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Title: Your Child: Today and Tomorrow - Some Problems for Parents Concerning Punishment, Reasoning, Lies, Ideals and Ambitions, Fear, Work and Play, Imagination, Social Activities, Obedience, Adolescence, Will, Heredity
Author: Gruenberg, Sidonie Matsner, 1881-1974
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  FEAR               WORK AND PLAY
  WILL               HEREDITY



Second Revised Edition Enlarged

Chancellor of Chautauqua Institution


1912, 1913, 1920







In the sad years that have intervened since this book was published,
we have all been impressed by the brilliant achievements of science
in every department of practical life. But whereas the application
of chemistry and electricity and biology might, perhaps, be safely
left to the specialists, it seems to me that in a democracy it is
essential for every single person to have a practical understanding
of the workings of his own mind, and of his neighbor's. The
understanding of human nature should not be left entirely in the
hands of the specialists--it concerns all of us.

There is no better way for beginning the study of human nature than
by following the unfolding of a spirit as it takes place before us
in the growth of a child. I am humbly grateful of the assurances
received from many quarters that these chapters have aided many
parents and teachers in such study.

In the present edition I have made a number of slight changes to
harmonize the reading with the results of later scientific studies;
there is a new list of references and some new material in the
chapter on sex education; and there is a new chapter suggesting the
connection between the new psychology and the democratic ideals of
human relations.


March, 1920.


In my efforts to learn something about the nature of the child, as a
member of child-study groups, and in my own studies, I have found a
large mass of material--accumulated by investigators into the
psychology and the biology of childhood--which could be of great
practical use to all concerned with the bringing up of children. In
this little book I have tried to present some of this material in a
form that will make it available for those who lack the time, or the
special training or the opportunity to work it out for themselves.
It has been my chief aim to show that a proper understanding of and
sympathy with the various stages through which the child normally
passes will do much toward making not only the child happier, but
the task of the parents pleasanter. I am convinced that our failure
to understand the workings of the child's mind is responsible for
much of the friction between parents and children. We cannot expect
the children, with their limited experience and their undeveloped
intellect, to understand us; if we are to have harmony, intimacy and
cooperation, these must come through the parents' successful efforts
at understanding the children.

In speaking of the child always in the masculine, I have followed
the custom of the specialists. It is of course to be understood that
"he" sometimes means "she" and usually "he or she."

It has been impossible to refer at every point to the source of the
material used. One unconsciously absorbs many ideas which one is
unable later to trace to their sources; in addition to this, the
material I have here presented has been worked over so that it is
impossible in most cases to ascribe a particular idea to a
particular person. I wish, however, to acknowledge my indebtedness
to all who have patiently labored in this field, and especially to
those Masters of Child Study, G. Stanley Hall, John Dewey, Earl
Barnes, Edwin A. Kirkpatrick and Edward L. Thorndike. I owe much to
my opportunity to work in the Federation for Child Study. These
groups of mothers and teachers have done a great deal, under the
guidance and inspiration of Professor Felix Adler, to develop a
spirit of co-operation in the attack upon the practical problems of
child-training in the home.

I am very grateful to Mrs. Hilda M. Schwartz, of Minneapolis, for
her assistance in revising the manuscript and in securing the

The assistance of my husband has been invaluable. In his suggestions
and criticisms he has given me the benefit of his experience as
biologist and educator.


New York May, 1913.


In the thought of the writer of this prefatory page, the book he
thus introduces is an exceptionally sane, practical and valuable
treatment of the problem of problems suggested by our present
American Civilization, namely: The Training of the On-coming
Generation--the new Americans--who are to realize the dreams of our
ancestors concerning personal freedom and development in the social,
political, commercial and religious life of the Republic.

There is always hope for the adult who takes any real interest in
self-improvement. One is never too old to "turn over a new leaf" and
to begin a new record. A full-grown man may become a "promising
child" in the kingdom of grace. He may dream dreams and see visions.
He may resolve, and his experience of forty or more years in
"practising decision" and in persisting despite counter inclinations
may only increase his chances for mastering a problem, overcoming a
difficulty and developing enthusiasm. A page of History or of
Ethics, a poet's vision or a philosopher's reasoning, will find a
response in his personality impossible to a juvenile. His knowledge
of real life, of persons he has met, of theories he has often
pondered, of difficulties he has encountered and canvassed, the
conversations and discussions in which he has taken part--all give
new value to the pages he is now turning, and while he may not as
easily as formerly memorize the language, he at once grasps,
appreciates and appropriates the thoughts there expressed.

With these advantages as a thinker, a reader, a man of affairs, a
father interested in his or children and in their education, what a
blessing to him and to his family comes through the reading of an
interesting, suggestive and stimulating book on child training such
as this practical volume by Mrs. Gruenberg. In fact, the book
becomes a sort of a Normal Class in itself. It is attractive,
ingenious, illustrative and stimulating--an example of the true
teaching spirit and method.

This volume has in it much that a preacher and pastor would do well
to read. And a _very_ wise pastor will be inclined to bring
together Mothers and Sunday-School Teachers and read to them certain
paragraphs until they are induced to put a copy of the volume in
their own library and thus become, in a sense, members of a strong
and most helpful "Normal Class."

One thing every Sunday-School Teacher and every Parent should
remember is that all attempts to experiment in the instruction of
children are so many steps towards "Normal Work," in which are
included the use of "illustrations," the framing of "questions," the
devices to "get attention," and the effort to induce children to
"think for themselves" and freely to express their thoughts,
reasonings, doubts, difficulties and personal independent opinions.
All these efforts not only develop power in the child, but they
react upon the teacher and ensure for the "next meeting of the
class" some "new suggestion," some additional question, some fresh
view of the whole subject by which both teacher and pupils will be
stimulated and instructed.

In our intercourse with children let us aim to develop the
_teaching_ motive, and we shall not only make the work of the
"class room" profitable to the pupils, but each of us will find new
delight, new inspiration and an unanticipated degree of success in
this beautiful and divine ministry.



May 7, 1913.


































Housekeeping, in the sense of administering the work of the
household, has been raised almost to a science. The same is true of
the feeding of children. But the training of children still lags
behind, so far as most of us are concerned, in the stage occupied by
housekeeping and farming a generation or two ago. There has, indeed,
been developed a considerable mass of exact knowledge about the
nature of the child, and about the laws of his development; but this
knowledge has been for most parents a closed book. It is not what
the scientists know, but what the people apply, that marks our

"Child-study" has been considered something with which young
normal-school students have to struggle before they begin their
_real_ struggle with bad boys. But mothers have been expected to know,
through some divine instinct, just how to handle their own children,
without any special study or preparation. That the divine instinct has
not taught them properly to feed the young infant and the growing
child we have learned but slowly and at great cost in human life and
suffering; but we _have_ learned it. Our next lesson should be to
realize that our instincts cannot be relied upon when it comes to
understanding the child's mind, the meaning of his various activities,
and how best to guide his mental and moral development.

Mistakes that parents--and teachers--make in dealing with the
child's mind are not often fatal. Nor can you always trace the evil
effects of such mistakes in the later character of the child. But
there can be no doubt that many of the heartbreaks, misunderstandings,
and estrangements between parents and children are due to mistakes
that could have been avoided by a knowledge of the nature of the
child's mind.

There are, fortunately, many parents who arrive at an understanding
of the nature of the child through sympathetic insight, through
quick observation, through the application of sound sense and the
results of experience to the problems that arise. It is not
necessary that all of us approach the child in the attitude of the
professional scientist; indeed, it is neither possible for us to do
so, nor is it desirable that we should. But it is both possible and
desirable that we make use of the experience and observations of
others, that we apply the results of scientific experiments, that we
reënforce our instincts with all available helps. We need not fall
into the all-too-common error of placing common-sense and practical
insight in opposition to the method of the scientists. Everyone in
this country appreciates the wonderful and valuable services of
Luther Burbank, and no one doubts that if his method could be
extended the whole nation would benefit in an economic way. Yet
Burbank has been unable to teach the rest of us how to apply his
shrewd "common-sense" and his keen intuition to the improvement of
useful and ornamental plants. It was necessary for scientists to
study what he had done in order to make available for the whole
world those principles that make his practice really productive of
desirable results. In the same way it is well for every parent and
every teacher--everyone who has to do with children--to supplement
good sense and observation with the results of scientific study.

On the other hand, there is no universal formula for the bringing up
of children, one that can be applied to all children everywhere and
always, any more than there is a universal formula for fertilizing
soil or curing disease or feeding babies. Yet there are certain
general laws of child development and certain general principles of
child training which have been derived from scientific studies of
children, and which agree with the best thought and experience of
those who learned to know their children without the help of
science. These general laws and principles may be profitably learned
and used in bringing up the rising generation.

Too many people, and especially too many parents, think of the child
as merely a small man or woman. This is far from a true conception
of the child. Just as the physical organs of the child work in a
manner different from what we find in the adult, so the mind of the
child works along in a way peculiar to its stage of development. If
a physician should use the same formulas for treating children's
ailments as he uses with adults, simply reducing the size of the
dose, we should consider his methods rather crude. If a parent
should feed an infant the same materials that she supplied to the
rest of the family, only in smaller quantities, we should consider
her too ignorant to be entrusted with the care of the child. And for
similar reasons we must learn that the behavior of the child must be
judged according to standards different from those we apply to an
adult. The same act represents different motives in a child and in
an adult--or in the same child at different ages.

Moreover, each child is different from every other child in the
whole world. The law has recognized that a given act committed by
two different persons may really be two entirely different acts,
from a moral point of view. How much more important is it for the
parent or the teacher to recognize that each child must be treated
in accordance with his own nature!

It is the duty of every mother to know the nature of _her_
child, in order that she may assist in the development of all of his
possibilities. Child Study is a new science, but old enough to give
us great help through what the experts have found out about "child
nature." But the experts do not know _your child;_ they have
studied the problems of childhood, and their results you can use in
learning to know your child. Your problem is always an individual
problem; the problem of the scientist is a general one. From the
general results, however, you may get suggestions for the solution
of your individual problem.

We all know the mother who complains that her boys did not turn out
just the way she wanted them to--although they are very good boys.
After they have grown up she suddenly realizes one day how far they
are from her in spirit. She could have avoided the disillusion by
recognizing early enough that the interests and instincts of her
boys were healthy ones, notwithstanding they were so different from
her own. She would have been more to the boys, and they more to her,
if, instead of wasting her energy in trying to make them "like
herself," she had tried to develop their tastes and inclinations to
their full possibilities.

How much happier is the home in which the mother understands the
children, and knows how to treat each according to his disposition,
instead of treating all by some arbitrary rule! As a mother of three
children said one day, "With Mary, just a hint of what I wish is
sufficient to secure results. With John, I have to give a definite
order and insist that he obey. With Robert I get the best results by
explaining and appealing to his reason." How much trouble she saves
herself--and the children--by having found this much out!

A mother who knows that what we commonly call the "spirit of
destruction" in a child is the same as the _constructive
impulse_ will not be so much grieved when her baby takes the
alarm clock apart as the mother who looks upon this deed as an
indication of depravity or wickedness.

[Illustration: The impulse to action early leads to "doing."]

Some of the directions in which the parents may profit from what the
specialists have worked out may be suggested. There is the question
of punishment, for example. How many of us have thought out a
satisfactory philosophy of punishment? In our personal relations
with our children we all too frequently cling to the theory of
punishment that justifies us in "paying back" for the trouble we
have been caused--if, indeed, we do any more than vent our temper at
the annoyance. It is not viciousness on our part; it is merely
ignorance. But the time is rapidly approaching when there will be no
excuse for ignorance, even if it is not yet time to say that
preventable ignorance is vicious.

How many mothers, for example, realize that the desire on the part
of the child to touch, to do--to get into mischief--is a fundamental
characteristic of childhood, and not an indication of perversity in
her particular Johnny or Mary? How many know that these instincts
are the most useful and the most usable traits that the child has;
that the checking of these impulses may mean the destruction of
individual qualities of great importance in the formation of
character? How many know how wisely to direct these instincts
without thwarting them?

How many mothers--good housewives--know anything at all about the
imagination, that crowning glory of the human mind? They admire the
poet's flights of fancy; but when, on being asked where his brother
is, Harry says, "He went off in a great, great, big airship," they
feel the call of duty to punish him for his _lies_!

Many of us have realized in a helpless sort of way that there is
need for expert knowledge in these matters, and have comfortably
shifted the responsibility to the teacher. Parents are often heard
to say, when a troublesome youngster is under discussion, "Just wait
until he begins to go to school." It is not wise to wait. There is
much to be done before the school can be thought of, or even before
the kindergarten age is reached. Indeed, a child is never too young
to profit from the application of thought and knowledge to his

Of course, the training value of the school's work is not to be
underestimated. The social intercourse that the child experiences
there, the regularity of hours, the teacher's personality, all have
their favorable influence in the molding of the child's character.
But neither must we overestimate the powers of the school. The
school has the child but a few hours a day, for barely more than
half the year; the classes are unconscionably large. We all hope
that the classes will be made smaller, but they never can be small
enough, within our own times, for the purpose of really effective
moral training. The relations between teacher and pupil can never be
as intimate as are those of parent and child. The teacher knows the
child, as a rule, only as a member of a group and under special
circumstances; the parents alone have the opportunity to know
closely the individual peculiarities of the child; they alone can
know him in health and in sickness, in joy and in sorrow, in his
strength and in his weakness. The parents can watch their child from
day to day, year after year; whereas the teacher sees the child for
a comparatively short period of his development, and then passes him
on to another.

The time was--and for most of our children still is--when the
teacher had to know nothing but her "subjects"; the nature of the
child was to her as great a mystery as it is to the ordinary person
who never learned anything about it. She was supposed to deal with
the "average" child that does not exist, and to attempt the futile
task of drawing the laggard up to this arbitrary average and of
holding the genius down to it. The effort is being made to have the
teacher recognize the individuality of each child; but the mother is
still expected to confine her ministrations to his individual

In a dozen different ways the effective methods in the treatment of
children, at home or in school, in the church or on the playground,
depend upon knowledge and understanding, as is the case in all
practical activities. Instincts alone are never sufficient to tell
us what to do, notwithstanding the fact that so much really valuable
work has been achieved in the past without any special training.

It may be true that in the past the instincts of the child adapted
him to the needs of life. It may also be true that the instincts of
adults adapted them in the past to their proper treatment of
children. We should realize, however, that the conditions of modern
life are so complex that few of us know just what to do under given
conditions unless we have made a special effort to find out. And
this is just as true of the treatment of children as it is of the
care of the health, or of the building of bridges. It is for this
reason that the results of child study are important to all who have
to do with children--whether as teachers or as parents, whether as
club leaders or as directors of institutions, whether as social
workers or as loving uncles and aunts.

It is impossible to guarantee to anyone that a study of child nature
will enable him or her to train children into models of good
behavior. Knowledge alone does not always produce the desired
results; nevertheless, an understanding of the child should enable
those who have to deal with him to assume an attitude that will
reduce in a great measure their annoyance at the various awkward and
inconsiderate and mischievous acts of the youngsters. Such a study
should make possible a closer intimacy with the child. And, finally,
it should make possible a longer continuance of that intimacy with
the child, which is so helpful for those in authority as well as for
the child himself.



Picture to yourself a dark hallway. Behind the door stands an
indignant mother with a strap in her hand. It is past the dinner
hour and William has not yet returned. But here he is now. He comes
bounding up the steps, radiantly happy, and under each arm a
pumpkin. He bursts into the house. His mother seizes him by the
shoulder and proceeds to apply the strap where she thinks it will do
the most good. The little boy is William J. Stillman, and the story
is told in his autobiography. He tells how just an hour before
dinner a neighboring farmer had asked him to go to his field to
shake down the fruit from two apple trees. William was so glad to do
something for which he would receive pay that he allowed the work to
trench upon his dinner-time. The two large pumpkins he brought were
his pay, and he knew that they meant a great deal to his needy
family. Stillman, in writing of the incident, continues: "It is more
than sixty years since that punishment fell on my shoulders, but the
astonishment with which I received the flogging, instead of the
thanks which I anticipated for the wages I was bringing her, the
haste with which any mother administered it lest my father should
anticipate her and beat me after his own fashion, are as vivid in my
recollection as if it had taken place yesterday."

While I hope that not many of us are guilty of such flagrant abuse
of our power as is described above, still I am certain that on many
occasions we punish just as hastily, without giving a chance for
explanation and with as little thought as to whether "the punishment
fits the crime."

I have often been impressed by the great interest that mothers take
in uses of punishment and in kinds of punishment. It has sometimes
seemed as if the most valuable thing which they could carry away
with them from some child-study meeting was a new kind of punishment
for some very common offence. I have frequently felt as if the only
contact some mothers have with their children is to punish them, and
that punishment constituted the chief part of the poor children's

Now, punishment undoubtedly has a place in the training of children,
but only a _negative_ place. The proper punishment, administered in
the right spirit, may cure or correct a fault; _but punishment does
not make children good_. If children are punished frequently, it may
even make them _bad_.

We can all remember some of the punishments of our own childhood.
How unjust they seemed then, and do even now, after all these years
to heal the wounds! How outraged we felt! Into how unloving a mood
they put us!

The history of punishment for criminals shows us three stages. With
primitive peoples and in early times the first impulse is to "get
even" or to "strike back." "An eye for an eye"--nothing less would
do. Then comes a stage in which punishment is used to frighten
people from wrong-doing and as a warning--a deterrent for others.
Gradually, very, very slowly, as we become more civilized and
develop moral insight--develop a love for humanity--we come to
recognize that the only legitimate purpose of punishment in the
treatment of offenders is to redeem their characters, to make them
_positively_ better, not merely frighten them into a state of
apparent right-doing--that is, a state of avoiding wrong-doing.

It is said that each individual in his development lives over the
experiences of the race. How each of us passes through the three
attitudes toward punishment is very interestingly shown by a study
that was made some years ago on 3000 school children, to find out
their own ideas about punishment. Miss Margaret E. Schallenberger
sent out the following story and query and had the answers

Jennie had a beautiful new box of paints; and in the afternoon,
while her mother was gone, she painted all the chairs in the parlor,
so as to make them look nice for her mother. When the mother came
home, Jennie ran to meet her and said: "Oh, mamma, come and see how
pretty I have made the parlor." But her mamma took her paints away
and sent her to bed. If you had been her mother, what would you have
done or said to Jennie?

In the answers the most striking thing is the range of reasons given
by the children for punishing Jennie. There are three prominent

The first is clearly for revenge. Jennie was a bad girl; she made
her mother unhappy; she must be made unhappy. She made her mother
angry; she must be made angry. A boy of ten says: "I would have sent
Jennie to bed and not given her any supper, and then she would get
mad and cry." One boy of nine says: "If I had been that woman I
would have half killed her." A sweet (?) little girl would make her
"paint things until she is got enough of it." Another girl: "If I
had been Jennie's mother, I would of painted Jennie's face and hands
and toes. I would of switched her well. I would of washed her mouth
out with soap and water, and I should stand her on the floor for
half an hour."

This view was taken mostly by the younger children.

The second reason for punishing is to prevent a repetition of the
act. A thirteen year old girl says: "I would take the paints away
and not let her have them until she learned not to do that again."
When a threat is used it is with the same idea in view: "I wouldn't
do anything just then, but I would have said: 'If you do that any
more I would whip you and send you to bed besides!'" All trace of
revenge has disappeared.

The third stage of punishment is higher still. Jennie is punished in
order to reform her. In the previous examples the _act_ was
all-important. Now Jennie and her moral condition come into the
foreground. None of the younger children take the trouble to explain
to Jennie why it was wrong to paint the parlor chairs. A large
percentage of the older ones do so explain.

A country boy of fourteen says: "I would have took her with me into
the parlor, and I would have talked to her about the injury she had
done to the chairs, and talked kindly to her, and explained to her
that the paints were not what was put on chairs to make them look

A girl of sixteen says: "I think that the mother was very unwise to
lose her temper over something which the child had done to please
her. I think it would have been far wiser in her to have kissed the
little one, and then explained to her how much mischief she had done
in trying to please her mother."

We can see from this study that the children themselves are capable
of reaching a rather lofty attitude toward wrong-doing and punishment,
yet these children when grown up--that is, we ourselves--so frequently
return to a more primitive way of looking at these problems. In
punishing our children we go back to the method of the five- and

What is the reason for our apparent back-sliding? Is it not plainly
the fact that we allow ourselves to be mastered by the animal
instinct to strike back? When the child does something that causes
annoyance or even damage, do we stop to consider his motive, his
"intent," or do we only respond to the _result_ of his action?
Do we have a studied policy for treating his offence, or do we slide
back to the desire to "get even" or to "pay him" for what he has

Sometimes a very small offence will have grave consequences, while a
really serious fault may cause but little trouble.

Here, for instance, is Harry, who was so intent upon chasing the
woodchuck that he ran through the new-sown field, trampling down the
earth. He caused considerable damage. If your punishment assumes the
proportion dictated by the anger which the harm caused, he certainly
will be dealt with severely. Knowing that he had not meant to do
wrong, he cannot help but feel the injustice of your wrath. Of
course, he has been careless and he must be impressed with the harm
such carelessness can cause. Whether you lock him in a room or
deprive him of some special pleasure, or whether you merely talk to
him, depends upon you and upon Harry. But one thing must be certain:
Harry must not get the notion that you are avenging yourself upon
him for the harm he has done, or for the ill-feeling aroused by his
act--he must not feel that "you are taking it out of him" because
you have been made angry.

This brings us to the old rule: _Never punish in anger_.

On the other hand, while we must allow every trace of anger to
disappear, we must not allow so much time to elapse as to make the
child lose the connection between his act and the consequence. A
little boy at breakfast threw some salt upon his sister's apple in a
spirit of mischief. The mother sent him out of the room and told him
that he would have to go to bed two hours earlier than usual that
night as a punishment for his misdeed. Now we all know that "the
days of youth are long, long days," and the many events of that day
had completely crowded out of the little boy's mind the trivial,
impulsive act of the morning. The punishment could not arouse in him
any feeling but that of unjust privation.

This particular case illustrates three other problems in connection
with punishment. In the first place, nothing that is considered
desirable or beneficial should be brought into disfavor by being
used as a punishment. Sleep is a blessing, and, it may be said in
general, no healthy child gets too much of it. By imposing two hours
of additional sleep upon the child the mother discredits sleeping.
It isn't logical. It is as unreasonable as that once favorite
punishment of teachers, now rapidly being discarded, of keeping
children after school. On the one side they are told how grateful
they should be for this great boon of education, and for being
allowed to come to school, and then they are told: "You have been
very bad and troublesome to-day; as a punishment you shall have an
extra hour of this great privilege."

The second point is that no punishment should ever deprive a child
of conditions that are necessary for his health or impose conditions
that are harmful. And, finally, it is not wise to exaggerate the
importance of trivial acts by treating them too seriously. The
little boy tried to be "smart" when he threw that salt. With nearly
every child it would be sufficient, in a case like this, to make him
feel that it was really very silly and that he had made himself
ridiculous in the eyes of the family.

Very often the seriousness of a child's offence is greatly
exaggerated. We must not waste our ammunition on these small
matters; if we use our strongest terms of disapproval for the many
little everyday vexations, we shall be left quite without resource
when something really serious does occur. Children are very
sensitive to such exaggerations, and their attention is so much
taken up with the injustice of making a big ado about such trifles
that they overlook what is reprehensible in their own conduct.

Some of the greatest authorities believe that a child should be
allowed to suffer the consequences of his deeds. We should borrow
from nature, they say, her method of dealing with offenders. If a
child touches fire he will be burnt, and each time the same effect
will follow his deed. Why not let our punishments be as certain and
uniform in their reaction? To a certain extent this plan can be
followed. If a little girl stubbornly refuses to wear her mittens,
it is all right to let her suffer the consequences, the natural
consequences--and let her hands get quite cold.

But this principle cannot be consistently applied as a general
method. If a child insists upon leaning far out of the window it
would be foolish to let him suffer the consequences and fall,
possibly to his death. Part of our function is to prevent our
children from suffering all the possible consequences of their
actions. We are here to guide them and to protect them.

To abandon the child to the natural consequences of his moral
actions would be even more harmful, for very often we must separate
the child from his fault. This is true in a double sense. In the
first place, we are concerned chiefly in removing the child's
faults, as a physician seeks to separate a patient from his
sickness. But we must also avoid the error of identifying any fault
with the fundamental nature of the child; that is, we must keep
before us the character of the child as distinct from the wrong acts
which the child may commit. If a child lies, that does not make of
him a liar, any more than does his failure to understand what he has
just been told make of him a blockhead. Yet the natural consequence
of lying, for instance, is to be mistrusted in the future--to be
branded a liar. This, however, is one of the worst things that can
happen to a child, and one of the surest ways of making him a
habitual liar. Many children pass through a stage in which they
naturally come to have the feeling which is expressed in the saying:
"If I have the name, I may as well have the game." We must show the
child that we have unbounded confidence in him, otherwise he will
lose faith in himself.

It is clear, then, that the "natural" method will not work in such
cases, for the impulse to condemn the child after he has committed a
wrong deed, instead of condemning the _deed_, may merely help
to fix upon him the habit of committing similar deeds in the future.

In Nature, too, the same punishment invariably follows the same
offence. If we try to imitate that method, the child soon learns
what he has to reckon with. If the child knows that a certain action
will produce a certain result, he often thinks it is worth the
price. Then the child feels that he has had his way, and, having
paid the price, the account is squared; so he feels justified in
doing the same thing again. In following this course we defeat our
own ends, as this kind of punishment does _not_ act as a fine
moral deterrent.

Scolding as a punishment is also not efficacious. We are justified
in having our indignation aroused at times and in letting the
offender feel our displeasure. There is something calm and
impressive about genuine indignation, while scolding is apt to
become nagging and to arouse contempt in the child.

When we consider the many difficulties of finding a punishment
exactly fitted to the offence in a way that will make the offender
avoid repetition, we are tempted to resort to sermonizing and
reasoning, for through our words we hope at times to establish in
the child's mind a direct relation between his conduct and the
undesirable consequences that spring from it.

In doing this, however, we should not speak in generalities, but
bring before the child's mind concrete examples of his own
objectionable acts from recent experience. It is useless to tell
John how important it is to be punctual and let it go at that; it is
not enough even to tell him that he often fails to be on time. If
you can remind him that he was late for dinner on Wednesday, missed
the letter-carrier twice last month, and delayed attending to an
errand Monday until all the shops were closed, you have him where he
can understand your point. Mary will listen respectfully enough to a
homily on being considerate, but it will have little effect upon her
compared to bringing before her a picture of some of her actions:
how, instead of coming right home from school the day you were not
feeling well, and helping you with some of your tasks, she had gone
to visit a friend just that afternoon.

But reasoning with a child often fails to accomplish its purpose,
because the child's reasoning is so different from that of an adult.
Unless there is a nearly perfect understanding of the workings of
the child's mind, reasoning is frequently futile. A seven-year-old
boy who had received a long lecture on the impropriety of keeping
dead crabs in his pockets said, after it was all over: "Well, they
were alive when I put them in. You are wasting a lot of my precious
time." These little brains have a way of working out combinations
that seem weird to us grown-ups.

Only with a child of a certain type and a parent able to understand
the workings of his mind may the method of reasoning work
satisfactorily in correcting faults and establishing good habits and

No discussion of this subject would be complete without a word on
corporal punishment. It is impossible here to present all the
arguments for or against it. I am sure, however, that the most
enthusiastic advocates of it will admit that it is not always
practised with discretion and that it is in most cases not only
unnecessary but positively harmful. Children that are treated like
animals will behave like animals; violence and brutality do not
bring out the best in a child's nature. It would seem that
intelligent parents do not need to resort to such methods in the
training of normal children.

As suggested by our veteran novelist, William Dean Howells, we have
clung to the wisdom of Solomon, in this respect, through centuries
of changing conditions. Solomon said: "Spare the rod and spoil the
child"; Mr. Howells suggests that we might with profit spoil the rod
and spare the child. In the small families of to-day there is no
need to cling to the methods that may have worked well enough with
the Oriental, polygamous despot, who never could know all his
children individually, and it is therefore hardly necessary to use
Solomon as our authority.

It is plain, then, that it is impossible to recommend any punishment
as _the correct one_, or even to recommend any one infallible
rule. This must depend upon the parent, upon the child, and upon the
circumstances. But there are certain definite principles which we
must keep in mind and which will do much toward making our task of
discipline more rational:

We must never punish in anger.

We must consider the _motive_ and the _temptations_ before
the _consequence_ of the deed.

We must condemn the _deed_ and not the child.

We must be sure that the child understands exactly the offence with
which he is charged.

We must be sure that he sees the _relation_ of the
_offence_ to the _punishment_.

We must never administer any _excessive_ or unusual punishment.

We must not _exaggerate_ the magnitude of the offence.

If we keep these principles in mind we may not always be right, but
we shall certainly be right more often than if we had no policy or
definite ideas. But, above all, we must recognize that punishment is
only a corrective, and that it is our duty to build up the positive
virtues. Let us expend our energy in the effort to establish good
habits and ideals, and the child will shed many of the faults which
now occupy the centre of our interest and attention.

In a family where the proper spirit of intimacy and mutual
understanding and forbearance reigns punishment will be relegated to
its proper place--namely, the medicine closet--and not be used as
daily bread. For punishment is a medicine--a corrective--and when we
administer it we must do in the spirit of the physician. We do not
wish to be quacks and have one patent remedy to cure all evils; but,
like physicians worthy of their trust, we must study the ailment and
its causes, and above all must we study the patient. The same remedy
will not do for all constitutions. Therefore the punishment must not
only fit the crime, but it must also be made to fit the "criminal."

Love and patience are the secret of child management. Love which can
fare from the chilliest soul; patience which knows how to wait for
the harvest.



Johnny was playing in the room while his mother was sewing at the
window. Johnny looked out of the window and exclaimed, "Oh, mother,
see that great big lion!"

His mother looked, but saw only a medium-sized dog.

"Why, Johnny," replied the mother, "how can you say such a thing?
You know very well that was only a dog. Now go right in the corner
and pray to God to forgive you for telling such a lie!"

Johnny went. When he came back, he said triumphantly, "See, mother,
God said He thought it was a lion Himself."

This poor mother is a typical example of a large class of mothers
who fail to understand their children because they have no idea of
what goes on in the child's mind. To Johnny the lion was just as
_real_ as the dog was to the mother. And even if the dog had
not been there for the mother to see, Johnny could have seen just as
real a lion.

Every mother ought to know that practically every healthy child has
imagination. You will have to take a long day's journey to find a
child that has no imagination to begin with--and then you will find
that this child is wonderfully uninteresting, or actually stupid.

You can easily observe for yourself that as soon as a child knows a
large number of objects and persons and names he will begin to
rearrange his bits of knowledge into new combinations, and in this
way make a little world of his own. In this world, beasts and
furniture and flowers talk and have adventures. When the dew is on
the grass, "the grass is crying." Butterflies are "flying pansies."
Lightning is the "sky winking," and so on. This activity of the
child's mind begins at about two years, and reaches its height
between the ages of four and six. But it continues through life with
greater or less intensity, according to circumstances and original

It is not only the poet and artist who need imagination, but all of
us in our everyday concerns. Do you realize that the person to whom
you like so much to talk about your affairs, because she is so
sympathetic, _is sympathetic_ because she has imagination? For
without imagination we cannot "put ourselves in the place of
another," and much of the misery in the relation between human
beings exists because so many of us are unable to do this. The happy
cannot realize the needs of the miserable, and the miserable cannot
understand why anyone should be happy--if they lack imagination.

The need for imagination, far from being confined to dreamers and
persons who dwell in the clouds, is of great _practical_
importance in the development of mind and character. Imagination is
a direct help in learning, and in developing sympathy. As one of our
great moral leaders, Felix Adler, has said, much of the selfishness
of the world is due, not to actual hard-heartedness, but to lack of
imaginative power.

We all know the classic example of Queen Marie Antoinette, who, when
told that the people were rioting for want of bread, exclaimed,
"Why, let them eat cake instead!" Brought up in luxury, she could
not realize what absolute want means. She had no imagination.

The world has progressed, but we still have among us the same type
of unfortunate persons who are unable to put themselves in the place
of others. I recently heard of a woman who, on being told of a
family so poor that they had had nothing but cold potatoes for
supper the night before, replied:

"They may be poor, but the mother must be a very bad housekeeper,
anyway. For, even if they had nothing but potatoes to eat, she might
at least have fried them."

Like her royal prototype, this modern woman had not the imagination
to realize that a family could be so poor as to be in want of fuel.

But being able to put yourself in the place of another is of
importance not only from the strictly moral point of view. You can
easily see how it will affect one's everyday relations, how it will
be of great help in avoiding misunderstandings of all kinds--as
between mother and child, between mistress and maid, etc.

If parents would only realize this importance of imagination, and
not look upon it as a "vain thing," they would not merely
_allow_ the child's imagination to take its own course; they
would actually make efforts to cultivate and encourage it. In this
way they would not only aid the child in becoming a better and more
sympathetic man or woman, but would also add much to the happiness
of the child.

Unless we have given special thought to this matter, most of us
grown-ups do not appreciate how very real the child's world of
make-believe is to him, and how essential to his happiness that we do
not break into it rudely. When one of my boys was two and a half years
old he was one day playing with an imaginary baby sister. A member of
the household came into the room, whereupon he immediately broke out
in wild screaming and became very much agitated. It took some time to
quiet him and to find out that the cause of all his trouble was the
fact that this person had inadvertently stepped upon his imaginary
sister, whom he had placed upon the floor. Before him he saw his
little sister crushed, and great were his horror and grief.

I know from this experience and many others that if we do not enter
into the child's world and try to understand the working of his mind
we will often find him naughty, when he is not naughty at all. In
the example given it would have been very easy to follow the first
impulse to reprove the child for what seemed very unreasonable
conduct on his part. And such cases arise constantly.

How completely the child throws himself into an imaginary character is
shown by an incident which occurred recently. A little boy of four,
who had been accustomed to speak only German at home, was playing
"doctor," and was so absorbed in the play that when dinner-time came
he was loath to abandon the role. His mother, to avoid delay, simply
said, "I think we will invite the doctor to have dinner with us," and
he promptly accepted the invitation. When the maid came in, he said in
English, "What is her name?"

"Marie," the mother replied. "Isn't that Mary in English?" the child
politely inquired. "You see, I cannot speak German, for my mother
never taught me." And although this little boy never spoke English
to his parents nor his parents to him, as "doctor" he spoke English
throughout the meal.

Many parents enter spontaneously into the spirit of their children's
games, and make believe with the best of them. They pity poor Johnny
when he screams with terror at the attack of the make-believe bear,
and take great joy in admiring the make-believe kitten. If we but
realized how all this make believe helps in the development of
character and in the gaining of knowledge, _all_ parents would
try to develop the child's imagination, and not only those who have
the gift intuitively. It is the child's natural way of learning
things, of getting acquainted with all living and inanimate objects
in his environment. It sharpens his observation. A child who tries
to "act a horse," for example, will be much more apt to notice all
the different activities and habits of the horse in his various
relations than a child who merely observes passively.

A child with imagination, when receiving directions or instructions,
can picture to himself what he is expected to do, and easily
translates his instructions into action. To the unimaginative child
the directions given will be so many words, and he cannot carry out
these instructions as effectively.

Again and again teachers find that pupils fail to carry out orders,
though able, when asked, to repeat word for word the instructions
given them.

The plaintive inquiry, "What shall I do now?" is much more
frequently heard from the child who is unimaginative or who has had
the play of his imagination curbed. For the child can _be_
whatever he wishes, and _have_ whatever he likes, his heart's
desire is at his finger's end, once his imagination is free. The
rocking-chair can be a great big ship, the carpet a rolling sea, and
at most a suggestion is needed from the busy mother. A few chairs
can be a train of cars and keep him occupied for hours. A wooden box
is transformed into a mighty locomotive--in fact, give an
imaginative child almost anything, a string of beads, or a piece of
colored glass, and out of it his imagination will construct great

A normal child does not need elaborate toys. The only function of a
toy, as someone has well said, is "to serve as lay figures upon
which the child's imagination can weave and drape its fancy."

Although parents have not always understood what goes on in the
child's mind when he is so busy with his play, our poets and lovers
of children have had a deeper insight. Stevenson, in his poem "My
Kingdom," shows us how, with the touch of imagination, the child
transforms the commonplace objects of his surroundings into material
for rich romance:

Down by a shining water well
I found a very little dell,
  No higher than my head.
The heather and the gorse about
In summer bloom were coming out,
  Some yellow and some red.

I called the little pool a sea:
The little hills were big to me;
  For I am very small.
I made boat, I made a town,
I searched the caverns up and down,
  And named them one and all.

And all about was mine, I said,
The little sparrows overhead,
  The little minnows, too.
This was the world and I was king:
For me the bees came by to sing,
  For me the swallows flew.

I played there were no deeper seas,
Nor any wilder plains than these,
  Nor other kings than me.
At last I hear my mother call
Out from the house at evenfall,
  To call me home to tea.

And I must rise and leave my dell,
And leave my dimpled water well,
  And leave my heather blooms.
Alas! and as my home I neared,
How very big my nurse appeared,
  How great and cool the rooms!

Some children do not even need _objects_ as a starting point
for their imaginative activity. They can just conjure up persons and
things to serve as material for their play. Many children, when
alone, have imaginary companions. One little boy, when taken out for
his airing, daily met an imaginary friend, whom he called "Buster."
As soon as he stepped out of the house he uttered a peculiar call,
to which Buster replied--though no one but he heard him--and he
would run to meet him and they would have a lovely time together,
sometimes for hours at a stretch.

Another little child received a daily visit from an imaginary cow.
There was a certain place in the living-room where this red cow with
white spots would appear. The child would go through the motions of
feeding her, patting her, and bringing her water.

In these two cases the "companionship" lasted but a few months, but
there are children whose imaginary companions grow up with them and
get older as they get older.

[Illustration: Imagination supplies this two-year-old a prancing

In some instances there is a group of such imaginary companions, and
their activities constitute "a continued story," of which the child
is a living centre, although not necessarily the hero.

It seems to me that the power to create his own friends must be a
great boon to a child who is forced to be alone a great deal or has
no congenial companions.

There need be no fear--except perhaps in very extreme cases--that
such activity of the imagination is morbid. A little girl who plays
with her dolls is really doing the same thing, only that she has a
symbol for each of her imaginary companions.

But although an imaginative child is much easier to teach later on,
and although he does not trouble you with the incessant nagging
"What shall I do now?" the mother whose idea of good conduct is
"keeping quiet" will find the unimaginative child much easier to
care for. He is very much less active and therefore "less
troublesome." This explains why this priceless gift of imagination
has so often been discouraged by parents and teachers. But they did
not know that they were actually _harming_ the child by so
discouraging him, or, let us hope, they would not have chosen the
easier way. For, after all, we are not looking for the easiest way
of getting along with children, but for the best, and the best for
them will prove in the end to be the best for us.

It must certainly try your patience, when you are tired, at the end
of a day's work, to have Harry refuse to come to be put to bed
because you called him "Harry"; and he replies, perhaps somewhat
crossly: "I am not Harry, I told you. I am little Jack Horner, and I
have to sit in my corner." But no matter how hard it may seem, do
not get discouraged. Once you are fully aware of the importance of
what seems to be but silly play, you will add this one more to your
many sacrifices, and find that it will bring returns a hundredfold.
And, after all, as in so many other problems, when you resolve to
make the sacrifice, it turns out to be no sacrifice. For, once you
approach the problem in an understanding spirit, the flights of the
child's imagination will give you untold pleasure.

Another reason why imagination has been suppressed by those who are
in charge of children is the fear that it will lead to the formation
of habits of untruthfulness. It is very hard to realize, unless you
understand the child's nature, that the child is not lying when he
says something that is manifestly not so to you and the other
adults. I have heard children reproved for lying when I was sure
that they had no idea of what a "lie" is. In one family an older boy
broke a plate and, when charged with the deed, denied it flatly. His
little brother, however, confessed and described just how he had
broken it. Now, the older boy was telling a falsehood consciously--
probably from fear of punishment. The little fellow, however, was
not telling an untruth--from his point of view. He really imagined
having broken that plate. He had heard the event discussed by the
family until all the incidents were vivid to him and he pictured
himself as the hero.

Up to a certain time it is impossible for the child to distinguish
between what we call _real_ and his make-believe. Both are
equally real to him, and the make-believe is ever so much more

Until about the fifth year a child does not know that he is
imagining; between the ages of four and six the imaginative period
is at its height, and there begins to appear a sort of undercurrent
of consciousness that it is all make-believe, and this heightens the
pleasure of trying to make it seem real. Gradually the child learns
to distinguish between imaginary experiences and real ones, but
until you are quite certain that he _does_ distinguish, do not
attach any moral significance to his stories. Should an older child
be inclined to tell falsehoods, you may be sure that this is
_not_ because his imagination has been cultivated. There are
then other reasons and causes, and they must be studied on their own

After you come to a clear appreciation of the value of imagination
in the child's development you will, instead of suppressing his
feelings, look around for ways of encouraging this activity of his
mind. You will see a new value in fairy tales and fables and a new
significance in every turn of his fancy.



None of the petty vices of childhood appears to shock adults so much
as lying; and none is more widespread among children--and among
adults. As we are speaking of children, however, it is enough to say
that all children lie--constantly, persistently, universally.
Perhaps you will be less grieved by the lies of your children, and
less loath to admit that they do lie, if you realize that _all_
children lie. The mother who tells you that her child never lies is
either deceiving herself or trying to impress you with the
superiority of her off-spring. In her case the untruthfulness of
childhood has not been remedied.

However, although lying is so common, that is no reason for ignoring
the lies of children. They have to be taught to know the truth, and
to speak it and to act it. And they can be taught. The Psalmist
said, "All men are liars"; but he spoke hastily, as he afterward
learned. All of us are probably born with instincts that make it
easy for us to acquire the art of lying; but we have also the
instincts that make us love the truth and speak it. Indeed, a child
may acquire a hatred of untruth that is so keen as to be positively
distressing; and this condition is just as morbid and undesirable as
that of the other extreme, which accepts lies as the usual thing.

As in other problems connected with the bringing up of children, the
first and the last aim should be to understand the child, the
individual, particular child. Will your child become a habitual
liar, or will he simply "outgrow" the tendency toward untruthfulness,
as he will leave other childish things behind him? It is impossible to
tell; but for the vast majority of children a great deal depends upon
the kind of treatment given. If you do not treat the lies of your
children _understandingly_, there is the danger that you will
bring out other characteristics, perhaps even more undesirable
ones--such as cruelty, vindictiveness, or even _actual deceit_.

We must recognize that there is no general faculty of lying. It is
very easy for us to class as _lies_ every word and every act
that is not in complete harmony with the facts--as we understand
them. But there are many kinds of lies, as well as many degrees of
them. A child that is branded a liar has undoubtedly given abundant
occasion for mistrust, and has lied aplenty; but undoubtedly also he
has specialized in his lying, and would be incapable of certain
kinds of lies that are common enough with other children. As we are
the judges of our children in all of their misdeeds, we must
preserve not only a judicious attitude, but we must really be
_just_. And to this end it is essential that we take into
consideration all the circumstances that lead to a lie, including
the motives, as well as the special traits of the particular child.

The first thing that we should keep always in mind is that the moral
character of the child is still unformed, and that his standards of
truth, like his other standards, are not the same as those of the
adult. Indeed, this fact is at the same time the hope of childhood
and the source of its many tragedies. It is the hope because the
child is _growing_, and acquiring new vision and new powers;
the child of to-day is the adult of to-morrow, and most of the
children of to-day will be at least as developed, in time, as the
adults of to-day. The tragedy arises from the fact that as we grow
older we forget the outlook of the child, and misunderstandings
between the parents and the children are almost inevitable.

Whatever the prevailing morality of a community may demand, the fact
remains that practically all children up to a certain age consider
it perfectly legitimate to lie to their enemies if they but tell the
truth to their friends. Children may lie to the policeman, or to the
teacher, or to anyone with whom they are for the moment in conflict.
This is a relic of the time when our savage ancestors found it
necessary to practice deceit in order to save themselves from their
enemies. So ingrained is this instinct that many a child will stick
to a falsehood before the teacher or other inquisitors, only to
retract and "go to pieces" when obliged to answer his mother. It has
been shown over and over again that children even well along in the
teens consider it quite right to tell one story to a teacher or to
another child who is disliked, and a different story to one that is
liked. This attitude probably arises not so much from a desire to
deceive as an outcome of natural cunning and adaptability.

This is illustrated by the little girl who used to throw the crust
of her bread under the table, to get more soft bread. The child was
too young to deceive anyone; she could not possibly have the idea of
deceit or of lying. She had simply come to dispose of the crust in
this way because she had associated the arrival of more bread with
her empty-handedness; to throw the bread under the table was a
direct way to the getting of what she wanted. The question of truth
or untruth never entered the little mind. To treat this child as a
liar would not only be unjust, but would be apt to make the child
conscious of the idea of deceit. Later in his development the child
may still use the same kind of cunning in getting what he wants or
in escaping what he does not like, without the intention to deceive.
And a lie, to be a lie, must include that intention.

All students of child nature agree that a very young child--say
before the age of four or five--does not lie consciously. Later, the
child may say many things that are not so, but gradually he comes to
recognize the difference between what he says and what is really so;
he may need help in coming to see the difference, but this aid
should not be forced upon him too soon. A little boy of five who was
very imaginative became acquainted with some older children in a new
neighborhood who had little imagination and therefore were greatly
shocked by Herbert's "stories." They proceeded to inform him that he
was lying, and to explain to him what a lie was. The boy was very
much impressed. After he came home he discovered that there was a
great deal of lying going on. He asked his little brother, "Are you
older than me?"--to which the little one answered in the
affirmative. Herbert came running to his mother to report that the
baby had "told a lie!" For several weeks everything that was said
was subject to the child's severe scrutiny; every slightest mistake
was at once labelled by him as a "lie." Richard said _this_ is
my right hand, that is a lie; Helen said I may not play with the
hammer, mother said I may, so Helen lied; the maid said it was time
to go to bed, but it is only five minutes to seven, so the maid
lied. And he would delight especially in asking the baby brother
leading questions, to trap him into saying lies. This experience did
not result in making Herbert any more scrupulous in his own speech,
for his imagination created interesting and dramatic situations,
which he described with zeal and enthusiasm, for a long time after
he had discovered "lies."

The young child is really incapable of distinguishing between his
dreams and reality on the one hand, and between reality and his
day-dreams or imaginings on the other. A little boy came home from
kindergarten a few days after he had entered, and, when the experience
was still full of novelties to him, he described the workshop: each
little boy had a pair of overalls with the name across the bib in
black letters; there was a little locker for each child, with the name
on the outside; each had his set of tools and his place at the bench.
Day by day he narrated his doings in "school" and reported the
progress he was making with a little "hair-pin box" that he intended
for his aunt's birthday. On the birthday the mother came to the school
to see how the boy was getting on; and she asked about the hair-pin
box which he was now to bring home. It then appeared that there was no
shop, no overalls, no lockers, no tools. The whole story was a
creation of the child's imagination, and all the details he had
invented were real enough to him to be described repeatedly with such
vividness that no one suspected for a moment that it was all a
fabrication. To call such stories "lies" would be worse than useless.
If scolding or preaching could make a child merely stop _telling_ such
stories, there would be no gain; if they stopped a child _thinking_
such stories, there would be a decided loss.

Gradually the child may come to recognize the difference between the
make-believe and the reality, and he may be helped. When at a
certain age you think your child ought to distinguish more clearly
between his imagination and cold facts, it would be all right to
explain to him that, although there is no harm in his enjoying his
make-believe, still he must not tell his fancies as if they were
real, but must tell them as "make-believe stories." That will
achieve the desired result without making him feel hurt at your lack
of understanding in treating him like an ordinary liar whose prime
intention is to deceive. But it is not wise to force this
development, even at the risk of prolonging the age of dreams.

With some children lying is caused by their esthetic feelings. It is
much easier for them to describe a situation as they feel it should
have been than to describe it as it actually was. Many children
"embellish the facts" without any trace of intent to deceive.
Although we recognize that what they say is not strictly the truth,
we must further recognize that it is their love of the beautiful or
their sense of the fitness of things that leads them to these
"exaggerations." It is the same sort of instinct as shows itself in
our love of certain kinds of fiction. We know that some of the happy
endings in the plays and in the novels are often far-fetched; but we
like to have the happy endings, or the "poetic justice" endings, or
the "irony of fate" endings, just the same. When the child makes up
his endings to fit his sense of justice or beauty, we must not
condemn him, as we are often tempted to do, by calling his
fabrication a "lie," for that at once puts it in the same class as
deliberate deceit for a selfish purpose. There is really no harm in
this class of lies, unless, as the child grows older, it becomes
apparent that he lets his wishes and preferences interfere with his
vision of what is actually going on. In such cases the remedy is not
to be found in the denunciation of lying, but in giving the child
opportunity to experience realities that cannot be treated
untruthfully. To this end various kinds of hand work and scientific
study have been useful. It is impossible for the child to cheat the
tools of the workshop or his instruments of precision; it is
impossible to make a spool of thread do the work of two or three; or
one cannot make the paint go farther by applying the brush faster.
It is concrete reality that can teach the imaginative child reality;
in the things he learns from books there is no check upon the
imagined and the desired--one kind of outcome is as likely and as
true as another. But in the experience of the workaday world causes
and consequences cannot be so easily altered by a trick of words.

Investigation has shown that the sentimental or heroic element is
one that appeals to children so strongly that it may often lead to
what we adults would call lies, or it would seem to the child to
justify lying. The confession to a deed that he has not committed,
for the purpose of saving a weaker companion from punishment or
injury, seems to be a type of lie that appeals strongly to most
children. Again and again have boys--and girls, too--declared
stoically that they were guilty of some dereliction of which they
were quite innocent, to shield a friend. And most children not only
admire such acts, but will seek to defend them on moral grounds,
even when they are old enough to know what a _lie_ is. The
explanation for this is to be found in the fact that the child sees
every situation or problem as a whole; he has not yet learned to
separate problems into their component parts. A situation is to him
all wrong or all right; he cannot see that a part may be wrong,
while another part is right. Now in the case of the self-confessed
culprits, the magnanimity and heroism of the act stand out so
prominently that they quite overshadow the trifling circumstance
that the hero did _not_ do the wicked deed.

An excellent illustration of this trait of child nature came out in
an inquiry that was made a number of years ago. A child replied, in
answer to the question "When would a lie be justified?" that if the
mother's life depended upon it one would have the moral duty of
saying that she "was out, although she was really in." That is, it
would be one's duty to make the great moral _sacrifice_ of
speaking an untruth for the sake of saving the mother. Any child
will tell you, as did this one, that it would be wicked to tell a
lie to save his own life!

This suggests another type of lie that is quite common. Most
children feel their personal loyalties so keenly that they would do
many things that they themselves consider wrong for a person they
love or admire. A little girl was so much impressed with the moral
teachings of her Sunday-school teacher that she was determined to
get her a suitable Christmas present. Now, the family had not the
means to supply such a present, and Mary knew it, and was greatly
distressed by the fact. However, where there is a will there is a
way; and Mary found the way by cunningly stealing a moustache cup
from a store with the inspiring legend "To dear Father" and
beautiful red and blue roses and gilt leaves. Mary had learned that
it was wicked to steal and to lie, etc., but her heart was set on
getting something for the teacher, not for herself, and she very
unselfishly risked her moral salvation for the person she loved and

It is probably better for the child if we do not push the analysis
of acts and motives too early, for there is more danger at a certain
age from morbid self-consciousness than from acquiring vicious
habits. If we recognize that many of the lapses from the paths of
truth arise from really worthy motives, we must make sure that these
ideals become fixed before we attempt to separate the unworthy act
from the commendable purpose.

The cases so far given show how important it is to retain not only
the affection but also the confidence of our children; and how
important it is to have right teachers and associates. The child
will do what he can to please those he really likes or admires; but
the kind of thing he will do will depend a great deal upon what
those he admires themselves like to see done.

There are some lies that are due to faulty observation. We do not
often realize to what extent we supplement our sense perceptions in
relating our experiences. Lawyers tell us that it is very difficult
to have a witness relate _exactly_ what he saw; he is always
adding details for completing the story in accordance with his
_interpretation_ of what he saw. This is not lying in any
sense, but it is relating as alleged facts what are in reality
conclusions from facts. One may be an unreliable witness without
being a liar; and so may the child tell us things that we know are
not so because, in trying to tell a complete story, he has to
supplement what he actually saw with what he feels _must_ have
been a part of the incident. Defects of judgment as well as
delusions of the senses or lapses of memory may lead to
misstatements that are not really lies. Some delusions of the
senses, especially of sight and of hearing, undoubtedly have a
physical cause.

Another source of comparatively harmless lying is the instinct for
secretiveness. Children just love to have secrets, and if there are
none on hand, they have to be invented. A child will tell another a
secret on condition that it be kept a secret; but when the secret is
told it turns out to be a falsehood--perhaps even something
libellous. Now, the child cannot feel that he has done anything
wicked, for to his mind the big thing is that Nellie promised not to
tell, and she broke her promise! If she had not broken her promise
to keep the secret, it never would have come out, and no harm would
have been done. Perhaps we have not yet sufficiently driven secrets
from our common life to demand that the children shall be without
secrets. When we set the children an example of perfect frankness
and open dealing in all matters, we may perhaps be in a position to
discourage the invention of secrets by the young people.
Secretiveness leads naturally to deceit; but it is not in itself
serious enough to make much ado about. Healthy children in healthful
social surroundings will outgrow this instinct; where the atmosphere
is charged with intrigue and scheming and dissimulation, this
instinct may survive longer, but its manifestation is in itself not
a trait that should give its concern.

Some children lie because they are inclined to brag or show off;
others for just the opposite reason--they are too sensitive or
timid. And a lie that comes from either side of the child's nature
cannot be taken as a sign of moral depravity; the treatment which a
child is given must take into consideration the child's temperament.
Charles Darwin tells of his own inclination to make exaggerated
statements for the purpose of causing a sensation. "I told another
little boy," he writes in his autobiography, "that I could produce
variously-colored polyanthuses and primroses by watering them with
certain colored fluids, which was, of course, a monstrous fable, and
had never been tried by me. I may here also confess that as a little
boy I was much given to inventing deliberate falsehoods, and this
was always done for the sake of causing excitement. For instance, I
once gathered much valuable fruit from my father's trees and hid it
in the shrubbery and then ran in breathless haste to spread the news
that I had discovered a hoard of stolen fruit."

For the vaunting lie it is usually sufficient to defeat its purpose
by showing that the boast cannot be carried out. The braggart is
made to descend from the pedestal of the hero to the level of the

How the other extreme in disposition may lead to a "lie" is shown by
the little girl who was sent to the store for a loaf of bread and
came back saying that there was no more to be had. The mother was
very sure that that could not be, but soon found out, on
questioning, that the child had forgotten what she was sent to get
and was then afraid of being ridiculed for having forgotten. Here
the cause of the lie was timidity. To punish this child would only
make her more timid. In a case of this kind the mother should try to
cultivate the self-confidence of the child instead of punishing her
for untruthfulness.

Perhaps the most common kind of lie is the one that a child tells in
order to escape punishment. It is often chosen as "the easiest way"
without realization of any serious wrong-doing. And even when a
child is taught the wrong of it, it is still too helpful to be
entirely dropped. As a little boy once said, "A lie is an
abomination to the Lord, and an ever-ready help in time of trouble."
The first lie of this kind that a child invents comes without any
feeling of moral wrong-doing. He has only an instinctive shrinking
from pain. To cure a child of this kind of lie, we must take his
disposition into consideration; there is no one remedy that suits
all children. In some cases it has worked very well to develop the
courage of the child, so that he will fearlessly accept the
consequences of his deeds. We all know of cases where children can
be physically very brave and stand a great deal of pain if they are
made to see the necessity for it--as when they are treated by a
dentist or physician. Children of that type surely can be taught to
be brave, also, about accepting the consequences of misdeeds. With
another type of child the desired result can be obtained by making
him see that he will be happier and that his relations with others
will he pleasanter if he always tells the truth. In some children
the sense of honor can be very easily aroused, and they can be made
to see how truthfulness and reliability help human beings to get
along with each other in their various relations. A great many
temptations for this kind of lie can be entirely avoided if your
child feels from earliest infancy that you always treat him justly.

Yet a child who is neither afraid of punishment nor inclined to
deceive may often be tempted to lie when his wits are challenged.
There is something about your tone of voice, or in the manner of
asking "Who left the door of the chicken-house open?" that is an
irresistible temptation to make you show how smart you really are.
You think you know, and your manner shows it; but you may be
mistaken, and your cocksureness arouses all the cunning and
combativeness of the child. There is a vague feeling in his mind
that he would like to see you confirm your suspicion without the aid
of an open confession--and the result is a "lie." Indeed, any
approach that arouses antagonisms is almost sure to bring out the
propensity to dissimulate or even to deceive. In such cases the
mother should learn how to approach the child without a challenge,
instead of trying to teach the child not to lie.

The worst kind of lies are those caused by selfishness or the desire
to gain at the expense of another, or those prompted by malice or
envy, or the passion for vengeance. Although such lies often appear
in the games of children, the games themselves are not to be held
responsible for this. Indeed, the games of the older children, when
played under suitable direction, are likely to be among the best
means for remedying untruthfulness. Yet it may be wise sometimes to
keep a child from his games for a time, not so much to "punish" him
for lying as to give him an opportunity to reflect on the close
connection between truthfulness and good playing. Special
instruction may sometimes be needed as a means to arousing the
conscience. The lies of selfishness are bad because, if continued,
they are likely to make children grasping and unscrupulous. But it
is in most cases wiser to try to make the child more generous and
frank than to fix the attention on the lies. If he can be made to
realize that his happiness is more likely to be assured through
friendly and sincere relations, the temptation to use lies will be

One type of lying that is very irritating and very hard to meet is
that known as prevarication. This consists in telling a part of a
truth, or even a whole truth, in such a way as to convey a false
impression, and is most common at about twelve or thirteen years.
When a child resorts to prevarication he is already old enough to
know the difference between a truthful statement and a false
statement. Indeed, it is when he most keenly realizes this that he
is most likely to prevaricate, for this is but a device by which the
childish mind attempts to achieve an indirect purpose and at the
same time keep his peace with his conscience. It is when he already
has a certain fear of lying, and is not yet thoroughly sincere and
truth-loving, that he will come home from the truant fishing party
and ingeniously tell you that a "friend of Harry's" caught the fish,
instead of saying that he himself did it. His conscience is quite
satisfied with the reflection that he _is_ a friend of Harry's.
In this stage of his career the child is quite capable of
understanding a direct analysis of what is essentially a deception,
and a good heart-to-heart talk that comes to a conclusion is about
the best thing he can get.

I hope you will not think, from what I have said, that I have been
trying to justify lying, or that I do not consider lying a serious
matter; nor, on the other hand, that you will consider a single
application of the remedies suggested sufficient to make any child
truthful. Thoroughgoing truthfulness comes hard and generally comes
late. But for the majority of children truthfulness is attainable,
although it will not be attained without a struggle. The finer
instincts often enough lead to violations of strict veracity; but
they may be made also to strengthen the feeling of scrupulous regard
for the truth.

I have tried to show that what we call a lie is _not_ always a
lie; and that some of the very methods we use in training our
children themselves produce lies. The inflicting of severe
punishments is one of the chief of these, and the most common lie is
that which is due to fear of punishment. Lies that arise from bad
habits should be treated by an attempt to remedy the bad habit. Lies
that arise from ignorance should be treated by attention to
necessary knowledge.

Even more important than the right kind of treatment for
untruthfulness is the necessity for an atmosphere in which the
spirit of truthfulness is all-pervading. Some day watch yourself and
notice how often you tell untruths to your child; how often he hears
you tell so-called "white lies" to your neighbors; how often he
hears you prevaricate and exaggerate. If you will keep track of
these things you will realize that it is a trifle absurd of you to
expect your child to be a strict speaker of the truth. Part of our
campaign against the lies of our children must therefore consist in
our attempt to establish truthful relations among adults, and
between adults and children.



The heroes of history and the heroes of fiction whom all of us like
to admire are the men and women who know no fear. But most of us
make use of fear as a cheap device for attaining immediate results
with our children. When Johnny hesitates about going upstairs in the
dark to fetch your work-basket, you remind him of Columbus, who
braved the trackless sea and the unknown void in the West, and you
exhort him to be a man; but when Johnny was younger you yourself
warned him that the Bogeyman would get him if be did not go right to
sleep. And it is not very long since the day when he tried to climb
the cherry tree and you attempted to dissuade him with the alarming
prophecy that he would surely fall down and break his neck.

Thus our training consists of countless contradictions: we set up
noble ideals to arouse courage and self-reliance--when that suits
our immediate purpose; and we frighten with threats and warn of
calamity when the child has the impulse to do what we do not wish to
have him do. This at once suggests the effect of fear upon character
and conduct. We instinctively call upon courage when we want the
child _to do_ something; we call upon fear when we want to
_prevent action_. In other words, bravery stimulates, whereas
fear paralyzes.

The human race is characterized by an instinct of fear. Very young
infants exhibit all the symptoms of fear long before they can have
any knowledge or experience of the disagreeable and the harmful
effects of the things that frighten them. Thus a sudden noise will
make the child start and tremble and even scream. And all through
life an unexpected and loud noise is likely to startle us. An
investigation has shown that thunder is feared much more than
lightning. Children will laugh at the flashes of lightning, but will
cower before the roaring thunder.

The feeling of fear is closely associated with what is _unknown_. It
is not noise in general that frightens the children, but an
unexpected noise from an unknown source. Indeed, the children like
noise itself well enough to produce it whenever they can by heating
drums, or barrels, or wash-boilers. The frightful thing about thunder
is that the cause remains a mystery, and it is frightful so long as
the cause _does_ remain a mystery, if the child lives to be a hundred
years old. During a thunder-storm children will picture to themselves
a battle going on above. Some think of the sky cracking or the moon
bursting, or conceive of the firmament as a dome of metal over which
balls are being rolled.

[Illustration: Neither are girls afraid to climb.]

The influence of the unknown explains also why that other great
source of fear, namely, darkness, has such a strange hold upon
children. Fear of darkness is very common and often very intense.
There are but few children who do not suffer from it at some time
and to some extent. This fear is frequently suggested by stories of
robbers, ghosts, or other terrors, but even children who have been
carefully guarded sometimes have these violent fears that cannot be
reasoned away.

In order to discover what it is about the darkness that frightens
children, a large number of women and men were asked to recall their
childish experiences with fear, and from the many instances given
the following may be used to illustrate the various terrors of the

One woman described her fears of "an indistinct living something,
black, possibly curly," which she feared would enter the room in the
darkness from somewhere under the bed. Another could see dark
objects with eyes and teeth slowly and noiselessly descending from
the ceiling toward her. One little boy, when he had finally overcome
fear, said to his father that he thought the dark to be "a large
live thing the color of black." A girl of nineteen said she
remembered that on going to bed she used to see little black figures
jumping about between the ceiling and the bed.

It is well known that the feeling of fear is often very intense
among children; and where it is due to ignorance it is not right to
laugh it away. Doing so affords no explanation. The ridicule may
cause the child to _hide_ his fear, but will not drive the
feeling away. Since the feeling of fear is so closely connected with
the strange and unknown, the only way that it may be directly
overcome is by making the child familiar with the objects that cause
such feelings.

In the case of young children with whom we cannot reason it is best,
wherever possible, to remove the cause or gradually to make the
child familiar with the darkness, or whatever it is that makes him
unhappy. One very young child became frightened when he was
presented with a Teddy bear. Every time the Teddy bear was produced
he would cry with terror. The mother was perplexed about what to do.
Now, as the Teddy bear is not a necessary part of the child's
surroundings, there is no reason why it cannot be removed altogether
and produced again upon some future occasion, when the child is old
enough to be indifferent to it. Very many children are frightened by
the touch of fur, or even of velvet; but this lasts only a short
time, and they soon learn to like dogs and cats.

The fear of darkness is different; we cannot eliminate darkness from
the child's experience, and we must patiently try to help the child
to overcome his fear, since he will suffer greatly so long as it
lasts. The help you give him will also constitute one more bond of
sympathy between you and your child, and we cannot have too many
such bonds.

One mother got her boy used to going into a dark room by placing
some candy on the farther window and sending him for that. Here the
child fixed his attention on the goal and had no time to think of
the terrors of the dark. After making such visits a few times the
boy became quite indifferent to the darkness.

Another ingenious mother gave her little daughter who was afraid a
tiny, flat, electric spotlight which just fitted into the pocket of
her pajama jacket She took it to bed with her, slipped it under the
pillow, and derived such comfort from it that the whole family was
relieved. The child soon outgrew her timidity.

A child who from infancy has been accustomed to going to sleep in
the dark and suddenly develops a fear of it ought to be indulged to
the extent of having a light for a few minutes to show him that
there is nothing there to be afraid of. It may take a few evenings
and several disagreeable trips to the child's bedroom, but in the
end he will be victorious and you will have helped him to win the

A child that is not in good health is likely to be possessed by his
fears much longer than one who is well. In the latter case there is
a fund of energy to go exploring, and the child thus becomes more
readily acquainted with his surroundings, and as his knowledge grows
his fears vanish. Again, the sickly child has not the energy to
fight his fears, as has the healthy child. Indeed, the high spirits
of the healthy child often lead him to seek the frightful, just for
the exhilaration he gets from the sensation.

The period of most intense fears is between the ages of five and
seven, and while imaginative children naturally suffer most, they
are also the ones that can call up bright fancies to cheer them.
Robert Louis Stevenson must have had a lovely time in the dark,
seeing circuses and things, as he tells us in his poem which begins:

All night long and every night
When my mamma puts out the light
I see the circus passing by
As plain as day before my eye, etc.

Although fear is a human instinct, it is not universal, and once in
a while we find a child who has no instinctive fear. If such a child
is not frightened he may remain quite ignorant of the feeling for
many years. I know a boy who, at the age of five, was unacquainted
with the sensation of fear, and, never having been frightened, also
did not know the meaning of the word "fear." He had heard it used by
other children and knew that it was something unpleasant, but when
one day at dinner he said to his mother, "You know, I think I am
afraid of spinach," meaning that he did not like it, it was evident
that the feeling of fear was quite foreign to him.

Many parents have a feeling of helplessness in the face of a trait
that is said to be "instinctive," as though there were some fatal
finality in that classification. But, while it is true that fear is
instinctive, it is equally true that it can often be successfully
fought by having recourse to other instinctive traits. Thus the
instinct of curiosity, which is more widespread even than the instinct
of fear, may be used to counteract the latter. Since fear rests so
largely on ignorance, curiosity is its enemy, because it dissipates
ignorance. A little boy who had a certain fear of the figures in the
mirror that were so vivid and yet so unreal used to try to come into a
room in which there was a large mirror, and steal upon the causes of
his curiosity unawares. His double was always there as soon as he, and
caught his eye; but the child lost his fear only after he became
familiar with the characters in the looking-glass. In the same way
curiosity will often compel the child to become gradually so well
acquainted with the source of his fears as to drive the latter quite
out of his experience.

We must be careful to avoid confusing fear and caution. Fear arises
from ignorance, and is not necessarily related to any real danger.
Caution, on the other hand, is a direct outcome of the knowledge of
danger. Two little boys were watching a young man shooting off
fire-crackers. Whenever a bunch was lit the older boy stepped away,
while the younger one held his ground. Someone taunted the older boy,
saying, "You see, Harry is not afraid, and you are." To which he very
sensibly replied, "I ain't afraid neither, but Harry doesn't know that
he might get hurt, and I do."

Therefore, while we do not wish our children to be cowards, neither
do we want them to feel reckless. Caution and courage may well go
together in the child's character. Constantly warning the child
against possible danger does not develop caution; it is more likely
to destroy all spontaneous action. Too many mothers are always
saying to their children, "Don't do this, you might hurt yourself,"
or "Don't go to the stable, the horse may kick you," and so on. If a
child is properly taught, he will get along with the ordinary
knowledge concerning the behavior of things and animals that might
be injurious, and he will learn to be careful with regard to these
without being constantly admonished and frightened.

The fear of being considered afraid has its evil side as well as its
good side. While it may often make the child "affect the virtue"
when he has it not, it does, on the other hand, make many a boy and
girl, especially in the early teens, concede to the demands of
prevailing fashions in misconduct, when the conscience and the
knowledge of right and wrong dictate a different course. The taunt
"you dassent" is stronger than the still small voice saying "_thou
must not_." And so Harry plays truant for the first time not so
much because he is tired of school, or because the smell of the
young spring allures him, as because Tommy "dares" him to go
swimming on the risk of getting caught and licked. Harry yields for
fear of being called a "cowardy custard."

It is important to guard against the moral effect of fear when it is
directed against the judgments of others. By always referring the
child to "what others will think" of him, we are likely to make
moral cowards. A child can be taught to refer to his own conscience
and to his own judgment, and, if he has been wisely trained, his
conscience and judgment will be at least as effective guides in his
relations with human beings as his attempt to avoid misconduct for
fear of what others will think or say.

The use of fear as a means of discipline is being discarded by all
thoughtful parents and teachers. We have learned that authority
maintained by fear is very short-lived; when a child gets past a
certain age, the obedience based upon fear of authority is almost
certain to turn into defiance. The fear of punishment leads directly
to untruthfulness and deception; parents who rely upon affection and
good-will to assure the right conduct of their children get better
results than those who terrorize them.

Fear and hatred are closely connected, and in cultivating fear we
are fostering a trait that may in a critical moment turn to hatred.
The only things that we should teach our children to fear are those
we should be willing to have them hate. Let your children learn to
fear and hate all mean and selfish acts, all cunning and deception,
all unfairness and injustice. But even better than teaching them to
hate these vices, teach them to love and admire and to aspire to
realize the positive virtues.

When we observe the undesirable physical effects of fear, such as
the effect upon the heart and blood-vessels, the effect upon the
nerve currents, etc., we can hardly expect it to have a beneficial
effect upon the mental or moral side of the child's nature. Fear
always cramps and paralyzes; it never broadens or stimulates. All
the progress made by our race has been accomplished by those who
were _not_ afraid: the men and women of broad vision and
independent, fearless action. Every mother has lurking in some
corner of her heart the fond hope that her children will in some way
contribute to the advancement of humanity, to make our life here
better worth living. To contribute in this way, our children must be
without fear.



When you have had a scene with your disobedient Robert, you are apt
to wonder how Mrs. Jones ever manages to make her children obey so
nicely. If all secrets were made public, you would know that Mrs.
Jones has often wished that she could make her children mind as
nicely as do yours. For we always imagine that making children mind
is the one thing that other mothers succeed in better than we do.

Why is it that we consider obedience of such great importance in the
bringing up of our children? Is it because obedience itself is a
supreme virtue which we desire to cultivate in our children? Or is
it because we find it convenient to receive obedience from those
with whom we have to deal?

That obedience is a virtue cannot be denied. But it is a virtue only
under special kinds of human relationship. The obedience required of
a fireman or a sailor is of the same kind as that which we demand of
a child exposed to a danger that he does not see. The work of the
fireman and of the sailor is such that these people must be
constantly prepared to obey instantly the orders given by those in
authority over them. The life of the child, however, is such as to
make his work or his safety depend upon his obedience only under
exceptional circumstances. To justify our demand for _habitual_
obedience, we must find better reasons than the stock argument so
often given, namely, that in certain emergencies the instant
response to a command may result in saving the child from injury or
even from death.

The need for obedience lies closer to hand than an occasional
emergency which may never arise. In all human relationships there
come occasions for the exercise of authority. There is no doubt that
in the relations between parents and child the parent--or elder
person--should be the one in authority, on account of his greater
experience and maturer judgment, quite apart from any question of
sentiment or tradition. But if you wish to exercise authority, you
must make sure to deserve it. Laws and customs give parents certain
authority over their children, but well we know that too few of them
are able to make wise use of this authority.

Not only from the side of our own convenience, but also from the
side of the child's real needs, we must give the young spirit
training in obedience. The child that does not get the constant
support of a reliable and firm guide misses this support; the child
is happier when he is aware of having near-by an unfailing
counsellor, one who will decide aright what he is to do and what he
is not to do. But when I say that the obedient child is happier than
the disobedient one, I do not mean merely that the latter gets into
mischief more frequently, or that the former receives more marks of
affection from the parents. There is involved something more
important than rewards and punishments. The young child would really
rather obey than be left to his own decisions. When he has no one to
tell him what to do, or to warn him against what he must not do, the
child feels his helplessness. And there is valuable tonic for the
child's body as well as for his will in the comfortable
consciousness of a superior authority upon which he can safely lean.

As the child becomes older he begins to assert his own desires in a
more positive fashion, and at about two and a half to three years
the problem of obedience takes on a new aspect. For now the child
has had experience enough to enable him to have his own purposes,
and these often come in conflict with the wishes of the mother.
Should obedience be now demanded? And should it be insisted upon?
There is more involved in this problem than the convenience of
administering the household, or the immediate safety and well-being
of the child. There is involved the whole question of the child's
future attitude toward life. Shall the child become one who
habitually obeys the commands of others, without questioning,
without resisting, and so perhaps become a pliant tool in the hands
of powerful but unscrupulous men? Or shall he be allowed to go his
own way and over-ride the wishes of others, to become, perhaps, a
wilful victim of his own whims and moods, presenting a stubborn
resistance to overwhelming forces that will in the end crush him?

In the case of the very young child absolute obedience must be
required, for the reason that the child is not in a position to
assume the responsibility for his conduct. The will of the mother
must be followed for the child's own safety and health, for the
child has no intelligence or experience,--that is, judgment,--or
purpose to guide him. He has only blind impulses that may often be
harmless but are never reliable. So the first need is for training
in regularity, and this is possible only under the guidance of the
mother or nurse, who _knows_ what is to be done, or not done,
and whose authority must be absolute. So the child must first of all
learn to obey. Later he must learn what and whom to obey.

Recognizing, then, in full the value of obedience, we must be
careful not to exaggerate it and consider it a cardinal virtue.
Obedience is far from being a fundamental virtue. On the contrary,
once established as a ruling principle in the household or anywhere
else, it is easily carried far enough to become a source of positive
harm. To obey means to act in accordance with another's wishes. To
act in this manner does not call upon the exercise of judgment or
responsibility, and too many grow up without acquiring the habit of
using judgment and without acquiring a sense of responsibility. They
are only too willing to leave choice and decision to others.
Decision of character and habitual obedience do not go well
together. Moreover, it is now coming to be more fully recognized
that the progress of society depends not upon closer obedience to
the few natural leaders, but upon the exercise of discretion and
judgment on the part of an ever larger number of those who are not

There may be a still greater danger in requiring so-called implicit
obedience of every child. We have learned from modern studies of the
human mind that _doing_ is the outcome of _thinking_ and
_feeling_. When we constantly force children to do things that
have no direct connection with their thoughts and feelings, or when
we prevent actions which follow naturally from their thoughts and
feelings, we are interfering with the orderly working of the child's
mind. We force children to act in ways unrelated to their thoughts
and feelings, and as a result we have many men and women of fine
sentiment and lofty thought who never let their ideas and sentiments
find expression in effective action. In other words, the effect upon
the mind of "thoughtless minding" is not a healthy one.

A large amount of disobedience arises from the fact that the child's
attention and interest are so different from an adult's. The little
girl who is said to have given her name as "Mary Don't" illustrates
this. Mary does a great many things in the course of a day, impelled
by curiosity and the instinct to handle things. Most of her
activities are harmless; but when she touches something that you
care about, you command her to let it alone. This is quite proper.
Very often, however, she is told to stop doing things that are quite
indifferent, and that satisfy her natural craving for activity
without being in the least harmful. Being interfered with
constantly, she soon comes to consider all orders arbitrary and--
disobedience results.

The other side of the problem is seen when a child is told to do
something when he is preoccupied with his own affairs. You may tell
him a second time; very likely you raise your voice. The third time
you fairly shout. This is undignified and it is also unnecessary.
For Bobby has _heard_ the order from the first; but he has not
_attended_ to your wishes. In such cases there is no primary
disobedience; but a frequent repetition of such incidents can easily
lead Bobby to become quite indifferent to your orders; then
disobedience is habitual. The child that has acquired the habit of
ignoring the mother's wishes will not suddenly begin to obey orders
when the emergency comes.

From these two cases we may see that it is important to get first
the child's habit of attending to what is said to him--by making
everything that is said to him _count_. In the second place,
the child must be taught to feel that what he is directed to do is
the best thing to do.

For getting the child to obey we must keep constantly in mind the
idea that we are working for certain habits. Now, a habit is
acquired only through constant repetition of a given act or a given
kind of behavior. The first rule for the parent should therefore be
to be absolutely consistent in demanding obedience from the child.
If you call to the children in the nursery to stop their racket
(because father is taking a nap) and fail to insist upon the
quietness because father just whispers to you that he is not
sleeping, you have given the children practice in _disobedience_. If
they are to be allowed to go on with the noise, this should be because
you openly permit them to go on with their noisy fun, and not because
they may heedlessly disregard your wishes. Direct disobedience is not
to be overlooked under any circumstances. It is true that parents
often give orders that had better not be carried out; but the remedy
is not in allowing the children to disobey, but in thinking twice or
thrice before giving a command, or in agreeing with them upon a course
of action without giving commands at all. By giving no orders that are
unnecessary or that are arbitrary, the child will come in time to feel
that your interferences with his own impulses are intended for his own

[Illustration: Only a good reason can warrant calling an absorbed
child from his occupation.]

We frequently tell the children that we want them to obey "for their
own good." If this were true, we should have little difficulty in
obtaining obedience, for most children instinctively follow orders and
suggestions. It is only when we abuse this instinct by too _frequent_
and _capricious_ and _thoughtless_ commands for our own convenience
that the children come to revolt at our orders.

There are great differences among children in the readiness with
which they adopt suggestions or follow orders. Some children are
easily dissuaded from a line of action in which they are engaged.
Their attention is not very closely filed, and they are easily
distracted, and may be sent from one thing to another without
resenting the interruptions. Such children quickly learn to obey,
and some seldom offer resistance to suggestion; but they deserve no
special praise or credit for their perfect obedience, neither do
their parents deserve special credit for having "trained" such
children. On the other hand, there are children who set their hearts
very firmly upon the objects of their desire, and who cannot easily
stop in the middle of a game or in the middle of a sentence just to
put some wood in the stove. Such children will appear to be
"disobedient," although they are just as affectionate and as loyal
and as dutiful as the others. When you see a child that is a model
of obedience, you cannot conclude that he has been well trained; nor
is frequent disobedience an indication of neglect on the part of the
parents. But the majority of children will fall in the class of
those whose obedience or disobedience is a matter of habit resulting
from the firmness and consistency and considerateness of the

Unless a child has become altogether submissive, he will not obey
all orders with equal readiness. Alice, who is not very active, does
not display any great virtue if she sits still when you tell her to.
On the other hand, sitting still means to Harry a supreme effort as
well as a great sacrifice; to demand this of him we should have a
very good reason. I know children who are models of obedience in
most matters, but who scream with protest and resentment when it
comes to taking medicine or even to being examined by a physician.
On the other hand, a little boy I know, to whom obedience in general
comes very hard, has such respect for the wisdom of physicians and
for the helpfulness of medicines that he will undergo a thorough
examination and will swallow the bitterest of drugs without even
making a wry face.

If you will look about among your acquaintances, I think you will
find that those who get really intelligent obedience from their
children are the ones who make the least ado about it, and perhaps
never use the time-worn phrase, "Now you _must_ mind me." It is
the weak person who is constantly forced to make appeals to his
authority. It is the weak person who is constantly threatening the
child with terrible retributions for his disobedience. Yet none are
quicker to detect the weakness, none know better that the threats
will not be carried out, than those very children whose obedience we
desire thus to obtain.

Many of us get into the habit of placing too many of our wishes in
the form of commands or orders to do or not to do, instead of
requesting as we would of an equal. Wherever possible we should
suggest to the child a line of conduct, so as to make the child feel
that he is making a choice. You may say to Johnnie, "Go and get me a
pail of water." Or you may say, "Johnnie, please get me a pail of
water." Or you may say, "Johnnie, mother needs a pail of water." You
will perhaps get just as good service in one case as in another; but
the ultimate effect on Johnnie may make the difference between a man
who finds work a necessary evil and one who finds work a means of

From men who have been successful in managing industries and from
women who have managed large households with the least amount of
friction we can learn that there is a way of obtaining obedience
without imposing upon the minds of those under our authority. Whenever
you wish to depart from the usual routine, there is a good reason for
the change, and in most cases the reason can be stated with the
request. When this is done the order loses the appearance of
arbitrariness. If you say to Mary, "I wish you would go out without me
this afternoon, as I have some important sewing to finish," you will
most likely meet with ready acquiescence. If, however, you say, "You
must go alone this afternoon, I can't go with you," and if when Mary
dares ask "Why?" you say, "Because I tell you to," you will certainly
sow the seeds of rebellion. No self-respecting child will accept such
a reason. If at least you make an appeal to your superior judgment,
and say, "Mother knows best," there would be something gained. For now
you are shifting the basis of the child's conduct from your position
of power over her to the highest authority within our reach, namely,
good judgment. The child is thus learning to obey not a _person_, but
a _principle_.

Expressing your wishes in the form of a request, modified wherever
possible by a reason, does not mean that you are to give the child a
reason for everything he is asked to do; for if the child has
respect for you and feels your sympathy with him, he will do many
things that are requested without understanding any reason, but
confident, when he does think of the matter, that you have a good
reason. In other words, where there have been close sympathy and
habitual obedience the parent becomes, in the child's mind, the
embodiment of those ideals or principles toward which he feels

In the same way men and women who give arbitrary commands may get
from their assistants formal obedience, but they never get hearty
and intelligent cooperation. Indeed, it is no doubt because we still
cling to the traditions of earlier times, when personal loyalty and
military types of virtue were so prominent in the minds of men, that
we are so slow to learn the need for cooperation in modern times.
The need to-day is for leaders who will inspire their fellows with
enthusiasm for cooperation, who will wisely guide their fellows in
effective service; and of the corresponding virtues in the followers
obedience is _not_ the first.

And yet we must recognize all the time that there are occasions when
a person must do what he is told to just because he is told; and it
were well for one who has to take orders to be able to do so without
fret and bitterness. The child should, however, come sooner or later
to distinguish between those commands that arise out of real
necessities and those that arise from the passion or caprice of
other persons. To the former he must learn to submit with the best
possible grace, with an effort at understanding, or even with a
desire to assimilate to himself. To the latter he should submit,
when forced to, only under protest, and with the resolve to make
himself free.

That confidence is a strong factor in obtaining obedience is well
illustrated by many boys in every village and town. These boys are
notoriously disobedient at home and at school, but on the baseball
field they will follow the orders of the captain without question.
They feet that his commands are not arbitrary or thoughtless, that
they are not petty and personal, but really for the greatest
advantage to those concerned. If we can inspire in our children such
confidence in our motives, we shall have little worry about the
problem of obedience.

In the training of the child we often forget that the child will
some time outgrow his childishness. We must consider not only what
is the best kind of behavior for a _child_, but what kinds of
habits it is best for a child to develop in view of his some day
becoming an adult human being. We want men and women to develop into
free agents, that is, people who act in accordance with the dictates
of their own conscience and their best judgment. With this aim in
view, how much emphasis should then be placed on the matter of

Since the infant has no will, he must be guided by others for his
own safety and for the development of his judgment. But we do not
wish him to retain his habits of obedience to others long enough to
deprive him of his independence of thought and action. The growing
child must learn to repress his own many and conflicting impulses,
and to select those that he learns to be best. But if he obeys
always, he cannot acquire judgment and responsibility. He learns
through obedience to value various kinds of authority, and
eventually to choose his authorities; his final authority being his
conscience or principle, not impulse or whim. He learns also by
questioning the principle of obedience to persons, and comes to
guide his conduct by principle or conscience, and not by custom or

We do not wish to train our children for submission, but for judgment
and discernment. We must, therefore, respect the child's
individuality. We are, however, not obliged to choose between blind,
unquestioning obedience and the undignified situations which arise
from habitual disobedience. Obedience to persons as a settled habit
is bad. The ability to obey promptly and intelligently when the
commander's authority is recognized,--to respond to suggestion and
guidance,--is desirable. Obedience is a _tool_ the parent may use
with wisdom and discretion. It is not an _end_ in discipline or in

We should educate _through_ obedience,--that is, cultivate the
habit of intelligent response,--but we must not educate _for_
obedience,--that is, the habit of submitting to the will of others.



After all, what is there about a person that really counts? All
experience and all philosophy agree that it is the character; and
the central fact in character is the _will_. Yet the will is
not something in the soul that exists by itself, as a "faculty" of
the mind. The will is a product of all the other processes that go
on in the mind, and can not be trained by itself. Neither can the
will of the child be expected to come to its own through neglect.
Indeed, although the will can not be trained by itself, its training
is even more important than the training of the intellect. The great
defect in our moral training has been that we have generally
attempted to train our children too exclusively through precepts and
mottoes and rules, and too little through activities that lead to
the formation of habits. The will depends upon the intellect, but it
cannot be trained through _learning_ alone, though learning can
be made to help. There are, as we all know, only too many learned
men and women with weak wills, and there are many men and women of
strong character who have had but little book learning. The will
expresses itself through action, and must be trained through action.
But action is impelled by feelings, so the will must be trained also
through the feelings. All right education is education of the will.
The will is formed while the child is learning to think, to feel,
and to do.

We judge of character by the behavior. But our behavior is not made
up entirely of acts of the will. Hundreds of situations occur that
do not require individual decision, but are adequately met by acts
arising from habit, or even from instinct. The experience of the
race has given us many customs and manners which are for the most
part satisfactory, and which the child should learn as a matter of
course. It is thus important that the child should acquire certain
habits as early in life as possible. These habits will not only
result in saving of energy, but will also give assurance that in
certain situations the child will act in the right way. If it is
worth while to have a person knock on a door before entering an
occupied room, or if it is worth while to have people look to the
left and to the right before crossing a thoroughfare, the child can
acquire the habit of doing these things always and everywhere
without stopping to make a decision on each occasion.

But we must remember that in guiding the child to the formation of
these habits, example and practice are far more important than
precepts and rules. Example is more important because the child is
very imitative; one rude act on the part of some older member of the
household will counteract the benefit of many verbal lessons in
politeness. Practice is important because it is through constant
repetition of an act that it at last becomes automatic, and is
performed without thought or attention. In fact, this is the only
way in which a habit can be formed. Having acquired habits about the
common relations of life that do not call for new adjustment every
time they are met, the mind is left free to apply itself to problems
that really need special consideration. Imagine how wasteful it
would be if we had to attend to every movement in dressing
ourselves! You can easily see that there are a great many acts that
bring us in relation to others and that should be as mechanical and
automatic as dressing and undressing.

It is when we pass from the routine acts which are repeated every
day that we come to the field in which the will holds sway. There is
nothing more helpful in the training of the will than the frequent
performance of tasks requiring application, self control, and the
making of decisions. The routine of fixed duties in a large and
complex household furnished to our grandparents, during their youth,
just the opportunity for the formation of habits in attending to
what needed to be done, without regard to the momentary impulse or
mood. Many of our modern homes are so devoid of such opportunities
that there is great danger that our children will have altogether
too much practice in following their whims and caprices--or in doing

It is just because the modern home is so devoid of the opportunities
for carrying on these character-building activities that provision
must be made in that other great educational institution, the
school. All the newer activities of the school, the shop work and
the school garden, the domestic science and the sewing, the
recreation centres, the art and the music--all these so-called "fads
and frills" against which the taxpayer raises his voice in protest--
these prove to be even more important in the making of men and women
out of children than the respectable and acceptable subjects of the
old-fashioned school; for these activities are but organized and
planned substitutes for the incidental doings of the childhood of
other days. They are the formal substitutes for the activities by
means of which a past generation of men and women acquired that
will-training and that insight into relations which distinguished
their characters.

[Illustration: Habits of careful work furnish a good foundation for
the will.]

All systematic and sustained effort, whether in organizing a game or
carrying a garden through from the sowing to the harvest, whether in
making a dress or a chest of drawers, has its moral value as
training in application, self-control, and decision, quite distinct
from its contribution to knowledge or skill.

Two or three generations ago no thought whatever was given to the
child's point of view; the authority of parents was absolute, and
there were many unhappy childhoods. To-day we wish to avoid these
errors, and by studying the child we hope to adjust our treatment to
his nature and his needs.

But we must be on our guard against the danger of going to the
extreme of attributing to the child ideas and instincts which he
does not possess. In former times it was considered one of the
mother's chief duties to "break the child's will"; to-day, realizing
the importance of a strong will, we are in danger of assuming that a
child's stubbornness or wilfulness is a manifestation of a strong
will, and we hesitate to interfere with it.

This is an entirely false assumption. In the first place, a child up
to the age of about three years has no will; he can only have strong
desires or impulses, or pet aversions. During this period the
mother's will must be his will, and there can be no clash of wills.
But, to be his will, the mother must guide the child in accordance
with _his_ needs, _his_ instincts,--that is, in accordance
with his nature, and not in accordance with her convenience or
caprice. She must bear constantly in mind that the child is not
merely a miniature man or woman, but that each stage in his
development represents a distinct combination of instincts, impulses
and capacities. If, for example, your little girl is digging in the
dirt--a very _natural_ and healthful activity--and you stop her
for no better reason than that she will soil her hands or clothes,
you are unduly interfering with her, and if you continue in that
way, you will either make a defiant, disagreeable youngster or a
servile, cringing slave to arbitrary authority. On the other hand,
if Johnny should wish to play with a knife or a box of matches, it
manifestly devolves upon you to take these objects away from him, no
matter how strong his desire to have them may be. But it also
devolves upon you to see that such harmful objects are not very easy
for him to obtain and to see to it that plenty of other harmless
things are provided for him.

This suggests a common mistake parents and loving friends often make
in meeting the uncomfortable assertions of the child's will. When
the child cries for the moon, you try to get him interested in a
jack-in-the-box; and when he wants a fragile piece of bric-a-brac--
you try to substitute for it a tin whistle. With a very young child,
that is about all you can do. But a time comes when the child is old
enough to know the difference between that upon which he has set his
heart and that which you have substituted for it in his hand. At
this time you must stop offering substitutes. The child is now old
enough to understand that some things are _not_ to be had, and
that crying for them will not bring them. To offer him a substitute
is now not only an insult to his intelligence, but it is
demoralizing to his will; it makes for a loose hold upon the object
of his desire--and it is the firmness of this hold that is the
beginning of a strong will. It does not take the child long to learn
that he is not to have a knife or a lighted lamp; nor does it take
him long to get into the way of scattering his desires, so that he
has no will at all.

In the second place, the assumption that stubbornness is a sign of
strength is false, even for older children. Stubbornness is, in
fact, a sign of weakness. It indicates that the child is either
incapable of adjusting himself to the appeal that is made to his
judgment or feelings, or that his weakness will make it impossible
for him in the presence of his immediate desire to recognize the
superior judgment and authority of his elders, at home or in school.
It takes much more will power to give in than to carry one's point.
But we must always make sure that _we_ are not the obstinate
and wilful ones. If you have a very good reason for not wanting
Helen to go to the dance--even if she is too young to understand
that reason--you are perfectly justified in carrying your point. If
your reason is a wise one, she will come to see it in time and will
honor and respect you all the more for not having given in to her
impetuous and immature desire. If she gives in gracefully, because
she can understand the reasons, or just out of respect for your
wishes, having found your guidance wise before, hers as well as
yours is the triumph. The only thing of which we must make sure is
that we are right to the best of our understanding, and that we do
not insist upon having our way just because,--oh, well, just because
we have a right to have our way, being in authority. As G. Stanley
Hall, the father of child study in this country, has so well said:
"Our will should be a rock, not a wave; our requirements should be
uniform, with no whim, no mood or periodicity about them." Having
made sure of ourselves, we need not fear that training our wilful
children will weaken their will.

We must not neglect to consider the very close relation that exists
between the health of the body and the health of the spirit. A
strong will, showing itself in ability to concentrate its efforts on
a chosen purpose, is not to be expected in a child whose muscles are
flabby and whose nerves quickly tire. Since the will expresses
itself in action, it can be best cultivated in a body capable of
vigorous action.

The young child is not only a bundle of bones and muscles; it is
also a bundle of impulses. And some of these impulses lead to
actions that are quite desirable, while others lead to actions that
are indifferent, and still others to actions that are decidedly
undesirable. But, so far as the child is concerned, he has no means
of discriminating between one kind of impulse and another. He would
just as soon carry poison to his mouth as good food; he would rather
grasp at a flame than at a harmless rattle. One of the essentials
then becomes suitable knowledge. As the child grows older he should
gradually learn that knowledge is necessary to wise choice. It is
not so much the knowledge of what is commonly called "good" or
"evil" as the knowledge of relations and needs that will enable him
to choose ends, and to choose effective means toward those ends. Yet
we cannot begin too early to have such considerations as "It is
right," or "It is best," rather than "I want it," influence the
conduct of our children. But, in order to do the right, we have to
_know_ the right, and the children who get these moral lessons
in their homes are fortunate indeed. It is here the child should
acquire his feeling of loyalty to duty, for such lessons learned in
the home are the most impressive and the most enduring. We must also
make certain that children all through their lives at home are given
opportunity for choice and decision.

In this matter of making decisions there is a great deal of
individual variation, and even distinct types of persons have been
described, according to the way they reach decisions. At one extreme
is the child--or the grown person--who apparently without any effort
balances the reasons that may be given on the opposite sides of a
problem, and makes his choice solely on the strength of the reasoned
argument. Herbert Spencer tells in his Autobiography how, when a
young man, he wrote down, as in a ledger, all the advantages and all
the disadvantages he could think of in regard to the married state.
After checking off the items on the two sides of the account, he
found a balance in favor of remaining single. Later in life he had
his doubts as to whether the decision was a wise one, but it was the
best he could make under the circumstances, for he made use of all
the knowledge at his command and stood by his reasoned decision.

At the opposite extreme is the person who resolves to do what is
right (although he may have no systematic means of discovering what
is right), and carries out his resolution at the cost of frequently
painful effort. To such persons there is a kind of association
between what is easy and what is wrong on the one hand, and between
what is difficult and what is right on the other. Our early Puritans
were men of this type, and there is much to admire in the sturdiness
with which they crushed their impulses in the resolve to carry out
their ideals of the right.

Almost complete lack of will is shown by those who reach their
decisions--by not reaching them. That is, there are those doubting,
hesitating souls who postpone making a decision until action is
forced upon them by some accidental event. These let other persons
or the course of events make their decisions for them. There is such
a delicate balancing of the desires--usually because all desires are
equally weak--that none stands out to dominate the choice of a line
of action. George wanted to go to the circus, and had saved enough
from his weekly allowance; but he was saving up to buy a rifle, and
he was undecided now as to whether he would go to the circus or add
to his savings and get the rifle so much the sooner. The sight of
some other boys on the way to the circus made the decision for him.
This decision was not a reasoned one, but an accidental one.

Similar in its weakness is the will that reaches no decisions except
as the balance is upset by later impulses from within. The girl or
boy who allows a slight headache or a tired feeling to make
important decisions cannot be said to have much strength of
character. On Saturday Mabel was to have gone on a steamboat
excursion--or on a visit to a friend, to stay over night. When she
went to sleep Friday night she had not yet made up her mind; but she
finally went to visit her friend because she had over-slept and was
too late to join the excursion party.

Children that have not acquired habits of making definite decisions
will find themselves badly adrift when they reach the adolescent
period, with its rapid changes of mood and the masses of frequently
conflicting impulses. To be able to restrain each impulse to action
as it arises, and to hold it in abeyance until all the alternatives
have been canvassed, is a power that comes only after years of
thought and practice.

However, it is not enough to be able to refrain from doing what one
is impelled to do. Many mothers think that they are training the
child's will when they prohibit the taking or handling of various
things about the house. It is true that the child should learn when
quite young to avoid certain objects. But if the prohibitions are
too general the child will be frequently tempted to break the rules,
and then he will fall in his own esteem; or he will observe the rule
and have too little outlet for his activity and initiative. The will
does not thrive on what the child is _prevented_ from doing,
but on what the child _actually does do_.

The child's need is for practice in doing and in choosing what he
will do. When activities or games are suggested to a younger child,
it is best to give him a choice of two or three. When the children
are older they can be consulted about the purchase of their clothes,
and they ought gradually to assume their share--a small one at
first--of the responsibility of the household. As early as possible
they should have their own money to spend, as in no other way can
they learn the use of judgment and decision in the spending of
money. In the households wherein children do not have such
opportunities, but in which the parents rule everything with a high
hand, the children grow up very inefficient in managing their time
and their money; they have become accustomed to being ruled and
flounder helplessly when called upon to decide for themselves.

The will, which is at the heart of moral conduct and which is so
much in need of training, cannot, as we have seen, be trained as a
thing by itself. All training and all education must contribute to
the training of the will. Still, there are some definite points that
we can profitably keep in mind when we are concerned with the
child's will:

First of all comes sound bodily health.

Then there must be sound habits for most of the everyday activities,
that the will may not be dissipated upon trivial matters, and that
the common duties and virtues may be assured.

There must be constant practice in sustained effort and
concentration upon useful tasks, in order to fix the habit of
holding the attention upon the chosen purpose.

We must not confuse wilfulness with strength of will; and, finally,

There must be constant opportunity for making decisions that the
child may feel responsibility in making of decisions as the highest
type of conduct.



"Those children will not listen to reason," said a friend whom I
discovered in an agitated state of mind one afternoon, when I came
to make a call; and she was by no means the first to make this
observation. Indeed, it is one of the characteristics of children
that they will not listen to reason,--that is, _our_ reason.
Which is not, however, saying anything against the children's good
sense, for people with much more experience have refused to listen
to reason--the children's reason.

Margaret told me her troubles. Her sister had rented a farm near the
city for the summer and had offered to let Walter spend his vacation
with her in exchange for such bits of help as he was able to render.
But Walter had made up his mind to go to work in an office that
summer, and, although he loved the country and had always wanted to
drive a horse and go fishing, his mother's attempts to convince him
of the wisdom of her choice were without avail. He would not listen
to her reasons. She pointed to the health argument, to the
opportunities for play, the free time, the driving, the fishing, and
the fruit without limit. Knowing Walter as I did, I could not
understand why it was so hard to convince him.

But every story has at least two sides to it, and of this story I
had heard only one. The mother was so concerned with giving her son
her good reasons for going to the country that she never even
thought of finding out his equally good reasons for going to the
office. Presently, however, Walter came in, and my first leading
question brought out the true secret of the disagreement.

"What is there about working in an office," I asked the boy, "that
you care so much about?"

"Oh, it isn't working in an office that I care about; I just want to
earn some money. I never did make any money myself, and now I have a
good chance and mother won't let me."

This was really too simple; here two sane persons had spent several
days on the problem without coming to any solution. By placing
Walter's services on the farm on a financial basis and making him
pay for his board he managed to spend his vacation, healthfully and
happily and profitably in every sense; and everybody was satisfied.

Over and over again we are impressed with the fact that most
disagreements between people--whether between adults or between
children, or between children and adults--are due to misunderstandings.
As soon as parents resolve not to treat their children arbitrarily,--
that is, on the basis of their superior strength and authority,--they
adopt a plan of "reasoning" with them. This plan might work very well,
if the parents only understood the children's way of reasoning, if
they but realized that the child does not reason as do adults, that he
reasons differently in each stage of his development.

Our manner of reasoning depends very closely upon our language. But
every significant word that we use has a distinct meaning in the
mind of the individual, depending altogether upon his experience. As
the experience of the child is very meagre, compared to that of the
grown-up person, it is no wonder that our everyday remarks are
constant sources of misunderstanding to children.

The little girl who had been frequently reproved for not using her
_right_ hand came to have a positive dislike for her other
hand, which she naturally understood to be _wrong_ hand, and
she did not wish to have anything wrong about her person. A boy was
trying to tell his sister the meaning of "homesick." "You know how
it feels to be seasick, don't you? Well, it's the same way, only
it's at home."

Children are apt to attach to a word the first meaning that they
learn in connection with it. Only with the increase of experience
can a word come to have more than one meaning. Moreover, the child
will apply what he hears with fatal exactness and literalness.

Two little girls were at a party and the older one found occasion to
slap her sister's hand. The hostess reproved her for this, whereupon
the little girl asked, "Isn't she my own sister?" The hostess had to
admit that she was. "Well, I heard papa say that he can do what he
likes with his own."

Doing what we like with our own meant to the child exactly what the
words said, without those qualifications which we naturally put in
because of our greater experience.

Children learn with wonder that mother was once a baby, and that
father was once a baby, and so on. Dr. Sully tells of the little
girl who asked her mother, "When everybody was a baby, then who
could be the nurse if they were all babies?" Thus shows real
reasoning power; it was not the child's fault that she had no
historical perspective, and so could not see the babyhoods of
different people in their proper relations in time.

A little boy who was beginning to read deciphered a sign in a
grocery store, "Families supplied." He asked his mother whether they
could not get a new baby there.

When Herbert was passing through the scissors stage he cut a hole in
his father's coat. The father scolded him for spoiling his suit;
Herbert calmly replied, "I did not cut your suit; I only cut the
coat." He resented this accusation, which in his mind was not merely
an exaggeration, but entirely false, since a suit is a suit and a
coat is a coat.

A little girl, while out with her nurse and brother, got lost by
separating herself from the nurse's side. When she was at last found
she was reprimanded for running away from the nurse. She felt that
she was being unjustly treated, for she said, "I did not run away; I
only _stood_ away," meaning, she had stepped around the corner
to look in a window. If she had been scolded for getting out of
sight of the nurse, she would have felt justly reproved; but,
accused of doing something she never did and never thought of
doing,--that is, running away,--she naturally resented this.

Those who have to deal with children in an intimate way cannot be
too scrupulous about how they use their words.

The logic of children often appears to us all wrong until we take
the trouble to see how they come to their queer conclusions.

The story is told of a boy who was sent to the circus in the
neighboring town by his uncle, who gave him an additional quarter
"so you can ride back in case it rains." Well, it did rain, and
Howard came back riding on the top seat, next to the driver, wet to
the skin. Now, any grown-up person knows why he was to ride back "in
case it rains"; but to Howard the association of ideas was directly
between raining and riding, and not between riding and coming home

This illustrates a very common difference between the reasoning of
children and that of adults. We _select_ ideas from a situation
and combine them and come to conclusions. The child combines ideas,
but he does not make any selection, and the simple explanation for
this lies in the fact that the child has not enough experience to
enable him to select what is significant. Thus a little girl, who
had been too boisterous in her play, was called in by her mother and
made to sit quietly in a chair for about ten minutes. At the end of
this time her mother asked her whether she would "be good now." The
child promised that she would, and was told that she might then go
out to play again. As she arose she affectionately turned to the
chair and said, "Thank you, dear chair, for making me so good."
Having been declared "good" after sitting in the chair, she
attributed the beneficent change in her behavior to the chair; and,
being a polite little girl, she thanked the chair.

Very often these simple types of reasoning have their humorous
aspects and we do not take them seriously. One winter a little boy
who had always gone to bed regularly (he was four and a half years
old then) began to call for some one to come to him after he was
supposed to be asleep. He wanted to sit up and play, he wanted to
get dressed, and he wanted something more to eat. This continued for
several evenings, and it seemed impossible to get him back into his
good habits. At last he was asked, "_Why_ do you want to get up
now?" and he answered at once, "Because it is winter now."

"Yes, it is winter now, but it is time for you to be asleep," he was

"But it says in the book that I must get up," he insisted.

"Which book?"

"I will show you," and he took from his shelf a copy of Stevenson's
"Garden of Verses," and turned to the picture opposite the poem that

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle light.

To him this meant that in winter, after going to bed, _at
night_, one must get up and dress. It is very likely many
children who have had this delightful poem read to them have
interpreted it in the same way, but probably very few parents have
taken the pains to trace their children's unaccountable
"misbehavior" at bedtime to such a source.

This same poem produced in another child quite a different train of
reasoning, for "Why did the little girl get up at night and sleep in
the daytime?" he asked, "Was she a trained nurse?" It then became
necessary to recall that an aunt of the child's, who _was_ a
trained nurse, often slept at home during the day, after having
worked with some patient at night.

There is no doubt that many of the crotchets and "perversities" of a
child have their origin in chains of reasoning that are perfectly
legitimate, in view of the past experiences of the young mind,
although not in harmony with the reasoning of more mature minds. The
parent spends much time and energy, and much heartburning,
sometimes, to overcome these whims. What is needed is a patient and
sympathetic attempt to discover how the child has come to his queer
ideas and desires.

The annoyance that children cause us with their questionings is due
very largely to the fact that we cannot answer their questions,
since the reasoning that prompts them is too searching. A little boy
shocked and vexed his grandmother, who was trying to teach him the
elements of theology, by asking "Who made God?" It is very likely
that every normal child has asked the same question in one form or
another. This attempt to reach back to the very beginning of causes
resembles in many ways the speculations of the mediaeval
metaphysicians, and should certainly not be discouraged. We need
not, on the other hand, make the effort to answer every question a
child may ask, for at a certain stage in his development he will get
the habit of asking questions without really caring for the answers.
But the questions are worth hearing, in most cases, just to help us
understand how the child _does_ reason. Some of the questions
indicate a great deal of reasoning of a very valuable kind. When the
little boy asks, "Why don't I see two things with my two eyes?" or
when the little girl looks up from her dolls and asks, "Am I real,
or just pretend, like my doll?" they show that they have been
thinking. When a child has passed through the metaphysical stage of
reasoning, he will be more interested in animals and other objects
of Nature; and his questions will have to do more with the operation
of processes--how he grows, and how fishes breathe in the water, and
how birds fly. Later, he wants to know how things work, what makes
the locomotive go, how the noise goes through the telephone, how the
incubator makes chickens come out of eggs. The reasoning of the
child may lead to weird conclusions, but it is real reasoning, and
can be improved not by being ridiculed, nor by being suppressed, but
by being sympathetically understood and encouraged.

Perhaps the most serious phase of the peculiarities of children's
reasoning appears with older children when it comes to reasoning
about right and wrong conduct. Professor Swift, of Washington
University, has made a careful study of this subject, from replies
given by many men to questions about their ideas as boys. It seems
that men who are irreproachable in their moral standards pass
through a stage in which they consider it legitimate fun to rob
orchards or to commit petty thefts.

Children draw fine distinctions between _wrong_ acts and acts
that are _not very wrong_, though they may not be _quite
right_. One man says, "I distinguished between _taking money_,
_real stealing_, and _taking fruit_." Another says of fruit
taking, "I only partly regarded it as stealing." One man writes,
"When a close-fisted employer refused to let me have my clothes at
cost, I pocketed enough of his change to bring my clothes down to
the cost mark." Few regarded taking money from their parents as
"very bad," and distinguished between such stealing and taking money
from strangers.

A boy of fifteen was reproved for holding his ear to the keyhole of
a room in which his mother and sisters were having an animated
discussion. The appellation "eavesdropper" did not disconcert him in
the least. On the contrary, he undertook to justify his conduct on
the ground that he was being discussed, and as he had no
"dictagraph" he was obliged to do the listening in person. The fact
that the dictagraph had been so frequently used for getting
information that was later used in court was to him a sufficient
justification of his conduct.

It is well known that all children pass through the stage
illustrated by these cases, in which they have the savage's
conception of right and wrong. For most children the difference
between going to the reformatory or jail and turning out decent men
and women is one of wholesome and sympathetic environment. Undue
severity, no less than bad example, confirms many a youth in these
habits--which should represent but a passing stage in his

Adults should not read their own ideas of morality into the acts of
their children and then catalogue them as right or wrong. Most
children's acts are neither right nor wrong: they are merely
expressions of feelings and ideas peculiar to the stage of
development. With young children ideas of right and wrong divide
themselves into acts which are permitted and those which are
forbidden. They have no conception of right and wrong beyond that.

Many an act that a boy commits, which we consider wrong, is but the
expression of the instincts of his age. Our duty consists in helping
him to pass through that stage without making permanent habits of
these temporary impulses. This help must not be given through
branding the acts as wicked or criminal, nor is moralizing itself
generally effective. Help must come through providing adequate
opportunities for play and games and work that will use up surplus
energy both of mind and body. Above all, help must come through the
healthy examples and the constant manifestation of high ideals in
the home.

Every normal child will in time respond to these influences. There
are, unfortunately, some children that will not develop beyond this
stage of primitive, savage instincts; but such abnormal children are
rare and we cannot deal with them here.

With the problem of reasoning, then, as with all other aspects of
child training, it is a question of understanding, of being in close
relations with one's children, and being able to fathom the workings
of their minds.



All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. And it is this same lack
of play that produces so many dull men and women; for the spirit of
play is the spirit of youth and spontaneity and joy. Yet work and
play have so much in common that it seems unfortunate indeed that
all of us have not learned to retain our youth when work becomes

I trust that there are few to-day who still believe that play is
wicked. If we desire our children to grow up into healthy and joyful
and moral men and women, then must we consider play a necessity of
life. For play is more than merely a pleasant means for passing the
time; it is a school of life, it is a means for physical, mental,
and moral education.

The young child, before he is old enough to play horse, or to
imitate other activities he sees going on around him, gets his play
from handling a rattle or a ball, from random movements of his legs
and arms, or from playing with his fingers and his toes. He derives
satisfaction from the sensations of touch and sight and sound, as
well as from the feeling of freedom and the sensation of his active
muscles. But this infantile play is not only satisfying to the
child; it is a means for learning the use of his little hands and
arms and legs. When the baby learns to crawl, and later to walk, he
derives pleasure from the exercise of his newly-acquired arts, and
at the same time attains perfection in the use of his limbs and in
the correlation of his muscles. He is also gaining strength with his
growth, for these muscles will not gain in strength unless they are
exercised. Of course, the child does not know about these advantages
of play; but the mother should know and give the growing child every
opportunity to exercise himself in every possible way; for thus
alone can he gain in strength, in endurance, and in confidence.

When the child is a little older his play takes on new forms, for he
is now deliberately _making_ things: the chairs become wagons
and animals, the corner of the room may be made into a lake, a
pencil or a button-hook is quite long enough for a fishing pole, and
a handful of beans may be converted into all kinds of merchandise,
coins for barter, a flock of birds, or seaside pebbles. That is, as
the child's experience broadens, he finds more to imitate, he
exercises his imagination more, and combines into more complex plays
the materials he finds about him. But all the time the child is
_working_, as much so as an artisan at his task; and all the
time the child is _learning_, more rapidly probably than if he
were at school; and all the time the child is _playing_, that
is, enjoying the outlet of his impulses.

[Illustration: Work is play.]

Play has been called the ideal type of exercise, because it is the
kind of exercise that occupies the whole child, his mental as well
as his physical side--and later, also, the moral side. In play the
exercise is regulated by the interests, so that, while there may be
extreme exertion, there is not the same danger of overstrain as is
possible with work that he is forced to do. In play the exercise is
carried on with freedom of the spirit, so that the flow of blood and
the feeling of exhilaration make for health.

When children begin to play at work their activities are not
entirely imitative, although the kind of work they choose will be
determined by the kinds of activities that go on about them. The
child has real interests in work; and these should be encouraged and
cultivated. The chief interest is, perhaps, the growing sense of
mastery over the materials which the child uses. He can make blocks
take on any form he pleases; although the first houses he tries to
build are apt to be just a random piling of his material, there
follows a growing deliberation and planning, so that he comes at
last to make what he has _intended_ to make, and not merely
produce an accidental result.

The earlier plays of the child are not at all in the nature of
games; there is not at first the need for a companion. There is no
special order in which the various acts of his play have to be
carried out. When he plays horse on a stick, or is a parade all by
himself, or plays house in the corner, a few simple movements are
repeated until the child is tired of them, or until something occurs
to shift his interest. Nor is there in these early plays a special
point that marks the end of the interest. In games, however, these
three factors are always present: it takes two or more to play a
game; there is a definite order or succession of events, and there
is a definite finish or climax. And as we watch the children at
their games we can see their whole mental and moral development
unfold before us, for nothing is more characteristic of a child's
stage of development than the games in which he is interested.

While we are content to let the younger children play as much as
they like--because very often the more they play, the less they
annoy us--we are all inclined to expect of the older children an
increasing share of work and a declining interest in play. Some of
us are even inclined to discourage the play instinct as the children
grow older, because we have come to think of play as something not
only frivolous and useless, but even a harmful waste of time. Now,
the educational value of play keeps pace with the development of the
child. That is to say, the child outgrows interest in games about as
fast as these lose their educational value. The new games that the
child takes up year after year always have something new to teach

[Illustration: Let them romp in winter as well as in summer.]

The plays of the early period develop his sense perceptions, they
give practice in seeing and hearing and touching with quick
discernment. Then for four or five years play gives increased
mastery of the child's own body, and over the objects and materials
with which he plays. Running and jumping are for skill and for
speed; the competitive instincts drive each to do the best he can
for himself. Later the games give exercise in the adjustment of the
child not only to his material surroundings, but also to other
children; in other words, he learns to take his place among other
human beings. From the games in which the children take their turns
at some activity the timid child learns that he has equal rights
with others, and acquires self-confidence; whereas the child
disposed to be overbearing learns the equally necessary lesson that
others have rights which he must respect. Every child learns from
these games how to be a good loser as well as how to be a good
winner. Just those qualities that make an adult an agreeable
associate in business or in social dealings are brought out by these
games as they can be by no ordinary form of work which the children
have a chance to do.

It is only in very recent times that we have begun to notice that
the work required of the children in the schools is of a kind that
either ignores the development of the social instincts or actually
hinders them, so that the moral or social effect of successful
school work is frequently very undesirable. When a child is set to
do some work by himself, even if the work is not too difficult for
him, there is no exercise for the social instinct, and the work must
be very interesting indeed to hold his continued attention. As the
child grows older there is increasing need for social stimulation of
the cooperative kind and less of the emulative kind. Where the
experiment has been tried of having the children approach their
school work as they approach a game, with the feeling of getting at
an interesting goal, with opportunities for each to do his best for
the whole group and to help the others, the work becomes as
interesting as a game, and acquires the same educational value as a
good game well played. In the home we might often get the necessary
work done with more expedition and with better spirit if we
recognized the child's need of constant outlet for his emotions, and
if we recognized the depressing effect of routine and solitude and
monotony. One of the chief reasons why working girls prefer to go to
shops and factories, as against domestic service, lies just in this
natural instinct for society. The work of the household has much
more variety than the work of a factory; but most of it has to be
done in solitude, without the stimulation that comes from the
companionship of others doing the same thing, or at least working
within reach of the voice.

[Illustration: In their games they should learn to lose as well as
to win.]

The truly wonderful transformations in character that have been
worked in girls and in boys by means of well-organized play have
taught us the moral value of team-work for the older children. In
these games, which come at a period when the child has already
acquired considerable skill and strength, the chief interest is in
doing the best for the team, so that the individual learns the
importance of subordinating himself to a common purpose. He learns
the joy of contributing his best to his "side" without considering
his individual glory or gains. In this way he acquires that negative
but very important side of self-control which consists in the
ability to _avoid_ doing what the impulse would drive him to.
He learns also the importance of dreary drudgery, in his practice
work, for acquiring special skill, and a boy will spend hours in
such dull practice, animated by the desire not to excel some other
individual, but by the desire to help his team win. He learns not
only to take his place in the game, but to judge his companions by
their special ability and by their value to the group, rather than
by clothes or personal feelings or other outward and incidental
facts. All these things the team game teaches as no mere
_instruction_, whether in school or home, can teach.

We have learned from the results of these play activities with all
kinds of children in the city and in the country, of rich and of
poor, that the spirit of the game is not only capable of stimulating
the growing boy and girl to a tremendous amount of exertion, but
also of organizing his or her feelings and ideals into effective
moral and social standards. And when the same spirit is applied to
work, we can get the same valuable educative results, with the
addition of a higher appreciation of work as work than usually comes
from an early experience with doing necessary but disagreeable
tasks. For example, in one city the shop work of classes of boys was
organized on a cooperative basis. The boys worked in teams for the
making of desks or cabinets. The results, as measured by finished
product or by the quality of the workmanship, were far ahead of what
the same instructors could get from the same boys when the attempt
was made to stimulate the workers by means of prizes and individual
rewards. Children can learn to work together as well as to play
together. If you have noticed that two workers very often do half as
much work in a given time as one worker, it is because they have not
learned to work together--they have been denied the opportunity of
learning this, and now take occasion, when they do get together, to
do almost everything but work.

There are many opportunities in the ordinary household to teach
girls and boys to do useful work in a spirit very similar to that
which they put into their games. It may not be possible to make all
the necessary work as interesting as games, but the remoter purpose
of the work, whether it is to accomplish something whose need is
recognized by the child, or the hope of some reward, should make for
close attention to the task in hand. For example, after a certain
age, sweeping and other household tasks lose their play interest;
but if the girl has become skilful enough to do the sweeping without
tiring, her recognition of the necessity of the work or her thought
of what she wants to do when the task is accomplished should make it
possible to get through with this work without a feeling of
hardship. Some educators approve of allotting definite tasks to the
girls and boys, and compensating them in definite amounts. This
gives them not only a measure of the value of their service, but
makes them feel the responsibility of each contributing toward the
maintenance of the establishment. The main thing is that the
children shall not look upon work as a cruel imposition; and to this
end we should develop the spirit of helpfulness and cooperation--and
to transfer this spirit, already developed in play, to the work that
has to be accomplished.

One form of the expression of the play instinct has come lately to
arouse a great deal of public interest, and that is the dance. Books
have been written about the history of the dance, the esthetics of
the dance, the technique of the dance, the symbolism of the dance,
and many other aspects. What concerns the parent chiefly is to know
that the dance is at once a healthful exercise, an important aid to
social adjustment, and a valuable safety-valve for the emotions.

With the rapid growth of our cities we have come suddenly to realize
that nearly half of the nation's children have no _place_ in
which to play, since the open fields and vacant lots have been
invaded by warehouses and factories and tenements. And so the
playground movement has gained rapid headway. Playgrounds have been
established, and placed in charge of competent and enthusiastic
leaders, who are teaching the children something they never should
have unlearned. But at the same time we are coming to realize that
the children in the country and in small towns, although they have
plenty of space, have not really had the opportunity to get the most
out of their play activities. It would seem that even the instinct
of play can be made to work to better purpose when it is
intelligently directed. It is our duty, then, to provide not only
play space and play time, but also play material and, where
possible, play direction. It is our further duty to keep alive in
ourselves, as far as possible, the spirit of play; for there is no
one thing that will do so much to keep us young and in sympathy with
our children as the ability to play as they play, and to play with

Excepting only the infant when playing with his fingers and toes, the
child must play with some _person_ or with some _thing_. The selection
of suitable toys becomes a more serious problem than is commonly
realized, when we once recognize the great influence of play upon the

Stepping into the toy shop, we are confronted by a multitude of
objects, the variety and quantity of which are distracting.
Everything that the ingenuity of man could devise is here presented
to our astonished eyes, and children gaze upon the great spectacle
and are delighted. If we go to the store just to be amused or to buy
_something_, a very indefinite something for a child of a
certain age, we are quickly satisfied. But if we have in our mind
some idea as to what is really good for the child who is to receive
the gift, it is just as hard to find the right thing to-day in the
immense, up-to-date toy store as in the little general store that
"also keeps toys." The manufacture of toys has grown to a tremendous
industry, but with no ideal behind it, no guiding educational
principle. Toys are made to sell,--having fulfilled that function
the manufacturer is not further concerned. Consequently, toys are
made to attract the eye; durability, use, and need from the child's
point of view are rarely considered.

In selecting toys we must not consider what would amuse or entertain
its, but solely the child's need, and this need will differ at the
various stages in his development.

[Illustration: Don't forget how to play with the children.]

For the little child who has no skill, we want to get toys that
exercise the large muscles; he should have blocks that are large. It
is a common mistake to suppose small toys are suitable for small
children; within certain limits just the opposite is true.

Young children can also use toys that merely need to be manipulated
without having much significance. Things that can be taken apart and
put together are enjoyed and are very instructive.

A child should get from his toys a bare suggestion of the object,
and not a lifelike representation that will be of interest to the
critical adult. Refinement of finish and realistic representation
are entirely wasted on the child. A massive wooden dog or bird is
better than a furry or feathery one. It is enough of a dog or bird,
so far as the child is concerned, and if it can stand rough
handling, so much the better. For the little boy or girl an animal
that can stand up or be drawn about by a string is quite
satisfactory; but before the age of three years is reached the
animal must have movable parts, so that it may be put into various
positions, be made "to do things."

At about three years of age the child also comes more and more to
see things in relation to each other and no longer as isolated
objects. At this time, if he has a cow, he wants also a stable in
which to keep her, the doll calls for a carriage and bed, and so on.
This is something to keep in mind in planning our purchases.

Children like to reproduce in their plays the processes which they
see going on around them or about which they hear. This is in a way
their preparation for the activities of adult life. If the little
boy or girl wants to play farm, or menagerie, or laundry, or grocery
store, it is not necessary to buy the whole outfit at once. The
child will probably not be ready for it, and if he gets more than he
can comfortably use, he will be overwhelmed and many objects are
likely to be neglected.

Let us say, for instance, that your little boy has received a
milk-cart and horse for his birthday and he has exhausted the
possibilities of play with them. Now here is Christmas, and you can
give him or make him a nice, substantial barn and someone else can
give him a cow. Immediately the possibilities for play are greatly
multiplied. He can take the cow to pasture, bring her into the barn to
be milked, take the milk to market and store away hay for the winter,
and so on indefinitely. In time he can have a well-equipped barnyard,
build pig-sties and chicken-coops with his blocks, and spend many
happy and instructive hours. A great advantage in having toys grouped
about some central idea is that several children can play at the same
time and each particular toy stays in use much longer than it would

I have spoken of your little boy as the manager of the toy farm, but
in these days, when women are entering every profession, there is no
reason to suppose that it is not your little girl who will need
those things. Still, although we know that, in spite of traditions,
little boys like to play with dolls and little girls like to play
with other things, we shall, for the sake of convenience, stick to
the traditions and discuss the little girl in connection with dolls.

There is nothing that will give your little daughter greater
pleasure and at the same time be more instructive than an
opportunity to run a whole doll house. By this I do not mean the
elaborate constructions that are sold in the large shops under that
name. No, a packing case, painted and divided into four parts, will
serve the purpose far better. Gradually the different rooms can be
furnished, and in the meantime there is plenty of fun and much
development in trying to maintain the family of dolls under pioneer
conditions, calling for all sorts of clever makeshifts.

There are numberless things that will go to make up the little
girl's doll house, and her activities can be extended over the
entire period during which she cares to play with dolls. At first
she will be satisfied with handling her baby and putting her to
sleep. Later she will want to dress and undress it. Before long she
will have a whole family of dolls and will want to prepare their
meals for them, sew and wash their clothes, and keep the house in
order. These growing needs on her part are just as real as the needs
adults feel, and it would be just as unwise to get her a new doll,
when she needs most of all a wash-boiler for her kitchen, as it
would be to buy for yourself a picture, when you really need a pair
of new spectacles.

All the different articles needed for the running of the doll's
house can now be bought separately. In buying the different
articles, the things to keep in mind are usability, simplicity, and
durability. The furniture that you buy or make must be able to serve
the ostensible purpose of doll's furniture. It is better to get one
chair that is of the right size for the doll, well proportioned and
strong enough to stand the handling of the owner, than a whole set
of "pretty" and flimsy and useless furniture that you can buy in a
gay box for the same price.

Of course, it is understood that the principles of usability,
simplicity, and durability apply to the dolls themselves. It is now
easy to obtain dolls with indestructible heads and with jointed
bodies made of durable material. The little baby will love the doll
with a felt head. It can stand being loved hard without losing some
of its features. To give a little girl a doll that is so finely
dressed and so daintily constructed that she is permitted to come
out of her box only on state occasions is a violation of every sound
principle of child training and fair dealing.

I have mentioned, as examples of the kind of toys that can be bought
singly and grouped about some central idea, the farm and the doll's
house, but, of course, there are many other things--railroads with
their equipment, dairies, stores of all kinds, etc.

Besides the toys that are related to various lines of activity, each
child, as soon as he is old enough, wants the opportunity to work
with materials and tools. The youngest children can have beads to
string, mosaic blocks with which patterns can be made, etc. For the
older children you can get materials for sewing, painting, parquetry
work, and the like. There are boxes containing wooden and iron
construction strips out of which bridges, houses, airships, and all
sorts of exciting things can be made.

For the growing boy nothing is more appropriate than some carpentry
tools of his own. Here again we must remember that it is better to
buy a few good tools and gradually build up an equipment than to buy
a set that looks well enough in the store, but goes to pieces under
real usage.

A printing-press or well-constructed toy typewriter, a camera or
scroll saw, will afford hours of helpful amusement and instruction.

Musical instruments are always acceptable. The metalophone is one of
the simplest from which you can get real music. The cheapest is just
as usable as the more expensive, although, of course, it does not
have so wide a range of notes.

It is impossible to enumerate all the indoor group games that are
offered, but in selecting a game you must make sure that it really
has some sense in it, and that it does not stimulate the gambling
spirit, as do so many of the games with dice or a spinning wheel as
a part of the equipment.

All toys that encourage healthy outdoor sports are worth while. A
great deal of the progress in toy-making has been along mechanical
lines, until we are confronted with the most intricate mechanical
contrivances. They are interesting at an exhibition, and most likely
the child will be attracted by them and will want them, but only to
look at and own. He will tire of them much more quickly than he
would of the simple, usable toy. In this respect the children of the
rich are to be pitied. They are overloaded with these expensive,
mechanical toys which overstimulate them at first and later bore
them. The educative value of simple games with sticks and stones, or
anything the child may happen to pick up, is far greater and calls
for more exercise of imagination and ingenuity and the other
qualities we desire to foster than is that of the elaborate
mechanical toys.

It would be very desirable if all the skill and enterprise that is
devoted to the development of the toy industry were applied to
making toys simpler, more durable, and cheaper, instead of making
them more elaborate, more realistic, and more flimsy. However, the
desirable kinds of toys will not be manufactured in larger
quantities until an enlightened parenthood both demands them and
refuses to buy the glittering heart-breakers that look so charming
in the shop, but go to pieces in the child's hands.

It is far better to have fewer and better toys than more of an
inferior quality. The thing to keep in mind is that a toy is neither
an artistic model, an aesthetic ornament, nor a mechanical
spectacle, but should be a stimulus to call forth self-activity,
invention, ingenuity, imagination, and skill.



"What a plague boys are!" sighed Mrs. Brown. "That White boy has
been getting our Harry into all sorts of mischief, and I can't make
Harry give up that gang."

Mrs. Green agreed that boys were a plague. Her Jack went with a lot
of boys, too, and they were always up to some sort of tricks which
she was quite sure _her_ boy would never do if it were not for
those other boys. And Mrs. Green was right. Any boy will do things
when he is with the gang that he never would think of doing alone--
and that he wouldn't dare to do alone, if he did think of them. Even
your boy--and mine, too, I hope. That's the way of boys.

What we mothers will have to do is to stop fretting about the other
boys in the gang who spoil our boys, and about the mischief and
noise and dirty boots and staying away late for meals, and get down
to a practical way of making all the boys in the gang as we find
them into a lot of decent young men. We shall have to stop trying to
make boys do what it is impossible for them to do; and we shall have
to stop trying to keep the boys from doing what it is absolutely
necessary that they should do, if they are to develop into the
decent young men we have in mind.

The modern way, the efficient way, of treating children is to find
out their instincts and then use these almost irresistible forces of
nature as a means of directing their development. And that is what
we shall have to do with the boy and his gang, and that is what we
shall have to do with the girl and her set. The boy is a more
serious problem because, under the promptings of his instincts, he
soon becomes indifferent to the attractions and amusements of the
home and seeks the companionship of boys of his own age, and he
seeks activities that cannot, for the most part, be carried on in
the home. The girl, on the other hand, remains much longer subject
to the will of her mother and to the conventions and standards of
the home; she remains for a longer period satisfied with the kinds
of activities that can be carried on at home.

We have been told over and over again that the instincts of
childhood are all for activity, and a few of us have trained
ourselves not to expect the children to _be still_ all the
time. Of course, there are times when we simply must have them be
still, and, of course, we allow the teachers to insist upon the
children being still in school. But we recognize that they must play
and romp and run and shout, and we are willing even to spend public
funds for playgrounds. This shows that we can learn, and that we can
make use of our knowledge. It is necessary only that we extend our
knowledge of the instincts of our children just as fast as we can
make use of more.

Up to the age of about ten, boys are apparently satisfied to play
games by themselves, or to play with others in ways that let each
look out pretty much for himself. At this age, however, a change
begins to appear. Now the boy tends to associate himself with others
of the same age, and before you know it your son "belongs" to some
"gang." Every street in a town and every corner in a city has its
gang. And if your boy has red blood and hard grit in him, he is a
member of one of these gangs. He can't help it. He does not join
because it is the fashion, or because he is afraid to keep out, or
because he has social ambitions. He joins because it is his instinct
to join with others in carrying on the activities to which other
instincts drive him. If you stand in the way of the gang, you are
fighting against one of the strongest forces in human nature.

Now if you feel the way Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Green felt about the
gangs, I do not blame you. But you must not stop there. Let's try to
find out first what the gang means to the boys and what it means to
the race. When a boy joins a gang, he does not discard his instinct
for play or for running and shouting. He simply takes on a new
relation to the world about him. As a member of the gang, he still
runs and plays and shouts; but now he has become conscious of his
place in the world, and that place is with his fellow-members,
surrounded by all sorts of enemies and dangers and obstacles to his
well-being. In his gang he finds comfort and support for his
struggle with the outside world. Here he finds opportunity for
satisfying exchange of thought; here he finds sympathy and
understanding such as he can get nowhere else.

The gang, without a written code in most cases, without formal
rules, without very definite aims, even, nevertheless has a moral
scheme of its own that every boy understands and lives up to as
earnestly and as devotedly as ever man followed the dictates of
conscience. The gang demands of the boy unfailing loyalty, and--what
is more--it usually gets it. Of how many other institutions or
organizations can as much be said? The gang demands fair play and
fidelity among its members, and it usually gets these. The gang
demands devotion and self-sacrifice of its members, and the boy who
cannot show these qualities becomes more effectually ostracized than
any defaulting bank official or corrupt politician. These fine
virtues, then--loyalty, honor, devotion--are cultivated by the gang
just at the time when the instincts for them are strongest, and at a
time when no other agency is prepared to do the work.

For you will realize, when you once think of it, how much we coddle
the baby when he is cute, how we shower him with toys far in excess
of what he can use or enjoy, how we fuss and fondle him, and how
much thought we give to every possible and impossible want; and how,
on the other hand, we neglect the boy when he enters upon that most
unattractive, but very critical, age in which he finds other boys
more interesting than his sister and her dolls, when he cares more
for other boys than he does for his mother and her parlor, when he
thinks more of the "fellers" than he does of his teacher and her
lessons. Just at this time, when the boy is beginning to wonder
vaguely and to long just as indefinitely, we abandon him to his own
resources and to Mrs. White's Bob, the leader of the gang.

The problem that confronts us is: How can we save and strengthen the
fine qualities which this spontaneous association with other boys
produces without encouraging the lawlessness and the destructiveness
and the secretiveness of the gang? First of all, we mothers must
recognize not only that the boy cannot be happy without his
associates, but also that the social virtues will never be developed
in him at all if we keep him at home away from the others or
restricted to one or two play-mates--which we may like to select for
him. Then, when this is perfectly clear to us, we will take the next
step, which will be to use all the resources of the homes and of the
community to change the antisocial gang into a club. The difference
between a gang and a _club_ is not a matter of clean clothes
and "nice" manners. It is a difference in mental attitude. The gang
has rules and it has power. The club has put its rules into form and
it _knows_ what it can do and what it wants to do. In other
words, the gang is a casual, random group that drifts about in the
village or in the city, subject to every passing influence, whereas
the club is a deliberate, purposeful organization with definite aims
and developments. Both meet the needs of the growing boy for
association; both give the social instincts and virtues suitable
opportunity for exercise.

This problem of giving the boys a chance to get together and do what
their instincts drive them to do is not one merely for the mothers who
can provide for their boys little or no supervision, and whose boys
play in the streets and vacant lots. The problem is just as great in
the case of the well-to-do, who provide constant supervision for their
children. Indeed, it is a serious question whether the condition of
the children of wealthier families is not in this respect more
dangerous than that of the less wealthy. With the boys of the street
the problem is how to divert the activities into suitable channels;
with the closely-guarded boys of the wealthy the problem is how to
develop the spirit of loyalty and self-sacrifice and honor, which have
been suppressed by the restricted and artificial associations of the
solicitous home. Both kinds of boys must be left free to form their
own associations, but the groups must be so directed in their club
activities (without, however, suspecting that they are being directed)
as to connect their interests with lawful amusements, civic needs, and
social relations. The great danger is that when adults take a hand in
these matters they fix their attention upon the civic and moral
virtues and overlook the instincts of activity and sociability which
call the gang into being, and the club degenerates into a preachy
Sunday- school class.

[Illustration: The boys need a chance to get together.]

In organizing clubs, or rather in presenting opportunities for the
organization of clubs, we must recognize that bodily activity,
taking the form of athletics, or of workshop effort, or of camping,
hunting, etc., is a fundamental condition of healthy growth for the
boys and girls. As every group must have its meeting place, this
should be first provided, and it should be of a nature that allows
gymnastics and hammering and boxing to go on without any
restrictions beyond those required by the nature of the little
animals. That is, there is need for sleep and rest and meals--and
perhaps certain definite hours for school and church--but beyond
such disagreeable though necessary interruptions the meeting place
of the club should be a busy place at all decent hours. We are
tempted to force literature and debating upon our clubs; these
things usually come later, and appeal at best to but relatively few
boys. Literature and debating are good, but they can never take the
place of parallel bars and boxing gloves and hammer and saw.

We are also tempted to pick out the boys for the clubs that we are
interested in. This is a serious mistake. It is this sort of thing
that causes the failure of so many well-meaning attempts to redeem
the children of the "slums" or of the street. We must let the groups
form spontaneously; the boys' instincts are keener in detecting the
sneak and the coward and the traitor than yours are, and if the club
has the right start, the undesirable citizen will either adopt the
morals of the club or be squeezed out. And the right start is
chiefly a good meeting place. It is here that the church and the
school and the home can cooperate. In the larger cities the
settlement has pointed the way by carrying on practically all of the
work with children through the medium of clubs.

It is not necessary for every parent to furnish a suitable meeting
place; indeed, each club needs only one meeting place. But every
home can contribute something. If you have not the suitable garret
or barn or shed, you can supply the baseball outfit, or the Indian
clubs, or the work-bench, or some of the tools. You can lend your
homes for those not very frequent occasions when the boys are quite
satisfied to have a quiet evening of table games or theatricals, or
imitation camp-fire with chestnuts to roast and songs to sing. You
can make up lunch-baskets for fishing or tramping trips, or you can
sew tapes on the old pants for "uniforms."

It does not matter so much _what_ you do, so long as you do as
much as you can, and, above all, if you show an "interest." The bond
of sympathy and intimacy that comes from such an understanding and
from the hearty cooperation of the home with these natural instincts
of the children is an immense gain to the individual parent, as well
as to the individual child. Instead of friction and opposition of
forces, there results a cooperation of forces that all make for

As for the community, the village or town that can provide meeting
places for all of its groups of young people, under the direction of
those who understand them and sympathize with them, with suitable
equipment for physical activities of all kinds, can make no better
investment of the money that such a venture would cost. For it is in
such association that the boys and girls learn to be members of a
group, and eventually of the larger group that includes us all. The
good citizen is the one who has developed the instincts of loyalty
and devotion and self-sacrifice and honor, and has directed them
toward the community. The bad citizen is the one in whom these
virtues were never developed, or one in whom these traits remain in
the gang stage.

In the attempts that have been made to direct the instincts of
children we have given the boys much more attention than the girls,
for the simple reason that the boys have given us more trouble.
Still, the girls should not be neglected. They are entitled to all
the advantages that can be derived from organized opportunity to
associate with one another and to develop the social virtues. They
should also have the opportunity for physical exercise and
development which the boy gets because he makes violent demand for
it, but which the girl needs just as much.

It has been found unwise to have mixed clubs of boys and girls in
the early years, and even later, when girls and boys could
profitably associate together, they like to have their separate
groups for special activities. For the strictly sociable times,
however, boys and girls may be brought together at any age.

Apart from the other advantages to be gained from the club, the girl
or boy will be saved from his friends. There is a real danger that
children who do not get into larger groups will take up with a
single chum or intimate. While it is true that many lasting and
valued friendships start in these early years, the danger is
nevertheless a serious one. Chums or intimates, in their tendency to
get away from other people, may do nothing worse than carry on silly
conversations; but they may also read pernicious literature and
develop bad habits. Activities in a group are more open and less
likely to be of a secret nature.

Intimacies at this early age will spring up for all kinds of
superficial reasons. In a study made some years ago these were some
of the reasons given for the formation of friendships: "We were
cousins," "He taught me to swim," "We had the same birthday," "She
had a red apron," "Her brown eyes and hair," "Neither of us had a
sister." A large proportion of the children who were questioned gave
as the only reason for their intimate friendship the fact that they
"live near each other." However absurd these reasons may appear to
us, we are compelled by what we know of the child's mind to respect
these attachments. But if there is any danger in the intimacy--and
there often is--the only remedy is encouragement of association in a
large group. "There is safety in numbers."

So, whether we are more concerned with the mischief done by the
gang, or with the danger of intimate chums, whether we care more for
the development of good citizenship in boys and girls, or merely to
make the children happy while they are growing up, it is necessary
for parents to use all the means at their disposal to organize and
encourage the social activities of the young people to the fullest



When you take pains to instruct your children in the way they should
go, it is because you have in mind certain standards of what a child
should do, or of what kind of an adult you wish your child to
become. In other words, you look to your ideals to guide you in the
training of the child. We all appreciate more or less vaguely the
importance of ideals in shaping character, and for this reason we
value ideals, although it is considered smart for adults to sneer at
ideals and idealism--which are supposed somehow to be opposed to the
"practical" affairs of life. But in a way there is nothing more
truly practical than a worthy ideal.

Where there is no vision the people perish; and that is just as true
of the individual as it is of a nation. Moreover, it is the
_youth_ who shall see the visions and draw from them the
inspiration for higher and better things. Fortunately, every normal
child develops ideals. It is for more experienced people to provide
the opportunities for the formation of desirable ideals, to guide
the ideals after they are formed into practicable channels, to use
the ideals to reinforce the will in carrying out our practical
purposes in the training of the child.

You no doubt find it easy enough to recognize and to encourage
ideals that are in harmony with your own, or that seem to you worthy
and likely to have a favorable influence upon your child's career or
character. When five-year-old Freddy says that he wants to become a
lawyer or a doctor, you encourage him. You say, "That's fine, my
boy," and in your mind's eye you see him climbing to fame and
fortune. But when Freddy says that he wants to be a policeman and
marry the candy-lady, you laugh at him, and you certainly do
_not_ encourage him. But in Freddy's mind doctor and lawyer
mean no more than policeman; they involve no more important social
service, they mean no more dignity in personal position, they
suggest nothing more of anything that is worth while. For whatever
it is that Freddy wants to be at any moment is to him the sum of all
that is to him worth while--and that is just what an ideal ought to

This is not a plea to cruel parents in behalf of smoothing Freddy's
path toward the coveted post--or the course of his courtship of the
candy-lady's daughter. It is simply an effort to point out how
important it is to avoid shattering early in life that precious
mirror in which alone visions are to be seen. When you have
ridiculed the policeman out of further consideration, you are likely
with the same act to have weakened Freddy's faith in ideals--and to
this extent you have loosened one of the safest props of his
character. We need not be afraid of the crude and short-sighted
ideals of the young child. With the growth of his experience his
ideals will expand. We should fear rather to infect him with the
vulgar disrespect for all ideals.

In a few years Freddy has his heart set on charting the blank spaces
on his geography map, and he has never a thought for the girls. It
is the same Freddy, but he has in the meanwhile roamed far from the
home neighborhood--in imagination--and has discovered new heroes and
new types of heroism. The policeman and the candy-lady are still at
their old posts, but Freddy ignores them because his ideals have
grown with his experience and his information, as well as with his
bodily growth and development.

Study of thousands of children in all parts of this country, in
England and in Germany, has shown that the young people begin to
form ideal images of what they consider desirable, or beautiful, or
right rather early in life. They form ideals of virtue as well as
ideals of happiness, and these ideals reflect their experiences and
their surroundings to a remarkable degree. Thus, there are
differences between the ideals formed by country children and those
formed by city children, between the ideals of poor children and
those of wealthy ones, between the ideals of English children and
those of American or German children. But, aside from all these
differences, it is found that the ideals vary with the sex of the
child, and also with the age, so that each child passes through a
series of stages marked by characteristic types of ideals.

As early as the age of nine years children have expressed themselves
as looking forward to "doing good" in the world, or to making
themselves "good." The age at which this impulse to service or to
personal perfection may take form must depend upon many things
besides the peculiar characteristics of the individual child.
Jessie's ideals concerning "being good" will be shaped by what she
hears and sees about her. If you speak frequently about the foreign
missions, she may think of being good as something that has to do
with the heathen. If the family conversation takes into
consideration the sick and the needy, Jessie's ideal may be dressed
like a Red Cross nurse. If you never speak of the larger problems of
community welfare, or of social needs, or of moral advance in the
home, where Robert has a chance to hear you, he can get suggestions
toward such ideals only after he has read enough to become
acquainted with these problems and the corresponding lines of
service for himself.

Answers received from hundreds of girls and boys would seem to show
that virtue and goodness are desirable to children at a certain
stage of their development chiefly, if not solely, because they
bring material or social benefits. Virtue is rewarded not by any
internal or spiritual satisfaction, but by freer access to the candy
supply or to the skating pond. The right is that which is allowable,
or that which may be practiced with impunity. The wrong is that
which is forbidden or punishable. Of course, this attitude toward
moral values should not continue through life. We should do what we
can to establish higher ideals of right and wrong. How soon this
change will come must depend very largely on where the emphasis is
laid by those around the child. If, when you give Robert a piece of
candy, you always impress him with the idea that this is his
compensation for having been "good," he will retain this association
between virtue and material reward long past the age when he can
already appreciate the satisfaction that comes from exercising his
instinct to be helpful, or from doing what he thinks is right. If,
however, the idea in the home is that all goes well and all feel
cheerful and happy because every one is trying to do the right
thing, the various indulgences and liberties will mean to the child
merely the material manifestations of the good feeling that
prevails, and not rewards of virtue. So far as possible, rewards and
punishments should be directed toward the _deed_ and not the
child. The aim should be to make the child derive his highest
satisfaction from carrying out his own ideals of conduct, rather
than from the reward for that conduct. The approbation of those he
honors and loves should gradually replace the material reward.

To the child the ideal of success may mean two entirely different
things. At one stage it may mean the satisfaction of accomplishing a
set task, whether selected by himself or imposed by some one else.
Later, it comes to mean excelling some other child in a contest.
Even a child of four or five years gets a great deal of satisfaction
from contemplating a house he has built out of his blocks, or the
row of mud pies. This satisfaction gradually comes to be something
quite distinct from the pleasure of _doing_, and is an important
element in the ideal of workmanship. As the child grows older the
ideal of successful accomplishment grows stronger, and, if it is
retained throughout life, it contributes a large share toward the
individual's happiness.

Most of the school activities of our children lay too much emphasis
upon the ideal of successful rivalry, and too little upon the ideal of
high achievement. The ideal set before the children is not frequently
enough that of doing the best that is in them, and too frequently that
of doing merely better than the neighbor--which may be poor enough.
Some of the work done with children in clubs, outside of schools, has
brought out the instinct for an ideal of achievement in a very good
way. Richard came home quite breathless when he was able to report
that he could start a fire on a windy day, using but a single match!
In some of the more modern organizations, for girls as well as for
boys, graded tasks are assigned as tests of individual proficiency or
prowess. Every girl and every boy must pass these standards, without
regard to what the others do. The result of encouraging this ideal is
likely to be an increased sense of responsibility, well as an
increased self-respect; whereas the ideal of "beating" others may in
many cases keep the girl or boy at a rather low level of achievement,
compared to the child's own capacity.

This competitive ideal is illustrated by the girl who is ambitious
to stand at the head of her class, and receives encouragement
enough. But we give very little thought to the child whose ideals
are for service to others or to the community. It is very often the
same child that at one time glories in successful emulation under
the encouragement of our approval, and that later fails to develop
the germs of altruistic ideals because we fail to recognize, or at
least to encourage, them. We cannot expect from the schools an early
change of emphasis from the competitive type of ambition to the
ideal of cooperation or service, although the teachers who have
tried to encourage the latter have found the school work to proceed
more satisfactorily than it does under the spirit of emulation. But
in the home it should be much easier to encourage these higher types
of ideals, for we do not have to set one child against the other,
and there is greater opportunity for individual service on account
of the greater differences in the ages and attainments of the

It is interesting and significant that, of the thousands of children
who have given expression to their ideals and ambitions, a very
small number--less than one in every hundred--have appeared to be
quite content with themselves and with their surroundings. The
normal child craves for some thing better, and roams as far afield
as his knowledge and opportunities let him in his search for the
best. It is during the years from the tenth to the fifteenth or
sixteenth that this search is keenest, and during this period we
should present to the children every opportunity for becoming
acquainted with what has been considered best in the history of the
race. The reading that the boy or girl does at this time is perhaps
the most important source of ideals.

The selection of suitable books for the young is in itself an important
problem, and one that many of us are apt to neglect. It is impossible to
judge of the desirability or suitableness of a book from its appearance,
or from its price, or from the standing of its publishers, or even from
the repute of the author. Many attractive-looking books are not only
worthless, but positively objectionable. If it is not possible for you
to examine carefully each book that you consider buying, you should make
use of an annotated list, or seek competent counsel in some other form.
Through libraries and various associations it is now possible to obtain
carefully prepared lists that will be helpful in selecting books for
children of all ages.

An interesting point that has been brought out by studies is the
fact that degrading ideals are practically wanting in children. You
were no doubt shocked to discover that Eddy was planning to become a
burglar, or a pirate chief, or a tramp, or an ordinary highwayman.
But a careful analysis of the motives and experiences of the boy
will show that the particular feature that Eddy admires in his hero
is far removed from the ones that shock you. The boy is dreaming of
travel and adventure, of the excitement of chasing or of being
chased, of trying his ingenuity in conflict with the professionally
ingenious minions of the law, of being brave in the face of danger,
of testing his fortitude in the time of trouble, of the loyalty of
his comrades to himself as leader, or of his loyalty to his chief
when the latter is beset by his enemies. But courage and loyalty and
fortitude and ingenuity are no more degrading ideals than are
material possessions and intellectual accomplishments. Only it
happens that many boys find these particular ideals embodied in
heroes and personalities that we feel we must disapprove for various
reasons. Robin Hood appeals to the children not because he violated
the laws of the land or because he deprived people of their
property, but because he was brave, and clever, and just, and kind
to the poor.

In comparing the ideals of children raised in the city with those of
children raised in the country, interesting differences appear. The
city children are in general less inclined to be altruistic than
country children at the same age. On the other hand, city children
draw upon a wider range of characters from history and from fiction
for their ideals. In the matter of future occupations, city children
were often satisfied to mention some preference from the various
occupations of which they had heard, without elaborating the
details, whereas the country children, although they did not select
from so wide a range, frequently described special features of some
occupation as the interesting elements leading to a choice.

From the various studies that have been made we may see that the kind
of ideals that a child is likely to have depends a great deal upon the
_people_ with whom he becomes familiar, upon the _ideas_ with which he
becomes familiar, and upon the _activities_ with which he becomes
familiar. The child should have an opportunity to discover the best
that is available in his immediate environment. His earliest heroes
should be his parents; then the acquaintances near home should furnish
the qualities that will arouse his interest and admiration. It is a
mistake to thrust upon the child ideals ready made and imported for
the purpose. A hero thrust upon the young imagination may do service
for a while, but is likely to be discarded later when that particular
hero's virtues really need to be kept before the child much more than
they did in the earlier period. George Washington and his hatchet have
furnished us a legend that is a good illustration of this. The hero is
dressed up to be attractive to children of nursery age, and endowed
with nursery virtues. When the children grow up and so outgrow their
nursery ideals, they discard interest in and admiration for George
Washington: this is a serious loss to our national idealism.

The results of the studies also indicate how significant is suitable
literature in the formation of ideals. A comparison of returns from
girls with those from boys throws an important side light on this
problem. In nearly every group of answers received it was evident
that most girls, when they get to a certain age, adopt ideals that
are decidedly masculine. The explanation of this seems to lie in the
fact that the characters of history and of literature with whom they
become most familiar are those showing distinctly masculine
qualities. There are real differences between the mind of a girl and
the mind of a boy, and these should be taken into consideration in
their training. There is great need for the clearer recognition and
sharper definition of distinctly feminine ideals. It is not enough
to transfer some imitation masculine ideals to the minds of our

We should make a special effort to discover our children's ideals,
for several reasons. First of all, by knowing what the girl or boy
has nearest the heart we shall be able to enter into closer sympathy
with the child, we shall be able to understand much of the conduct
that would otherwise baffle as well as annoy us. In the second
place, by watching the rise of ideals we shall be better able to
direct the child's playing and his reading and those other
activities that are needed to supply the experiences and ideas that
seem to be lacking, or to discourage tendencies that seem to us
undesirable. In the third place, if we know our children's ideals we
can make use of these as motive forces in helping us to carry out
our larger plans. It is when the boy is in the military stage of his
ambitions that we should try to make the virtues of the soldier
habitual parts of his character. It is when the girl is ambitious to
make a fine garden that we should try to make her fix the habits of
orderliness, regularity, and attention to details. Of course, not
every girl will want to have a garden, and many a boy never cares to
be a soldier; but at every stage there are ideals that can be called
upon to fix the heart upon certain virtues until the latter become

It is very easy to ridicule the ideals and ambitions of children when
they seem to us too high-flown or futile. But a person's ideals stand
too close to the centre of his character to be treated so rudely. It
is better to ignore the many trifling flights of fancy that are not
likely to have any permanent effect, and to throw the child into
circumstances that will force the emergence of more deep-seated or
far-reaching ambitions.

There is another danger in the ease with which a child's faith in
ideals is destroyed, when these happen to interfere with our own
immediate comfort and desires. When a boy has gotten into some
mischief with his friends, and is the only one caught, we are
tempted to bring pressure to bear upon him to make him tell who the
other culprits were. Joe is ready to take his own punishment, and
that of his fellow malefactors, too, rather than "snitch." But for
some reason we feel that "justice" demands the conviction of every
individual involved. The conflict is not between our sense of
justice and the boy's stubbornness or wilfulness; it is rather a
struggle between our demand for retribution and the boy's ideal of
loyalty. If, through threats and cajolery or more indirect methods,
we at last succeed in finding out that it was Mrs. Brown's Bob who
was responsible for the whole affair, we have at last broken down
Joe's inclination to act according to certain ideal standards. Joe
has fallen in his own estimation beyond calculation. It is better to
let Bob go "unpunished" than to make Joe go back on his principles.

One important outcome of a study of our children's ideals and
ambitions should be the direction of their vocational choices. We
have read of Benjamin Franklin's father, who took his boys about to
various shops with a view to helping them make up their minds as to
what kind of trade they should follow. Nowadays we should consider
this method rather crude; but for a variety of reasons most of us do
not do even this much for our children. A study of children's plans
and hopes for their future work brings out the fact that the desire
to "earn money" as a motive in the choice increases up to the age of
twelve years, and then declines rapidly. This may be taken to mean
that, apart from the enlarged range of interests that comes with
increased experience, there is also an efflorescence of the fancy
that leads to increased concern with ideal ends. This is confirmed
by a comparison of the choice made by children of well-to-do
families with those made by children of rather poor people. The
children of the poor, in tragically large numbers, appear to accept
the fact of working as a necessity of life; they accept this
doggedly as a matter of course. The children of more prosperous
families, on the other hand, though frequently expressing
preferences for the same kinds of occupations, have their hearts set
on the joy of achievement, or on the ideal of service, or on the fun
of _doing_, in much larger proportions.

From answers written by English children in a factory district these
examples are typical:

A boy of eight: "I should like to be a Carpenter. Because my mother
says I can be one."

A girl of twelve: "I should like to go out when I am older to earn
my own living."

Another girl of twelve: "I think it would be nice to go out to a

In contrast with these are the answers given by children of the same
ages who came from homes of culture, if not always of wealth:

A boy of eight: "I would like to be like Major ---- because I like
carpentering very much and he carpenters beautifully. Once he bought
a box for his silver and there was one tray to it and he wanted to
make little fittings for the silver so first he painted some names
on some paper of all the different things he had; then he cut them
out and supposing he wanted to put knives and forks quickly he would
have a little name written down where they ought to go and he made
the fittings most beautifully quite as well as any shop would."

A girl of thirteen: "One thing I should like to do would be to be a
very clever naturalist, and to know everything about everything
alive or in the country world."

A girl of ten: "I should like to be a piano teacher, when I grow up,
for then I shall be able to learn to play many pieces of poetry."

A part of this difference is no doubt due to the fact that in many
families there are traditional ideals of the obligations of
privilege, which the children readily imitate; or to the fact that
these children do not have to think about the necessity of earning a
livelihood, and so give their attention to the enjoyments that can
be derived from various kinds of activity.

The subject of vocational guidance, which has come into great
prominence during the past few years, includes so many ideas that
are confusing and misleading that large numbers of people have
become alarmed and are fighting the movement. In the first place,
the title itself is misleading. Most people do not enter upon
"callings" in the true sense of that word; they get into some kind
of occupation or business, but could just as readily have adjusted
themselves to any one of a thousand other occupations. Then the
matter of _guidance_ is misleading. It is impossible for anyone
to-day to undertake to guide young people into their occupations.
All that can be hoped for is that children may be given an
opportunity to find out about the different types of work that need
to be done, and about the different human qualities that are of
value in the various occupations.

The question that concerns the parent is: What special inclinations
has the child that can be utilized in a future occupation? It is not
so much a question of making full use of your child's talents as it
is of giving him an opportunity to do the kind of work in which he
will be most happy. Society at large is interested in conserving all
the different kinds of ability, but the individual child is
concerned with realizing his own ideals, with living, so far as
possible, his own life. At the same time, the evidence which we have
on the subject--not very much, to be sure--shows that there is
really a close connection between what a child likes to do and what
he can do well. It is, of course, true that one can learn to do well
what at first comes hard, and then learn to like it. But we must not
forget that strong inclinations must be carefully considered when
future work is being decided upon.

Our children are so imitative that a child with marked talents will
occasionally not reveal these in surroundings that lay emphasis on
qualities unrelated to these talents. So many a boy with high-grade
musical ability will fail to show this where music is looked down
upon as something unworthy of a man. In the same way children will
develop ideals in imitation of what goes on around them. Every child
is likely at some time in his career to look forward to money-making
as the most desirable end in life; but most normal children will
pass beyond this ideal before adolescence. If, however, the
atmosphere in which the child lives is one of money-getting, the
child without strong tendencies toward other ideals is likely to
allow this ideal to persist into adolescence and young manhood or
womanhood. In such cases the ideal becomes fixed without indicating
that the individual is "by nature" of an avaricious temperament or
materialistically inclined.

The same principle of imitativeness would, of course, apply to other
ideals. This explains to us why the recurrence of certain ideals or
modes of life in successive generations of a family leads to the
supposition that there are "hereditary" elements at work. It is also
a good reason why we should guard against the contaminating
influence of unworthy ideals. It is impossible for us to carry about
imitation virtues and fool our children into imitating them.

Children begin to form their ideals early in life, and their first
standards are derived from the people and the things about them that
contribute to their pleasures--sweets and parents and the heroes of
the fairy tales.

As the child's experience broadens he borrows ideals from new
acquaintances and the characters he meets in his reading.

The child absorbs from his surroundings, from his acquaintances, and
from his reading, as well as from the instruction that he receives
in school or in church, materials for building a world of what
_ought_ to be. And in this world he himself plays a very
important rôle. We must therefore make sure that the materials for
ideals which are within our control shall be of the best.

Loose conversation, cynicism, open disrespect for the noble things
in human character, lack of faith in human nature cannot be
exhibited to the child day after day without having their sinister
effect. It is true that some children, here and there, will resist
these unfavorable influences, and will come out of the struggle
strong and self-reliant, with faith in their own ideals and with
faith in mankind. But we cannot afford to treat the developing
character of the child on the theory that it needs exercise and
temptation as a gymnast needs exercise and trying tasks. The
temptation that becomes a habitual stimulus to wrong doing or wrong
thinking has no moral value. The child is only too ready to follow
the path of least resistance, and the temptations will come aplenty
after the ideals begin to form.

High ideals in the home, and not merely good words; loyalty to
ideals and a spirit of confidence in the children, are needed to
give the children that confidence in themselves which they need to
make them loyal to their own ideals when these are out of harmony
with vulgar fashion.



"Mother, where do babies come from?"

Some day you will be asked this question by your little girl or your
little boy--if you have not already been asked. What will your
answer be?

Even if you have been accustomed to giving frank answers to your
children's questions about all sorts of subjects, you are likely to
hesitate when it comes to this. You will be tempted to say what you
were probably told yourself, under similar circumstances. You will
perhaps say that the doctor brings babies in his satchel, or that
the stork brings babies in his bill. Or perhaps you will feel
impelled to tell Harry to go out and play, and ask you again a few
years later when he will be old enough to understand.

The telling of a myth like the stork story is harmless enough for
the time being. We have entertained Santa Claus for ages without
undermining the morals of our children. And we shall continue to
retell the fairy stories, for, although they are not, strictly
speaking, "true" stories, they have their place in the life of the
child. Why can we not go on, then, as we have done in the past,
leaning upon the stork?

The difference between the story of where babies come from and the
story of Santa Claus or Mother Hubbard is a very important one.
Santa Claus and Mother Hubbard represent ideas and interests that
are but passing phases in the child's development, whereas knowledge
about reproduction is something that grows in interest with the
years and reaches its deepest significance just at the time when you
can hardly, if at all, regain your hold upon your child, once you
have lost it. It does not matter much who disillusions your child
about Santa Claus. The disappointment is brief, and soon the child
can look upon the legend as a joke. But it does matter very much who
tells your child that the stork story is all a lie, and _how_
he is told.

It is well for mothers to realize that the embarrassment which they
may feel when this question is first asked is quite foreign to the
child, for the child at this time has no knowledge whatever of sex.
To him it is simply a question for satisfying his momentary
curiosity. Later on, when the child has become aware of the idea of
sex, he is not likely to ask his mother embarrassing questions, or,
if he should ask them, the situation would be equally embarrassing
to both--unless you have in the meanwhile kept in close sympathy
with your children, and they feel that they can come to you with any
question and be answered frankly. And the way to keep them in close
sympathy is by meeting frankly every question as it arises. It is
not necessary to answer every question by telling everything you
know; it is necessary merely to tell enough to satisfy the child's
immediate need. Not only, then, does your frank answer tend to keep
the child in touch with the mother, but you protect him in this
manner against going for his information to sources that are
frequently contaminating. The information that boys and girls give
one another about sex matters is often something appalling, not only
in its distance from the truth, but in the amount of filth with
which it is encrusted. It is the desire to keep his mind clean,
then, that should prompt the mother to tell her child what he wants
to know when he wants to know it. A third consideration is found in
the fact that many children, when they do not receive satisfactory
answers to their queries, will reflect and brood about the subject
to a degree that becomes morbid. This is especially likely to happen
where the subject of the child's inquiry is treated as though it
were an improper or a wicked one to speak about, so that the child
dares not ask others for enlightenment.

That the early answering of the child's questions may offset both
morbid curiosity and the danger of resorting to filthy sources of
information is illustrated by the story of a seven-year-old boy who
was invited by an older boy to come to the wood-shed for the purpose
of being told an important secret. "If you promise not to tell any
one," the older boy began, "I will tell you where babies come from."
"Why, I know where babies come from," replied the second, not
greatly interested. "Oh, yes you do! I suppose you think that a
stork brings them? Well, you're 'way off there. The stork ain't got
nothing to do with it," the instructor continued breathlessly, for
fear of being deprived of his opportunity to impart his precious
secret. At last the secret was out; but the younger replied, coolly,
"That's nothing. My mother told me that when I was four years old."
Since the matter had ceased to be a secret, and since the story even
lacked novelty, all opportunity for the elaboration of details was

But what can you tell to a child of four or five? For that is the
age at which the question is likely first to present itself.
Remember that the child is not asking a sex question, but one about
the direct source of himself, or about some particular baby that he
has seen. You can say that the baby grew from a tiny egg, which is
in a little chamber that grows as the baby grows, until the baby is
big enough to come out. This will satisfy most children for a
considerable time, but some children will immediately ask, "Where is
that little room?" To which you may reply, "The growing baby must be
kept in the most protected place possible, so it is kept under the
mother's heart." Or, you may say that the baby grew from a seed
implanted in the mother's body, that it was nourished by her blood
until it grew large enough, when it came out at the cost of much
suffering. Of course, you will tell the story as personally as you
can, about your particular child, and in as simple a way as you can.

If you tell the little girl or boy this much you have told him all
that he probably cares to know at this time; you have told the truth
so that you have nothing to fear about his being disillusioned
either as to the story or as to your own trustworthiness; and you
have avoided arousing the suspicion that certain subjects are
unworthy of understanding. And then you will find that this new
conception of his relation to you, as truly a part of your being,
will deepen and strengthen his natural feeling of affection and
sympathy. It is also well with the first telling to impress the
child--in so many words, if necessary--with the idea that he must
always come to you for anything he wants to know, and that you are
always glad to tell him.

As the child grows older his knowledge of life must grow also. In
the country and in small towns the child becomes familiar with many
important facts about life without any special effort being required
to inform him. He learns that chickies hatch out of eggs and that
the eggs have been laid by the mother hen. He learns that the field
and garden plants grow from seeds and that the seeds were borne by
the mother plants. He learns about the coming of the calf and the
colt; and even city children can learn that kittens and puppies come
from mother animals. It is a comparatively simple matter for a child
with such knowledge to get the further information that the baby
brother developed from an egg that mother kept near her heart during
the hatching time. Much of this knowledge that the country child
acquires incidentally must be brought to the city child through
special efforts and devices, in the school as well as in the home,
that he may acquire the fundamental facts of bearing and rearing
young, in plants as well as in animals, and that he may look upon
these facts not as strange or disconcerting marvels, but as natural

Miss Garrett, one of the most successful teachers of sex and
reproduction, tells the story of some city boys who had been taught
these things, and who had decided, in their club, to raise rabbits.
The selection of a father rabbit and a mother rabbit was too
important a matter to leave to a committee, so the whole club went
in a body to attend to these preliminaries. The care the boys took
of the mother rabbit during her pregnancy was in itself an
education. Later Miss Garrett saw the leader of the club--who had
been the "toughest" of the gang--with another boy on the street,
while a pregnant woman was trying to cross with a heavy basket.
"Come on, Jim," he called, "let's help her across." This same boy
but a few months back would have ridiculed the poor woman in her

Every child can learn what Jim and his companion learned. He can
learn to respect motherhood and to be considerate of mothers as
mothers. It is very interesting to see the great differences in this
regard between families in which the fact of motherhood is a secret,
and those in which it is a matter of common knowledge. I was
visiting a friend whose six-year-old boy knew that another baby was
expected, and he was very careful to avoid annoying his mother. Of
course, the attitude of the other members of the family also had an
influence upon the conduct of this child. But another mother
complained that she received very little consideration during
pregnancy from her oldest son--a boy of fourteen--although all the
other members of the family were as careful and as thoughtful as
could be desired. This second mother, however, had allowed her older
boys to grow up on the assumption that sex and reproduction had
nothing to do with life, or, at any rate, were of no concern to them
and were not suitable subjects to know about; so that her boys did
_not_ know that something unusual was in the air, or that
something special was expected of them.

The important thing for the mother to do during these growing years
is to retain the confidence of the children, and to give them an
opportunity to become acquainted with the everyday facts about
plants and animals. The questions that come to the child's mind will
be questions of motherhood and babyhood, chiefly, and not questions
of sex or fatherhood. When these questions do at last arise, as they
are sure to almost any time after twelve years, and sometimes even
before, you have a great advantage if your child brings his
questions to you instead of to his casual acquaintances of the
school or street, even if you are not prepared to answer all the
questions for him. The girl will come to her mother, and the boy
will come to his father, if they have acquired the habit of coming
with frankness and confidence. Then, if for any reason you are not
qualified to tell what needs to be told, you may just as frankly say
so and refer the child to the right instructor, who may be a teacher
or the family physician. Older children may even be sent to suitable
books. But the most desirable condition is that in which the parents
have prepared in advance to answer all the questions themselves, and
even to anticipate some questions.

[Illustration: In the country children become acquainted with the
facts of life.]

The child should receive instruction along these lines at various
stages in his development, even up to young manhood or womanhood,
corresponding to his physical development and to his mental
development, which normally proceed in close relation to each other.
The girl should be informed how to care for her health. The boy
should be instructed about the sex life of the opposite sex to know
what they have a right to expect, or rather what they have no right
to demand of the other. Boys during the adolescent period, which has
been called the "age of chivalry and romance," are keen to
appreciate the rights of others and their own duties to the weak; it
is at this time that we are to appeal to their sense of honor in
establishing ideals of purity, and the sense of responsibility as
bearers of the life stream. The standards of sex morals are
established during this period, for girls as well as for boys. Their
strength to time of temptation will lie in the ideals which now
become fixed. We want our girls to grow up demanding purity of the
young men they will meet, not pretending that they do not know the
difference. And we want our boys to grow up with faith in the
literal truth of that fine line about Sir Galahad:

His strength is as the strength of ten, because his heart is pure.

The parents who wish to prepare themselves with a knowledge of what
to tell their children in place of the old stork fable; of when to
tell, instead of postponing to a dishonest "some other time"; and of
_how_ to tell, instead of in the embarrassing, half-expressed
vagueness, would do well to read some of the abundant literature on
this subject that has been issued in recent years just for our help:
Some of the best titles are given below.

The following titles, with comments, are taken for the most part
from "A Selected List of Books for Parents," issued by the
Federation for Child Study:

BIOLOGY OF SEX. By T. W. Galloway. A concise and reliable statement
of fundamental sex facts.

GIRL AND WOMAN. By Caroline Latimer. Very helpful in understanding
and dealing with the physical, mental and moral disturbances of
girlhood and early womanhood. Some of the recommendations,
particularly regarding physical aspects, are open to question.

MARRIAGE AND THE SEX PROBLEM. By F. W. Foerster. Emphasis is laid
upon the religious and spiritual sides of the emotional life, upon
training for self-control and the mastery of moods and instincts.

SEX. By Patrick Geddes and J. Arthur Thompson. The biological
aspects of sex and also interesting chapters on sex education, the
ethics of sex, and sex and society. Good bibliography.

SEX EDUCATION. By Maurice A. Bigelow. Covers the problems of sex
education and of criticisms of sex education.

SEX EDUCATION. By Ira S. Wile, M.D. An excellent little volume for
the purpose of assisting parents to banish the difficulties and to
suggest a plan for developing a course in sex education. The chapter
on terminology is most helpful.

THE SEXUAL LIFE OF A CHILD. By Dr. Albert Moll. An exhaustive study
of the origin and development in childhood and youth, of the acts
and feelings due to sex. Indispensable to anyone interested in sex

THE SEXUAL QUESTION. By August Forel, M.D., Ph.D., LL.D. Translated
from the German by C. F. MARSHALL, M.D., F.R.C.S. A comprehensive
and reliable study of the subject from biological, historical,
social and hygienic viewpoints.

brief presentation, from a lofty point of view of the many phases of
the sex problem as it confronts the boy.

The following books on sex education were written for children. They
are listed here, not to be put into the hands of the young, but as a
help to parents in supplying methods of approach and a usable

THE RENEWAL OF LIFE. By Margaret W. Morley.

THE SEX SIDE OF LIFE. An Explanation for Young People. By Dr. Mary
Ware Dennett (Pamphlet, published by the author, New York.)

THE SPARK OF LIFE. By Margaret W. Morley.


Special studies in many parts of the country, especially during the
war, have made it clear that girls in the adolescent stage are
definitely aware of the need for clean and trustworthy instruction
on matters pertaining to the relations between the sexes, to the
control of the emotions, to the care of the body during the
menstrual period, and to other problems arising from the facts of

It is pathetic, is it not, to have a high-school girl write: "Some
parents are ashamed to tell their girls everything, so that is why I
think they should be told in school." Whose parents had she in mind?

Another writes: "There are many girls with no mother or very near
female relation that can tell them all they need to know, and if
anything should happen in a girl's life, she does not think it
proper to speak to a male, even if it is her father." Are the girls
who have mothers or "very near female relations" to be none the
better, or happier for it?

I hope that mothers will not continue in the future, as most have
done in the past, to hesitate about giving such information to their
children. If you are perhaps tempted to feel that you would like to
preserve the child's innocence as long as possible, you have but to
realize that innocence is not the same as ignorance. We are apt to
forget how young we ourselves were when we had obtained one way or
another a large mass of information about reproduction, and even
about sex. The question is not whether a young child should have
this information or not; the question is whether he shall have
correct and pure information, or false and filthy information. For
one or the other he is sure to get. True knowledge is the best
mantle of innocence.

Much misery is caused, not only for girls, but also for boys, by the
lapses from the path of virtue. If the young man who has gone astray
is in a position to say, "Had I but heeded!" instead of saying, "Had
I but known!" it will make a great difference in the way he will
later feel toward the one person from whom he had a right to expect
protecting knowledge. It is true enough that knowledge alone is not
a sure protection against wrong-doing; but you can have no moral
training without knowledge, and knowledge is the least you can give.

There is no reason why parents should think of enlightening their
children on this subject as a disagreeable necessity, instead of as
one of the important means through which to be of real help to their
children, and at the same time to help themselves to retain their
hold upon the children.



There comes a time in the life of every boy and every girl that
brings a maximum of trials and worry--to the other people. This time
is the golden age of transition from childhood to manhood or
womanhood, the age of adolescence. If you have had annoyance and
hardship with your infants, if the children have perplexed you and
tried you--as you thought, to the limit--you may be sure that there
is more in store for you. For the age of adolescence brings with it
problems and perplexities and annoyances that will make you forget
that it's any trouble at all to look after younger children.

After years of painstaking attention to all the details of a child's
home surroundings, in the hope that this attention will result in
distinct gains to the child's character, it must be very discouraging
to notice some fine day that Louise is becoming rather finicky about
the food--which is just as good as she has always had--and that Arthur
is inclined to become rather short in speaking to his mother--not to
say impudent. And both are likely to become critical not only about
the food but about a hundred other things that they find at home. And
both are likely to be something not far from impudent in giving
expression to their criticisms. In fact, they will be quite prepared
to undertake the education of their parents, and to tell you with
alarming assurance just how and when to do things, both at home and
abroad. Fortunate, indeed, are the parents who have come to this
critical stage in their education equipped with a sense of humor.

However, these unexpected and mortifying outbreaks of inconsiderateness
and bad manners do _not_ show that your early efforts have all been in
vain. They do _not_ show that outside influences beyond your control
have perverted your children, or have counteracted your efforts. They
show merely that Louise and Arthur are still growing, and have now
entered upon that most interesting and most significant period of the
new birth.

It is well, first of all, for the mother--and the father, too--to
realize that this period is a passing one, for this knowledge can
save you many a worried day and many a sleepless night. I do not
mean that when the child comes to this dangerous age you are simply
to let nature and impulse have their way. I mean only that the
problems are to be met with many devices, but not with worry. For we
are coming to understand some of the fundamental causes of the great
changes that occur in the nature of the growing child at this time,
and we are learning, accordingly, better ways of dealing with the
troublesome manifestations of these changes. Not that we can lay
down rules for the proper handling of all adolescents everywhere,
for we can not. Every individual is a problem by himself; but we can
learn a better way of approaching this precious problem, a more
helpful attitude to maintain toward him or her.

There is a physical basis for the remarkable alterations in the
minds and morals of this age. The infant grows very rapidly at
first, but with a diminishing rate until about the twelfth year.
Then, almost suddenly, the rate of growth increases again, and in
four or five years most children have attained nearly their full
physical growth. Associated with this great physical growth is the
fact that some organs grow much faster than others, so that the
proportions of an adult come to be very different from those of a
child. In the meanwhile, however, there has been a great strain on
the system, because, apart from the demands of the general body
growth, some of the organs have not been able to keep up with the
special demands made upon them. For example, the growth in body
weight and in muscle may proceed more rapidly than the proportionate
growth of the lungs or the liver, or the weight may increase more
rapidly than the proportionate strength of the muscles. Moreover,
the nervous system is developing at a more rapid rate, probably,
than the other systems of organs, and this strain shows itself in
various ways that are disagreeable to adults with fixed habits and

All of these changes are intimately bound up with the development of
the sex organs and with the approach of sexual maturity.

A graceful child becomes awkward and a well-mannered child comes to
act rudely and to speak quite unlike his former self. These changes
are related to the fact that with the development of the nervous
system there arise impulses for hundreds of new kinds of movements
which the child can learn to suppress or to control only with the
passing of time. This is the age at which the child is exposed to
the acquirement of many undesirable muscular habits, such as various
kinds of fidgetings, biting of the finger-nails, twirling of
buttons, wrinkling of the forehead, shruggings, swaying the body,
rolling the tongue, tapping with the fingers or the feet, and so on.
Nearly a thousand of these uncontrolled or "automatic" movements
have been described in children of this age. Of course, any of these
movements that produce sounds or that catch our eye are very
annoying to us, and if we have never nagged before, we are likely to
begin now by saying _Don't this_ and _Don't that_, for we
have never been tempted like this before. But nagging is not what is
called for.

Are we then to let them keep on annoying others, or are we to leave
them to themselves to make permanent these awkward and disturbing
and often hideous movements? We should do neither. We should
remember that now of all times the boy or girl needs our friendship
and our sympathy; we should let the young person feel that our
objections are not based upon our momentary annoyance, but upon our
concern for the kinds of habits he will acquire; and we should do
what we can to help him break his habit, not insist that he break it
for us. Moreover, it is not certain that all of these fidgetings and
tappings should be suppressed upon their first appearance. Most of
these automatic movements disappear of themselves as the child
matures and learns to direct his nervous energy into channels that
lead to useful actions, as he acquires skill and self-control
through practice in gymnastics or with tools, or musical instruments
or at some games. And while there should be every opportunity to
play games and musical instruments and to handle tools, etc., we
should not be discouraged if, after a whole day of hard exertion in
work and play, there is still some energy left for drumming on the
table or teasing sister or the cat, or for dancing a jig upstairs
and rattling the lamp.

Closely connected with the rapid development of the nervous system
is the fact of the increasing irritability of temper. This will show
itself every day in a hundred ways. Of course, it is unreasonable,
and, of course, the boy or girl is not to be allowed to become rude
and impatient and domineering. But with this increasing irritability
comes increasing sensitiveness, and it is very easy for you to make
him realize that his conduct is not that becoming a gentleman, or
that his manner has been offensive. He will not give you the
satisfaction, very often, of letting you know that he fully
appreciates your point of view; indeed, he will even make a show of
disputing your position; he will try to argue out a justification
for his conduct, or at least a mitigation. But he knows very well
what his offense is, and is thoroughly ashamed of himself; but he
has to save his face.

It may be helpful to mothers and fathers, and to others who have to
do with girls and boys of this age, to know that what appears to us
as impudence is very often but an expression of the child's awkward
attempt to hide his discomfiture or embarrassment. This is
especially true in the early stages of adolescence. The boy or girl
is becoming conscious of himself as a person, and resents being
treated as a child; the only way he knows of asserting his
personality is by affecting an air of disdain toward those who
presume to treat him as a child. This swagger is more likely to be
put on when there is a third person present. It is therefore always
safer to reserve your discussions and corrections to the time when
you are alone with your girl or boy, and can place your conversation
on an intimate basis.

Hand in hand with spells of most irritating self-assertiveness, the
adolescent is subject to spells of most depressing humility and
self-abnegation. Indeed, at every point this period is marked by the
most violent contrasts and alterations of mood. Hours or days of
seeming indifference to all interests and activities will be
followed by keen excitement and enthusiasm. A fit of doubt in his
own ability and worthiness will be followed by almost ludicrous
self-confidence. A feverish desire for constant companionship will
follow a dull and moody search for seclusion and solitude. In
general it is perhaps wisest to ignore these changing moods, except
where they find their outlet in offensive or vicious conduct. We
must remember that it is just as trying to the young person as it is
to the older ones; and, while we may not be prepared to yield our
comfort and our standards to the whims of the girl or boy, we should
seek for adjustment through sympathetic exchange of ideas and
sentiments, and not through arbitrary rules. In any case, these
changing moods need not in themselves be considered occasions for
misgivings and worry about the future development, for they are part
and parcel of the rapid changes in the nervous system.

So complex is the character of this stage that volumes have been
written about it; it has been recorded in song and in literature,
and has been celebrated in religious ceremonials from ancient times.
If, then, the mother finds it perplexing, and somewhat beyond her
full comprehension, she certainly should not blame herself.

It has been said that the complexity of the individual during
adolescence is due to the fact that at this time the brain and the
whole body become at last awakened to their manifold capacities, and
that the child now is not only capable of doing everything that a
human being can do, but feels the impulse to do everything. But
manifestly he cannot do all things at once; hence the rapid changes
of impulse and mood. There is a sudden increase in emotions, without
suitable habits for giving them an outlet. There is vague longing
and formless yearning for the child knows not what. Much relief and
satisfaction come from physical exertion, especially for boys. There
is much satisfaction of the emotions from association with others;
hence the growth of the gang and the feeling of kinship.

Adults, with their limited interests and their appreciation of the
need for specialization in the practical pursuits of life, are often
inclined to look with disfavor upon the growing girl's or boy's
"dabbling" in a hundred different directions. Not content with
athletics and hunting, the boy will want to collect stamps or birds'
eggs, to make a motor-boat and learn telegraphy; to take photographs
and try his hand at the cornet; to experiment in chemistry and stuff
an owl. Not content with dancing, sewing and cooking, the girl will
want to master several poets and make attempts at painting; she will
want to become more proficient at the piano and do some singing; she
will want her share of photography and athletics, and would try her
hand at writing a novel. All these things seem so distracting to us
that we fear either that the young person will become a superficial
dabbler or will fail to settle down to something serious. But much
is to be said in favor of letting every girl and boy do as near to
everything he or she wants to do as possible. Expertness can come
later when a choice of a specialty has been made. Now is the time
for touching life at as many points as possible, for acquiring
breadth of outlook and range of sympathy and interest. Now
especially is the time for trying out the individual's capacities--
which may lie quite beyond the range of the conventional pursuits of
the family or the neighborhood. It is the time for self-discovery,
and to this end every bit of help that can come from the home and
from the church, from the school and from the community, from direct
experience and from literature, should be utilized.

The danger of early specialization is shown to us when we
contemplate men and women who have no interests beyond their rather
narrow routine occupations, who have no sympathies beyond their
rather narrow set of intimates, who have no appreciation of human
character and human service beyond the small circle into which they
settled in their teens, and from which they can by no possibility be
drawn. It is because the formation of new habits becomes
increasingly difficult after the sixteenth or seventeenth year that
narrow prejudices and biased opinions should be avoided by
participation in the broadest variety of activities and
associations. Before the conflicting moods and tendencies are
finally welded into a consistent whole the girl or boy should make a
part of his personality as many sources of enthusiasm, as many kinds
of interest, as many lines of sympathy as possible. In a few years
the character begins to "set," and the _size_ of the character
will be in large part determined by the number and variety of
emotional, intellectual, sensory, and muscular elements that have
been developed during this adolescent period.

One of the characteristics of this age is the tendency to hero
worship. It is so difficult to know in advance what types of heroes
our children are going to select that we are inclined to feel quite
helpless in the matter. But it is safe to say that earlier training
is sure to have its effects, although we cannot always measure the
effect. A boy in whom a keen sense of honor shows itself before
adolescence is not likely to adopt a hero in whom there is a
suspicion of anything sneaky. The new flood of emotions brings with
it a host of new aspirations and new ideals; and some of these are
likely enough to conflict with the older childish ideals. It is
therefore of the utmost importance that the reading--which is
perhaps the chief source of model heroes for most children--should
be of a wholesome kind. This does not mean that the stories must be
about paragons of virtue; the villains of fiction and history have
their value in teaching life and character, and we need not fear
that they will contaminate the minds of the young, for in most
children the instincts may be relied upon to reject the allurement
of the base character. But fiction that is false in its sentiment,
that does not present truthful pictures of life, is likely to give
perverted ideas of human relations and false standards of value.
City children who have access to the theatre often get their heroes
from the stage; and the same thing may be said about the drama as
about fiction. It is only the too highly colored and exaggerated
melodrama that is likely to be objectionable for the impressionable
youth. The moving-picture shows, which are coming to supply so many
of the children with their chief opportunity to learn life, have
been, on the whole, fairly wholesome; and the movement to secure
more adequate censorship of the films will probably leave these
sources of instruction perfectly safe, from a moral point of view,
so far as concerns the knowledge of life that the adolescent gets.
The only real danger from the "movies" and the theatres is likely to
be the cultivation of the habit of passive entertainment.

And this suggests another source of puzzles of adolescence. In the
alternating moods of excessive exertion and indolence there is the
possibility of girls and boys learning the value of alternation of
work and play and rest. But there is also the danger of acquiring
the habit of resting all the time, and leaving not only the work for
others, but also the activity of play. It is much better for
children to rest because they are tired than because they are lazy.
And, while it is true that the instincts are all for activity, it is
easy enough for the growing individual to acquire the habit of
passive absorption of whatever amusement is provided. It is better,
then, for the young people to get their entertainment out of
theatricals than out of the theatre, out of playing games than out
of watching games, out of having adventures in the woods and in the
water than out of reading about them. And, in every way, the most
reliable safety-valve of the period is constant activity, as this is
the best outlet for the many and conflicting emotions which are the
source of the chief difficulties. When Arthur shows signs of getting
restless it is a great comfort to be able to send him off on some
errand, or to give him a definite task to do. But it is also a great
service to the boy, for while he is at the work there is being used
up the nervous energy that would otherwise appear at the surface as
another "spell." And this principle is just as true for girls as it
is for boys. Only you cannot send the girl to a piece of work
requiring great bodily exertion--nor does she need this so much.

Work is not only a satisfactory safety-valve for the emotions in
general, but it is especially valuable as a means of diverting the
thoughts and feelings from the growing consciousness of sex.

One of the reasons why it now becomes more difficult for even
thoughtful and considerate parents to keep in close sympathy with
the boy or girl is this outburst of new and varied interests, which
clamor for movement and color and quick changes. The parent has in
the course of years settled down to a relatively small group of
activities and interests, most of which offer no appeal to the
growing individual. For instance, you would like to come close to
the thoughts and feelings of your growing son or daughter; you
suggest that you take a walk together. Now, it is very nice for a
middle-aged person to take a walk, alone or with a companion; but
the girl or boy sees no sense in taking a walk unless you wish to
get somewhere. The ordinary conversation and gossip that a girl is
likely to hear when you take her to visit a friend is apt to be very
stupid--to the girl. Even where the parents have watched the
expanding soul closely on the one hand, and have kept themselves in
touch with a variety of activities rich in human interests on the
other, they often find that the intimacy with their children is for
a time weakened, and fully restored only after the latter have
passed through these trying years.

What is likely to be the greatest source of grief on the part of the
parent is the apparent lapse of the growing boy or girl from
standards of honesty and truthfulness with which she has so
solicitously tried to imbue him or her. But this lapse during the
critical growing period is so widespread, so common among boys and
girls who afterward become fine men and women, that special students
of the problem have come to believe that semi-criminality is quite
normal, at least for boys, at this age. Now, while some children are
perhaps by nature incapable of attaining to a satisfactory moral
level, most children will, under suitable surroundings, grow away
from this state of lying and stealing; but under adverse conditions
these distressing features of their behavior may become habitual.
Suitable surroundings and treatment would here consist of the
presence of good models and high ideals, sympathetic help in
resisting temptation, and not in a harsh denunciation of each
unapproved act as evidence of turpitude and perversion. You need not
assume that there _is_ perversion until that is demonstrated
beyond any doubt. For, if the child is morally redeemable, he should
be treated like one who is weak and who needs help until the
difficulties are mastered; otherwise you are likely to encourage in
him the feeling that he is hopeless, and he will relax all effort
for his own self-mastery.

Along with the emotions related to romantic love there is a rapid
development of the religious side of the nature, of a consciousness
of the race as a whole, of a spirit of chivalry and disinterestedness--
all emotions that bear a tremendous motive power which needs to be
guided into suitable channels. Never before and never again has the
individual the endurance and the energy for such self-sacrifice, for
such devotion, for such exertion in behalf of the purest of ideals. At
the same time, the increased sensitiveness shrinks from every sneer
and every evidence of misunderstanding or unsympathetic reproof. It is
therefore unwise to tease the girl or boy about the "friend" of the
opposite sex; it is cruel to sneer at their ambitions, and it may be
positively demoralizing to ridicule their ideals.

A mother of unusual intelligence, who had devoted herself not only
to the routine work connected with her household and the care of her
children, but had made special efforts to keep informed on what was
going on in the world of thought and practical affairs, and who had
a busy life of varied activities, was walking along a city street
with her youngest son--just fifteen. The adolescent, who was rather
free in his comments on what went on around him, made this pretty
little speech to his mother:

"Mother, I think you have a very petty mind. Here you fuss around
trying to help out that poor V---- family by getting together
clothing for the children, and an odd job for the old man once in a
while. And you have been trying to raise a fund to complete the
education of the W---- boy, and all things of that kind. But all you
have done does not help to solve the problem of poverty."

The mother, who had indeed been carrying on these various good
works, alongside of many other activities, naturally resented the
criticism of her son. But what she minded most was the "inconsistency"
of the boy when, a few minutes later, they passed a street preacher
with a crowd about him. They could not hear what the man was saying,
but the wise young adolescent remarked, "I wish I had some money to
help that fellow with."

Now, thinks the mother, what do you know about this man's purposes;
what is he working for?

The boy did not know; but he wanted to do something "to help the
cause." What cause, he did not know--and did not care; for him it
was enough that here a man is devoting himself to a cause.

And this incident illustrates nearly everything that makes the
adolescent so puzzling and so exasperating to older people.

First of all, he had gotten hold of a large idea, which he could not
by any possibility understand in all its bearings; and on the basis
of this he criticises the charitable efforts of his mother and,
indeed, of her whole generation. Not only does he criticise the
prevailing, modes of philanthropic effort, but he condemns these
good people as having "petty" minds--because they do not all see
what he has seen, perhaps for as long as a day or two. His attitude
is not reasoned out, but arises from the deepest feelings of
sympathy for the great tragedy of poverty, which he takes in at one
sweep without patience for the details of individual poor people.
Then the preacher on the street corner, exposing himself to the
gibes and sneers of the unsympathetic crowd, appeals to him
instantly as a self-sacrificing champion of some "cause." It is his
religious feelings, his chivalric feelings, that are reached; he
would himself become a missionary, and the missionary is a hero that
appeals especially to the adolescent. There is no inconsistency
between his disapproval of specific acts of charity and his approval
of the preacher of an unknown cause. In both instances he gives
voice to his feelings for the larger, comprehensive ideals that are
just surging to the surface of his consciousness.

This is the period in which you will one day complain that the young
person is giving altogether too much time and thought to details of
dress and fashion, only to remonstrate a few days later about his
careless or even slovenly appearance. On the whole, however, the
interest in dress and appearance will grow, because as the
adolescent boy or girl becomes conscious of his own personality he
thinks more and more of the appearance of his person, and especially
of how it appears to others. There is even the danger that the boy
will become a fop or a dandy, and that the girl will take to
overdressing. Argument is of little avail in such cases. The
association with persons of good taste who will arouse the
admiration or affection of the growing child will do more than hours
of sermons. If the boy can realize that one may be a fine man
without wearing the latest style in collars, or if the girl finds a
thoroughly admirable and lovable woman who does not observe the
customs of fashion too much, neither ridicule nor protest will be

In general, the adolescent will give us exercise in patience and in
imagination and in ingenuity. He will puzzle us and perplex us as
well as exasperate us. But if we cannot remember back to our own
golden age, we must try as best we can to believe that even this
will pass away.



With special assistance from

The frequent appearance of the "black sheep" in a flock of tolerably
white sheep, the frequent failure of the best efforts of parents and
teachers to make a fairly decent man out of a promising boy, have
led many to question whether, after all, the pains and effort are
worth while. We have come to question the wisdom of bothering about
"environment"; just as we sometimes question the existence of a
principle called "heredity." Every day some one asks the question,
"Do you believe in heredity?" And many times a day people discuss,
"Which is more important, heredity or environment?"

These are certainly _practical_ questions for parents, since
the answers we receive must influence our practice or conduct in
relation to the children. If we felt quite sure that heredity was
everything and environment nothing, we should reduce our school
appropriations and build larger jails and asylums, or we should
resign ourselves as best we could to letting "nature take her
course." On the other hand, if we felt sure that heredity was
nothing and environment everything, we should proceed at once to
double our school equipment, raise the teachers' salaries, convert
our penal institutions into reformatories and our armories into
recreation centres, and advance the age of compulsory education just
as far as we thought we could afford to.

Those who place the emphasis upon heredity, in the attempt to
discredit the value of thoughtful and painstaking control of the
environment of the developing child, usually remind us that a man
like Lincoln achieved power and distinction in spite of what we
would ordinarily consider serious obstacles to complete development,
whereas thousands of college graduates who have had all the
advantages that trained tutors and guarded surroundings can give
have developed into mediocre men and women--have even developed into
vicious and criminal men and women. They will remind us that from a
class of children that had the same teachers for many years has
emerged a group of very distinct men and women; they will remind us
that brothers and sisters with the identical "environment" turn out
to be so different.

On the other hand, those who see nothing in "heredity" will point to
the same Lincoln and ask confidently why his ancestors and his
descendants do not show the same degree of power and achievement.
They will point to the same family of brothers and sisters who had
the same "heredity" and ask why they all turned out so differently.
The black sheep proves just as much--and just as little--for one
side of the argument as it does for the other.

There are, it is true, many people who say that they "do not
believe" in either heredity or environment. Such people see the
difficulties of the disputants and reject both alternatives. They
prefer to say frankly that they do not understand the situation;
that life is too complex to be solved by puny human intellects. Or
they resort to some equally unintelligible explanation, such as
"Fate" or "Nature"--which is but another way of saying that we never
_can_ understand. On the other side stands the scientist who
refuses to shut his eyes to _any_ established facts, and
insists upon trying to understand as much as possible, though he may
never hope to understand all.

But no one is prepared to say authoritatively that either heredity
or environment is the exclusive or even the predominant factor in
determining the character of the individual. Indeed, the voice of
the scientist, which is the only authoritative voice we have in such
matters, is telling us very plainly that the whole question of
"heredity _or_ environment" is not a real question at all: we
are confronted in every child with a case of heredity _and_
environment, and the practical question is how to control the latter
so as to get the most from the former.

To begin, then, in a modest way to understand what is understandable,
in the faith that understanding will grow with thought and
observation, is the first duty of those who are not content to fold
their hands in resignation or despair. We know that we can control
wherever we have real knowledge. The cook knows that she cannot make
roast duck out of pork chops; but she knows also that she can make
palatable and digestible pork chops by proceeding in one way, and that
she can make tough and sickening pork chops out of the same materials
by changing her procedure. In the same way the scientific approach to
the problem of child training teaches us that, while we cannot make a
"swan out of a goose," we can make the gosling into a better goose or
a poorer goose by the treatment we apply to it.

A frequent source of doubt and misunderstanding is the universal
occurrence of such distinct types among brothers and sisters. The
query at once arises, "Have not these children the same heredity?"
Brothers and sisters have the same ancestors, but not the same
heredity. Recent biological discoveries teach us that the individual
develops from a bundle of units derived from the two parents, but the
units supplied by a parent never represent the totality of the
parents' composition, nor do all the units that are passed on come to
manifest themselves as parts of the character. The parent passes on
sample units from her or his own inheritance, so that no two
combinations are ever exactly alike. It is a commonplace observation
that Johnny may have his maternal grandmother's chin, his paternal
grandmother's eyes, his father's walk, his Uncle George's lips, his
Aunt Mary's sharp tongue, his grandfather's alertness, and his
mother's good judgment. Of course, he has _not_ his grandmother's eyes
or his uncle's lips: these relatives still retain their respective
facial organs, and his father still has his quick temper. What Johnny
has inherited is a something, perhaps in the nature of a ferment,
which _determines_ the color of his eyes, a certain something that
makes his lips develop into that particular shape, a certain something
that causes his brain to respond to annoyance in the same manner as
that of his Aunt Mary's. And the various ancestors and relatives have
received from their parents similar determining factors that have
manifested themselves in similar peculiarities. We do not inherit from
our relatives, or even from our parents: we are built up of the same
elements as those of which our relatives are built, but each one of us
has received his individual combination of factors. Hence, no two
brothers or sisters are exactly alike, although they have the same
parents and the same ancestors.

While it is universally recognized that no two individuals are
exactly alike, we are not at all clear in our minds as to whether
the important differences arise from differences in experience or
_nurture_, or from essential differences in _nature_. We
know that children of the same parents are essentially different
from birth, and that no matter how similar the treatment they
receive afterward they will always remain different, or even become
more different as they become older. It is becoming more clear every
day, as a result of scientific study, that every individual is
absolutely unique, excepting only "true" twins.

If we accept this individuality of the person as a fact, what, then,
is the importance of training or environment? Does not this
admission settle at once the contention of those who see no value at
all in a carefully-controlled environment? If this child is
_born_ without mathematical ability, what is the use of
drumming arithmetic into his head; or, if he is _born_ with
musical genius, why should we bother about teaching him music?--he
will "take" to it naturally.

The answer to these and similar questions is to be found in the
answer to another question, namely, "What is it precisely that the
child is born with?" Surely no child is ever born with the ability
to dance or sing or to do sums in algebra. When we say that a child
has musical genius we mean merely that as he develops we may notice
in him a certain capacity to acquire musical knowledge more readily
than most other children do, or a certain disposition to express
himself in melody, or a certain liking for music in some form, or a
certain readiness to acquire control of musical instruments. In
other words, the child is born with a capacity for acquiring certain
things, from the outside, that is, from the environment--he is born
with certain possibilities, which can become actualities only if the
suitable conditions are provided. In the same way one child is born
with a capacity for exceptional muscular development, and another
for exceptional self-mastery. But in every case practice makes
perfect, the muscles must be properly nourished and exercised, the
will must be trained--and that means suitable environment.

Now, while every individual is unique, not every child is a born
genius. The distinctiveness of each child lies in the fact that he
consists of a _combination_ of capacities and tendencies, each
of which varies in degree when compared with other individuals. For
example, Evelyn has about the same capacity for physical work as
Annie, but she stands lower than the latter in arithmetic and higher
in language work. John shows about the same physical power as Henry,
when measured by running and jumping and chinning; but John can hit
the ball with his bat more times out of a hundred than Henry can,
whereas Henry can hit the bull's-eye with his rifle more times out
of a hundred than John can. In a thousand details any two children
differ from each other, one excelling in nearly half of the points,
the other excelling perhaps in about as many, and the two standing
almost exactly alike in some matters.

A child that excels most of his colleagues in one or a few points is
said to have marked ability in that direction--as the exceptional
athlete, or the child with exceptional literary or moral feeling. On
the other hand, a child that seems to measure well up to the average
in most points, and even to excel in a few, may fall far short in
some matters,--that is, may be deficient. Thus a perfectly good
child in every other way may be unable to master the ordinary
requirements in arithmetic, or a child may have an entirely
satisfactory development in every way and be deficient in musical

Another kind of difference is to be found in what may be called
general capacity. Some children show higher capacity than the
average along nearly every line that can be measured or tested,
without showing a preponderance in any one direction. Such children
are said to be of high grade, or of high "vitality." In the same way
many children are below the average in nearly every line, without
being particularly defective along any one line. They can do one
thing about as well as another, just as the high-grade boys and
girls can do one thing about as well as another; but in the former
there is a limit to the possible development which is exceeded in
the latter. Among both classes of children the full development
depends upon suitable environment, but what is suitable for one may
not be suitable for the other.

From a consideration of these differences in degree and difference
in kind we may see that there is no course of training or treatment,
no method of instruction, no trick for the mother or for the teacher
that will be usable for all children under all circumstances, to
make them all come up to some preconceived uniform standard. On the
other hand, if we consider the differences as worth developing, and
even emphasizing, it must be obvious that the training and the
treatment should be adapted to the individual child so far as
possible. Starting out with essentially different human beings,
uniform treatment will not make them all alike, nor will _any_
treatment make them all alike. But starting out with a particular
human being, we can learn to treat him in such a way as to make him
develop into a more desirable person than he would become if he were
neglected or if he were treated differently. And that is the main
problem, after all.

The relation between heredity and environment may perhaps be made
clear by an extreme illustration from the physical side. Here are
two full-grown men, both five feet and four inches tall. We observe
that they are both short. Now, the shortness of one of them turns
out to be the result of heredity,--that is, he belongs to a strain
of short people. No amount of feeding or of exercise or of special
régime could have made him more than a quarter or half an inch
taller. The other man, however, belongs to a race of rather taller
men and women: his shortness of stature may be traced to
undernutrition, or to overwork, or to sickness during his childhood.
It is quite certain that a different kind of environment would have
resulted in his being as tall as his brothers and sisters.

Now, the problem of training concerns itself practically not so much
with the person who is particularly "long" by nature, nor so much
with the person who is unusually "short" by nature--and we may apply
"long" and "short" to every other trait as well as to stature. The
problem with these extremes is simply to keep the child in good
health. The special efforts of the teacher and of the parent are
devoted to giving the child who appears somewhat below the average
in some particular those special stimulations and exercises and
feedings that will bring him up to the average. We find the
extremely short too discouraging, and the extremely long do not
clamor for our attention; but it is those near the middle-point that
we want to help over to the other side of the dividing line. And
this is just as true of an undesirable character as it is of a
desirable one. We take no trouble to teach honesty to the child that
seems instinctively honest; and we give up in despair with the child
that convinces us of his utter lack of a moral sense: we concentrate
our efforts upon the delinquents whom we catch early, or upon those
who are in danger of sliding down if they are not helped along.

Perhaps one reason for the great confusion on this subject arises out
of the fact that we have become accustomed to making a sharp
distinction between physical characters on the one hand and so-called
mental and moral qualities on the other. Every one recognizes family
resemblances in physical features. A particular shape of nose or a
peculiarity of the hand appears in every member of the family,
sometimes for several successive generations. Facts like these we
accept as evidence of "heredity" without any question. We also
recognize that the Joneses of Centerville always take the measles
"hard," whereas with the Andersons vaccination never "takes." But when
it comes to mental qualities, which we are not accustomed to measure
or to recognize with the same degree of discrimination, most of us
fail to see that heredity is just as common for these as for physical
traits. Moreover, mental qualities take on such a great variety of
forms that their recognition is made doubly difficult. Thus it may be
the same mental traits that make of a certain man a successful lawyer,
of his brother an able scientist, and of their cousin a clever
criminal. No doubt each of these three men has qualities in a degree
lacking in the others; but the point is that they have many qualities
in common which are obscured by the different lines of development
they have followed.

The old parable of the wheat cast upon the ground may help us. That
which falls upon stony ground fails of germination; that which falls
upon poor soil will germinate, but will die of drought or be
scorched by the sun; that which falls upon good soil will develop
into a good plant. The _kind_ of plant that may develop is
determined by the seed, by heredity; _how_ the plant will
develop is determined by the surrounding conditions, by the
environment. On the physical side these facts are so familiar to us
that we never question the connection between development and food,
or between development and exercise, or between development and
other physical conditions. Of course, we say, an undernourished
child will never be strong; of course, an overworked child will
never be strong, of course, drinking and smoking and other
dissipation will prevent healthy development. And yet, do we not
know that of two underfed children, one will show the ill effects
more than the other; that of two overworked children, one will
survive abuse with less permanent injury than the other.

We must, then, have clear in our minds the idea that everything that
happens to a child and that may produce a reaction or an effect is
worth considering from the point of view of its influence upon his
development. Indeed, instead of discussing heredity _versus_
environment, we should try to conceive of the personality of the
child as made up of the effect of a certain heredity responding to a
certain environment. For example, the child inherits the instinct to
handle things. At a certain age this instinct will take the form of
handling objects within reach, and of breaking them. We cannot say
that the child has an instinct for breaking vases or tearing books;
he has simply the instinct to _do_ something with material that
he can handle. Now, it is possible for the child to exercise this
instinct only on material that can be broken or torn; it is also
possible for the child to exercise it on material that can be
manipulated constructively--as blocks for building, clay for
shaping, or, later, tools of various kinds. In one case the child
establishes habits of tearing or breaking; in the other the same
instincts--the same "heredity," that is--issues in habits of
_making_. Or we may take the instinct of curiosity, which every
normal child will manifest at an early stage. This instinct may find
exercise in wondering what is in parcels or closed cupboards; or it
may exercise itself in wondering about the thunder and the flowers
and the things under the earth; or it may be quite suppressed by
discouragement or by unsatisfying indulgence. Thus the same instinct
may lead under different treatments to different results. This does
not mean that every child has the making of an investigator; it
means that a perfectly healthy instinct capable of being turned to
good use is often perverted or crushed out because we have not
learned to cultivate it profitably through control of the growing
child's development.

There is abundant evidence that the mental and moral capacities are
inherited in the same way as the purely physical or physiological
ones. We have, however, much more to learn about how to control the
development of the former than about the control of the latter. Yet
this point should be clear to every parent and teacher; whatever the
child's inheritance may be, the full development of his capacities
is possible only under suitable external conditions. What these
conditions are depends upon the combination of capacities that the
particular child possesses. But to find out what these capacities
are we must give the child an opportunity to show "what's in him."
This we can do by placing him in an environment simple enough for
him to adjust himself to readily, and at the same time complex
enough to give every side of his nature a chance to respond. This is
the significance of modern educational movements that seek to leave
the child untrammelled in his responses to what goes on around him.
We have learned that some children will become tall and that others
will never reach beyond a certain height; we seek merely to keep
them healthy by suitable feeding, exercise, rest, bathing, etc. But
in the matter of mental development we have not yet learned that it
is impossible for all children to reach the same degree of
linguistic or mathematical or artistic development, and we try to
bring all of them up to our preconceived standard of what a child
_should_ do in each line. The thing that we need to find out is
what a particular child _can_ do; and then we must give him the
opportunity and the encouragement to do his best. The things we
encourage him to do will be the basis for the habits which he will
form, for the skill which he will acquire--and so for the activities
that will yield him satisfaction and determine his behavior in
relation to others. That is, the things the child learns to do well
will determine what kind of a person he will be when he grows up.

But it would be a mistake to suppose that every child is born with a
set of special aptitudes that fit him for some particular occupation.
Many children do indeed have rather special types of native ability,
as the child of artistic proclivities, or the "natural born" preacher.
And, on the other hand, many children are born with marked
shortcomings in their makeup, although these "deficiencies" need not
always interfere with their developing into excellent men and women.
For example, a child may be color-blind, or incapable of mastering a
foreign language in school, or awkward in doing work requiring great
skill--and yet capable of doing high-grade work in other lines. Those
children that have strongly-marked proclivities--which usually show
themselves early in life and which are commonly associated with strong
likes and dislikes--will no doubt do the most effective work along the
lines of their native talents. And those with marked deficiencies
should certainly not be directed into occupations wherein the lacking
talents are essential for success. But the great mass of children vary
from each other not so much in the directions along which their
special abilities lie as in the degree to which they are capable of
developing the ordinary abilities which they do have. For such
children the choice of an occupation cannot wisely be made very early
in life, nor should a very special choice be made until there has been
an opportunity to try out a large variety of activities and processes.
Indeed, even for the child of decided genius it is desirable that
there be a chance to try out many kinds of activities, both physical
and mental. This is desirable not so much in the hope of counteracting
his special bent on the theory of supplying exercise for the functions
that are not to his liking as for the purpose of giving him an
opportunity to find out _all_ he can do, and to give us a chance to
find out all he can do well.

Even children who pass as "average" children, however, may be
divided into classes according to the variations in their native
capacities. That is to say, some children, although not exhibiting
any special talents or special deficiencies, are nevertheless more
easily adjusted to doing muscular work than others; some are more
happy in the manipulation of numbers; some show greater patience;
some are more easily fatigued by the repetition of a process; some
cannot stand on their feet for long periods without suffering, and
so on. These differences should certainly be taken into
consideration, first of all, in the treatment accorded them in the
school and at home, in what is required of them, in the selection of
studies, etc. And, in the second place, these facts should be
considered in the choice of general fields of occupation. It would
be the height of cruelty and of injustice to insist upon Walter's
preparing for and entering his father's business--just to keep up
the family tradition--when a little attention to the boy's work in
school and to his play and to his personal preferences and tastes
would show that he was eminently unsuited for the business, and at
the same time well suited for some technical pursuit such as
engineering. Untold misery and failure spring from our negligence in
these matters, no less than from our direction of the child's
development in accordance with the parents' ambitions rather than in
accordance with the child's discoverable abilities and disabilities.

How far short our ordinary training falls of giving our various
capacities their full development is shown by the exquisite
acuteness of touch and of hearing acquired by children who become
blind in infancy. The senses of touch and hearing are here developed
so far beyond what ordinary persons ever attain that the belief is
quite common that one who is defective in one sense has been
compensated by "nature" with special capacity in the other senses.
As a matter of fact, however, the extreme development is not the
result of special endowment or "heredity," but altogether the result
of special training or "environment."

There is a certain sense in which the idea of heredity impresses one
with a paralyzing feeling of inevitableness. When a child is born
his sex is irrevocably fixed; the character of his eyes and of his
hair, the form of his features and the ridges on his finger-tips are
unalterable except through mutilation or disease. But up to a
certain limit the child will grow just in proportion to the nurture
that he receives. And what that limit is we may not know until we
find out through years of patient effort, through endless trying out
in every direction. He will grow farther in some directions than in
others, and the _limit_ in each direction is the element of
destiny supplied by heredity. Very few, however, reach their limit
in many directions, and no person has ever reached his limit in
every direction. The distance we do actually go depends, in
practice, altogether upon the kind of environment that is supplied.
This environment, so far as the growing child is concerned, is
entirely within our control, and we have no right to give up our
efforts and to shift the responsibility to unsatisfactory heredity
until we are quite sure that all has been done that suitable
surroundings and treatment--suitable "environment"--can do. We must
watch and wait, and work hard while we wait and watch.



Is it not strange that "school," which we provide for our beloved
children for their own good, at so great a cost of thought and
money, should be so little appreciated by them? Is it not strange
that "school," which is intended to give power and freedom, should
be looked upon by the children as no better than a prison--a good
place from which to escape?

We grown folks know how valuable school and training and discipline
are. Do we not sometimes sigh that we had not more of these
blessings in our own childhood? Or that we did not take advantage of
the little we had? If the children only knew--perhaps they would not
so eagerly seek to escape into what they vainly imagine to be
"freedom." Perhaps.

Grown folks who have thought about the matter know, of course, that
"freedom" is something different from merely being left alone. They
know that freedom is a state to be attained only through effort.
They know that freedom results from a discipline which makes a
person the master of his impulses, instead of leaving him their
slave. They know that the freedom worth striving for is freedom from
our own caprices and moods, from our blindness and ignorance and
passions. It is for this reason that we value discipline, quite
apart from anything that it may contribute to our ability to live
harmoniously with others, quite apart from anything it may do to
increase our power in an economic sense.

But if discipline is the means for attaining freedom, how does it
come about that in the past (and for most people to-day) discipline
has appeared as a method of _compelling_ children to do the
right thing--"until they have the habit"? How does it come about
that discipline, in the minds of most people, consists so largely of
_restraining_ children from doing undesirable acts--until they
are well started into the safe age of discretion? The reason seems
to be that the need for discipline or training makes itself most
quickly felt where children--or older people--infringe upon the
rights of others, or upon the proprieties. We miss discipline where
a child fails of self-restraint, acts impulsively, or loses his
temper. In short, failure of early training is indicated wherever
there is lack of self-control, or a lack of proper application to
the business in hand. It is therefore natural that discipline should
early take the form of commanding and prohibiting.

It is but a short step from this view of discipline to the
philosophy that what children do spontaneously, what they like to
do, must be wrong. And the complement to this is the feeling that
virtue and character can arise only from doing what is disagreeable
or difficult.

But the newer studies in the psychology of childhood lead to a
totally different theory of character formation. And many
experiments made in schools and institutions confirm these new
theories at every point. Moreover, if we look about, perhaps even in
our own homes, I am sure we can all find abundant support for the
modern view.

The new studies have to do with the relation that our emotions bear
to our activities and especially to the formation of habits. To
learn to do a thing, we have known for ages, we must practise
continuously and uniformly. But we did not know that the state of
feelings connected with the performance of the act had anything to
do with the result. Richard must master the scales in his music
study. These scales can be mastered in only one way--he must play
them over and over and over again, until he just has them. But
suppose Richard does not care to practise the scales over and over
and over again? Suppose that he does not care whether he ever
masters the scales or not. Well, he can be _made_ to practise,
at any rate; and perhaps some day he will thank his elders for
having thus forced upon him the extremely valuable but unappreciated
command of the scales.

But what happens in the course of this forced practise? There is
resentment, and antagonism and a growing hatred of scales, of the
man who first vented scales, of sloping rows of notes on the page of
music. And this resentment is more likely to prevent a real mastery
of the task than the enforced practise is to ensure it. The
antagonism will, at any rate, counteract the value of the practise
to a large degree. The third element in the fixation of habits that
we have heretofore too generally disregarded is that of
_satisfaction_; this is no less important than regularity and
frequency of action.

The absence of satisfaction, to say nothing of the presence of
opposite feelings, is of itself sufficient to prevent effective
learning, whether of knowledge or of skill. And when the opposite
feelings are present, the acquired act or idea tends to be pushed
out of the system at the earliest opportunity. It is in some such
way as this that many specialists in the workings of the human mind
would explain so much of our "forgetting." They say that we forget
either because we really wish to forget--the facts are unpleasant--
or because we do not sufficiently care to remember--the facts are
not sufficiently interesting, they do not sufficiently concern us.

Out of the psychological facts pertaining to the relation of the
feeling state to the learning process and to the habit-forming
process, is developed the doctrine of "interest" in education. The
very name "interest" suggests to many that this must be some plan
for sugar-coating education, or perhaps for giving children only
what they like. And this is quite the opposite of the traditional
view which is expressed by the humorist who said, "It does not
matter much what you teach a boy, so long as he doesn't like it."
But the idea of interest in modern psychology does not mean letting
the child have his own way, any more than discipline means doing
only what is unpleasant or difficult.

We can see the basic truth at the foundation of this view in the
age-long usage of the race, which awards prizes and penalties for
"good" actions and "evil" actions, respectively. If you should be
asked "_Why_ did you reward Maryann," "_Why_ did you punish Henry;"
you would no doubt say something like this: If we reward a child for
doing what we approve, he is more likely to do that sort of thing
again; if we punish, or impose unpleasant consequences, upon acts that
we disapprove, such acts are less likely to be repeated. In other
words, we have known right along that _satisfaction_ somehow leads the
child to repeat the conditions that brought about the satisfaction;
and that suffering somehow leads the child to avoid the conditions
that brought about the suffering.

What the new psychology does here is to unify what we have known. We
say not the performance of an act alone will establish a habit; not
the repetition alone will establish it; not the subsequent
satisfaction alone. All of these factors must take part, and they
must take part in association. The feeling must accompany the act.
It is not sufficient that Richard be assured that some time in the
vague future he will derive deep satisfaction from being master of
the scales; he must somehow be made to feel a present concern either
in what he is doing, or a real interest in the outcome. The time
that is to elapse between the beginning of his "practice" and the
satisfaction he is to receive must not be beyond the child's power
to appreciate.

In our actual dealing with children our experience leads us to make
use of these principles, often without realizing all that is
implied. For example, when the young child by your side shows signs
of weariness, and you still have some distance to go, you try to
stimulate his interest by telling him of the good things to come at
journey's end. If this does not serve your purpose, you draw his
attention to the bird on the tree only a hundred feet away, or you
challenge him to race with you to the next telegraph post. And if
you challenge him to such a race, you are sensible enough to let him
win it, for you know very well that nothing will discourage him so
much as defeat--that is, the unpleasant feeling of failure; and you
know that nothing will stimulate him quite as much as the
satisfaction of defeating you. In other words, you set before him
one goal after another, each but a small fraction of the main
journey, and each within the appreciation of the child, and each
offering a satisfactory conclusion that is readily and eagerly
seized as _worth striving for_, here and now.

Now it may be asked, what discipline is there in doing always what
brings satisfaction? How can the children ever learn to do the
disagreeable but necessary tasks that make up so large a part of
every-day living? Where will they ever learn that some things must
be done, not because we like to do them, but because it is our duty
to do them? And these are indeed serious questions. There are two
sets of answers. One of them consists of the results actually
achieved in dealing with children from the new point of view. The
other is a challenge to make clear just what we mean by discipline
and task and duty.

To take the latter first, is it not true that one part of our object
is in the form of acquired knowledge and acquired skill? Practising
the scales, or studying the multiplication table is not an end in
itself. We require study and practice because we believe that the
knowledge or the skill is worth having. Now it has been shown over
and over again that what is learned with satisfaction sticks; and
what is learned with pain is thrown overboard the first minute the
watchman is off his guard. Are the names of writers with the titles
of their books less well remembered by children who learn them
through the game of "Authors" than they are by children who might be
required to memorize them from a catalog? Are the sums and products
of numbers acquired in keeping scores of games less accurate and
less permanent in the mind of the child than the same sums and
products learned as school exercises? Is the skill acquired in
handling tools--sewing costumes, or making scenery for an amateur
play--any less effective or less lasting than the skill acquired in
sewing yards of stitches or sawing yards of board just for
"exercise" in a class? On the contrary, other things being equal,
arithmetic and authors and sewing and tinkering can be made both
more effective and more lasting when associated with pleasurable
feelings than when performed under strain, compulsion and
resentment. If it is only a question of "learning" this or that,
there is no doubt that the pleasant way is in every respect the
better way.

But, of course, it is not merely a question of learning the specific
skill or knowledge. There is also the need for learning application,
persistence through difficulties, endurance, and the other hardy
virtues that distinguish a disciplined character. And here the
contrast between the old attitude and the new is most marked. We can
certainly force children to do what is disagreeable; we can hold
them to their tasks when they are tempted to abandon the monotonous
and wearisome round of uninteresting drudgery. But is this the only
way to get for the children experience with such necessary, though
unpleasant, work? We are assuming of course that such experience is
necessary, since uninteresting work cannot be separated from most
important undertakings. A typical experience in a school that has
for several years conducted a class along the lines of the newer
psychology can answer our question.

One of the difficulties that had to be overcome was the mastery of
simple addition. Another was the art of writing; and of course
reading is a necessary art of modern life. Instead of the usual
drill and practice and exercises, this class passed through the
drudgery stage without realizing that school was a prison. This was
during the autumn of the Armistice. Food conservation and thrift
were in the air. These children were presented with a quantity of
garden vegetables, but there was more than they could use
themselves, so the suggestion was made that they could have the
surplus for future use. The children, under guidance, did all the
work connected with cold-pack canning of the tomatoes. This work was
not at every point "interesting," in the superficial sense; but the
purpose of the entire project was one that appealed to the children,
so that they were quite satisfied to do the many essential details.
Did they not here learn to clean their dishes and jars as well as
they would have done had the cleaning been a "duty" imposed
arbitrarily from above? Must drudgery be dreaded to be well done?

Let the teacher who had charge of this class describe what happened,
in her own words.

"The success of the first small group in carrying through the
various steps ... led to further work of the same sort, as various
vegetables were given us. The children also dried apples and lima
beans which they gathered themselves at the school farm.

"That the interest in this rather exacting work was sustained for
two months was doubtless due to the fact that the children had a
genuine purpose in canning a large quantity of vegetables. For early
in the work, upon the suggestion of one of the class, it had been
decided to have a sale and use the proceeds to buy milk for a sick
baby. Although I had not thought of this plan myself, I was glad to
lend it my support.

"The final preparation for the sale occupied a large share of the
time for several weeks. The chief consideration from the children's
point of view seemed to be who should take charge of the business of
selling. They had conducted a play store intermittently during the
fall, but, upon testing, it was found that most of the class were
ill prepared to act as salespeople.[A] The children readily
recognized this fact and willingly went to work to drill on addition
and subtraction. The most successful drill was accomplished by means
of a dramatic rehearsal of the forthcoming sale, some children
impersonating the visitors and the others the salesmen. Real money,
correct prices, and the actual jars of vegetables and fruit were
used for this play.

[Footnote A: Remember these were second-grade children--most of them
seven or eight years old.]

"The need of invitations, of price lists, and of bookkeepers the day
of the sale, was also recognized and led to much needed practice in
written English. The prices were determined by a study of the latest
food catalog, a small group with a teacher undertaking this work. It
necessitated the use of an alphabetical index, and in some cases the
calculation of the price of pints, when only quarts were listed, as
we had used both pint and quart jars.

"Further preparation consisted of the making of labels for the jars
and of posters for the room. The art teacher, when called in to
advise, taught the children how to make accurate square letters,
which they used in various sizes for the labels and posters. The
making of fifty or more small labels with half-inch letters proved
irksome to the little people, but they showed much persistence in
completing the task, because of their interest in the sale. The
eight children who made the final large posters did a great deal of
intelligent, painstaking work. From the artistic point of view, the
posters were not noteworthy, but they represented the children's own

"The sale was conducted by the children, who made their own change,
kept records of sales and wrapped up purchases. The various duties
were agreed upon by the class, in accordance with each one's proved
ability to carry them out, and everyone had some share."

In this simple account of an experimental class conducted at the
Ethical Culture School, in New York, under the direction of Miss
Mabel R. Goodlander, are many references to drill and practice. But
throughout all of the work it was possible to maintain the interest
of the children because, apparently, the attention was not on the
drill as an end in itself, but upon the special skill or knowledge
as a means to a more remote end. And this remote end was not the
formal one of "passing," or being promoted, or getting a good mark,
but the vital, urgent purpose of raising money through the sale for
a sick baby's milk. Undoubtedly the "motives" of the several
children in this class were varied and mixed--like the motives of
good citizens who are united in support of a particular candidate,
or a particular platform. But there was enough common purpose to
insure cooperation and persistence and effort from every single
child in proportion to his ability. The learning of stupid sums and
the practice in penmanship are no more attractive to these children
than they are to ordinary children in ordinary schools in all parts
of the country. But they overcame all internal obstacles, went
through with all of the monotony and drudgery, and to that extent
triumphed over any disposition to shirk or to loaf or to dawdle or
to flit from work to sensation.

And how is it with the learning of responsibility, with acquiring a
sense of duty? Many of us have no doubt learned what we have learned
of duty and responsibility, through the constant repetition of "Thou
shalt" and "Thou shalt not" by our elders during our own growing
years. But results at least as valuable have been obtained in the
cases of others through the constant rubbing up against their equals
in a free give-and-take atmosphere. Children learn to live with
others by living with others. They learn to work with others--to
"cooperate"--by working with others. They learn to play the game, to
do teamwork, to play fair, to play in good form, to hit hard only by
playing according to rule, with others, with worthy opponents, under
good supervision. In short, the "discipline" that makes for power
and freedom may be quite as easily obtained through the exercise of
freedom as through external coercion--nay, more easily, and more

It is fair to ask whether training for a game is not quite analogous
to our idea of training for life; and whether the methods which are
found to be effective in the former kind of training are not equally
valuable for the latter. Assuming the analogy, would you have a child
learn the rules of such games as baseball or tennis from a book before
allowing him to handle a ball, or before letting him see a game? Would
you expect him to cooperate in teamwork after a long period of
drill upon the _rules_ governing team cooperation? Would you expect
him to hit hard because he has learned the correct answer to the
question, How should a player hit?

This may not seem a fair comparison to some of the "training" that
has actually been tried. Perhaps a more familiar analogy would be in
teaching a child correct movements for the game to be mastered,
separated from any experience with real games. Boys are "practicing"
for a game, and each one is drilling on some special detail,
hitting, catching, running bases, long throws, or what not; each one
of them has in mind as part of his moving purpose not only his
team's success and glory, but his own individual responsibility.
Contrast this with the same boys required to drill at precisely the
same movements on the theory that the "exercise" will do them good,
or that some time in the future they might have to meet a situation
in which a long throw or a swift run would be significant. Do you
expect the same enthusiasm and energy to be developed in both cases?
And if not the same enthusiasm and energy, can we expect the same
results--whether we view the results as so much skill or technic,
whether we view the results as so much "training in drudgery," or
whether we consider the results from the viewpoint of moral values
as so much devotion, self-sacrifice, restraint? The "moral" values
that have been for years attributed to athletics appear after all to
be the effects of intense, enthusiastic, and interested
participation in teamwork--that is, in purposeful and energetic
concern with joint undertakings.

The responsibilities we wish to develop, the sense of duty, no less
than the application and persistence, no less than knowledge and
skill, are types of habits which are best formed under the glow of
satisfying experience. Far from assuming a soft life for the child,
the idea of interest assumes the most strenuous kind of life. And
the experiences of all who have tried it justifies the assumption.
The experimental class already mentioned, similar experiments by
Mrs. Marietta Johnson at Fairhope, Alabama and elsewhere,
experimental classes at the Lincoln School and at the Horace Mann
School, at various "play" schools in this country and in England,
all show more continuous application of the children to whatever
they happen to have in hand, longer periods of intense activity, and
no sign whatever of loafing or shirking. The activities selected by
the children themselves involve just as much "discipline" as
anything that can be selected for them.

In these schools the children never hear the teacher call for
"attention," for although everybody knows that attention is an
essential of effective work, the attention takes care of itself
where the children already feel a genuine concern in the outcome.
And this concern insures satisfactory application, since the
children look forward to satisfying results. This does not mean, of
course, that either the work itself or the result is necessarily
"pleasant," in the ordinary sense. Often, indeed, it is quite the
reverse, as when the racer is exerting every last reserve of his
energy in the final spurt, or when the contestants are in suspense
awaiting the decision of the judges as to which is the best cake.
And the endless grind of practice and preparation is no more
"pleasant" to the child who knows the purpose and approves the
purpose of his efforts (having taken part in selecting the
undertaking) than similar exertion is to the child whose work is all
planned and directed by outsiders; but the satisfactions connected
with the exertions are different in the two cases, and the
corresponding results are correspondingly different.

The principle of interest as a guide to the training of children can
be applied in the home as well as in the school. It means, first of
all, taking into account the interests, tastes, preferences of the
children. As has already been suggested in earlier chapters, there
are many occasions when the child may be consulted or given a choice
of action, of amusements, of purchases, and so on--situations in
which it is a matter of indifference to older people, but in which
the making of a decision or a choice is both satisfying and valuable
to the child. Even where the decision is not an indifferent one, our
own should not be imposed in an arbitrary manner; when it differs
from that of the child, we can get his assent and cooperation, where
an arbitrary choice leaves him cold or even resentful.

The games children play, whether by themselves or with other
children, are only in part manifestations of tastes: they represent
to a degree stages of development. For the reason, therefore, that
interests develop, we shall find that what is a favorable time for
one child is not necessarily a favorable time for another child to
learn a particular thing. This is very well shown by the great
differences found among children, as to learning school subjects
like reading or writing. In some the interest is aroused very early,
and for them this is the best time; with others the interest does
not appear until the third or fourth grade, or even later, and for
such children this is the best time. There is no one period that is
best for all children; by attempting to treat all alike, therefore,
we not only waste a great deal of energy and good feeling, but we
often defeat our purpose by antagonizing the children and thus
making them resist the very things we want them to hug to
themselves. And this is just as true of what we try to do in the
home as it is of school teaching.

To discover the interests of the children requires that they be
given an opportunity to express themselves. This means in most cases
much more freedom than children have heretofore enjoyed. But it
means also constant vigilance on the part of the elders, not so much
to guard against the freedom being abused, as to guard against the
opportunity being wasted. The taste in games or in reading, the
choice of companions or of leisure time occupations must not only
show themselves to be indulged; they must be seized upon by those
who guide the children, as means for giving drive and direction to
further development. A child who devotes too much time to athletics
and too little to literature, may be drawn to reading through books
about athletic contests of the classics, or through modern stories
of college life. On the other hand, the boy who is prone to get his
satisfactions vicariously and to neglect active participation in
games and other activities, must be led through his reading,
properly selected and unostentatiously placed under his nose, to
more direct concern with producing practical effects in his
environment. The interest, once discovered, must be the means for
stimulating to greater exertion and to closer unification of the
child's activities.

One of the things that presents a difficulty in every generation is
the fact that the social and moral ideals change from age to age. We
are thus constantly tempted to put into the characters of our
children those traits that were valued highly by our parents,
without always considering the importance of each item for the days
in which our children will play their parts. Thus it comes about
that many of the virtues that have a traditional value may be
questioned when offered as staples for citizens of to-morrow.
Obedience, for example, is a permanent necessity in a society that
rests upon the assumption that one or a few chosen men represent the
will of the gods on earth, but has only a transitory value in a
democracy. As someone has said, obedience in childhood must be
considered as a scaffold that is useful while the lasting parts of
the structure are being put in place; when the desired structure is
completed, obedience is naturally removed as of no further service.
Now the kind of discipline required in a democracy calls for an
attitude or disposition that makes cooperation with others come as a
matter of course; it calls for the making of decisions, or the
forming of opinions, on the basis of facts; and it calls for the
habit of taking due account of the rights of others. The training
for this class of habits is best obtained through methods that take
full account of children's interests.

Just as the older outlook turned to "discipline" as a means for
obtaining freedom, the new psychology utilizes freedom as a means
for obtaining discipline. In both cases the end is of course the
same--that is, the liberation of the human spirit and the organizing
of the individual's powers to the greatest good. But as our ideas of
human relations and of values have changed, science has given us new
methods for attaining the final goals that we set ourselves.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Your Child: Today and Tomorrow - Some Problems for Parents Concerning Punishment, Reasoning, Lies, Ideals and Ambitions, Fear, Work and Play, Imagination, Social Activities, Obedience, Adolescence, Will, Heredity" ***

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