship; and if, with the
improvements in musical instruments which have been made in modern times,
we can do this more satisfactorily by employing in the place of a psaltery
or a harp of ten strings an organ of ten or a hundred stops, we are bound
to make the substitution. In a word, we must look at the end and not at
the means, remembering that in questions of Scripture interpretation the
"letter killeth, the spirit maketh alive."

_Protracted Contests with Obstinacy_.

It seems to me, though I am aware that many excellent persons think
differently, that it is never wise for the parent to allow himself to
be drawn into a contest with a child in attempting to compel him to do
something that from ill-temper or obstinacy he refuses to do. If the
attempt is successful, and the child yields under a moderate severity
of coercion, it is all very well. But there is something mysterious and
unaccountable in the strength of the obstinacy sometimes manifested in such
cases, and the degree of endurance which it will often inspire, even in
children of the most tender age. We observe the same inexplicable fixedness
sometimes in the lower animals--in the horse, for example; which is the
more unaccountable from the fact that we can not suppose, in his case, that
peculiar combination of intelligence and ill-temper which we generally
consider the sustaining power of the protracted obstinacy on the part of
the child. The degree of persistence which is manifested by children
in contests of this kind is something wonderful, and can not easily be
explained by any of the ordinary theories in respect to the influence of
motives on the human mind. A state of cerebral excitement and exaltation is
not unfrequently produced which seems akin to insanity, and instances have
been known in which a child has suffered itself to be beaten to death
rather than yield obedience to a very simple command. And in vast numbers
of instances, the parent, after a protracted contest, gives up in despair,
and is compelled to invent some plausible pretext for bringing it to an

Indeed, when we reflect upon the subject, we see what a difficult task we
undertake in such contests--it being nothing less than that of _forcing the
formation of a volition_ in a human mind. We can easily control the bodily
movements and actions of another person by means of an external coercion
that we can apply, and we have various indirect means of _inducing_
volitions; but in these contests we seem to come up squarely to the work of
attempting, by outward force, to compel the _forming of a volition_ in the
mind; and it is not surprising that this should, at least sometimes, prove
a very difficult undertaking.

_No Necessity for these Contests_.

There seems to be no necessity that a parent or teacher should ever become
involved in struggles of this kind in maintaining his authority. The way to
avoid them, as it seems to me, is, when a child refuses out of obstinacy to
do what is required of him, to impose the proper punishment or penalty for
the refusal, and let that close the transaction. Do not attempt to enforce
his compliance by continuing the punishment until he yields. A child, for
example, going out to play, wishes for his blue cap. His mother chooses
that he shall wear his gray one. She hangs the blue cap up in its place,
and gives him the gray one. He declares that he will not wear it, and
throws it down upon the floor. The temptation now is for the mother,
indignant, to punish him, and then to order him to take up the cap which he
had thrown down, and to feel that it is her duty, in case he refuses, to
persist in the punishment until she conquers his will, and compels him to
take it up and put it upon his head.

But instead of this, a safer and a better course, it seems to me, is to
avoid a contest altogether by considering the offense complete, and the
transaction on his part finished by the single act of rebellion against her
authority. She may take the cap up from the floor herself and put it in its
place, and then simply consider what punishment is proper for the wrong
already done. Perhaps she forbids the boy to go out at all. Perhaps she
reserves the punishment, and sends him to bed an hour earlier that night.
The age of the boy, or some other circumstances connected with the case,
may be such as to demand a severer treatment still. At any rate, she limits
the transaction to the single act of disobedience and rebellion already
committed, without giving an opportunity for a repetition of it by renewing
the command, and inflicts for it the proper punishment, and that is the end
of the affair.

And so a boy in reciting a lesson will not repeat certain words after his
mother. She enters into no controversy with him, but shuts the book and
puts it away. He, knowing his mother's usual mode of management in such
cases, and being sure that some penalty, privation, or punishment will
sooner or later follow, relents, and tells his mother that he will say the
words if she will try him again.

"No, my son," she should reply, "the opportunity is past. You should have
done your duty at the right time. You have disobeyed me, and I must take
time to consider what to do."

If, at the proper time, in such a case, when all the excitement of the
affair is over, a penalty or punishment apportioned to the fault, or some
other appropriate measures in relation to it, are _certain to come_, and
if this method is always pursued in a calm and quiet manner but with
inflexible firmness in act, the spirit of rebellion will be much more
effectually subdued than by any protracted struggles at the time, though
ending in victory however complete.

But all this is a digression, though it seemed proper to allude to the
subject of these contests here, since it is on these occasions, perhaps,
that parents are most frequently led, or, as they think, irresistibly
impelled, to the infliction of bodily punishments as the last resort, when
they would, in general, be strongly inclined to avoid them.

_The Infliction of Pain sometimes the speediest Remedy_.

There are, moreover, some cases, perhaps, in the ordinary exigencies of
domestic life, as the world goes, when some personal infliction is the
_shortest_ way of disposing of a case of discipline, and may appear, for
the time being, to be the most effectual. A slap is very quickly given, and
a mother may often think that she has not time for a more gentle mode of
managing the case, even though she may admit that if she had the time at
her command the gentle mode would be the best. And it is, indeed, doubtless
true that the principles of management advocated in this work are such as
require that the parents should devote some time and attention, and, still
more essentially, some _heart_ to the work; and they who do not consider
the welfare and happiness of their children in future life, and their own
happiness in connection with them as they advance towards their declining
years, as of sufficient importance to call for the bestowment of this time
and attention, will doubtless often resort to more summary methods in their
discipline than those here recommended.

_The Sting that it leaves behind_.

Indeed, the great objection, after all, to the occasional resort to the
infliction of bodily pain in extreme cases is, as it seems to me, the sting
which it leaves behind; not that, which it leaves in the heart of the child
who may suffer it--for that soon passes away--but in the heart of the
parent who inflicts it. The one is, or may be, very evanescent; the other
may very long remain; and what is worse, the anguish of it may be revived
and made very poignant in future years.

This consideration makes it specially imperative on every parent never,
for any cause, to inflict punishment by violence when himself under the
influence of any irritation or anger awakened by the offense. For though
the anger which the fault of the child naturally awakens in you carries you
through the act of punishing well enough, it soon afterwards passes away,
while the memory of it remains, and in after years, like any other sin, it
may come back to exact a painful retribution. When the little loved one who
now puts you out of patience with her heedlessness, her inconsiderateness,
and, perhaps, by worse faults and failings--all, however, faults which
may very possibly, in part or in whole, be the result of the immature and
undeveloped condition of her mental or bodily powers--falls sick and dies,
and you follow her as she is borne away, and with a bursting heart see her
laid in her little grave, it will be a great comfort to you then to reflect
that you did all in your power, by means of the gentlest measures at your
command, to train her to truth and duty, that you never lost patience with
her, and that she never felt from your hand any thing but gentle assistance
or a loving caress.

And your boy--now so ardent and impulsive, and often, perhaps, noisy,
troublesome, and rude, from the exuberant action of his growing
powers--when these powers shall have received their full development, and
he has passed from your control to his place in the world as a man, and he
comes back from time to time to the maternal home in grateful remembrance
of his obligations to his mother, bringing with him tokens of his affection
and love, you will think with pain of the occasions when you subjected him
to the torture of the rod under the impulse of irritation or anger, or to
accomplish the ends of discipline which might have been attained in other
ways. Time, as you then look back over the long interval of years which
have elapsed, will greatly soften the recollection of the fault, but it
will greatly aggravate that of the pain which was made the retribution of
it. You will say to yourself, it is true, I did it for the best. If I had
not done it, my son would perhaps not be what he is. He, if he remembers
the transaction, will doubtless say so too; but there will be none the less
for both a certain sting in the recollection, and you will wish that the
same end could have been accomplished by gentler means.

The substance of it is that children must, at all events, be governed. The
proper authority over them _must be_ maintained; but it is a great deal
better to secure this end by gentle measures, if the parent have or can
acquire the skill to employ them.



Mothers are very often pained at what seems to them the ingratitude of
their children. They long, above all things, for their love. They do every
thing in their power--I mean, of course, that some mothers do--to win it.
They make every sacrifice, and give every possible evidence of affection;
but they seem to fail entirely of bringing out any of those evidences of
gratitude and affection in return which, if they could only witness them,
would fill their hearts with gladness and joy. But the only feeling which
their children manifest towards them seems to be a selfish one. They come
to them when in trouble, they even fly to them eagerly when in danger, and
they consider their parents the chief resource for procuring nearly all
their means of gratification. But they think little, as it often seems, of
the mother's comfort and enjoyment in return, and seldom or never do any
thing voluntarily to give her pleasure.

It would be a great exaggeration to say that this is always the feeling of
the mother in respect to her children. I only mean that this is sometimes,
and I might probably say very often, the case.

_Two Forms of Love._

Now there are two distinct forms which the feeling of love may assume in
the mature mind, both of which are gratifying to the object of it, though
they are very different, and indeed in some sense exactly the opposite of
each other. There is the _receiving_ and the _bestowing_ love. It is true
that the two forms are often conjoined, or rather they often exist in
intimate combination with each other; but in their nature they are
essentially distinct. A young lady, for example, may feel a strong
attachment for the gentleman to whom she is engaged--or a wife for her
husband--in the sense of liking to receive kindness and attention from him
more than from any other man. She may be specially pleased when he invites
her to ride with him, or makes her presents, or shows in any way that he
thinks of her and seeks her happiness--more so than she would be to receive
the same attentions from any other person. This is love. It may be very
genuine love; but it is love in the form of taking special pleasure in the
kindness and favor bestowed by the object of it. Yet it is none the less
true, as most persons have had occasion to learn from their own experience,
that this kind of love may be very strong without being accompanied by
any corresponding desire on the part of the person manifesting it to make
sacrifices of her own ease and comfort in order to give happiness to the
object of her love in return.

In the same manner a gentleman may feel a strong sentiment of love for a
lady, which shall take the form of enjoying her society, of being happy
when he is near her, and greatly pleased at her making sacrifices for his
sake, or manifesting in any way a strong attachment for him. There _may be_
also united with this the other form of love--namely, that which would lead
him to deny himself and make sacrifices _for her_. But the two, though
they may often--perhaps generally--exist together, are in their nature so
essentially different that they may be entirely separated, and we may have
one in its full strength while there is very little of the other. You
may love a person in the sense of taking greater pleasure in receiving
attentions and favors from him than from all the world beside, while yet
you seldom think of making efforts to promote his comfort and happiness in
any thing in which you are not yourself personally concerned. On the other
hand, you may love him with the kind of affection which renders it the
greatest pleasure of your life to make sacrifices and endure self-denial to
promote his welfare in any way.

In some cases these two forms are in fact entirely separated, and one or
the other can exist entirely distinct from the other--as in the case of the
kind feelings of a good man towards the poor and miserable. It is quite
possible to feel a very strong interest in such objects, and to be willing
to put ourselves to considerable inconvenience to make them comfortable and
happy, and to take great pleasure in learning that our efforts have been
effectual, without feeling any love for them at all in the other form--that
is, any desire to have them with us, to receive attentions and kindness
from them, and to enjoy their society.

On the other hand, in the love of a young child for his mother the case is
reversed. The love of the child consists chiefly in liking to be with his
mother, in going to her rather than to any one else for relief from pain
or for comfort in sorrow, and is accompanied with very few and very faint
desires to make efforts, or to submit to privations, or to make sacrifices,
for the promotion of her good.

_Order of their Development_.

Now the qualities and characteristics of the soul on which the capacity for
these two forms of love depend seem to be very different, and they advance
in development and come to maturity at different periods of life; so that
the mother, in feeling dejected and sad because she can not awaken in the
mind of her child the gratitude and the consideration for her comfort and
happiness which she desires, is simply looking for a certain kind of fruit
at the wrong time. You have one of the forms of love for you on the part of
the child now while he is young. In due time, when he arrives at maturity,
if you will wait patiently, you will assuredly have the other. Now he runs
to you in every emergency. He asks you for every thing that he wants. He
can find comfort nowhere else but in your arms, when he is in distress or
in suffering from pain, disappointment, or sorrow. But he will not make any
effort to be still when you are sick, or to avoid interrupting you when
you are busy; and insists, perhaps, on your carrying him when he is tired,
without seeming to think or care whether you may not be tired too. But in
due time all this will be changed. Twenty years hence he will conceal all
his troubles from you instead of coming with them to you for comfort. He
will be off in the world engaged in his pursuits, no longer bound closely
to your side. But he will think all the time of your comfort and happiness.
He will bring you presents, and pay you innumerable attentions to cheer
your heart in your declining years. He will not run to you when he has hurt
himself; but if any thing happens to _you_, he will leave every thing to
hasten to your relief, and bring with him all the comforts and means of
enjoyment for you that his resources can command. The time will thus come
when you will have his love to your heart's content, in the second form.
You must be satisfied, while he is so young, with the first form of it,
which is all that his powers and faculties in their present stage are
capable of developing.

The truth of the case seems to be that the faculties of the human mind--or
I should perhaps rather say, the susceptibilities of the soul--like the
instincts of animals, are developed in the order in which they are required
for the good of the subject of them.

Indeed, it is very interesting and curious to observe how striking the
analogy in the order of development, in respect to the nature of the bond
of attachment which binds the offspring to the parent, runs through all
those ranks of the animal creation in which the young for a time depend
upon the mother for food or for protection. The chickens in any moment
of alarm run to the hen; and the lamb, the calf, and the colt to their
respective mothers; but none of them would feel the least inclination to
come to the rescue of the parent if the parent was in danger. With the
mother herself it is exactly the reverse. Her heart--if we can speak of the
seat of the maternal affections of such creatures as a heart--is filled
with desires to bestow good upon her offspring, without a desire, or even a
thought, of receiving any good from them in return.

There is this difference, however, between the race of man and those of
the inferior animals--namely, that in his case the instinct, or at least
a natural desire which is in some respects analogous to an instinct,
prompting him to repay to his parents the benefits which he received from
them in youth, comes in due time; while in that of the lower animals it
seems never to come at all. The little birds, after opening their mouths
so wide every time the mother comes to the nest during all the weeks while
their wings are growing, fly away when they are grown, without the least
care or concern for the anxiety and distress of the mother occasioned by
their imprudent flights; and once away and free, never come back, so far
as we know, to make any return to their mother for watching over them,
sheltering them with her body, and working so indefatigably to provide them
with food during the helpless period of their infancy--and still less to
seek and protect and feed her in her old age. But the boy, reckless as he
sometimes seems in his boyhood, insensible apparently to his obligations
to his mother, and little mindful of her wishes or of her feelings--his
affection for her showing itself mainly in his readiness to go to her with
all his wants, and in all his troubles and sorrows--will begin, when he has
arrived at maturity and no longer needs her aid, to remember with gratitude
the past aid that she has rendered him. The current of affection in his
heart will turn and flow the other way. Instead of wishing to receive, he
will now only wish to give. If she is in want, he will do all he can to
supply her. If she is in sorrow, he will be happy if he can do any thing to
comfort her. He will send her memorials of his gratitude, and objects of
comfort and embellishment for her home, and will watch with solicitude and
sincere affection over her declining years.

And all this change, if not the result of a new instinct which reaches its
development only when the period of maturity arrives, is the unfolding of a
sentiment of the heart belonging essentially to the nature of the
subject of it as man. It is true that this capacity may, under certain
circumstances, be very feebly developed. In some cases, indeed, it would
seem that it was scarcely developed at all; but there is a provision for
it in the nature of man, while there is no provision for it at all in the
sentient principles of the lower animals.

_Advancing the Development of the Sentiment of Gratitude._

Now, although parents must not be impatient at the slow appearance of this
feeling in their children, and must not be troubled in its not appearing
before its time, they can do much by proper efforts to cultivate its
growth, and give it an earlier and a more powerful influence over them than
it would otherwise manifest. The mode of doing this is the same as in all
other cases of the cultivation of moral sentiments in children, and that is
by the influence over them of sympathy with those they love. Just as the
way to cultivate in the minds of children a feeling of pity for those who
are in distress is not to preach it as a duty, but to make them love you,
and then show such pity yourself; and the way to make them angry and
revengeful in character--if we can conceive of your being actuated by so
unnatural a desire--would be often to express violent resentment yourself,
with scowling looks and fierce denunciations against those who have
offended you; so, to awaken them to sentiments of gratitude for the favors
they receive, you must gently lead them to sympathize with you in the
gratitude which _you_ feel for the favors that _you_ receive.

When a child shows some special unwillingness to comply with her mother's
desires, her mother may address to her a kind but direct and plain
expostulation on the obligations of children to their parents, and the duty
incumbent on them of being grateful for their kindness, and to be willing
to do what they can in return. Such an address would probably do no good at
all. The child would receive it simply as a scolding, no matter how mildly
and gently the reproof might be expressed, and would shut her heart against
it. It is something which she must stand still and endure, and that is all.

But let the mother say the same things precisely when the child has shown a
willingness to make some little sacrifice to aid or to gratify her mother,
so that the sentiment expressed may enter her mind in the form of approval
and not of condemnation, and the effect will be very different. The
sentiments will, at any rate, now not be rejected from the mind, but the
way will be open for them to enter, and the conversation will have a good
effect, so far as didactic teaching can have effect in such a case.

But now to bring in the element of sympathy as a means of reaching and
influencing the mind of the child: The mother, we will suppose, standing at
the door some morning before breakfast in spring, with her little daughter,
seven or eight years old, by her side, hears a bird singing on a tree near
by. She points to the tree, and says, in a half-whisper, "Hark!"

When the sound ceases, she looks to the child with an expression of
pleasure upon her countenance, and says,

"Suppose we give that bird some crumbs because he has been singing us such
a pretty song."

"Well!" says the child.

"Would you?" asks the mother.

"Yes, mother, I should like to give him some very much. Do you suppose he
sang the song for us?"

"I don't _know_ that he did," replies the mother. "We don't know exactly
what the birds mean by all their singing. They take some pleasure in seeing
us, I think, or else they would not come so much around our house; and I
don't know but that this bird's song may come from some kind of joy or
gladness he felt in seeing us come to the door. At any rate, it will be a
pleasure to us to give him some crumbs to pay him for his song."

The child will think so too, and will run off joyfully to bring a piece of
bread to form crumbs to be scattered upon the path.

And the whole transaction will have the effect of awakening and cherishing
the sentiment of gratitude in her heart. The effect will not be great, it
is true, but it will be of the right kind. It will be a drop of water upon
the unfolding cotyledons of a seed just peeping up out of the ground, which
will percolate below after you have gone away, and give the little roots
a new impulse of growth. For when you have left the child seated upon the
door-step, occupied in throwing out the crumbs to the bird, her heart will
be occupied with the thoughts you have put into it, and the sentiment of
gratitude for kindness received will commence its course of development, if
it had not commenced it before.

_The Case of older Children_.

Of course the employment of such an occasion as this of the singing of a
little bird and such a conversation in respect to it for cultivating the
sentiment of gratitude in the heart, is adapted only to the case of quite
a young child. For older children, while the principle is the same, the
circumstances and the manner of treating the case must be adapted to a
maturer age. Robert, for example--twelve years of age--had been sick, and
during his convalescence his sister Mary, two years older than himself, had
been very assiduous in her attendance upon him. She had waited upon him
at his meals, and brought him books and playthings, from time to time, to
amuse him. After he had fully recovered his health, he was sitting in the
garden, one sunny morning in the spring, with his mother, and she said,

"How kind Mary was to you while you were sick!"

"Yes," said Robert, "she was very kind indeed."

"If you would like to do something for her in return," continued his
mother, "I'll tell you what would be a good plan."

Robert, who, perhaps, without this conversation would not have thought
particularly of making any return, said he should like to do something for
her very much.

"Then," said his mother, "you might make her a garden. I can mark off a
place for a bed for her large enough to hold a number of kinds of flowers,
and then you can dig it up, and rake it over, and lay it off into little
beds, and sow the seeds. I'll buy the seeds for you. I should like to do
something towards making the garden for her, for she helped me a great
deal, as well as you, in the care she took of you."

"Well," said Robert, "I'll do it."

"You are well and strong now, so you can do it pretty easily," added the
mother; "but still, unless you would like to do it yourself for her sake, I
can get the man to do it. But if you would like to do it yourself, I think
it would please her very much as an expression of your gratitude and love
for her."

"Yes," said Robert, "I should a great deal rather do it myself, and I will
begin this very day."

And yet, if his mother had not made the suggestion, he would probably not
have thought of making any such return, or even any return at all, for his
sister's devoted kindness to him when he was sick. In other words, the
sentiment of gratitude was in his heart, or, rather, the capacity for it
was there, but it needed a little fostering care to bring it out into
action. And the thing to be observed is, that by this fostering care it was
not only brought out at the time, but, by being thus brought out and drawn
into action, it was strengthened and made-to grow, so as to be ready to
come out itself without being called, on the next occasion.-It was like a
little plant just coming out of the ground under influences not altogether
favorable. It needs a little help and encouragement; and the aid that is
given by a few drops of water at the right time will bring it forward and
help it to attain soon such a degree of strength and vigor as will make it
independent of all external aid.

But there must be consideration, tact, a proper regard to circumstances,
and, above all, there must be no secret and selfish ends concealed, on the
part of the mother in such cases. You may deluge and destroy your little
plant by throwing on the water roughly or rudely; or, in the case of a boy
upon whose mind you seem to be endeavoring to produce some moral result,
you may really have in view some object of your own--your interest in the
moral result being only a pretense.

For instance, Egbert, under circumstances similar to those recited
above--in respect to the sickness of the boy, and the kind attentions of
his sister--came to his mother one afternoon for permission to go a-fishing
with some other boys who had called for him. He was full of excitement and
enthusiasm at the idea. But his mother was not willing to allow him to go.
The weather was lowering. She thought that he had not yet fully recovered
his health; and she was afraid of other dangers. Instead of saying calmly,
after a moment's reflection, to show that her answer was a deliberate one,
that he could not go, and then quietly and firmly, but without assigning
any reasons, adhering to her decision--a course which, though it could not
have saved the boy from emotions of disappointment, would be the best for
making those feelings as light and as brief in duration as possible--began
to argue the case thus;

"Oh no, Egbert, I would not go a-fishing this afternoon, if I were you. I
think it is going to rain. Besides, it is a nice cool day to work in the
garden, and Lucy would like to have her garden made very much. You know
that she was very kind to you when you were sick--how many things she did
for you; and preparing her garden for her would be such a nice way of
making her a return. I am sure you would not wish to show yourself
ungrateful for so much kindness."

Then follows a discussion of some minutes, in which Egbert, in a fretful
and teasing tone, persists in urging his desire to go a-fishing. He can
make the garden, he says, some other day. His mother finally yields, though
with great unwillingness, doing all she can to extract all graciousness and
sweetness from her consent, and to spoil the pleasure of the excursion to
the boy, by saying as he goes away, that she is sure he ought not to go,
and that she shall be uneasy about him all the time that he is gone.

Now it is plain that such management as this, though it takes ostensibly
the form of a plea on the part of the mother in favor of a sentiment of
gratitude in the heart of the boy, can have no effect in cherishing and
bringing forward into life any such sentiment, even if it should be already
existent there in a nascent state; but can only tend to make the object of
it more selfish and heartless than ever.

Thus the art of cultivating the sentiment of gratitude, as is the case in
all other departments of moral training, can not be taught by definite
lessons or learned by rote. It demands tact and skill, and, above all, an
honest and guileless sincerity. The mother must really look to, and aim
for the actual moral effect in the heart of the child, and not merely make
formal efforts ostensibly for this end, but really to accomplish some
temporary object of her own. Children easily see through all covert
intentions of any kind. They sometimes play the hypocrite themselves, but
they are always great detectors of hypocrisy in others.

But gentle and cautious efforts of the right kind--such as require no high
attainments on the part of the mother, but only the right spirit--will in
time work wonderful effects; and the mother who perseveres in them, and who
does not expect the fruits too soon, will watch with great interest for the
time to arrive when her boy will spontaneously, from the promptings of his
own heart, take some real trouble, or submit to some real privation or
self-denial, to give pleasure to her. She will then enjoy the double
gratification, first, of receiving the pleasure, whatever it may be, that
her boy has procured for her, and also the joy of finding that the tender
plant which she has watched and watered so long, and which for a time
seemed so frail that she almost despaired of its ever coming to any good,
is really advanced to the stage of beginning to bear fruit, and giving her
an earnest of the abundant fruits which she may confidently expect from it
in future years.



It has been my aim in this volume to avoid, as far as possible, all topics
involving controversy, and only to present such truths, and to elucidate
such principles, as can be easily made to commend themselves to the good
sense and the favorable appreciation of all the classes of minds likely to
be found among the readers of the work. There are certain very important
aspects of the religious question which may be presented, I think, without
any serious deviation from this policy.

_In what True Piety consists_.

Indeed; I think there is far more real than seeming agreement among parents
in respect to this subject, or rather a large portion of the apparent
difference consists in different modes of expressing in words thoughts and
conceptions connected with spiritual things, which from their very nature
can not any of them be adequately expressed in language at all; and thus it
happens that what are substantially the same ideas are customarily clothed
by different classes of persons in very different phraseology, while, on
the other hand, the same set of phrases actually represent in different
minds very different sets of ideas.

For instance, there is perhaps universal agreement in the idea that some
kind of change--a change, too, of a very important character--is implied
in the implanting or developing of the spirit of piety in the heart of
a child. There is also universal agreement in the fact--often very
emphatically asserted in the New Testament--that the essential principles
in which true piety consists are those of entire submission in all things
to the will of God, and cordial kind feeling towards every man. There
is endless disagreement, and much earnest contention among different
denominations of Christians, in respect to the means by which the
implanting of these principles is to be secured, and to the modes in which,
when implanted, they will manifest themselves; but there is not, so far as
would appear, any dissent whatever anywhere from the opinion that the end
to be aimed at is the implanting of these principles--that is that
it consists in bringing the heart to a state of complete and cordial
submission to the authority and to the will of God, and to a sincere regard
for the welfare and happiness of every human being.

_A Question of Words_

There seems, at first view, to be a special difference of opinion in
respect to the nature of the process by which these principles come to be
implanted or developed in the minds of the young; for all must admit that
in early infancy they are not there, or, at least, that they do not appear.
_No_ one would expect to find in two infants--twin-brothers, we will
suppose--creeping on the floor, with one apple between them, that there
could be, at that age, any principles of right or justice, or of brotherly
love existing in their hearts that could prevent their both crying and
quarrelling for it. "True," says one; "but there are germs of those
principles which, in time, will be developed." "No," rejoins another,"
there are no _germs_ of them, there are only _capacities_ for them, through
which, by Divine power, the germs may hereafter be introduced." But when we
reflect upon the difficulty of forming any clear and practical idea of
the difference between a _germ_--in a bud upon an apple-tree, for
instance--which may ultimately produce fruit, and a _capacity_ for
producing it which may subsequently be developed, and still more, how
difficult is it to picture to our minds what is represented by these words
in the case of a human soul, it would seem as if the apparent difference in
people's opinions on such a point must be less a difference in respect
to facts than in respect to the phraseology by which the facts should be

And there would seem to be confirmation of this view in the fact that the
great apparent difference among men in regard to their theoretical views of
human nature does not seem to produce any marked difference in their action
in practically dealing with it. Some parents, it is true, habitually treat
their children with gentleness, kindness, and love; others are harsh
and severe in all their intercourse with them. But we should find, on
investigation, that such differences have very slight connection with
the theoretical views of the nature of the human soul which the parents
respectively entertain. Parents who in their theories seem to think the
worst of the native tendencies of the human heart are often as kind and
considerate and loving in their dealings with it as any; while no one would
be at all surprised to find another, who is very firm in his belief in
the native tendency of childhood to good, showing himself, in practically
dealing with the actual conduct of children, fretful, impatient,
complaining, and very ready to recognize, in fact, tendencies which in
theory he seems to deny. And so, two bank directors, or members of the
board of management of any industrial undertaking, when they meet in the
street on Sunday, in returning from their respective places of public
worship, if they fall into conversation on the moral nature of man, may
find, or think they find, that they differ extremely in their views, and
may even think each other bigoted or heretical, as the case may be; but yet
the next day, when they meet at a session of their board, and come to the
work of actually dealing with the conduct and the motives of men, they may
find that there is _practically_ no difference between them whatever. Or,
if there should be any difference, such as would show itself in a greater
readiness in one than in the other to place confidence in the promises or
to confide in the integrity of men, the difference would, in general, have
no perceptible relation whatever to the difference in the theological
phraseology which they have been accustomed to hear and to assent to in
their respective churches. All which seems to indicate, as has already been
said, that the difference in question is rather apparent than real, and
that it implies less actual disagreement about the facts of human nature
than diversity in the phraseology by which the facts are represented.

_Agency of the Divine Spirit_.

It may, however, be said that in this respect, if not in any other, there
is a radical difference among parents in respect to human nature, in
relation to the religious education of children--namely, that some
think that the implanting of the right principles of repentance for all
wrong-doing, and sincere desires for the future to conform in all things to
the will of God, and seek the happiness and welfare of men, can not come
except by a special act of Divine intervention, and is utterly beyond the
reach--in respect to any actual efficiency--of all human instrumentalities.
This is no doubt true; but it is also no less true in respect to all the
powers and capacities of the human soul, as well as to those pertaining to
moral and religious duty. If the soul itself is the product of the
creative agency of God, _all_ its powers and faculties must be so, and,
consequently, the development of them all--and there certainly can be
no reason for making the sentiment of true and genuine piety an
exception--must be the work of the same creative power.

But some one may say. There is, however, after all, a difference; for
while we all admit that both the original entrance of the embryo soul into
existence, and every step of its subsequent progress and development,
including the coming into being and into action of all its various
faculties and powers, are the work of the Supreme creative power, the
commencement of the divine life in the soul is, in a _special and peculiar
sense_, the work of the Divine hand.

And this also is doubtless true; at least, there is a certain important
truth expressed in that statement. And yet when we attempt to picture to
our minds two modes of Divine action, one of which is special and peculiar,
and the other is not so, we are very likely to find ourselves bewildered
and confused, and we soon perceive that in making such inquiries we are
going out of our depth--or, in other words, are attempting to pass beyond
the limits which mark the present boundaries of human knowledge.

In view of these thoughts and suggestions, in the truth of which it would
seem that all reasonable persons must concur, we may reasonably conclude
that all parents who are willing to look simply at the facts, and who are
not too much trammelled by the forms of phraseology to which they are
accustomed, must agree in admitting the substantial soundness of the
following principles relating to the religious education of children.

_Order of Development in respect to different Propensities and Powers_.

[Illustration: THE FIRST INSTINCT.]

1. We must not expect any perceptible awakening of the moral and religious
sentiments too soon, nor feel discouraged and disheartened because they do
not earlier appear; for, like all the other higher attributes of the soul,
they pertain to a portion of the mental structure which is not early
developed. It is the group of purely animal instincts that first show
themselves in the young, and those even, as we see in the young of the
lower animals, generally appear somewhat in the order in which they are
required for the individual's good. Birds just hatched from the egg seem to
have, for the first few days, only one instinct ready for action--that of
opening their mouths wide at the approach of any thing towards their nest.
Even this instinct is so imperfect and immature that it can not distinguish
between the coming of their mother and the appearance of the face of a boy
peering down upon them, or even the rustling of the leaves around them by a
stick. In process of time, as their wings become formed, another instinct
begins to appear--that of desiring to use the wings and come forth into the
air. The development of this instinct and the growth of the wings advance
together. Later still, when the proper period of maturity arrives, other
instincts appear as they are required--such as the love of a mate, the
desire to construct a nest, and the principle of maternal affection.

Now there is something analogous to this in the order of development to be
observed in the progress of the human being through the period of infancy
to that of maturity, and we must not look for the development of any power
or susceptibility before its time, nor be too much troubled if we
find that, in the first two or three years of life, the animal
propensities--which are more advanced in respect to the organization which
they depend upon--seem sometimes to overpower the higher sentiments and
principles, which, so far as the capacity for them exists at all, must be
yet in embryo. We must be willing to wait for each to be developed in its
own appointed time.

_Dependence upon Divine Aid_.

2. Any one who is ready to feel and to acknowledge his dependence upon
Divine aid for any thing whatever in the growth and preservation of his
child, will surely be ready to do so in respect to the work of developing
or awakening in his heart the principles of piety, since it must
be admitted by all that the human soul is the highest of all the
manifestations of Divine power, and that that portion of its structure on
which the existence and exercise of the moral and religious sentiments
depend is the crowning glory of it. It is right, therefore--I mean right,
in the sense of being truly philosophical--that if the parent feels and
acknowledges his dependence upon Divine power in any thing, he should
specially feel and acknowledge it here; while there is nothing so well
adapted as a deep sense of this dependence, and a devout and habitual
recognition of it, and reliance upon it, to give earnestness and efficiency
to his efforts, and to furnish a solid ground of hope that they will be
crowded with success.

_The Christian Paradox_.

3. The great principle so plainly taught in the Sacred Scriptures--namely,
that while we depend upon the exercise of Divine power for the success of
all our efforts for our own spiritual improvement or that of others,
just as if we could do nothing ourselves, we must do every thing that is
possible ourselves, just us if nothing was to be expected from Divine
power--may be called the Christian paradox. "Work out your own salvation
with fear and trembling, for it is God that worketh in you both to will and
to do." It would seem, it might be thought, much more logical to say, "Work
out your own salvation, for there is nobody to help you;" or, "It is not
necessary to make any effort yourselves, for it is God that worketh in
you." It seems strange and paradoxical to say, "_Work out your own_
salvation, _for_ it is _God that worketh in you_ both to will and to do."

But in this, as in all other paradoxes, the difficulty is in the
explanation of the theory, and not in the practical working of it. There
is in natural philosophy what is called the hydrostatic paradox, which
consists in the fact that a small quantity of any liquid--as, for example,
the coffee in the nose of the coffee-pot--will balance and sustain a very
much larger quantity--as that contained in the body of it--so as to keep
the surface of each at the same level. Young students involve themselves
sometimes in hopeless entanglements among the steps of the mathematical
demonstration showing how this can be, but no housekeeper ever meets with
any practical difficulty in making her coffee rest quietly in its place
on account of it. The Christian paradox, in the same way, gives rise to
a great deal of metaphysical floundering and bewilderment among young
theologians in their attempts to vindicate and explain it, but the
humble-minded Christian parent finds no difficulty in practice. It comes
very easy to him to do all he can, just as if every thing depended upon his
efforts, and at the same time to cast all his care upon God, just as if
there was nothing at all that he himself could do.

_Means must be Right Means_.

4. We are apt to imagine--or, at least, to act sometimes as if we
imagined--that our dependence upon the Divine aid for what our Saviour,
Jesus, designated as the new birth, makes some difference in the obligation
on our part to employ such means as are naturally adapted to the end in
view. If a gardener, for example, were to pour sand from his watering-pot
upon his flowers, in time of drought, instead of water, he might
make something like a plausible defense of his action, in reply to a
remonstrance, thus: "_I_ have no power to make the flowers grow and bloom.
The secret processes on which the successful result depends are altogether
beyond my reach, and in the hands of God, and he can just as easily bless
one kind of instrumentality as another. I am bound to do something, it is
true, for I must not be idle and inert; but God, if he chooses to do so,
can easily bring out the flowers into beauty and bloom, however imperfect
and ill-adapted the instrumentalities I use may be. He can as easily make
use, for this purpose, of sand as of water."

Now, although there may be a certain plausibility in this reasoning, such
conduct would appear to every one perfectly absurd; and yet many parents
seem to act on a similar principle. A mother who is from time to time,
during the week, fretful and impatient, evincing no sincere and hearty
consideration for the feelings, still less for the substantial welfare and
happiness, of those dependent upon her; who shows her insubmission to the
will of God, by complaints and repinings at any thing untoward that befalls
her; and who evinces a selfish love for her own gratification--her dresses,
her personal pleasures, and her fashionable standing; and then, as a means
of securing the salvation of her children, is very strict, when Sunday
comes, in enforcing upon them the study of their Sunday lessons, or in
requiring them to read good books, or in repressing on that day any undue
exuberance of their spirits--relying upon the blessing of God upon her
endeavors--will be very apt to find, in the end, that she has been watering
her delicate flowers with sand.

The means which we use to awaken or impart the feelings of sorrow for sin,
submission to God, and cordial good-will to man, in which all true piety
consists, must be means that are _appropriate in themselves_ to the
accomplishment of the end intended. The appliance must be water, and not
sand--or rather water _or_ sand, with judgment, discrimination, and tact;
for the gardener often finds that a judicious mixture of sand with the
clayey and clammy soil about the roots of his plants is just what is
required. The principle is, that the appliance must be an appropriate
one--that is, one indicated by a wise consideration of the circumstances of
the case, and of the natural characteristics of the infantile mind.

_Power of Sympathy_.

5. In respect to religious influence over the minds of children, as in all
other departments of early training, the tendency to sympathetic action
between the heart of the child and the parent is the great source of the
parental influence and power. The principle, "Make a young person love
you, and then simply _be_ in his presence what you wish him to be," is the
secret of success.

The tendency of young children to become what they see those around them
whom they love are, seems to be altogether the most universally acting and
the most powerful of the influences on which the formation of the character
depends; and yet it is remarkable that we have no really appropriate name
for it. We call it sometimes sympathy; but the word sympathy is associated
more frequently in our minds with the idea of compassionate participation
in the sufferings of those we love. Sometimes we term it a spirit of
imitation, but that phrase implies rather a conscious effort to _act_ like
those whom we love, than that involuntary tendency to _become_ like them,
which is the real character of the principle in question. The principle is
in some respects like what is called _induction_ in physical science, which
denotes the tendency of a body, which is in any particular magnetic or
electric condition, to produce the same condition, and the same direction
of polarity, in any similar body placed near it. There is a sort of _moral
induction_, which is not exactly sympathy, in the ordinary sense of
that word, nor a desire of imitation, nor the power of example, but an
immediate, spontaneous, and even unconscious tendency to _become what those
around us are_. This tendency is very strong in the young while the opening
faculties are in the course of formation and development, and it is
immensely strengthened by the influence of love. Whatever, therefore,
a mother wishes her child to be--whether a sincere, honest Christian,
submissive to God's will and conscientious in the discharge of every duty,
or proud, vain, deceitful, hypocritical, and pharisaical--she has only to
be either the one or the other herself, and without any special teaching
her child will be pretty sure to be a good copy of the model.

_Theological Instruction._

6. If the principle above stated is correct, it helps to explain why so
little good effect is ordinarily produced by what may be called instruction
in theological truth on the minds of the young. Any system of theological
truth consists of grand generalizations, which, like all other
generalizations, are very interesting, and often very profitable, to mature
minds, especially to minds of a certain class; but they are not appreciable
by children, and can only in general be received by them as words to be
fixed in the memory by rote. Particulars first, generalizations afterwards,
is, or ought to be, the order of progress in all acquisition of knowledge.
This certainly has been the course pursued by the Divine Spirit in the
moral training of the human race. There is very little systematic theology
in the Old Testament, and it requires a considerable degree of ingenuity to
make out as much as the theologians desire to find even in the teachings
of Jesus Christ. It is very well to exercise this ingenuity, and the
systematic results which are to be obtained by it may be very interesting,
and very beneficial, to those whose minds are mature enough to enter into
and appreciate them. But they are not adapted to the spiritual wants of
children, and can only be received by them, if they are received at all, in
a dry, formal, mechanical manner. Read, therefore, the stories in the Old
Testament, or the parables and discourses of Jesus in the New, without
attempting to draw many inferences from them in the way of theoretical
belief, but simply to bring out to the mind and heart of the child the
moral point intended in each particular case, and the heart of the child
will be touched, and he will receive an _element_ of instruction which he
can arrange and group with others in theological generalization by-and-by,
when his faculties have advanced to the generalizing stage.

_No repulsive Personal Applications_.

7. In reading the Scriptures, and, indeed, in all forms of giving religious
counsel or instruction, we must generally beware of presenting the thoughts
that we communicate in the form of reproachful personal application. There
may be exceptions to this rule, but it is undoubtedly, in general, a sound
one. For the work which we have to do, is not to attempt to drive the heart
from the wrong to the right by any repellent action which the wrong may
be made to exert, but to allure it by an attractive action with which
the right may be invested. We must, therefore, present the incidents and
instructions of the Word in their alluring aspect--assuming, in a
great measure, that our little pupil will feel pleasure with us in the
manifestations of the right, and will sympathize with us in disapproval of
the wrong. To secure them to our side, in the views which we take, we must
show a disposition to _take_ them to it by an affectionate sympathy.

Our Saviour set us an excellent example of relying on the superior
efficiency of the bond of sympathy and love in its power over the hearts of
children, as compared with that of formal theological instruction, in the
few glimpses which we have of his mode of dealing with them. When they
brought little children to him, he did not begin to expound to them the
principles of the government of God, or the theoretical aspects of the way
of salvation; but took them _up in his arms and blessed them_, and called
the attention of the by standers at the same time to qualities and
characteristics which they possessed that he seemed to regard with special
affection, and which others must imitate to be fit for the kingdom of God.
Of course the children went away pleased and happy from such an interview,
and would be made ready by it to receive gladly to their hearts any truths
or sentiments which they might subsequently hear attributed to one who was
so kind a friend to them.

If, however, instead of this, he had told them--no matter in what kind
and gentle tones--that they had very wicked hearts, which must be changed
before either God or any good man could truly love them, and that this
change could only be produced by a power which they could only understand
to be one external to themselves, and that they must earnestly pray for
it every day, how different would have been the effect. They would have
listened in mute distress, would have been glad to make their escape when
the conversation was ended, and would shrink from ever seeing or hearing
again one who placed himself in an attitude so uncongenial to them.

And yet all that might be true. They might have had yet only such appetites
and propensities developed within them as would, if they continued to hold
paramount control over them all their lives, make them selfish, unfeeling,
and wicked men; and that they were, in a special though mysterious manner,
dependent on the Divine power for bringing into action within them other
and nobler principles. And so, if a physician were called in to see a
sick child, he might see that it was in desperate danger, and that unless
something could be done, and that speedily, to arrest the disease, his
little patient would be dead in a few hours; and yet to say that to the
poor child, and overwhelm it with terror and distress, would not be a very
suitable course of procedure for averting the apprehended result.

_Judge not, that ye be not judged_.

8. And this leads us to reflect, in the eighth place, that we ought to
be very careful, in our conversations with children, and especially in
addresses made to them in the Sunday-school, or on any other occasion, not
to say any thing to imply that we consider them yet unconverted sinners. No
one can possibly know at how early an age that great change which consists
in the first faint enkindling of the Divine life in the soul may begin
to take place, nor with what faults, and failings, and yieldings to the
influence of the mere animal appetites and passions of childhood it may,
for a time, co-exist. We should never, therefore, say any thing to children
to imply that, in the great question of their relations to God and the
Saviour, we take it for granted that they are on the wrong side. We can not
possibly know on which side they really are, and we only dishearten and
discourage them, and alienate their hearts from us, and tend to alienate
them from all good, by seeming to take it for granted that, while _we_ are
on the right side, _they_ are still upon the wrong. We should, in a word,
say _we_, and not _you_, in addressing children on religious subjects, so
as to imply that the truths and sentiments which we express are equally
important and equally applicable to us as to them, and thus avoid creating
that feeling of being judged and condemned beforehand, and without
evidence, which is so apt to produce a broad though often invisible gulf of
separation in heart between children, on the one hand, and ministers and
members of the Church, on the other.

_Promised Rewards and threatened Punishments_.

9. It is necessary to be extremely moderate and cautious in employing the
influence of promised rewards or threatened punishments as a means of
promoting early piety. In a religious point of view, as in every other,
goodness that is bought is only a pretense of goodness--that is, in reality
it is no goodness at all; and as it is true that love casteth out fear, so
it is also true that fear casteth out love. Suppose--though it is almost
too violent a supposition to be made even for illustration's sake--that the
whole Christian world could be suddenly led to believe that there was to be
no happiness or suffering at all for them beyond the grave, and that the
inducement to be grateful to God for his goodness and submissive to his
will, and to be warmly interested in the welfare and happiness of man, were
henceforth to rest on the intrinsic excellence of those principles, and to
their constituting essentially the highest and noblest development of the
moral and spiritual nature of man--how many of the professed disciples of
Jesus would abandon their present devotion to the cause of love to God and
love to man? Not one, except the hypocrites and pretenders!

The truth is, that as piety that is genuine and sincere must rest on
very different foundations from hope of future reward or fear of
future punishment, so this hope and this fear are very unsuitable
instrumentalities to be relied on for awakening it. The kind of gratitude
to God which we wish to cherish in the mind of a child is not such as would
be awakened towards an earthly benefactor by saying--in the case of
a present made by an uncle, for instance--"Your uncle has made you a
beautiful present. Go and thank him very cordially, and perhaps you will
get another." It is rather of a kind which might be induced by saying,
"Your uncle, who has been so kind to you in past years, is poor and sick,
and can never do any thing more for you now. Would you like to go and sit
in his sick-room to show your love for him, and to be ready to help him if
he wants any thing?"

True piety, in a word, which consists in entering into and steadily
maintaining the right moral and spiritual relations with God and man, marks
the highest condition which the possibilities of human nature allow, and
must rest in the soul which attains to it on a very different foundation
from any thing like hope or fear. That there is a function which it is the
province of these motives to fulfill, is abundantly proved by the use that
is sometimes made of them in the Scriptures. But the more we reflect
upon the subject, the more we shall be convinced, I think, that all such
considerations ought to be kept very much in the back-ground in our
dealings with children. If a child is sick, and is even likely to die, it
is a very serious question whether any warning given to him of his danger
will not operate as a hindrance rather than a help, in awakening those
feelings which will constitute the best state of preparation for the
change. For a sense of gratitude to God for his goodness, and to the
Saviour for the sacrifice which he made for his sake, penitence for his
sins, and trust in the forgiving mercy of his Maker, are the feelings to be
awakened in his bosom; and these, so far as they exist, will lead him to
lie quietly, calmly, and submissively in God's hands, without anxiety in
respect to what is before him. It is a serious question whether an entire
uncertainty as to the time when his death is to come is not more favorable
to the awakening of these feelings, than the state of alarm and distress
which would be excited by the thought that it was near.

_The Reasonableness of Gentle Measures in Religious Training_.

The mother may sometimes derive from certain religious considerations the
idea that she is bound to look upon the moral delinquencies and dangers
which she observes in her children, under an aspect more stern and severe
than seems to be here recommended. But a little reflection must convince
us that the way to true repentance of, and turning from sin, is not
necessarily through the suffering of terror and distress. The Gospel is not
an instrumentality for producing terror and distress, even as means to an
end. It is an instrumentality for saving us from these ills; and the Divine
Spirit, in the hidden and mysterious influence which it exercises in
forming, or transforming, the human soul into the image of God, must be as
ready, it would seem, to sanction and bless efforts made by a mother to
allure her child away from its sins by loving and gentle invitations and
encouragements, as any attempts to drive her from them by the agency of
terror or pain. It would seem that no one who remembers the way in which
Jesus Christ dealt with the children that were brought to him could
possibly have any doubt of this.



Any person who has acquired the art of examining and analyzing his own
thoughts will generally find that the mental pictures which he forms of the
landscapes, or the interiors, in which the scenes are laid of the events or
incidents related in any work of fiction which interests him, are modelled
more or less closely from prototypes previously existing in his own mind,
and generally upon those furnished by the experiences of his childhood.
If, for example, he reads an account of transactions represented as taking
place in an English palace or castle, he will usually, on a careful
scrutiny, find that the basis of his conception of the scene is derived
from the arrangement of the rooms of some fine house with which he was
familiar in early life. Thus, a great many things which attract our
attention, and impress themselves upon our memories in childhood, become
the models and prototypes--more or less aggrandized and improved,
perhaps--of the conceptions and images which we form in later years.

_Nature of the Effect produced by Early Impressions_.

Few persons who have not specially reflected on this subject, or examined
closely the operations of their own minds, are aware what an extended
influence the images thus stored in the mind in childhood have in forming
the basis, or furnishing the elements of the mental structures of future
life. But the truth, when once understood, shows of what vast importance it
is with what images the youthful mind is to be stored. A child who ascends
a lofty mountain, under favorable circumstances in his childhood, has his
conceptions of all the mountain scenery that he reads of, or hears of
through life, modified and aggrandized by the impression made upon his
sensorium at this early stage. Take your daughter, who has always, we will
suppose, lived in the country, on an excursion with you to the sea-shore,
and allow her to witness for an hour, as she sits in silence on the cliff,
the surf rolling in incessantly upon the beach, and infinitely the smallest
part of the effect is the day's gratification which you have given her.
That is comparatively nothing. You have made a life-long change, if not in
the very structure, at least in the permanent furnishing of her mind, and
performed a work that can never by any possibility be undone. The images
which have been awakened in her mind, the emotions connected with them, and
the effect of these images and emotions upon her faculties of imagination
and conception, will infuse a life into them which will make her, in
respect to this aspect of her spiritual nature, a different being as long
as she lives.

_The Nature and Origin of general Ideas_.

It is the same substantially in respect to all those abstract and general
ideas on moral or other kindred subjects which constitute the mental
furnishing of the adult man, and have so great an influence in the
formation of his habits of thought and of his character. They are chiefly
formed from combinations of the impressions made in childhood. A person's
idea of justice, for instance, or of goodness, is a generalization of the
various instances of justice or goodness which ever came to his knowledge;
and of course, among the materials of this generalization those instances
that were brought to his mind during the impressible years of childhood
must have taken a very prominent part. Every story, therefore, which you
relate to a child to exemplify the principles of justice or goodness takes
its place, or, rather, the impression which it makes takes its place, as
one of the elements out of which the ideas that are to govern his future
life are formed.

_Vast Importance and Influence of this mental Furnishing,_

For the ideas and generalizations thus mainly formed from the images and
impressions received in childhood become, in later years, the elements
of the machinery, so to speak, by which all his mental operations are
performed. Thus they seem to constitute more than the mere furniture of
the mind; they form, as it were, almost a part of the structure itself. So
true, indeed, is this, and so engrossing a part does what remains in
the mind of former impressions play in its subsequent action, that some
philosophers have maintained that the whole of the actual consciousness of
man consists only in the _resultant_ of all these impressions preserved
more or less imperfectly by the memory, and made to mingle together in one
infinitely complicated but harmonious whole. Without going to any such
extreme as this, we can easily see, on reflection, how vast an influence on
the ideas and conceptions, as well as on the principles of action in mature
years, must be exerted by the nature and character of the images which
the period of infancy and childhood impresses upon the mind. All parents
should, therefore, feel that it is not merely the present welfare and
happiness of their child that is concerned in their securing to him a
tranquil and happy childhood, but that his capacity for enjoyment through
life is greatly dependent upon it. They are, in a very important sense,
intrusted with the work of building up the structure of his soul for all
time, and it is incumbent upon them, with reference to the future as well
as to the present, to be very careful what materials they allow to go into
the work, as well as in what manner they lay them.

Among the other bearings of this thought, it gives great weight to the
importance of employing gentle measures in the management and training
of the young, provided that such measures can be made effectual in the
accomplishment of the end. The pain produced by an act of hasty and angry
violence to which a father subjects his son may soon pass away, but the
memory of it does not pass away with the pain. Even the remembrance of it
may at length fade from the mind, but there is still an _effect_ which does
not pass away with the remembrance. Every strong impression which you make
upon his perceptive powers must have a very lasting influence, and even the
impression itself may, in some cases, be forever indelible.

Let us, then, take care that these impressions shall be, as far as
possible, such as shall be sources of enjoyment for them in future years.
It is true that we _must_ govern them. They are committed to our charge
during the long time which is required for the gradual unfolding of their
embryo powers for the express purpose that during that interval they may
be guided by our reason, and not by their own. We can not surrender this
trust. But there is a way of faithfully fulfilling the duties of it--if we
have discernment to see it, and skill to follow it--which will make the
years of their childhood years of tranquillity and happiness, both to
ourselves and to them.


[Footnote A: See Frontispiece.]

[Endnote B: The "Boston Congregationalist."]

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Gentle Measures in the Management and Training of the Young - Or, the Principles on Which a Firm Parental Authority May Be - Established and Maintained, Without Violence or Anger, and the Right - Development of the Moral and Mental Capacities Be Promoted by Methods - in Harmony with the Structure and the Characteristics of the Juvenile - Mind" ***

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