How To Train Children In Home

How To Train Children In Home.

Home a unit of government.—As already observed, the home is a partnership. It is a unit of government. In an ideal unit of home government, every member is governed by and through an intelligent understanding of the customs, rules and laws, a conscientious recognition of what is right and wrong and the golden rule of love. Each have equal rights. What is wrong for one is equally wrong for each and all. What is right for one is equally right for each and all. Such a home is a unit of government where parents and children are organized under a constitution of intellect, conscience and love; for the purpose of building character, fitting themselves for larger citizenship in this life and the life that is to be the sequence to this one.

The home is the biggest institution in the world. Home building is the noblest and highest vocation in life. Its responsibilities are stupendous, its possibilities are limitless and its rewards are infinite. Home builders should be the best qualified and the most skillful of architects.

How To Train Children In Home;10 Methods And Tips

The training of a child.—Solomon said, “train up{48} a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” The thoughts, actions and habits of childhood have much to do with a child’s future character and possibilities. When a child’s training is commenced in early childhood, was it begun soon enough? After a noted surgeon had examined a patient, turning to a friend he said, “If I could have had this patient two generations ago, I could have saved his life.” When Oliver Wendell Holmes was asked when a child’s training should begin, he replied, “At least one hundred years before he is born.” Sometimes it happens that good children are made bad and bad children are made worse by the company they keep before they are born. The little boy was not far wrong, who, when he found his mother lamenting the choice she had made of a life companion, said, “Mamma, we made a bad choice when we chose papa, didn’t we?” Some children have made an equally bad choice of their mammas and some appear to have made a doubly bad choice of both parents.

Each child must be studied.—A child is not easily understood. No two children are alike. Each child has a very complex nature. He is the product of the ages. The complex nature of his parents are blended into his being, producing a more complex being. He is not a duplicate of either. He has received from his parents a blending of their natures; in a limited way,{49} what they inherited from his grandparents and their grandparents back to Adam. Parents and teachers should try to discover his latent forces, his slumbering passions, his genius, his inherent propensities and native goodness. They should wisely use nature’s laws and God’s gifts, in constraining, controlling and eradicating the inherited and acquainted tendencies that are pernicious; also in drawing out, giving direction to and developing the inherited and acquired good in his life.

Importance of early training.—Children in the home are to be trained. Their prenatal culture, the most important part of a child’s education, may have been respected or neglected. This cannot be altered now. The next agency to be utilized in the child’s training is environment. This can be applied from its birth. The child is more susceptible to external influences in babyhood than in childhood, in childhood than in youth, in youth than in maturity. The child becomes more fixed in disposition and character and more difficult to change as he grows older.

The training of parents.—If I were a perfect sage, philosopher or Christian, or all three combined into a perfect teacher, I would much prefer the task of training one hundred little children than the task of training ten parents (including the author) how to train their children. Most parents need to devote three hours, to a careful analysis and study of their inherited and acquired{50} weaknesses, to one devoted to a similar study of a child.

A study of disposition.—Such peculiarities of mind and disposition as cruelty, ambition, firmness, conscientiousness and affection may be so pronounced in one’s life as to bias his judgment and unfit him for the training of children. When one of these characteristics is very dominant in a father or mother, it will most likely appear in an exaggerated form in one or more of the children. Like excites like, is a law that should be thoroughly understood by parents. Where firmness is very pronounced in both parents and child, there will be a constant clash unless one or both exercise full self-control.

Such a child should be controlled largely by love. A severe or cruel parent will make a coward of a timid child and a criminal of a self-willed child. The over-conscientious parent will disgust one child and make a fanatic of another. The over-affectionate parent will appeal alone to the affections and leave the will of a child undeveloped. Appealing alone to the ambition of a very proud, ambitious child is likely to make him conceited and egotistical. For a parent to quarrel, have a fit of anger or to use violence is degrading and demonstrates his weakness and incapacity to be at the head of a family. At the same time, these mental states tend to awaken similar feelings in the child, which usually result in a clash. If the child had first displayed anger, this could have been overcome by self-control, kindness and love on the part of the parent.

The law of influence.—If you want to arouse a desirable feeling, sentiment, emotion or conviction in another, you must be controlled by that mental and moral state and allow it to emanate from you. If you are controlled, by an undesirable thought or feeling, others must have self-control enough to resist your influence, or soon they will be controlled by a similar mental state. Thus, we see that unless parents exercise judgment and self-control, they will often use methods that are unwise and harmful.

Defects in our homes and schools.—One of the saddest defects in our home training and our system of education is, that when a child reaches maturity in the home or graduates from the high school or college, he knows more about other things than he does about himself and the essentials of building a home. How to analyze, study, know and control one’s self; how to understand, train and govern children would be of far greater value in the education of young men and women than many departments of study we now emphasize.

The function of the home.—The children are in the home for the primary purpose of being developed into ideal men and women. To accomplish this end is{52} the mission of parents. To do this effectively parents must possess high ideals. These ideals include such training and education as will lead to a strong and healthy body, a keen and well-trained intellect, a moral and religious character and an abiding faith in God.

Physical training.—The physical, mental and moral natures are intimately and vitally related. One influences each of the other two. The physical health and strength of a child hinders or helps the mental and moral life. The proper time to overcome the weakness of any physical function, or inherited physical weakness, is in childhood. This is done by proper dieting, hygienic living, bathing, exercise and sexual chastity. Improperly prepared and unwholesome food are the chief causes of death among infants and a leading cause of impaired indigestion in childhood. The kind of food used, effects the mind and character of the child. Too much candy, rich pastries and meat are not good for a child, or grown people either.

Use of medicine.—One hundred million dollars ($100,000,000) are spent annually on patent medicine and fully that much or more on mineral drugs. We are not animals. We do not know how to live. Few men would be willing to give a lawyer ten dollars to tell him how to keep out of trouble, but he will give him all he has to get him out of trouble. Few would give ten dollars to a doctor for preventive advice, but{53} they will pay a doctor all they possess, for a cure. Oliver Wendell Holmes had a custom of saying, “If all the drugs of the world were thrown into the sea, it would be a blessing to humanity, but a curse to the fish.” Children should be kept healthy by hygienic living.

Use of condiments, coffee, tobacco, etc.—Condiments, tea, coffee and tobacco are not foods—they stimulate—they do not strengthen; they create unnatural appetites and inflame the passions. No one would drink tea or coffee were it not for the tannin and caffeine contained in them. If these drugs were removed, these drinks would be no more tempting than a cup of warm water. Most people, who use these drinks would consider it a sin to go to a drug store, buy some pure tannin or caffeine, dilute it with water, sweeten it with sugar and drink it.

The tobacco habit is an enormous evil.—It creates a demand for something stronger. It paves the way for the whisky habit. Drunkenness is largely due to a pathological physical condition. Remove the causes, coffee, tobacco and sensuality and it will do more to check drunkenness than all the legislation that can be secured in the next century.

Mental training.—The mental training of children is very largely committed to school and college teachers. Parents should take a very intense interest in the{54} child’s education. They should study the talents and discover and strengthen the weaker faculties of the child. Most children get their minds “stuffed” with unassimilated facts. Nothing is clear to them. They do not remember what they have learned. They cannot reason logically. They have had their minds “stuffed.” Parents as well as teachers, can largely prevent this. From the earliest mental training of the child, he should be trained to take a personal interest in knowing things. He should be taught to think. Encourage a child to ask questions. If he asks questions which he should understand, have him answer them and give his reasons for the answer. In some cases ask him questions that will suggest an answer. Getting a child started right is the more important half of his education. He will look after the other half.

Moral training.—The object of all moral training of a child is self-government or self-control. Before a child is capable of self-government, he must be taught to distinguish between right and wrong. This is largely the work of the intellect. His conscience must be awakened and quickened. Conscience is a natural instinct through which God’s spirit and man’s conception, of right and wrong, prompts him to moral action, and which condemns the action he conceives to be wrong and approves the action he conceives to be right. The will must be so trained and developed that a child{55} is able to will to do what he knows to be right and his conscience approves. He is now a perfectly free agent, a law to himself. He is governed from within and need not to be governed from without. This moral training requires years and should begin in infancy.

Let the baby alone.—Good babies are made bad by receiving too much attention. The baby should not be lifted from the cradle, fondled and coddled, kissed and talked to, simply because it gurgles or makes an innocent attempt to be noticed. This is needless attention. At first it is disagreeable to the child. Later a demand is created and the child is spoiled. If left alone babies would entertain themselves much of the time.

When a baby is learning to crawl and walk, observe the “let alone” policy as much as possible. Keep an eye on the child to see that it does not get hurt. What you do not want it to have, put out of its reach. It should be safeguarded from places of danger. If these precautions are taken, you will be saved the excuse for that endless round of “don’t get hurt,” “don’t touch that,” “don’t do that,” etc. By these endless “don’ts” children are taught disobedience. If the child falls, unless it is hurt, do not run and pick it up. Let it alone, it will get up. In this way you teach it to be independent and self-reliant. If you run and{56} pick it up, the child gets the idea that you were to blame. Later, when it falls, it screams, cries and gets angry. Perhaps you hit the object and teach the child that the object over which it fell was at fault. This is deception and has a bad effect.

Give the child something to do.—Teach it to dress itself, to take off and put on its shoes and stockings. It should have a special place to put these, on retiring. It should have a drawer or a room where it can put its individual belongings. This teaches the child the idea of responsibility.

The first idea of wrongdoing.—When a child eats some forbidden thing, or does some forbidden act, from which it suffers, it can be led to see that it has violated the laws of nature. If possible, alleviate the pain, but the lesson which nature would teach, through pain, should be emphasized. The child should see that the pain came as a result of violating the laws of nature. A little later in life, the child can be taught that all desires, thoughts, words and acts that are helpful to self and others are right and those that injure self and others are wrong. These principles can be applied gradually to the laws of the home, of society and God.

Parents should agree.—There should be a perfect agreement between parents, with respect to the government in the home. Where parents disagree,{57} children lose all respect for parental authority. Differences should be discussed by parents, only when the children are not present.

Punishment in the home.—Whipping, slapping and cuffing are relics of savagery. Whipping should never be resorted to except in extreme cases. It is not the natural consequence of disobedience. It never appeals to a child’s sense of justice. Punishment should always be natural and consistent with justice. Some examples will illustrate these principles, as follows: A child is called to breakfast—it does not come.

Stubbornness or disobedience is the cause. What should be a natural punishment? Scolding, slapping, jerking the child up and forcing it to the table? No—there is no logical connection. The punishment should consist in the child’s doing without its breakfast. This should be explained to the child: A boy loses his toy. Should he be pitied and another bought for him? Certainly not. Should he be whipped? This would not be natural. He simply goes without his toy until he finds it: A boy steals some object. Should he be whipped? No. His attention should be called to the nature of his sin. He should be compelled, if necessary, to return the stolen object and confess his wrong. The deep sense of humiliation is the natural punishment. Let him feel the full force of it: A boy uses tobacco. Should{58} he be whipped?

Certainly not, as long as his teacher, the family doctor, the minister and the father use it. No child on earth could see any connection between the wrong and the punishment. What should be done? Nine times out of ten, under present conditions, the boy will use tobacco, in spite of all that a mother can do. So long as doctors, teachers, ministers and fathers use tobacco, legislation against the cigarette will increase our youthful criminals. If a father has a moral right to use tobacco, so has his boy. If the boy can be led to see clearly that the use of tobacco is wrong, if his conscience can be awakened and if his personal will can be brought to constantly oppose the use of it, then he can be saved. THIS IS THE ONLY REMEDY.

Study the offense.—Find the natural consequence. Become an example of obedience to every law, for your child. Show the child the results of wrong living and the benefits of right living. This will usually obviate all punishment, aside from what nature inflicts.

Corporal punishment.—If corporal punishment be unavoidable, it should not be administered when either parent or child is angry. This would only increase the cause that made the punishment necessary. In most cases it would be best to postpone the punishment until the next day. Only a very rebellious child can be helped by this method.{59}

Scolding and threatening.—From a hotel window I heard a mother say to her twelve-year-old girl, “I will gouge your eyes out.” “I will slap your head off, you little hussy.” A child treated in this way becomes willful or spiteful, loses self-respect or respect for the parent. Scolding and threatening children are sins against their finer natures.

Three good rules.—The author’s father would not employ men on his farm without the understanding that they were not to swear, speak vulgarly about a woman, or tell a “ghost” or “bugaboo” story in the presence of his children. A servant, man or woman, about your business or home, can undo or counteract in a few hours or days, in a single statement or story, picture or book, act or habit, the life efforts of a noble father and a pure mother. One of the purest men recently said to me, “When I was only fifteen years of age I heard a servant utter one sentence that required a score of years to get its effects eradicated.” Men have told me of the pernicious effects of servants, dating back to when they were two and three years old.

Frightful stories and startling statements, of impending dangers, destroy the natural freedom, independence and courage of many children for life. Once I sat by the side of a nervous mother holding a nervous four-year-old girl in her lap, as our train sped forward at the rate of fifty miles an hour, over one of those magnificent{60} stretches on a western prairie. We had discussed heredity, child training and other interesting and vital subjects, when she referred to her nervous little girl and told me how at night she would notice her little body twitching, jerking, floundering and all at once she would awake with a scream having dreamed that she was falling from some dizzy height toward jagged rocks and certain death beneath; or that some huge angry beast, poised on tiptoes and in the act of pouncing upon her and tearing her body into shreds—a horrible nightmare.

About the time she had finished describing one of those fearful experiences and was in the act of asking me for advice, we were passing an object on the outside that interested the little girl; quickly she turned and began peering through the window. She was in no danger. Her head was not projected beyond the window. The nervous mother grabbed the little girl by the body and cried, “You are falling! You are falling!” My reply to her request for advice was, “My! if you should handle me that way, I would have a half dozen nightmares here in open daylight.” I told that mother that her daughter’s nervousness was due to bad heredity and bad environment and that she was responsible for both.

Personal purity.—As soon as a child begins to enquire about its origin, it is old enough to be told{61} the truth in the right way. Some children become interested when they are three and four, all normal children by the time they are seven. Since the inquiring mind will not rest satisfied until a plausible answer has been received, and since the ignorant and vicious youth is ever alert and anxious to give this information in a pernicious way, it behooves the thoughtful parents to safeguard their children with the truth told in the right way. No normal boy should reach the age of eight, or girl the age of ten, before they have been told the story of life.

Children often discover, or are taught, the secret vice at a very early age. Sex consciousness and pleasure may be early developed because of some unnatural conditions of the sex organs. For this reason, parents should know that these parts are normal in their children. When children are observed to frequently handle, or scratch these organs, unnatural conditions should be suspected. The child should not be slapped or scolded, rather call in the family physician. Trying to keep a child ignorant concerning this vice is impossible, therefore unwise. There is not one boy in fifty who does not know of the vice, and understands the language used to describe it.

Trying to keep a child from vicious companions is good as far as it goes, but the facts are that the child is most likely to discover the vice himself, while it is hardly possible to keep a child entirely away from the vicious. The only sane method is to teach the child the laws of personal purity. If the secret vice is to be prevented, some children should receive council when they are six, others at eight, all by the time they are ten or twelve. Children have inherited lustful tendencies. Their troubles are more largely from within than from without. Hence the children that have been most carefully guarded from bad company and kept in ignorance are usually the ones who are most injured by the secret sin. A single talk to a child is not sufficient. We frequently instruct and appeal to the child to be obedient, truthful and honest; in like manner we should at reasonable periods instruct and encourage him to keep his thoughts and desires pure.

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