|The Plain Truth About Child Rearing
Chapter 1: What is a child?
Chapter 2: Criminals are made, not born
Chapter 3: How your child learns
Chapter 4: You can punish your children in love
Chapter 5: How to get results
Chapter 6: Should children be seen and not heard?
Chapter 7: Your children at play
Chapter 8: How to prepare your children for school
Chapter 9: How to help your teen-agers
Never has there been a time when the truth about child training has been more sorely needed. We are faced with a veritable landslide of juvenile crime and lawlessness.
Besides those future millions who will actually become entangled with law enforcement agencies, there are many times that number who, even though not actually running afoul of the law, are rebellious, hostile, frustrated, and have no personal desire to make something of themselves.
What can you do to insure yourself against the eventuality of having your children become delinquent, and to have a guarantee that your children will grow up being obedient, respectful, considerate and loving — having the right values and a real sense of responsibility?
WHAT IS A CHILD? "CONGRATULATIONS! say all the friends, relatives and greeting cards to the beaming parents. And what a tremendous moment it is — bringing a newborn child into the world — introducing him around.
And what a responsibility. Youthful couples, carefree and unencumbered, suddenly become aware of a great responsibility.
A Plan of Action Countless thousands of little babies are carried into homes where exists the naive assumption that all the knowledge and understanding necessary for the care and training of children has come to exist automatically by virtue of the arrival of the infant.
There are many mechanics, engineers, artists or musicians today who are competent in their fields merely because they had the tools, machinery or instruments near them as a part of their environment. Many mechanics are grown-up boys who began "tinkering" with machines and automobiles — learning by trial and error — taking them apart and seeing how they were put together again.
This, sad to say, is the identical type of training course pursued by most parents in the art of child training. Simply because the baby is near at hand, and is now a wanted or unwanted inheritance of the family, parents blithely assume the child will develop just as they desire.
"Competent parenthood is looked upon generally as a sort of magic endowment that makes study unnecessary. No grasp of the responsibilities and no vision of the great possibilities are considered essential when entering the career. Sometimes there is no special desire for children — merely a lucky accident... No special thought is given to the new character problems that arise from day to day. No plan of action is outlined" (Leslie B. Hohman, "As the Twig Is Bent", New York, The Macmillan Co., p. 2).
What, then, are the new parents to do? From all sides comes the hue and cry that the oldest profession on earth — that of rearing children — is facing abysmal failure. There are seemingly countless books on child study, child feeding and care, child training, child rearing, child psychology, and just about "child-everything." The parents are assured that NO ONE today really knows how to rear children properly. Where are they to turn? The books, articles, and other trivia dealing with the subject are confusing, to say the least.
And so — where does the parent turn to learn of this strange new life, this squirmy, wriggling, crying, giggling, tiny reproduction of themselves?
Observe a marvelous "mechanical brain." Here is a phenomenal machine, filled with thousands of miles of intricate wiring, complete with a control panel so dizzying, so technical as to stupefy the average layman. However, in observing how this machine functions, a little of its outward looks, and watching one or two repair operations, one of the laymen takes it in his head to write a book advising other laymen exactly what this machine is all about.
But wait! WHICH would you rather read? The book written by the recent observer — or the MANUAL published by the inventor and manufacturer?
Has NO ONE ever thought of going to the INVENTOR of children? He is God!
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth..." (Gen. 1:26-28).
Yes, difficult though it seems to be for the most "modern" to accept the amazing truth that God is Creator — the existence and the work of the Divine Architect stand clearly proved. (Write for our free booklet "Does God Exist?")
God did not leave His creation in the dark. He then "... commanded the man" (Gen. 2:16), giving him certain specific instructions on how to live.
God gave to man a manual, a textbook, an instruction book on how the human machine works. Since God is its Creator and its Inventor, God is the One who knows exactly how it operates. God gave to man certain essential knowledge — which man could not have otherwise discovered for himself. The Bible, the inspired and holy Word of God, is the most basic of all books on the subject of how to rear children.
What is the best source for right knowledge about child training? The "manual of the Inventor" — the inspired Word of God — your Bible!
What Is a Child? This question is asked — and richly deserves to be answered — simply because, by their actions, it seems many do not honestly know. All too often newborn babies, and especially firstborn, are treated as if they were "little green men from Mars." Is it any wonder? There seem to be more "rules" written about this squirming infant than can be perused in the average lifetime of a normal adult. "Do this!" or "Don't do that!" is heard from every side.
The newcomer arrives as a total stranger. According to usual procedures, the father has been allowed brief glimpses of his progeny through the double-thick glass of the maternity ward in the hospital. But now he is home. All of a sudden, it seems, your entire home life is completely topsy-turvy. Every sigh, every chuckle, and especially every CRY from the new arrival sends your little household into a veritable frenzy. There are bottles to be carefully sterilized, formulas to be mixed, schedules to be met, diapers to be folded and carefully stacked, room temperatures to be checked, plus morning, noon and nighttime feedings.
This is all too often the normal procedure — the accepted routine in the arrival of a first child.
But let's clear the air and come down to earth. Rather than treat the new arrival as something made of fragile glass, let's get a true perspective, and realize JUST WHAT A CHILD REALLY IS.
First, he is a human being. He is a miniature copy of yourselves. He probably has, though it is sometimes undiscernible at such an early stage, your own looks, your very own nature, your voice, and some of your talents. However, he is also an INDIVIDUAL with a mind definitely all his own.
What the Manual Says Let's go to the MANUAL of the Inventor — the inspired Word of God — and see what He says a child is.
"What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honor" (Psalms 8:4, 5).
A new human life is made in the exact similitude of divine life! God said, "Let us make man in OUR IMAGE"! But so far God has made man merely a physical replica, and far from an exact copy of God in character.
"O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me... For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether... For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast knit me together [margin] in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am FEARFULLY and WONDERFULLY made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which day by day [margin] were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them" (Psalms 139:1, 4, 13-16).
Children Are Precious Gifts One of the greatest blessings God ever promised some of His patriarchs was the blessing of children! Abraham, BY FAITH, waited many years for a son. All of the promises which God gave to ancient Israel had to do with the begettal of healthy children. God says:
"He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the Lord" (Psalms 113:9).
"Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate" (Psalms 127:3-5).
Children are PRECIOUS, priceless gifts from Almighty God to any parents!
What a pity that more parents today do not understand the REAL miracle of childbirth, and give God thanks for it. A child is the sweetest, most lovely and beautiful, altogether most exciting and completely satisfying thing that can happen to a young married couple who are truly in love.
God says: "Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labor of thine hands: HAPPY shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord" (Psalms 128:1-4).
What, then, is a child? A little baby is an exact reproduction of the two parents, a separate human being, who is a completely lovable, laughable, sweet little creature, that will steal your heart and your reason, bring you heartache and tears, exultation and pride, anxiety and worry, happiness and joy, but who will teach you the real meaning of the word "love."
Should You Expect Disobedience? Should you expect this little reproduction of yourself to be hateful, rebellious? Is it merely a phase when children have temper tantrums, shouting defiance at their parents?
Many modern books available on child psychology will group children, according to various ages, into certain "phases" or "stages" of growth and development.
For a general view of these patterns, let's notice the following quotation:
"Our observations of child behavior have led us to believe that almost any kind of behavior you can think of... develops by means of remarkably patterned and largely predictable stages.
"Knowledge of these growth stages can help you a good deal and in a great many ways. To begin with, it can give you an idea of what to expect" (Francis L. Ilg and Louise Bates Ames, "Child Behavior", Harper, pp. 3-4).
Let's notice the symptoms of some of these supposed "predictable stages."
"The eighteen-monther walks down a one-way street, though this one-way street can be readily reversed. And this street more often than not seems to lead in a direction exactly opposite to that which the adult has in mind. Asked to 'come here, dear' he either stands still or runs in the opposite direction. (He may even like to walk backwards.) Ask him to put something in the wastebasket, and he is more likely to empty out what is already in it. Hold out your hand for the cup which he has just drained, he will drop it onto the floor. Give him a second sock to put on, and he will more likely than not remove the one which is already on his foot. His enjoyment of the opposite may be the reason why it works so well, if he is running away from you, to say 'bye-bye' and walk away from HIM. Then he may come running. Not only does he not come when called — he seldom obeys any verbal command. 'No' is his chief word" (ibid., p. 22).
To state the "eighteen-monther" does all these disobedient acts simply by virtue of being 18 months old is simply not true!
The 18-monther will do these things only if he has been left without any supervision, has never been trained, never been taught the meaning of obedience, and has been turned out to "pasture" like any animal, rather than reared by his parents.
Let's really understand. The Mythical Phases of Childhood By having already carelessly assumed any means of punishment or control over a child to be harmful, some child psychologists have laboriously catalogued the "behavior" patterns of children — by merely observing them.
They have, instead of training the children, seeing how positive methods of real teaching, instruction and discipline will work, merely "observed" the little children much in the same manner as watching monkeys in cages. They have busily made notes, and collected sage observations. As a result of these widespread "observations," the modern child psychologists have carefully documented certain definite phases in the actions of children.
Let's notice carefully, however, that these phases are merely the inevitable reactions of untrained children, undisciplined children, who have been OBSERVED instead of trained. Tell a dog which has been trained to "come here" and it will obey. Give a horse a command when it has been trained, and it will obey. BUT, some child behaviorists assure you that you cannot expect such obedience from the infinitely more intelligent, far superior human mind.
My own 18-monthers, when asked to "Come here, dear!" — came here! When asked to put something in the wastebasket — they immediately put it in the wastebasket. When holding out my hand for the cups they had drained, they immediately gave them to me. Given a second sock, they always put it on.
Why? Simply because they had been patiently TAUGHT to do these things.
Later, the authors of this particular work, in breaking down the supposed "stages" through which all children are to pass, said this of 2 1/2-year-old children:
"TWO AND A HALF YEARS: This is an age about which parents may need warning because so much that the child now does naturally, almost inevitably, is directly contrary to what his parents would like to have him do. The 2 1/2-year-old is not, temperamentally, an easily adaptable member of any social group.
"The change in behavior which takes place between two and two-and-one-half can be rather overwhelming, perhaps to the child as well as to the adults who surround him. Two-and-a-half is a peak age of disequilibrium. Parents often say that they can't do a thing with the child of this age... First of all, a two-and-a-half-year-old is rigid and inflexible. He wants exactly what he wants when he wants it. He cannot adapt, give in, wait a little while. Everything has to be done just so. Everything has to be in the right place he considers its proper place. For any domestic routine, he sets up a rigid sequence of events which must follow each other always in the same manner."
Here we are assured the little, tiny toddling two-and- a-half-year-old human baby, a very sweet and lovable little reproduction of our own selves, is just BOUND to act in this prescribed fashion, simply because he has reached one of the "steps" along the ladder of life — the "stage" at two-and-a-half years of age. Parents are assured this child cannot adapt.
That means, if parents attempt to get him to "adapt," they may run the risks of "breaking his spirit," "giving him a complex," or any number of perfectly horrible results. Parents are assured the little two-and-a-half-year-old toddler cannot possibly "give in" or "wait awhile." Therefore, the entire household often revolves around, waits on, is ordered according to, adapted to, and adjusted to the childish whims of a little toddling two-and-a-half-year-old baby.
What would a parent do if he had seriously followed these teachings in some of the following eventualities?
Effects of No Discipline Suppose a little "eighteen-monther" was toddling off the curb, into the path of rumbling, swiftly moving traffic. If he is to be normally expected to "run the other way," if you don't dare command him to "Come here!" then what are you to do?
"Surround him with interesting objects" as the psychologists recommend? How? Is there time?
Do you merely accept the already quoted thought that the child simply "cannot wait awhile" and that he "seldom obeys any verbal command" and then resign yourself to his IMMEDIATE DEATH?
The authors continue: "Second, he is extremely domineering and demanding. He must give the orders. He must make the decisions. If he decides 'mummy do,' daddy cannot be accepted as a substitute... Two-and-a-half is an age of violent emotions. There is little modulation to the emotional life of the child at this age.
"Furthermore, it is an age of opposite extremes... Total all these characteristics together and you have a child who is not easy to deal with. Vigorous, enthusiastic, energetic, the typical two-and-a-half may be. But he is not an easy person to have around the house. However, mothers will find that great patience, a real understanding of the difficulties of the age and a willingness to use endless techniques to get around rigidities and rituals and stubbornness will help get through the time till the difficult two-and-a-half turns three" (ibid., pp. 25-27).
Fantastic, isn't it? The little two-and-a-half-year-old is extremely domineering and demanding, and he must give the orders. HE must make the decisions for the family. If he decides that his mother should perform some task for him, he will not accept "daddy" as a substitute. Thus gullible parents are assured that these characteristics of a two-and-a-half-year-old child are just as sure, just as irrevocable as an approaching cold front out of the north. There is nothing they can do about it. It is just "that way."
Then, supposedly, he advances to the stage of 4 years, where he likes to hit, bite, throw rocks, break toys and run away. The 4-year-old, assured the doctor, is just normally expected to do these things, because, you see, he is four. He is not cowed by maternal threats and does not fear threats of punishment, but is defiant and swaggering.
And then, the incomprehensible suggestion is given by the learned doctor — that parents must use "firm discipline." But what kind? How? And are results to be expected?
The doctor didn't say. But they went on, "The 6-year old often likes to say 'I'll kill you,' or 'I hate you.'" It is also, advises the doctor to bewildered parents, the age when he is most apt to cheat and steal.
But — this isn't all! By the time the child is 8, he is exuberant, expansive, cocky and rarely finishes anything he starts. At 9, he is independent and resists bossing, exploiting adults to get his own way, and uses neurotic excuses. At 10, he is suddenly "nice," said the doctor, but at 11 he is rude and argumentative, The doctor warned sagely against making demands on any 11-year-old.
At 13, they like to be left alone; at 14 they are "noisy," said the doctor, and at 15 they are "hard boiled" and practically secede from the family union.
"Better Days" Coming? But parents who are busily "sweating it out" are advised not to fear these awesome gyrations, neurotic tendencies, rages, psychotic behaviors, expressions of hatred and sudden disappearances of their growing progeny.
No, there will be a brighter day tomorrow. "And 16," said the doctor, "is really sweet 16." At last, according to THIS PARTICULAR pediatrician, your children are happy, friendly, good tempered, self-assured and "realize that Mom and Dad have finally learned something in the past few months."
Funny? It would be, if it were not so piteous, so utterly shameful, and so terrifyingly damaging to the eager, pliable, growing minds of our youths.
Isn't it almost a complete insult to the intelligence of any normal-minded human being to accept and believe, let alone attempt to "practice" such methods of "child observance" (since it certainly cannot be called "child REARING")?
Can you see? Can you really comprehend what is behind this false concept?
Some behaviorists have merely put together the tendency toward rebellion in a child with his obviously increased energies, coordination, scope of activity, increased motor facility, longer reach, and growth in all physical capacities.
Obviously an untrained child of four will be getting into more trouble than an untrained child of one and one half. Obviously the eighteen-monther, who has not experienced proper child rearing principles, will not obey his parents' commands. The child psychologists can very safely predict these "behavior patterns" in untrained, somewhat rebellious, little children who have never really known proper and loving parental authority.
Yes, let's really look at what we've read — let's really get PRACTICAL with it, and ask some truly basic questions. Isn't it pretty poor comfort to tell a parent with the little two-and-a-half-year-old already described that he should be willing to use "endless techniques" and develop "understanding" to help him survive the time until his little 2 1/2 year-old turns 3?
Apparently, my own children were so ignorant of these "stages" through which they have been growing they forgot to express the characteristics that these "stages" should have demanded of them! At any rate, our children, at the "stage" of "two-and-a-half" NEVER were domineering and demanding — they NEVER tried to give orders — they NEVER made the decisions — they were NEVER given to temper tantrums — they were decidedly flexible and not at all rigid. They were able to adapt to anything; they were able to give in constantly — in fact, several times a day, and they were able to wait — even days or months should that have been necessary. But more of this later.
Do Children "Store Up" Emotions? Frequently, you hear of adults speaking of "getting unwound" by means of recreation or other activity. We talk of being "tense" or "high-strung" or "keyed-up." So far, so good. This, to a degree, is absolutely true.
Every adult, especially engaged in the type of occupation which demands high-tension mental concentration, needs a "change of pace" once in awhile — to "unwind." But wouldn't it be a strange society if the adults were given to weird emotional outbursts, in which they seized a gun, shot down five or six helpless bystanders, cudgeled a policeman to death, and then, their feelings assuaged, lapsed into their ordinary and daily routine? A ridiculous suggestion — to say the least. And yet, this is the exact advocation of some who would assure you they are foremost authorities on how to rear children.
It is reasoned that children also need to "unwind." But, since their minds are not yet intelligent enough to lead them into other recreational activities or diversions, they oftentimes throw a "temper tantrum." This, some child psychologists assure you, is merely a method of "letting off steam" and should be patiently ignored by the parent.
"Anger and resistance are the natural responses to being blocked. Children show this by having temper tantrums when they have to be interrupted to be washed, dressed, or taken to the toilet. They burst out if they are interfered with at play. Hunger and fatigue are other kinds of thwarting situations that produce anger" ("The Complete Book of Mothercraft", p. 356, Parents Institute).
Yes, anger and resistance are the natural responses to being blocked. But simply because they are the "natural" responses to authority does not make them right.
"At about the age of two, children show anger more often than they are likely to when they are older... If we can somehow interest him in the new thing we want him to do, we may avoid a scene... A negative reaction to commands at this age is so common that the foresighted mother tries to avoid conflict by giving as few orders as possible and making requests instead" (ibid., pp. 356-357).
How does a parent in a restaurant, or in a public market or shop, really put these empty theories into practice? How would you apply this suggestion in the following circumstance?
You are in a nice restaurant with your wife and children. Johnny, aged 2 1/2, becomes angry at the food you've chosen for him. While you are trying to politely give the waitress your order, Johnnie begins to scream with anger. He shouts, at the top of his high-pitched voice, "No! No! No! I don't want that!" and, throwing himself to the floor, begins to kick, cry and scream in a frenzy of unbridled emotion.
Do the parents merely calmly smile, placidly ignore Johnnie, and go right on ordering?
If they should — I doubt if the owner of the restaurant would permit them to remain in his place of business. Well, then, do they "somehow interest him in the new thing" they want him to do, and "avoid a scene"? Not really very practical, is it? Here again, the authors assure us a negative reaction to commands is common at this particular age.
This is true — only if the child has not been trained correctly from infancy. It is true only if the parents have not had right and correct discipline, have not known how to rear their children properly, but have merely been "observing their children growing up" instead of really actively rearing them. Otherwise, IF the child of two years of age has been trained, has been shown the proper and deep love, consideration and care, but at the same time has had authoritative discipline given from love, and in love, he will not burst into anger and shout "no!" at his parents. I have had the living proof of this fact in my own home!
Habits of Hatred "It has already been pointed out that a child between the ages of 18 months and three years tends to say 'no' to every suggestion. If he is not constantly being given directions and commands he has less chance to build up this habit of balkiness.
"If parents could only train themselves not to be shocked when their young children express their anger by saying 'I hate you' or by calling them names, they would improve their relations with their children. The average father and mother have forgotten the feelings of resentment they had in early life toward their own parents... A child drains off his resentment if he is allowed to express it... if he is made to feel guilty over these natural reactions, if he has to suppress them or be punished, his feelings may be in a turmoil! But if his parents can say to his expressions of hate, 'Of course you feel that way. I used to, too, when someone made me do something,' he doesn't STORE UP guilt over his conflicting feelings about his father and mother" (ibid., p. 359).
Does a child really "let off steam" and "drain off his resentment" if he is allowed to express it?
Let's understand! Some child psychologists have followed the theory that human emotions are much like compressing air in a bottle. The more it is compressed, the more resistance it has against the cap. Just like a pressure cooker, or a boiling pot of water on the stove, they theorize, resentment and rebellion, building up within the child, need to "explode." A child, they say, needs to "let off steam" every now and then! Actually, the child psychologists are in total error.
The child who is supposedly allowed to "drain off his resentment" in this fashion is the child who could well be opening up his mind to extremely SERIOUS consequences. Such a child will very definitely build a HABIT of rebellion toward authority, disobedience, temper tantrums, and hatred. The thought of allowing a tiny toddling boy of barely over two years of age to shout and scream at his own parents, "I hate you!" is shocking to think about. Will that same child at twelve pick up a knife and kill his parents? It does happen — and all too often.
Ignore a Tantrum "The mother who says she cannot ignore a screaming, kicking youngster usually means she has not found out how to use ignoring as a constructive method. Leaving him and going about her business may work better than she thinks it will. The minute he hasn't an audience his pleasure in the performance begins to die down. Naturally, if she herself is so angered by his temper that her attitude in ignoring him is hateful, ignoring will only cause him to feel more hostile. But if she can treat his anger as not too serious a matter, if she is prepared for it just as she is prepared for other primitive ways of acting in early childhood, like eating with fingers, it will be more likely to subside" (ibid., p. 358).
Parents are told this is merely a phase through which the child is passing, and he will soon get over it all.
"In most families the phase in which tantrums are most likely to occur passes and is forgotten. If tantrums are continuous, however, or recur past the age of five, they may be a signal to seek help from a child-guidance counselor equipped to discover underlying causes" (Sidonie Matsner Gruenberg, editor, "The Encyclopedia of Childcare and Guidance", Garden City, New York, Doubleday, 1963, pp. 548-549).
"... We see that the baby protests against unpleasant experiences by crying. These responses may be considered as emanating from the instinct of self-preservation.
"The response... continues throughout life. This crying of the baby becomes the temper tantrum of the older child and a part of the life-long fight for independence. As such it represents one of the strongest impulses responsible for human behavior" (Beverly, "In Defense of Children", p. 28).
This very aptly titled book assures parents temper tantrums are nothing more than the natural outgrowth of the first wails of a tiny baby, expressing his need for "independence."
These theories are simply untrue. Temper tantrums show a complete lack of self-discipline — and far from being merely a stage through which the child is growing, are gravely serious warning signs of a child totally lacking in self-control. It is just such teachings as these that have led thousands of children past the bars of justice across our land, and have made hopeless emotional wrecks out of uncounted millions of others.
Rather than going through a "stage" of child development, which they will grow out of, children allowed to express rage at their parents are building a natural habit of hatred!
Now notice a refreshingly sound quotation for a change: "Let us — parents, teachers, and all others having to do with the training of youth — see to it that adolescents acquire SELF-CONTROL. Let us save them from the injurious effects of this new-fangled idea that young people can grow up to do as they please. Confusion worse confounded will be the state of the next generation if it is generally accepted. If you, as a parent, have done your duty in the nursery and during the pre-adolescent period, I assure you the days of actual punishment will be over long ere your youngsters reach their teens. But if for any reason you have failed in the earlier years, and your children have attained adolescence without learning self-control, then I admonish you not to depend exclusively upon these newfangled psychologic notions or on any fantastic interpretation of Freudian philosophy, to refrain from chastisement through fear that your children will not develop leadership. Leadership — bah! Who wants a boy to grow up to be a leader of a criminal gang? Indeed, if we go on after this fashion, we can truly say 'what price leadership!'" (Sadler, "Piloting Modern Youth", p. 141).
Sound advice, indeed. Read it again. Many and varied are the mythical phases of childhood. If you want to rear a child who will defy every supposed "stage" through which he is obligated to grow, simply rear him properly. He will not throw things at one, kick you at one-and-a-half, scream "no!" at two, throw temper tantrums at two-and-a-half, bite the neighbor's children at three, run away from home at three-and-a- half, be overbold at four, or neurotic at five! Rather, at all these ages, he will be basically lovable, obedient, helpful, self-reliant, respectful toward authority.
CRIMINALS ARE MADE, NOT BORN THE very first form of government with which the child comes in contact is the government within the home.
If there is no authority, no government in the home — how can the parents expect their children to respect the authorities and governments in the society?
Authority Begins in the Home "It is certain that if our young people are to have total obedience to the laws of the land, a love for the orderly processes of government and a desire for ethical forms of behavior, the strengthening effect of religious training which will instill a sense of moral responsibility becomes apparent. The place to start is in the family circle.
"American families are developing the personalities who will determine what type of society our nation will have tomorrow" (Statement of the late J. Edgar Hoover, former Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation, quoted from excerpt from Committee Print, 81st Congress, Second Section, "Juvenile Delinquency").
Mr. Hoover was further quoted in his statement before the Special Senate Committee to investigate organized crime in interstate commerce:
"The home is the first great training school in behavior or misbehavior and parents serve as the first teachers for the inspirational education of youth. In the home, the child learns that others besides himself have rights which he must respect. Here the spade work is laid for instilling in the child those values which will cause him to develop into an upright, law-abiding, wholesome citizen. He must learn respect for others, respect for property, courtesy, truthfulness, and reliability. He must learn not only to manage his own affairs but also share in the responsibility for the affairs of the community. He must be taught to understand the necessity of obeying the laws of God."
Think of it! The former leader of our highly trained and efficient Federal Bureau of Investigation wanted to impress upon the average family in our nation that it is absolutely necessary that the child understand that he must OBEY THE LAWS OF GOD.
He stated, further: "These qualities, of course, are transmitted to the child only if they are exemplified and taught within the family circle. By way of contrast, homes broken by death, desertion, divorce, separation, neglect, or immorality stamp their imprint on the developing personality. The products of these homes, unguided and unsupervised children who seldom receive needed love and attention, develop distorted attitudes and may easily engage in antisocial behavior. These products of ADULT NEGLIGENCE have become easy recruits in an already vast army of youthful offenders."
What a remarkably accurate analysis. And what a clear picture of the cause of disobedient and delinquent children.
Bear in mind the delinquent is the youth who has actually run afoul of the law. Bear in mind, also, that the lack of government, the lack of love and respect, the misery in a home becomes evident to the public only when it is officially broken by divorce, then "counted" among broken homes.
Again, let us restate the vitally important fact that these general conditions, the underlying disrespect for authority, the lack of government, constitutes a broad picture of the majority of all homes today.
The chances are very great these conditions exist in YOUR home — Now!
To a tiny, squirming infant — his parents are "god." That is, they are the supreme authority in his life. They constitute his life-giver, his provider, protector, his law and his ruler.
If the little child cannot have an orderly existence, and cannot be kept within certain bounds which he is made to understand, he becomes confused, frustrated.
The parent who truly loves his own children will want to discipline them in the right manner, at the right time, when they are doing things which will cause much greater hurt.
To a tiny, newborn infant, his parents reign supreme. He knows of no other authority, no other law, no other governing influence, no other protector, provider — and he knows of no other love. Recognizing this fact, parents should again realize that the time to begin training their children is early in life.
Criminal Behavior is Learned Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Hideki Tojo, Joseph Stalin and other so-called "international gangsters" — yes, and all the "bums" on skid row, the drifters who come to your back door for a handout, the arch-criminals, the petty offenders, and the sex fiends who have committed horrible atrocities — all of them — were little babies once!
Did the mothers of "pretty-boy" Floyd, John Dillinger and Al Capone, and also the other infamous gangsters of the '20s and '30s, know their children would develop into some of the most vicious criminals of their day?
A particularly heart-wrenching occurrence was reported of an 11-year-old boy in Connecticut who coldly and deliberately shot to death his 14-year-old brother, his own mother, and his father in a carefully planned and purposefully executed murder plot. Did the parents of this 11-year old boy ever for one moment begin to visualize their own son would ever turn on them in hatred with a
Could you have convinced the parents of any of the hundreds of youthful criminals their children would turn out as they did?
Of course not! Where, and when, do criminals learn that kind of behavior, and what are the causes behind criminal acts by mere youth?
A police commissioner of Philadelphia has said, "Throughout the country there is a general DISREGARD FOR CONSTITUTED AUTHORITY. I think that goes for the adults and is reflected in the thinking of the juvenile." When questioned further about some of the causes behind juvenile delinquency, this commissioner replied: "I think the change has been going on over a number of years in the attitude of OLDER PEOPLE toward constituted authority."
Notice it! Because adults sneer at authority — impugn the law, make fun of the "cops," and are openly disrespectful of national and international dignities — they are actively teaching their children the same habits.
Remember, criminal behavior is LEARNED behavior — human beings are creatures of habit. The child who is confronted with parental strife, indecision, lack of authority, upset conditions within the home, neglect and indifference from his own parents, will develop accordingly.
Any child reared in an upside-down home is going to develop into an upside-down child.
Why Some Psychologists Fear Corporal Punishment Some prevailing false concepts are at the very root and core of much of today's confusion over child rearing. Let us analyze a few of the more outstanding.
"Any kind of punishment either by means of words or force, or even mild reprimands on the subject, is extremely unwise," advises one foremost source, assuring gullible young parents they should NEVER punish their children. "The chief danger of punishment is that it makes the child feel guilty — that he is bad, naughty. The child is likely to have a stronger feeling of guilt about his activity than about the other things he does. His ideas are vague and confused and his imagination vivid. He may build up pictures of the terrible things that will happen to him because of his naughtiness, thus sowing the seed of more fears and more anxieties, and increasing his emotional difficulties" (Parents Institute, op. cit., p. 391).
Notice that great stress is laid upon the supposition that punishment will make the child feel guilty — that he is "bad" — naughty.
This "feeling," some child psychologists assure us, is extremely harmful, and will surely lead to many and terrible consequences.
"The ineffectiveness of corporal punishment has been repeatedly demonstrated. The punishing parent or teacher 'frequently forgets that he loves his child; he forgets it because something in the child's behavior has made him forget that the child loves him.' Of the problem cases described by one hundred teachers, not one was improved by whipping. School social workers frequently report that a child's emotional difficulties are aggravated by beatings at home... Many parents have said, 'The more I whip him the worse he gets'" (Ruth Strang, "An Introduction to Child Study", New York, Macmillan, p. 345).
Here, incomplete and partial information from "school social workers" is used to apparently "demonstrate" that corporal punishment is ineffective. Nothing is said of the METHOD of punishment, the frequency with which it was done, whether it was CONSISTENT, or whether correct and thoughtful use of punishment was being made. Nothing was said of the quality of family life — whether there was warmth, respect, concern on the part of parents. Rather, that punishment for the sake of punishment is supposedly wrong.
"The word punishment should not appear in our dictionaries except as an obsolete word, and I believe this should be just as true in the field of criminology as in that of child rearing. The parent's object in rapping the child with a pencil is to get it to react in conformity with certain social usages — to behave itself. Why then should the parents ever be angry? Why should they ever punish in the old Biblical sense? Such things as beating and expiation of offenses, so common now in our schools and homes, in the church, in our criminal law, in our judicial procedure [published in 1928 — times have changed!], are relics of the Dark Ages."
Think of it! This quotation, now seriously outdated — has actually come true in part.
Criminals are being exonerated from guilt by the courts after being caught red handed in committing a crime. We are becoming more concerned for the "rights" of criminals than for the rights of the victims.
It is a proven fact today that criminals, even after confessing freely to their guilt, have had such confessions "dismissed" as proper evidence by a conniving counsel for the defense — interested not in whether or not the man is really innocent or guilty, but merely in making a reputation for himself because such confession was made "improperly."
The system of no punishment has taken hold. The result is the appalling, heart-wrenching, sickening stench of a mountain of crime, a cesspool of sadism, a sewer of pornography and dope addiction, a gigantic, mounting rush toward complete anarchy.
A Substitute Plan Some child psychologists have a "substitute" for discipline. Notice how impractical their ideas really are.
"The parent's attitude should be positive, should be that of the instructor... by surrounding the child constantly with objects that it has a right to work with. In this way 'forbidden' objects come gradually to lose their stimulating value; the children cease to play with fire [that is, if they are still alive and your home is still intact], with matches [same comment], they stop turning gas jets on and off [that is, if they are still alive and your home has not been blown to bits, together with a dozen others in the block], picking up sharp knives and forks [that is, if they have not been so seriously cut or have fallen on one of the sharp instruments and are now dead], pulling over glass vases and bottles. But where the positive method of training does not make them let these objects alone, then gentle pencil rapping is a safe and sane procedure" (John B. Watson, "Psychological Care of Infant and Child", New York, Arno Press, 1928, pp. 63-65).
But wait! Will this work? Can you actually wait for your own child to be "surrounded with objects it has a right to work with" so it will become interested in them, instead of running into a busy street, pulling over heavy glass vases, turning on gas jets, playing with sharp knives? This would be so laughable, so ridiculous that it would be painful — if it weren't so seriously in error.
Of course the child should be able to have constructive toys, and be surrounded with right objects. But this positive teaching cannot take the place of proper, loving, diligent punishment to teach a child NOT to handle objects, or follow practices that will take its life.
Certain child psychologists seem to have adopted the idea that parent-child relationships are as difficult and involved as international diplomacy. So many and varied are the suggestions on the tactful employment of modern psychology in the parents' dealing with their children that one is thoroughly confused by the self-contradictions, the incomplete statements, and the unanswered questions in the dozens of volumes dealing with the subject.
Playing a "Friendly" Role Another example of such contradictory partial information is: "Punishment affects parent-child relations and teacher-child relations. A spanking which the child considers unrelated to the situation is likely to make him hostile to the person who administers it. It is better, whenever possible, to let the punishment fit the crime — to let the situation itself punish the child. Then the parent plays the friendly role. He gives warnings. If the child persists in doing the thing, he will get hurt. The parent can be sympathetic, but reminds the child that he said it would hurt. The problem is much more difficult when the forbidden is rewarding, like running out into the street — an exciting excursion that many times may cause no harm (yet sometimes be fatal). But over a period of time the parent can build a relation based on rewarding experiences in which his advice was heeded" (Strang, op. cit., p. 221).
Taken at face value, this advice "seems" to be relatively sound. However, when looking more closely, so many are the errors and false concepts, that this particular quotation must now be enlarged upon.
Re-read the first part of the last quotation. It is sound. It makes sense. But notice again that even though it is admitted the problem is much more "difficult" when a child runs into the street — THIS eventuality is not dealt with at all.
Why? Because, having already committed himself to no punishment theories, this author wouldn't know how to keep a child from running into the street without tying him in the yard or keeping him in a pen!
Even after admitting this "excursion" (there is no plurality involved in this word) may sometimes be fatal, he offers no suggestion for coping with the problem.
Love and Punishment Society cannot seem to reconcile itself to the fact that love and punishment could possibly come from the same source. It is somehow beyond the realm of conceivability to the average person that there could be any love involved in punishment. Punishment is such a "nasty" word, that some child psychologists (as already quoted) have even advocated its deletion from our dictionaries. Today's modern movements to rescind punishments, to abolish the death sentence for demented, brutal, sadistic murderers who themselves have inflicted torturous and horrifying death sentences on perhaps dozens of helpless human beings, the desire of the average wife to have the word "obey" taken out of the marriage ceremony, and the vast, all-comprehensive movement of religionists to strip the pulpit of its power, rip laws and authority from the Bible, and throw discipline to the winds, may serve to illustrate the depths to which the roots of the anti-discipline weed have grown.
Notice again, from a very respected group of psychologists and child-behaviorists, how, because of certain abuses of right punishment — ALL punishment is assumed to be utterly wrong:
"Sometimes one sees a letter in a magazine or newspaper in which an individual or a group of parents recommends the INDISCRIMINATE use of corporal punishment with a cruelty and sadistic satisfaction that is frightening.
"Most parents, however, turn to this extreme as a last resort, and because they think that nothing else will work" (Parents Institute, op. cit., p. 365).
The next quotation from the same authors serves graphically to illustrate the aforementioned principle of the basic inability to understand that love and punishment CAN come from the same source:
"It [corporal punishment] usually is the end step in a long course of happenings that has carried both parents and children away from positive feelings of love and understanding" (Parents Institute, ibid., pp. 365-366).
Notice that child psychologists view the use of corporal punishment as a complete breakdown in "parent-child relationship," something that is done only in anger, as a result of outside coercion, or of complete frustration on the part of an upset and helpless parent.
Abuses of Punishment Cause Criticism The authors go on to say: "The child's failure to live up to what is expected of him, either by the school, or the family, or his parents, is a painful and bitter experience for the mother or father. They feel a deep sense of their own failure in their most important job. Angry and upset at themselves, as well as their children, they strike out in the only way they know!"
This type of punishment is an ABUSE. It should NEVER be done! Frequently, sensational stories of thoughtless parental brutality have been emblazoned across the pages of newspapers. "Father Beats Children to Death," "Mother Whips Six-Weeks-Old Baby," "Father Ties His Children in Woodshed — Leaves Them All Night!" and similar outrages have shocked and horrified the public. But human beings are creatures of EXTREMES. Like the constantly moving pendulum, they seem to swing from one opposite to the other.
There have been certain terrible abuses of corporal punishment — misapplication and thoughtless use of it by parents who are punishing their children in anger. There have been sensational stories of torments upon tiny tots by a few who are not proper disciplinarians and who are completely unequipped and ill-fitted to be parents. As a result of these extremes, many have been convinced that any use of corporal punishment must, by its very nature, be wrong.
An innocent child can become a hardened criminal by improper child rearing. There are many abuses in child discipline even in various schools, as well as in the homes. However, seeing these abuses and malpractices by untrained and unskilled parents should not lead other parents to assume there is not a proper use for discipline. Some child psychologists have, true to form, swung to the opposite extreme — and begun to advocate NO DISCIPLINE! Very recently, as a result of the surging increase in a worldwide wave of juvenile crime and lawlessness, law enforcement agencies, government officials, and even some few child psychologists have begun to advocate more and more discipline, more respect for authority, and the introduction of corporal punishment into some school systems. Taken in its right perspective, with its correct application, this is certainly a very good thing. However, let us hope it is not merely the swing of the pendulum back to another "extreme."
The Imagined "Effects" of Corporal Punishment Parents have been increasingly reluctant to punish their children because of the supposed "effects" which they have been told punishment engenders.
"Spanking seems the quick way of 'getting results' but these usually take the shape of temporary conformance, not of growth in self-direction and self-control. Autocratic control usually produces one of two personalities: An over submissive child who does what he is told but shows no initiative, or the rebellious child who is constantly waging war against authority" (Strang, op. cit., pp. 221-222).
This is an untrue assumption. The right use of spanking does not produce an "over submissive child" who acts as an automaton, but rather it guides and controls initiative, inventiveness and self-reliance.
Notice the next example. Seeing only the misuse of punishment by distraught, incapable parents, the author remarks:
"Some mothers are always nagging and scolding their children, yank them when they cross the street or get into buses, and slap them whenever they do something the mother doesn't like. These mothers may be tired and cross, but they do not understand that they make their children cross and irritable, too, and make things harder for themselves.
"If you let yourself go occasionally and slap or spank when you are excited or upset, it probably isn't too serious, provided your child is left with the feeling that he has been punished only for something he has DONE, and that you love him anyway" (Parents Institute, op. cit., pp. 366-367).
Wrong Kind of Discipline Here again, punishment is viewed as "letting oneself go occasionally" or, in other words, losing one's temper. It is viewed as if the adult human being, in anger, were "getting back" at the child, and inflicting physical torment upon the child merely because the child has "bothered" the parent.
Again, seeing this misapplication of discipline, the child psychologists, IMAGINING a number of terrible "effects" of spanking, have been responsible for deeply etching the fear of the "unknown" in the minds of many young parents — assuring them their lovely little children may turn into perfectly horrible monsters, become demented, or develop harmful "complexes" as a result of spanking.
"But if you find that you are punishing and slapping repeatedly, you may be sure you are on the wrong track.
"Spanking may stop your child for the moment, but you don't know what else it may do.
"It may make him angry and resentful, or humiliated and ashamed. Or he may become hardened and pay no attention to it; or become just so afraid that he can't trust himself to do anything.
"None of these feelings helps him learn what it was that he did wrong, or how to act the next time."
Of course — "feelings" don't help him learn the positive part. But notice how incomplete is this assumption! If amply warned first, and then punished in love, accompanied by kind, patient, positive teaching of the right as opposed to the wrong, this objection becomes worthless.
"The best that can be said for spanking is that it sometimes clears the air. BUT IT ISN'T WORTH THE PRICE, AND IT USUALLY DOESN'T WORK" (Parent's Institute, ibid., p. 367).
Notice that parents are threatened with unforeseeable and dire consequences if spanking is utilized! One author said:
"Corporal punishment develops resentment and misunderstanding. It stresses what the child should not do rather than what he should do, produces fear, and makes him lose confidence in his parents. Intelligent parents rarely resort to corporal punishment... An intelligent disciplinary method is the use of reasoning at the child's level of understanding. The more calm and free the discussion, the more clearly can the desirable conduct be formulated" (Isaac Newton Kugelmass, Growing Superior Children, New York, Appleton-Century, pp. 452-453).
To some authors, the whole meaning of the term "punishment" seems to revolve around blind, unreasoning beatings inflicted by calloused and indifferent parents in a fit of frenzied anger.
"The typical result of the whipping in childhood is either the servile, timorous individual, who usually is at one and the same time cringe and crafty, or the arrogant and objectionably self-assured person. Almost everyone who was beaten in his childhood has a tendency toward brutality."
Notice the employment of the terms "whipping" and "beaten" as being the obvious reason for "brutality." This author continued:
"Yet the method of corporal punishment continues to be employed, although its uselessness, absurdity, and downright harmfulness should be apparent to everyone. This mystery finds its explanation in the fact that it is mostly the whipped children, who, as parents, advocate the theory that whippings are indispensable. They believe they are following their good sense when they deal out blows, whereas actually they are following only a strange inner urge. They want to give their child a vivid and drastic demonstration of their own superiority; they fear that otherwise they will be unable to subdue his resistance; and they do not realize that the use of brute force plainly betrays an essential weakness that has no other resource at its disposal. Nor do they admit to themselves how much cowardice is implicit in such a procedure" (Rudolf Dreikurs, "The Challenge of Parenthood", New York, Duell, Sloan and Pearce, pp. 138-139).
Here is further proof of the swinging of the pendulum. Many child psychologists observing parents lashing out in anger, as a result of their own frustrations and tensions, have witnessed thoughtless misuse of corporal punishment — often with serious and long-lasting consequences. On the premise that punishment, by its very nature, must come from the source of anger, bitterness, hatred, resentment, frustration, tension, they label corporal punishment as "anything but good" for the child, and a word which should be deleted from our dictionaries.
And, that type of discipline — under those emotional conditions — has no place in proper child rearing practices. There is, however, a time for discipline and a right way to administer it.
Discipline Can Be Constructive Punishment, when meted out in the proper manner, and at the proper time, is one of the greatest BLESSINGS a human being — at any age — can receive.
First, let the Bible explode the theory of society, once and for all, that punishment and love cannot come from the same source. The Apostle Paul said:
"Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth" (Heb. 12:5-6).
Notice, Almighty God punishes His children, because He LOVES them! True Christians today are recipients of God's just and merciful chastisement, His punishments and His admonitions, His corrections and rebukes — as well as His encouragement and comfort. God says:
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for REPROOF, for CORRECTION, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (II Tim. 3:16-17).
The Holy Word of God is GIVEN to correct us, to chastise us, to rebuke and reprove us.
"If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons... Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are EXERCISED thereby" (Heb. 12:7-11).
One of the very CHARACTERISTICS of a loving God is His NATURE of meting out just, merciful and loving PUNISHMENT WHEN IT IS NEEDED! Of course, God also comforts and encourages in time of need (II Cor. 1:3-4; 7:6-7).
However, to be without chastisement, to be left without God's punishments, to go our own way, uncontrolled, unrestrained and unchecked, would mean the ultimate destruction of our society!
In like fashion, a CHILD who is allowed to grow up through various "phases" of rebellion, unchecked and unrestrained, without the loving but firm hand applied WHERE it ought to be, WHEN it ought to be, HOW it ought to be, is going to end up as a confused, uncertain, neurotic, emotional mess — and in some cases, a hardened unregenerate criminal!
The oft-quoted "scripture," "spare the rod and spoil the child" is NOT a scripture! It is a "saying" which people have repeated down through the years as being scripture — and is not found in the Bible in this exact form. However, in principle, it is certainly based upon the Bible.
HOW YOUR CHILD LEARNS THE human child is the most helpless of all newborn creatures. The young colt, the calf, even the baby porpoise and whale are able to stand, walk, leap or swim within hours, even minutes after birth.
But they are creatures of INSTINCT. A human being does not have instinct, but a mind! No one had to teach the young colt where to go for its "dinner." It simply went there — automatically. But man has a mind capable of accumulating knowledge.
At birth — you knew absolutely nothing. The newborn human infant would starve to death if it were not taken by the more intelligent parent, and nursed. Oftentimes, though not always, the mother must even begin a type of sucking motion with the jaws of the child by manipulating its lower jaw in order to teach it the habit of nursing. This is not always true, but serves to illustrate the amazing fact that the greatest creation in the physical sphere — the human mind — has such a simple beginning.
Learning by Association As a creature of habit, a baby begins to learn at the very instant of its birth. The way in which it first learns is by mere association. But these "associations" begin to form certain habits within the rapidly growing and developing mind of a newly born human baby. Let us understand the way in which the newborn child learns.
Very quickly, the baby becomes accustomed to the smell, the taste and sounds of its own mother. (We are here speaking of that which is the average and normal, not foster mothers, wet-nurses, etc.) If the infant of only a very few weeks is hungry, and begins to cry for his food, it may be observed that he will oftentimes quit crying the moment he is picked up by his mother, because the sound of her reassuring voice, the feeling of her arms lifting him from his bassinet, and the smell of her own body has begun to become completely associated with the satisfying taste of her milk.
Perhaps you have seen cases where tiny babies have been reared in very quiet homes. It takes only the slightest rattling of the bottles by the milkman, the dropping of the cover on the mailbox by the postman, or the barking of a dog to awaken the child from a mid-afternoon nap. This is true, because the baby has become accustomed to living in a very quiet environment. If the child has been used to a noisy environment, such trivial sounds would never disturb him during his nap.
This factor of learning by association is so vitally important that it must be understood thoroughly.
No sensible dog trainer would think of confusing a dog under training with more than the simplest, straightforward and direct commands.
In attempting to "house-break" a dog, the dog is simply taken to his sandbox, newspaper, or outdoors. He is reassured, patted and fondled. The trainer tries to carefully take the dog to such a place at prescribed intervals. If and when the dog makes a mistake (and they nearly always do!) the trainer very severely rebukes him, says "bad dog," forces him to smell the mess he has made, and spanks him for it. Gradually, by constant diligence, and by means of association, the dog becomes housebroken. He learns that it is going to net harsh words, and a spanking for relieving himself in certain areas. He learns, on the other hand, that he will be given tidbits to eat, a reassuring hand and a soft voice when he uses his prescribed areas.
There are absolutely millions of parents today who do not know how to keep a child from becoming as destructive as a proverbial "bull in a china shop."
They are completely helpless to keep their child from crawling around from one thing to another, turning over knick-knacks, pulling doilies from tables, pulling out electric plugs, tearing up books and magazines, or any other of the one thousand and one different things a little crawling infant seems to "get into." Countless, it seems, are the parents who have not the slightest glimpse of understanding as to how to cope with such a situation.
Isn't it a pity? If they could realize their child is a creature of habit — but that habits are formed by association, that each habit must be taught, much of the problem would be solved.
When Should You Begin to Train Your Child? A vitally important principle every parent needs to understand is that good habits must be constantly taught the child from early infancy.
"'Never too old to learn' is truer in reverse. The further it is reversed, the truer it becomes. 'Never too young to learn' is the idea parents and nurses should always bear in mind. The more a behavior pattern is affixed to the primary, simple, unconditioned responses, the easier it is to establish firmly. That is to say, the sooner habits (good or bad) are inculcated, the more force they will have, the longer they will endure, the harder they will be to change" (Hohman, op. cit., p. 22).
Yes, the time to begin training children is MUCH EARLIER than most parents think!
It seems to be much simpler for children to acquire bad habits than it is to learn good ones. Hence, it appears that thumb-sucking, throwing silver on the floor, or other habits are acquired after only two or three attempts, while it takes many months to teach a child to stay dry. The simple answer to this problem is that the selfish child learns much more quickly to do that which is pleasurable, that which is curious, interesting, and easy to do, rather than that which takes effort, concentration, and persistence. It is much easier to learn a bad habit than it is to acquire a good one!
Obviously, since the child repeats what he enjoys, it is good for parents to make habits which the child needs to acquire interesting and enjoyable. However, when all is said and done, the child must learn to do that which is right, enjoyable or not.
Most parents assume their very tiny children are too young to teach. They believe they should wait until the child is old enough to "understand." However, this excuse is often carried over into most of the pre-school years by many parents, resulting in a perfectly horrible little child who is rebellious, ill-mannered, disrespectful toward his elders, and generally destructive.
A good slogan to remember is the one already quoted: "Never too young to learn."
More will be said about this later — on exactly how to attain the desired result with very young children.
Learn by Imitating Perhaps the second most important manner in which a very young child acquires certain habits is through mimicking and imitating others.
"Aren't such activities as climbing, imitation, emulation and rivalry, pugnacity, anger, resentment, sympathy, fear, appropriation, acquisitiveness, kleptomania, constructiveness, play, curiosity, sociability, shyness, cleanliness, modesty, shame, love, jealousy, parental love, and all of those pure instincts which appear and run their course completely beyond the control of the parents? Surely, these things are not dependent upon the way I let my child grow up.
"Most of the older psychologists would agree with you. The behaviorist believed, too, when he began his work, that some of these acts would spring forth fully formed. But we waited for their appearance in vain.
"Now we are forced to believe from the study of facts that all of these forms of behavior are BUILT IN by the parents and by the environment which the parent allows the child to grow up in. There are no instincts. We build in at an early age everything that is later to appear" (Watson, op. cit., pp. 37-38).
As has been previously outlined, human beings know NOTHING at birth. They must acquire, through the channels of the five senses, everything they come to know. One of the major ways in which every human being learns is by mimicking and imitating others.
This method of learning is so powerful, so intense that it follows us all through our lives — often guiding and ruling our every action, our customs and our habits, even as mature adults.
Understanding this broad field of imitation as a means of child training — it should become immediately clear that parents have a frightening responsibility of setting the right example before their children.
Imitating Evil Parents who are raucous, who disagree, and show they are frequently upset with one another are going to be surprised to find they will have children who will also become raucous, disagreeable and given to temper displays and angry outbursts. It also logically follows that parents with bad table manners, unclean personal habits, resentment toward authority, inherent laziness or any number of hundreds of similar frailties and faults are presenting a constant, powerful influence over their children to develop these same habits.
So strong is this imitative impulse in children that it becomes one of the truly major reasons for the development of many child criminals. As has already been outlined previously, criminal behavior is learned. Perhaps one of the best illustrations of this factor is in the modern habits of television viewing. Isolated voices have been lifted up in alarm over the brutalities paraded across the television screen and into the minds of tiny tots.
The Christian Science Monitor (October 27, 1971), in an article titled "TV Still Lives by the Sword," reported: "Contrary to a widespread public impression that television violence has been tempered, an informal Monitor survey shows that the amount of violence in adult programming continues to bombard the viewer at the same high level recorded by this newspaper in a similar survey in October, 1968.
"In 74 hours of prime-time evening viewing over a period of a week, Monitor staff members recorded 217 incidents and threats of violence and 125 killings and murders. This compares with 254 incidents and 71 killings and murders tabulated in the 1968 Monitor survey.
"These statistics do not include violence in comedy shows, news programs or documentaries. Separate tabulations were made for children's programs on a Saturday morning...
"There is considerable pressure on the networks to improve children's programming in view of the recent report from the office of the Surgeon General of Public Health, which found that THERE WAS A CONNECTION BETWEEN VIEWING AGGRESSION AND ACTING AGGRESSIVELY, especially as it concerns children."
Effects of Mass Media A noted judge, with 25 years of experience in the municipal courts of Chicago, including more than 10 years of presiding over Chicago's unique Boys Court said:
"Much of the inspiration for the juvenile crimes of today comes from motion pictures, radio, and television, where the gunman, the outlaw, the illicit lover, the gangster is often glorified and — at the very least — is made out as a perfectly normal and necessary part of our civilization.
"The hope that the men who produce this junk would be sufficiently enlightened to police themselves and accept their tremendous responsibility in building youthful morals and standards intelligently and constructively is apparently useless. They have demonstrated that the certainty of dollar profit in smut and violence is more important to them than the moral profit in constructive fare.
"So it's up to parents to know what their children are watching and hearing, and to exercise some intelligent restraint for them. Parents also have the power of life and death over what is shown on television. Get vocal. Make yourself heard. Refuse to buy products. You'll get results."
Too many parents today think it is "cute" to see a child actually IMITATING the carrying out of a horrifyingly brutal crime! There has been tongue-in-cheek amusement over the specter of young children whooping around the tree where they have tied an amused and patiently tolerant father, pretending they are burning him at the stake. There have been too many parents who have smiled with benign condonation at the antics of little tots trotting through the house shouting "Bang! Bang!" at each other — getting the vicarious thrill of killing one another when they are hardly old enough to walk.
Children would far rather imitate gangsters, crooks and hoodlums than they would the heroes. Have you ever noticed how often children, in playing games, will call themselves by the names of some of their heroes? The chances are — the more of a merciless killer he is — the more "fans" in the youthful generation he will acquire.
Pet owners may be quite concerned about allowing a cursing man around their talking parrot — but would think nothing of letting their children witness thousands of murders watching the mass media.
Knowing this vital principle of the rapidity with which a child learns by mimicking and imitating, it is a capital crime against your own children to allow the totally indiscriminate use of television, the unsupervised and uncontrolled reading of comic books and novels, or to permit yourselves to display wrong habits and glaring errors in front of your children.
How Habits Are Acquired Bad habits are acquired after only one or two experiences! Remember, it's the pleasurable experience that is most often repeated. A little baby likes the sound of his spoon hitting the floor, and seeing his mother or father pick it up for him. He likes the excitement when he dumps his cereal bowl, or spills his milk, and sees the flurry of motion and sound around him.
Naturally, unless he is firmly taught not to do these things, he will repeat them until they become habit.
There are hundreds of things you will do automatically. Why? Because you have learned the habit of doing them. They are not carefully thought-out actions, but automatic reflexes as a result of certain stimuli to the nervous system.
How, then, can you teach your children the correct habits of obedience, cleanliness, proper eating, good posture, orderliness, truthfulness, and respect?
The first time your baby reaches out a chubby little hand to grasp a spoon, he may drop it several times, get it between his fingers, and in both hands, and try desperately to put it in his mouth. He will trade hands with it, bang it on his highchair tray, and throw it on the floor. It is only after weeks and months of patient teaching that a child will gradually learn to hold the spoon correctly, eliminating all the unnecessary movements and actions, and finally solving the complicated process of all the muscular movements involved in simply holding a spoon. This is learned through trial and error. Obviously, the parent should place the spoon in the baby's hand, and show the child how to hold it correctly, helping him along until he is able to do it for himself.
The first time a child drops a spoon (after he has attained the muscular coordination necessary to properly hold it), the parent should merely say, "no" and pick it up, placing it back in his hand. The second time, repeat the command, and swat the back of the hand sharply — it won't bruise or injure. In a very short time, you will have a very small child who will not ever, unless by pure accident in a very rare instance, drop his silverware on the floor.
Practice Makes Perfect Some habits are learned almost instantaneously, because they give a pleasant reward to the child. Other habits, and usually the most necessary ones, take a little longer.
For example, the child of three to four years of age may have great difficulty lacing his own shoes — tying them in horrifying knots, or hardly tying them at all. However, at the age of five or six he may be tying them smoothly and with seemingly no effort. This is as a result of literally hundreds of experiences with tying and untying his own shoes. It is the constant practice which has made him finally efficient in tying his shoes.
If we want a child to hold his spoon correctly, tie his shoes correctly, walk, stand or sit correctly, should not this same desire project itself into all phases of life?
It is practice, in the right habits, which will bring about perfection. Thus, teaching a child to open or close a door softly and correctly several times in a few minutes will begin to instill in him the right habit of always opening and closing the door correctly. Teaching him to go to the bathroom to wash his hands and face prior to eating as a very young child will instill in him such a HABIT of doing this that it will carry over into all his adult life.
You may have heard it said that children coming from a large family are usually more generous as adults. Why is this? Simply because they were forced through environmental circumstances to learn to share as a very young child. They had to share their toys, bedroom, dinner table, games and, oftentimes, even clothing.
Habits From Satisfaction The more pleasurable an experience, the quicker the child will form a habit of repeating the experience. Thus, the tiny baby, when accidentally finding its own thumb, begins to suck. This thumb-sucking brings about a feeling of solace and comfort which is immediately pleasurable to the child. Only one or two times, and a full-fledged habit of thumb-sucking is acquired! But this is a bad habit, and should be broken as early as possible.
Some modern child psychologists advocate allowing a child to suck his thumb up until ages of five and six or even seven! However, acquiring the proper type of nighttime covering, and dealing with the problem diligently during the daytime will break the child of this undesirable habit which could, contrary to some popular opinion, cause slight damage to the gums and even protruding front teeth. By using a zipper-type sheet at night, where the child's hands are not allowed to come in contact with his mouth, this bad habit can be broken.
Obviously, since a child learns much more rapidly if the experience can be made pleasurable, the problem arises as how to make the desirable habits more pleasurable.
"Only when some success is attained does the child have a feeling of satisfaction. A few words of praise given now and then for his somewhat bungling attempts will often do more toward helping a child acquire a desirable habit than any amount of unfavorable comments. To point a child's mistakes rather than his successes, in other words, is to set up in his mind an unpleasant association with the desired act. The wise parent who wishes his child to learn to lace his shoes will compliment him, even though he occasionally misses a hole or falls short of the adult standard" (Marion Ellison Faegre and S. E. Anderson, "Childcare and Training," University of Minn., p. 86).
Parents who show only disgust at the mistakes of their children, are presenting a very difficult barrier to the formation of right habits.
If the principles outlined in this series are applied in individual cases, there are many hundreds of right habits which may be acquired without too much difficulty. And, whatever the difficulty — the results are well worth it.
Personal Cleanliness Perhaps some mothers make a "fetish" out of personal cleanliness, always to be seen chasing their child about with a damp washcloth, and always horrified if they become even slightly dirty. This is an extreme. But nevertheless, personal cleanliness should be instilled early in the child as a habit! Obviously, this can only be done if the parent, in the beginning, keeps the child meticulously clean at all times.
If children are always made to clean up immediately upon coming into the house after play, if they are always made to wash and comb prior to each meal, if the first thing they do upon arising is to wash, comb their hair and brush their teeth, they will learn the habit of personal cleanliness very early. Later, in the early school years, when it becomes a matter of personal self- discipline, you will find you have a child who is acutely aware of personal hygiene and cleanliness.
Teach Your Child to Eat What is Set Before Him Frequently, parents who express disgust at a certain vegetable in the presence of their children find their children form a "dislike" for that particular vegetable. Remember, your child learns by association. He learns by your example. Spanking may be used to teach the child to eat all that is set before him, or deprivation of a reward, such as letting the child go without dessert, will sometimes gain the desired results. Nature will not let the child starve. Sometimes, mothers feel a child who is made to go without a meal will "starve to death." This is simply untrue — and even spinach will acquire a peculiarly interesting taste if the child gets REALLY hungry.
Teach Your Child to Come When He Is Called Never, at any age, is there an excuse for children to run away from their parents, or to disobey when told to come when called. Don't ever let your child become like the "average" 18-monther described already who, when "asked to 'Come here, dear'... either stands still or runs in the opposite direction" (Ilg and Ames, op. cit., p. 22).
Instead, as your child learns how better to walk, begin to teach him to come when he is called. Make your commands short and to the point. "Come to daddy!" "Come to mama!" or, simply using the word "Come!" is ample for an 18-month child.
Obviously, the first time you call, the child will not understand what you mean, and probably will not come. This should be accompanied, then, by placing the child squarely in front of you when he first learns to "toddle around," backing away from him a few feet to a chair or convenient place, and then accompanying his toddling toward you with the words "Come!" or "Come to daddy!" in this fashion, the child learns by association that coming in your direction is the result of hearing the command "Come!" Later, as he increases in ability to walk, try calling him even if he is walking in the opposite direction. At first, when he doesn't immediately turn around and come to you, go to him, pick him up and turn him around, then back away and repeat the command — holding out your hands. You will find the careful repetition of this practice will soon instill the habit in your child of coming when called.
If the child begins to think it is all a game, and laughingly runs in the other direction, what should you do? Most parents would probably "hate like everything" to punish their child at this juncture, because they would simply reason to themselves "but he thinks I'm just playing."
That's just it. How is he ever going to find out you are not playing — if you don't teach him?
In the fashion already outlined, give the command "Come here!" If the child runs in the other direction run to him, spank him with a few firm swats, enough to be felt. Don't just mildly surprise the child. Place him squarely in his tracks, facing in the same direction in which he was going. Retire to the same position in which you were when you made the original command. Repeat the command. This time, the chances are, he will come to you when called. If he does not, repeat the same procedure until the child has thoroughly understood what is required of him, and has begun to come at your call, regardless of the direction in which he is headed, regardless of what he is doing, regardless of how far away he may be.
Perhaps this sounds quite unnecessary to some — but it is exceedingly remarkable to note the scores of parents with little children today who couldn't get their children to come to them when they call if their very lives depended upon it.
Teach Your Child to Listen to Your Instructions Sounds simple? But it isn't. Again, NO child will ever listen to his parents unless he is taught to listen. The parent who constantly says, "Did you hear me?" or, "Did you understand?" or, "Pay attention to mama!" is the parent who has never learned to teach the child to listen. First-grade teachers could form a veritable army of witnesses to tell surprised parents how few children have ever learned to listen to instructions. It is another of the beginning principles in child rearing.
It is truly amazing what a few sharp spankings will accomplish to improve a child's hearing. If your child does not seem to hear you when you call, or his mind wanders when you are instructing him, or he pays no attention to you — the following measures should be applied: Speak ONLY ONCE. Speak sufficiently audibly so that you are SURE your child (if he has normal hearing, which we are assuming, since we are dealing with the "average" case) can hear you. In this way, you will be assured at the outset that his lack of attentiveness is not due to a fault on your part. If he doesn't listen, simply go to him and apply a sharp, but comparatively mild, spanking! Explain to the child he did not listen to you — and tell him to be more attentive next time.
Apply the proper methods of positive teaching, followed by swift, never-failing and loving punishment for infractions. In this manner, you will break the bad habit of not listening to parental instructions and admonitions, and instill the good habit of always listening attentively to the parent. In this fashion, whether your child is playing, or engaged in some pursuit which calls for his undivided attention, he will, nevertheless, always "have one ear tuned" to the voice of his parent.
This is another point at which many parents fail-simply because they are never sure their child really could have heard them. Use wisdom. If your child is outdoors, and banging on a tin pan or playing noisily with toys, the chances are you should not even attempt to call loudly from inside the house, unless there is an open window very near the child's play area. Rather, you should go to a place where the child can see as well as hear — and then call your child or give whatever instructions or teaching you wish.
I know of a case where a parent was finding herself calling repeatedly for her son. He had a backyard "project" involving his pets, and was invariably "busy" and "occupied" with them. He apparently didn't hear the calls of his parents. He was reminded to listen carefully, and sternly admonished. Next time, he still didn't come. He was firmly spanked for it. The next day, he came to the door several times when his mother hadn't called, saying, "Mom, did you call me?" Does this illustrate the point? Always be sure any normal child couldn't help but hear, and then, if the child does not respond, apply the lesson until he does learn to respond.
Teach Your Child How to Answer His Parents Remember, one of the greatest lessons any of us can learn is a deep inner sense of respect for authority. Not only do many children "speak against dignitaries" today, but millions are allowed to "sass" their parents, to talk back, to say "Yeah!" or "Naw!" to parental questions or commands.
Children should be taught to look up to the office and authority of their parents. The child who truly loves his parents will be able to experience an even fuller love if he is also taught a deep inner sense of respect toward his parents. This may be evidenced in the manner in which the child answers the parents.
It is neither "old-fashioned" nor wrong to teach children to say, "Yes, sir!" or "Yes, ma'am!" to their parents. Teaching the child to say, "Yes, father" or "Yes, mother" may sound, perhaps, a little too laborious and lengthy and the same purposes may be achieved by a simple "Yes, sir" or "No, ma'am." My child invariably answers me with a "Yes, sir" or a "No, sir" and, in looking back, I can recall having to apply a very mild spanking on only one occasion in his entire life to instill in him this habit. It was simply a matter of the positive teaching. He was taught how to answer.
You should begin at a very early age, when a child is first learning to put together simple phrases and learning to talk. When asking a child a question, such as, "Did you have a good time today?" if the child says, "y-e-e-e-es" — then you should say: "Say, 'Yes, sir!" and have your child repeat this a few times. As a result of diligent teaching in each instance, within just a very few days, or, at the most, a few weeks — you will have instilled in your child a habit which will last through the remainder of his natural life. At age four, or five, my boy was answering "Yes, sir" on almost every occasion. However, I began to notice frequent slips, and that he would begin to drop off the "sir" on occasion. I said, "Mark, you should always say 'Yes, sir,' or 'No, sir,' when you talk to your daddy, or 'Yes, ma'am' or 'No, ma'am,' when you talk to your mother. You have been slipping up on this lately — and forgetting. I'm calling this to your attention — now — to tell you about it as a reminder — so you won't slip up on it in the future. If you do, then I will have to give you a spanking to help you remember — do you understand?" "Yes, sir!" answered my son.
However, true to form, he did forget within a few hours, or days — I don't remember now. At any rate, true to my promise, I did spank him for it. I don't believe I swatted him more than four or five times. He tearfully apologized, and I put my arms around him and loved him, telling him I was giving him the spanking merely to help him remember — and that he sometimes needed this help as a part of his positive teaching — so he wouldn't forget.
Teach Your Child to Perform Certain Definite Tasks At a very early age, children may be taught to put up their own toys, fold and hang up clothing, help make their beds, clean up after themselves in the bathroom, or do other simple tasks about the house or yard. This is not with the aim of acquiring cheap labor about the home — far from it. It is with the goal in mind of teaching your child one of the most important lessons of life, which, simply stated, is this: to do what he is told to do — when he is told to do it.
By constantly teaching your child to perform certain tasks about the home, you are instilling several habits within him at once. The habit of obedience, of neatness, of cleanliness, of listening to parental instruction, of answering correctly and that of performing definite tasks are all involved in this procedure.
At first, you will need to "spell out" exactly what is expected of the child. For example: With your child, bend over and pick up one of his toys. Hand it to him, and then, take him by the hand, show him the proper place for the toy. After you have done this a few times, then you may have him pick it up and carry it to its proper place unaided. After a few times, giving simple instructions all the while, you will find that your child is able to pick up an object from one part of the house, and, progressively, going through several rooms, pull open the right drawer and put it in its proper place.
As your child gets to the age where he can understand more than one simple instruction at a time, begin to link together two or even three simple instructions. For example, say, "Johnny, pick up these toys and take them to your room — and put them away in their proper place. Then, bring daddy his slippers from his closet." Be slow and definite in your instructions. In this fashion, going to his room, and then relating the putting away of one or two objects with the obtaining of another, you have begun to teach your child how to accomplish certain definite series of tasks — how to follow parental instructions!
As he grows older, you may increase the instructions proportionately. Again, these may sound like simple principles — yet there are literally vast hordes of parents who have never taken the time or the effort to teach their children how to respond to simple commands.
A small girl was being "brought up," or perhaps it would be better to say was being allowed to grow up, the "permissive" way. Her family would be talking to guests, and she would appear, beating loudly on a tin pan. Her mother would imperturbably smile and gently say, "Joan, dear, take your pan into the other room, darling, so we may talk..." Joan would shake her head and continue drumming.
Her mother would repeat the request, to which the child finally replied, "No! I want to play HERE!"
Then followed a long discourse by mother, on the rights and desires of other people — how the "grownups" wanted to visit, and would she please be a "good girl" and leave the room?
To all this, Joan merely continued shaking her head and drumming.
Finally, the mother arose, and led the guests out on the patio, retreating in full flight, leaving little Joan in possession of the field, clearly the victor. The mother murmured, as she left the house. "I'm sorry folks — but you know how it is — she's so little, and it's so difficult for her to understand..."
How about it? Is this the way you want your child to be? You see, little Joan did really "understand"! She understood that she could get her own way — that she didn't have to obey her parents' suggestions, and that she could do just as she pleased. This parent, not quite sure the child was old enough to "understand" things on an adult level — and therefore to "reason out" what her logical course of action should be, was actively engaged in teaching her child a terrible habit of selfishness, lack of respect for her elders, and disobedience.
This is far from an uncommon situation. It is almost a rule in many homes today.
First, make sure your child understands the simple, direct commands and admonitions you give — then make your child obey them by piloting him through the first few routines — and then having him accomplish the tasks on his own.
Your children can and should learn right habits and respect at an early age. As mentioned, infancy is the time to start teaching your child right habits. In the early years of infancy, the child should establish the basis of good habits and proper respect. Then, as he grows toward teenage, there will be no problem of the "impossible" child who simply will not obey his parents.
Be diligent and firm — but loving — when the child is young. You will be amazed at the results.
YOU CAN PUNISH YOUR CHILDREN IN LOVE PUNISHMENT should never be merely negative — but always, without fail, accompanied by positive teaching. The right action, the right method, which is expected of the child, should be clearly shown him — not only the wrong ones.
Some parents, who are actually unqualified to be parents, are prone to punish their children in the heat of anger, with hardness and cruelty. Rather than instilling into the child the healthy "fear" which is right and good-not "terror" — these parents do cause children to build up feelings of resentment and anger.
They will probably find their children lying to escape punishment, and developing into cheats and child criminals! Seeing these abuses in the punishment of children, many have assumed that all punishment must be wrong.
This is simply untrue. God plainly says, "Children, OBEY your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour thy father and mother; which is the first commandment with promise; that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. And, ye fathers, PROVOKE NOT YOUR CHILDREN TO WRATH: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:1-4).
Notice, God says do not provoke your children to WRATH. But a constant attitude of negativism — of only saying "No!" and never saying "YES!" — of only showing a child what he should NOT do, and never showing him what he CAN and SHOULD do — punishing ONLY in a NEGATIVE way, will, in the long run, "provoke your children to wrath."
God always punishes His children in LOVE — NEVER in anger and wrath. Notice how Jeremiah prayed: "Oh Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. O Lord, CORRECT me, but with judgment; NOT IN THINE ANGER, lest thou bring me to nothing" (Jer. 10:23-24).
God's very nature is love. Yet, we read that God says He PUNISHES every son that He truly LOVES! Jeremiah prayed for punishment. But he wanted God to punish him in judgment, in mercy, and in LOVE — NOT IN ANGER.
How to Discipline Most parents usually punish children only when those children have driven them to it. They are punishing because they are literally trying to "get back at" their children and are angry because their child has done something which has disturbed them.
This is improper punishment, and will never bring the right result.
Let's really understand! There is NEVER, under any circumstances, a time to beat a child. A child should NEVER, under any circumstances, be punished in anger! A child should NEVER be bruised, or injured!
Another danger in punishment is leaving the child to himself immediately after the punishment — and leaving him with the impression that he is still guilty.
The positive type of punishment always carries with it the automatic understanding that the child is now forgiven for his wrong action, and is now in the good graces of his parents.
Only by parents carefully explaining this to their children, and showing that they are punishing in love, with judgment and wisdom, using great discretion, will they avoid some of these dangers in punishment.
You will be surprised how often a child will thoroughly repent of his wrong action and assure you that he is sorry for his wrong deed, throwing his arms around you and telling you how much he loves you when you punish in an attitude of love, and let him know that the punishment carries forgiveness with it.
What Effective Punishment Should Accomplish Any type of punishment, whether a physical spanking, deprivation of privilege, or other type, must always suit the offense. It must, at all costs, be prompt, and must never be done unless preceded by a warning. It must never be done in anger — but it must always be felt.
Effective punishment is never "temporary" in terms of the end result. It is aimed, NOT merely at temporarily quieting a child, or causing him to discontinue some annoying act, but at the LONG-RANGE goals of establishing the habit of obedience, proper self-control and self-discipline.
In ordinary cases, states one authority, corporal punishment is unnecessary after the younger years of childhood. At any age, it is, they stress, a temporary measure. We have not been successful in our training until the child obeys from CHOICE, and "from ideals that have been developed and not because of fear of physical punishment" (Pyle, "Training Children", p. 172).
If parents have applied effective punishment in the early years, the formative years, and "bent the twig" before it becomes a gnarled, huge, unyielding tree, THEN punishment is truly a temporary measure.
However, if there is not loving, temporary parental punishment to instill true self-discipline and the proper ideas and morals — then society may well inflict much harsher, and far more permanent punishment on that same child who has become a hardened criminal.
Remember, habits must be formed. Corporal punishment, done in discretion and love, must take the place of higher motives when the child is too young to really know the difference between right and wrong.
When the child is entirely too young to discern right from wrong, good from evil, his parents have the God given responsibility to make his decisions for him.
This must be done in a workable, practical manner. You simply cannot afford to let a child "gradually" quit running away, or out into the street, or turning on the gas, playing with fire, and breaking vases and bottles. You've got to get results — and get them fast.
Let's analyze another example of a child who openly flaunts authority before his parents. As already quoted, some child psychologists assure us:
"The eighteen-monther... asked to 'Come here, dear,' either stands still or runs in the opposite direction. (He may even like to walk backwards.) Ask him to put something in the wastebasket," they tell us, "and he is more likely to empty out what is already in it. Hold out your hand for the cup which he has just drained, he will drop it onto the floor. Give him a second sock to put on, and he will more likely than not remove the one which is already on his foot. His enjoyment of the opposite," they continue, "may be the reason why it works so well, if he is running away from you to say 'bye-bye,' and walk away from him. Then he may come running.
"Not only does he not come when called — he seldom obeys any verbal command. 'No' is his chief word!" (Ilg and Ames, op. cit., p. 22.)
What Could Happen to Your Child Assuming a young couple have been attempting to "rear" their child according to this idea, let's see what could easily happen.
The parents, with a small eighteen-month-old boy, are walking casually along the streets of their town. Their boy, simply because he is supposedly in one of the "phases" of childhood which demands a negative and rebellious answer to everything, is disobedient. He rebels at any command of his parents, saying "no" to their every order, and laughingly runs from them when they attempt to correct him, scorning their feeble efforts at keeping him under control.
They approach an intersection. The light is red. The child, seeing something interesting across the street, begins to run for it. Each parent, frightened almost beyond words, shouts, "No! No! Stop!" at the top of his voice. A screech of tires; the laughing face of their child looking back at them as he follows his babyish habit of "running away from them" when they say, "No"; a sickening "thud!" and their baby boy is a lifeless, grotesquely sprawled form lying under a car.
A purely hypothetical case, you say? No. Far from it. It happens quite frequently. But it only happens to children who are disobedient to their parents' commands, and who have not been taught not to run away from their parents, not to resist, rebel, and do the exact opposite of everything their parents tell them.
Almost the identical situation took place with my son. Except — I had taught my boy what "No!" meant. We were walking home from church, and Mark had run ahead about 15 or 20 feet. As we came to the crossing before our house, a car came racing down the usually quiet street on which we lived. Mark began to step off the curb, to run across to the house. Seeing the car rapidly approaching, I shouted, "No!"
There was no time to "reason" with Mark. There was no time to "surround" him with objects that he "could build up and manipulate" in order to take his mind off running across the street. Instead, there was only time for the single shouted command — "No!"
There was the roar of an engine, a swirling of leaves and dust, and the face of my boy, standing stock-still, waiting obediently at the curb, smiling at me as he stopped INSTANTLY upon hearing that command. I breathed a sigh of relief, and expressed my thankfulness to God, and then to my wife, for the wonderful blessing it is to know the right method of child rearing really works!
Teach the Habit of Obedience There can be no absolutely hard and fast rule as to the exact moment at which you should begin corrective measures to instill the habit of obedience and respect for authority within your children. However, since we know correction must be just and graded to the nature and the degree of the offense, it should hinge upon the time when it is first required.
Let us now understand when effective discipline may be required. Any parent quickly learns to discern the difference between a "hunger" cry, a "wet" cry, a "hurt" cry and an "angry" cry. Let us repeat, any parent should certainly be able to discern the differences in the emotional outbursts in their children.
To spank a child simply because it is crying would be a terrible mistake. A parent would feel grievously ashamed and terribly hurt if, after administering a spanking for crying, he found an open safety pin sticking the child had caused the outburst. However, let us not swing to the opposite extreme and "kid ourselves" that every time the child cries there is some reason other than anger or rebellion for it.
Let us assume the following situation develops: Your child is properly bathed, fed, and put to bed comfortably. It is now well past the time he should normally be sleeping. However, he begins crying or "fussing." You arise from bed, go to his room and check carefully to see why he is crying. You know he has been fed; you have checked his diapers and clothing carefully to see that he is not bound in his clothing, or that there is not any open pin. (Many "locking type" safety pins are available which make this almost an impossibility today.)
The child is not pulling his knees up, indicating he does not have a stomach ache. You notice that he ceases crying immediately when you pick him up, and begins to cry the moment you put him back down. Now you have ascertained his cry is an "attention" cry — merely wanting to be held. Not a serious crime in itself, and certainly it is good and right for a parent to rock his child to sleep, to allow the child to go to sleep on the bosom of the parent and then quietly place him in his own crib, or to walk with him until he is asleep. However — you must start sometime to teach him the meaning of the word "no!"
Teach the Meaning of "No!" Place the baby back in his crib. Retire from the room. After he begins "fussing" again, walk to the side of his crib, bend over and make sure he hears you. Point your finger at him, and say once, firmly, but not too loudly, "no!" Retire from the room. Usually, he will either stop crying momentarily at the sound of your voice, or will be continuing to cry all the way through your entry into the room and your command. However, don't begin to make the mistake here that so many parents make of "not being sure" their child heard or understood them.
Usually, he will begin to cry again the moment you leave the room. Next, walk firmly to the side of his crib, and, using only one or two fingers, deftly and smartly swat him on the buttocks. You may, without removing the heavy nighttime diapers, spat him sharply very high on the side of the thigh. But first, strike yourself on the back of the hand, the wrist or the cheek to determine the strength of the swat, and make definitely sure you do not strike the child too hard. However, do make sure you strike him hard enough so that he feels it.
The child may drop off into a deep sleep within a few moments of crying. Allow him to cry until you can tell by the sound of his crying that the pain, hurt and surprise has died down and he is not still crying merely as the after-effects of his first "spanking."
This will vary, and needs a great deal of wisdom and judgment. But it also needs firmness, and assurance you are doing this the right way, and purposeful determination to carry the lesson through.
If the child then, after 10 or 15 minutes, begins to cry again — and you can discern this is another "attention" cry, repeat the performance. Repeat it exactly as it was done before. Walk firmly into the room; bend over the crib; say "No!" to the child sharply. Already, he may very well cease crying immediately. But, true to form, the crying will probably begin again the minute you leave the room. Usually, the second sharp swat will be all that is needed for this lesson. The child will fill his lungs with good pure air, wave his little arms and kick his feet, have a good healthy cry, and usually lapse into a full, deep and tired sleep.
Why Spank? Most of us are looking for temporary goals. The only purpose in spanking children, with many, seems to be in getting the child to immediately cease whatever he is doing that is annoying them. We may want our child to quit running while in the house, quit running out into the street, to quit "bothering" us when we're busy, or any number of things which encroach upon OUR personal peace of mind.
In this fashion, spanking truly does become entirely negative. It is usually done by thoughtless parents in anger.
Since this is one of the most common abuses of proper discipline, some child psychologists have made mincemeat of the practice — using improper usage as a premise against any proper use.
Most parents who do spank their children, unfortunately, do spank them in anger. They are concentrating only on the immediate goals. They want their child to "quit bothering" them.
Have you ever heard a parent say, "That makes me so mad at you!" to his child? Such parents are admitting they use spanking only negatively, and not as a proper method to teach those lasting values — those permanent habits of obedience that are so necessary.
Another common miscalculation is that of supposedly "adding insult to injury." Some parents reason a crying child, or one who is "upset," is already suffering from something — and a spanking would only make him suffer all the more. Therefore they reason a spanking at this juncture would be harmful.
This may be true in some circumstances. A child who is disappointed over a broken toy, who is excessively tired, or who has become emotionally upset over a similar situation should NOT be spanked. Sorrow, disappointment, regret or hunger — these should NOT be punished. But anger, resentment, rebellion, or hatred — these definitely should be punished.
The long-range goal of spanking for a show of rebellion is to prove to the infant mind that rebellion nets punishment. Never fear that the child will have any difficulty in connecting the punishment with the crime. He will automatically connect the two together.
However, many parents are dissuaded from accomplishing these lasting goals by reasoning, "Why spank him if he's screaming and crying hard when a spanking is just going to 'upset' him all the more?"
Parents are deluded from their long-range goals by reasoning the following:
"But supposing he does get angry? What shall we do? "If he is angry because he is sleepy or hungry, we have to try as matter-of-factly as we can to get him fed and into bed. If we can be calm ourselves it will help. What use is there in being disturbed and annoyed when that will only add to our child's anger and our own trouble?" (Parents Institute, op. cit., p. 357.)
Herein lies a basic principle which needs to be thoroughly understood.
Don't Make Excuses Most parents are inclined to make excuses for their children's poor behavior. Actually, they are excusing themselves, as the ones who are really to blame for the irresponsible actions of their children. Parents who CONSTANTLY excuse the squallings of a child by saying he "is tired," or ignore the angry outbursts of a toddler by saying he's "just upset" today, or say he "didn't get a nap" and therefore is acting like an uncontrollable monster — are merely excusing both themselves and their children.
But the real truth is very clear. This child comes from a POORLY SCHEDULED ENVIRONMENT, from a poorly managed home. He is the product of a careless mother and father who, after having made numerous mistakes in his care and training, merely make excuses for the obvious result of their carelessness. (Parents can avoid some of these problems by getting their children to bed on TIME.)
Should a child be chastised for expressing anger by crying? God's answer is: "Chasten thy son while there is hope, and let not thy soul spare for his crying" (Prov. 19:18).
Simply being "sleepy" or "hungry" is one thing — but being angry because of it is another. Parents quickly learn to discern between a "sleepy" cry and an "angry" cry.
How to Accomplish Permanent Goals Of course your child will cry all the harder when he receives a spanking. If your immediate goal is merely to get your child to be quiet — then you are thwarting your own purpose. But if you have a long-range goal of teaching and training your child while he is young, you will recognize each particular situation as a challenge, not for the immediate present, but for the future. You spank for anger and rebellion now, fully realizing he is going to cry all the harder, in order to instill in him the habit of obedience, and to teach him rebellion against authority is absolutely wrong. This teaching is going to stand him in good stead later.
Let us notice an example of parents eating out with their children in a restaurant.
Johnny, aged 2 1/2, begins to play with his silverware. Dropping his knife on the floor, his father picks it up and takes the silverware away from him. Immediately, Johnnie bursts into an angry outburst of tears. Embarrassed, realizing there are many others suddenly looking at them, the father tells Johnnie "sh-h-h-h-h-h." But Johnnie does not "sh-h-h-h-h-h" — he cries all the louder. What should the father do? Should he pacify the child by giving the silverware back to him? Should he rap him sharply on the hand while in the restaurant?
His feelings are in a turmoil. He realizes if he tries to spank him in front of all these people he will merely cry all the louder. And so, nearly always the child gets his own way. The father, not wanting to create a "scene," gives the silverware back to the child — and he has won a major victory. He has found crying gets him his own way. Anger pays off.
But if Johnnie's father had realized he should be concentrating on the long-range goal of teaching his child respect for authority and the rights of others, he would have done the following:
Handle the Situation He would have left the silverware right where it was in front of Johnny. (Of course, had Johnnie been receiving all the proper training at home this situation may have never arisen in the first place.) He would have picked up the knife patiently, placed it in its proper place on the table, looked levelly at the child and said once, sharply, firmly but quickly, "No!" The chances are about 999,000 to 1 Johnnie would immediately seize the silverware in his chubby little hand again. Of course. That's what is expected. He must be taught not to disobey. The next step is to firmly take the silverware from his hand calmly and patiently, arising from the chair, picking up Johnnie and carrying him outside — to a PRIVATE PLACE such as your automobile. This is going to cause far less disturbance, far less embarrassment in the immediate situation — and is going to help form a good habit in the child. After Johnnie's father gets him to a private place, such as their own car, he EXPLAINS to the boy what he has done. He might say, "Johnnie, you dropped your silverware on the floor and disturbed others. I told you No! — not to touch the silverware again. You disobeyed. And now, because I love you, and I don't wish to have you grow up to be disobedient, I must teach you I mean exactly what I say when I tell you No!" Whereupon the father should punish Johnnie appropriately. Five or six firm licks on his bottom may be enough. But, in any event, this punishment must be appropriate to the occasion, neither too severe, nor too lax. Punishment, in order to be effective, must be felt.
Then, the father picks up the child after his tears have subsided, wipes his face and carries him calmly back to the table, placing him again in his seat.
An unnecessarily lengthy procedure, you say? It is, if the only thing about which you are concerned is a little peace and quiet during one of the thousands of meals you are going to eat in your lifetime. Far from it, if you are concerned about rearing your child correctly, teaching him the meaning of parental authority and discipline, and using these minor incidents as a means toward the long range goals.
However, try to use wisdom. Avoid making a scene that is uncomfortable for others.
Ultimate Benefits of Constructive Discipline J. Edgar Hoover said something so piquant, so strikingly applicable, that it should be briefly quoted:
"Criminals are made, not born. Long before a youngster is legally labeled 'juvenile delinquent,' his acts repeat a familiar pattern of conduct — falsehoods, disobedience, truancy, petty stealing. Each dereliction leads to another. Unless he learns the fundamental lessons of self-discipline, trouble is inevitable.
"Every child should have maximum freedom of expression, but when such freedom transgresses common decency or infringes upon the rights of others, it must be curtailed. Our prisons are filled with individuals who enjoy freedom of expression without self-discipline" (J. Edgar Hoover, "How Good a Parent Are You?", p. 3).
A child who has been TAUGHT obedience from the time of mere infancy will have practically no chance of ever turning into a juvenile delinquent. This is not to say mere punishment and respect for authority is the only panacea against juvenile delinquency. There are many other reasons, among them: parental neglect, broken homes and divorce, unhappy homes, bad examples, outside influences, dangerous literature and the pressures of modern-day society.
But correction should be utilized as a POSITIVE part of learning. And it will bring the results you want — obedient, happy, responsive children.
Biblical Childrearing Principles God says: "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Prov. 22:6). The clear indication from this scripture is that a properly trained child is very likely to continue in a desirable way of living when he reaches maturity.
Remember, God is love. God punishes us because He loves us, even as we should punish our children in the right manner, at the right time — because we love them. "He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes [early]" (Prov. 13:24). God says to withhold proper punishment from a child is LACK of love, and is actual HATRED for the child! Your Creator says you are withholding something mighty precious from your child if you do not punish him when such punishment is deserved.
"Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod [stick or switch], he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell" (Prov. 23:13-14).
The Hebrew word used here for "rod" would be better translated into our modern English "switch." Certainly no implement which could be termed a rod, such as a curtain rod or a heavy stick of any nature should ever be used in disciplining a child.
Correction should be utilized as a positive part of learning. It is, as revealed in the Bible, one of the METHODS of teaching. King Solomon wrote: "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him" (Prov. 22:15).
Further, your Bible reveals "The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child LEFT TO HIMSELF bringeth his mother to shame" (Prov. 29:15).
Yes, reproof, correction, proper discipline can be utilized as one of the most important methods of positive TEACHING.
HOW TO GET RESULTS IF YOU have really seen, and you know that you can and must punish your children when they need it — and do it in love — then you need to know how. What do you use?
You've heard of the old razor strap, the belt, the buggy whip, the ruler and pencil of the school teachers of a few decades ago. But should these implements be used?
What Should You Use? We have already seen how two or three fingers of the hand should be used for a very young child, and first tested on your own forearm or thigh. Generally, it is best to spank with the hand. But, again, there are many cautions.
First, never try to spank a small child with the whole hand through his diapers! Before you would ever accomplish the job of administering a proper spanking to drive the lesson home, you might run the risk of injuring the child's back. The whole hand against one or two thicknesses of diapers would not really be felt except as a clubbing type of blow to the child.
As mentioned previously, you should raise the corners of the diaper, and sharply swat the child with only two or three fingers. Make sure it is felt — but first try it on yourself.
Before continuing with these methods, let's understand where you should spank a child. It is certainly all right to swat the back of a child's hand as he reaches for a forbidden object, such as a lighted stove, china vase, or something he may pull down and break. In fact, as one author states, "A slap on the hand of the infant who is reaching for a forbidden object has the advantages of immediate and direct association with the misbehavior and of being quickly over. To do any good the slap must be sharp enough to be felt, but should not be severely painful" (Hohman, op. cit., p. 49).
But these are the only areas in which you should ever spank a child. Either high on the backs and sides of the legs, directly on the buttocks, or occasionally on the backs of the hands. You should NEVER "box his ears" or strike a child about the head or face.
Any time a parent is seen slapping a child on the face, or thumping him on the head, striking him anywhere else but the areas described (and then never hard enough to bruise or injure) that parent is probably punishing in anger, and is truly "hitting" the child — not really punishing in love.
Generally it is going to be better to spank with your own hand. That way, you can feel it, too, and you will be even surer you are not overdoing it.
Many parents utilize a small switch, which will sharply sting, but never break the skin or bruise. As the author already quoted said, "Spanking or nettling small legs with appropriately small switches are only two of the methods that may be used" (ibid.).
Certainly, nothing in the old-fashioned buggy-whip category should ever be used. An extremely effective implement is one of the lighter ping pong paddles, applied to the bare buttocks.
Use common sense. Punish your child in love — calmly, never in the heat of emotion — and you need not fear "over-punishment."
It is very strongly recommended not to use anything that could properly be considered an "implement" for punishment short of one year of age. Parents are strictly cautioned to be EXTREMELY CAREFUL in the application of proper punishment to a very tiny child. BE careful! DON'T HARM THE CHILD!
Now that we have discussed how spanking should be done, let us cover, in principle, other important things to remember.
It Must Be Prompt To be effective, spanking should always be prompt. Frequently, because of "embarrassment" in the presence of friends, being in a public place, driving in a car, or some other such difficulty which seems to make the immediate application of punishment somewhat problematic, parents will defer punishment until a later time. This should never be done! The child (and the younger the child the truer this is) will tend to lose sight of the seriousness of his offense, and the exact relationship between the offense and the punishment meted out will become somewhat unclear in his mind after a period of delay.
"Punishment, to be effective, must be prompt, especially with a very young child. Prompt punishment does not mean hasty punishment, in anger. Rather, it means bringing the results of an act close enough to the event so that a child, whose memory is short, will not have forgotten why he is being punished" (Figure and Anderson, op. cit., p. 179).
The parent should think more of the child and of the child's future than he does of another uninterrupted meal. He should quietly and calmly take the child OUT of the restaurant — preferably to a PRIVATE PLACE such as his automobile, apply the proper punishment, and return, rather than deferring the punishment until later.
"The fundamental in all discipline is to be SURE you are right, then go ahead. Go ahead in a way which leaves no shadow of doubt whether you or your child wins. Whatever you do, do something decisive. Do not tell a child who coasts down a dangerous and forbidden driveway that he cannot use his coaster any more that day and then let him coax you into giving it back in five minutes. Do not spank a child and cuddle his tears away, murmuring: 'Daddy is sorry he had to spank you'" (Hohman, op. cit., pp. 50-51).
Only when punishment is administered immediately after the offense, and especially is this true with a very young child, will it be truly effective. This is the only fashion in which the very young child can be expected to associate the immediate chastisement with the wrong action.
The more swiftly the punishment can follow the act of disobedience, the more effective it will be. This is a principle which should never be forgotten.
It Must Be Consistent To punish for an infraction one day, and then to allow the same infraction without punishment the next day is totally confusing to a child.
"The habit of obedience should be developed by the second birthday and firmly fixed by the third. It should become automatic. By the end of the first year, the foundation should be laid. This foundation arises out of a firm, calm, CONSISTENT treatment of the child during the first year. The child will get his first lesson of obedience in learning inhibitions. There is something which babies should not do; mother says 'no' and sees to it that the baby does not do the forbidden thing [by punishing immediately if an infraction occurs]. The mother must be sure that the first lessons are absolutely successful. She must say 'no' only with good reason, but when she says it she must see that the child obeys" (Pyle, op. cit., pp. 148-149).
I have observed many parents make the gross mistake of totally inconsistent punishment and training. The underlying cause for inconsistency is that the parents have lapsed into the habit of punishing their children only when the children finally "get on their nerves" to the effect that the parent becomes angry, and "lashes out" at the child in retributive haste.
Frequently, parents will say, "But I DO spank him," and then go on to argue, "But it doesn't seem to do a bit of good!" Always, at the root of a statement such as this, is discipline that is totally ineffective because it is not being done consistently.
This is perhaps the most common of all parental failings in administering just and loving discipline. On one day, mother may spank little Johnnie for having pulled a knife out of the drawer. On the following day, she may totally ignore Johnnie as he plays with a whole fistful of knives and forks.
Speak Only Once Here, too, is one of the greatest errors of parents today. "Johnnie! Get back up there on that chair and finish your dinner!" says the parent. But Johnnie ignores the parent, going about his own pursuits as if he had not even heard the voice of the parent. Most parents are taken in by this "ignoring" which all children will "try" with their parents, and so are convinced Johnnie really didn't hear the command. The command is repeated — and repeated — and repeated. Finally — the child may even be picked up and placed on the chair by the frustrated parent. Or what is just as likely (in the practice which I myself have observed on many occasions) after five or six fruitless admonitions, the parent himself may turn away from this futile attempt at child training and go back to his newspaper or other pursuits, letting the child have his own way. Parents who say, "Did you hear me?" are those who always speak more than once. Parents who say, "What am I going to do with you?" are parents who always speak more than once. Parents who say, "Am I going to have to give you a spanking?" are parents who always speak more than once.
Have YOU been using these phrases? Do you speak more than once to your children?
Speak to your child ONCE! Then, if disobedience follows, immediately apply the proper punishment. It is only in this way that punishment can be truly effective.
It is truly amazing the degree to which a child's hearing may be sharpened by only speaking once, firmly, and sharply.
You may have heard of the children who were startled into humble quietude by the mere "clearing of the throat" of their father as a warning. You may have heard of other children who could have been silenced with a mere look. But by far the more average is the child who can't be quieted with a thousand admonitions, and who never listens to his parents.
This is such a common failing of parents that it deserves ample discussion. Check up on yourself. Begin to speak only once.
If you want your child for something, simply say, "Johnnie, come here!" If the child ignores you, wait just a moment or two, then arise from your chair, calmly bare the child's bottom and apply about five or six good sharp swats. If Johnnie pretends he "didn't hear you" and tearfully tells you he didn't realize you were calling him — you may be positively assured that if you explain the reason why he is being spanked, he will hear you the next time.
I have seen so many dozens, yes, even hundreds, of parents speaking time and time again to their children without any visual effect, that it is truly amazing.
You, as a parent, should begin to speak to your child only once. Say, "Eat your dinner." And then, if, after a few moments, the child is still toying with his food, showing disinterest, or daydreaming — calmly take him down from the dinner table, into another room, lower his pants and give him a good effective spanking. Allow him to remain in his room until the crying has completely subsided, and until he is settled down again, and then firmly place him on his chair and say, "Eat your dinner!" This time, you may be fully persuaded, the chances are far more likely that he is going to finish his dinner. However, let's assume he doesn't. What then? This brings up the next basic principle.
Always Finish What Is Started Never cease. Never quit. Never give up. Once you have begun teaching your child the meaning of the word "no," and to respond to a single command, don't ever give up. Let's assume your child does not learn to eat his dinner after this one spanking. If he eats only two or three bites after the first one, and then begins to toy with his food again — repeat the whole process. Don't speak again you've already done that — simply arise from the table, take him into his room, and administer another spanking.
Perhaps it may seem unnecessarily harsh to you — but you should continue this process as long as is made necessary by your child's rebellion.
There is going to come a time in the life of every child when he is going to "try" his parents almost to the breaking point. He will rebel. It may be over a simple thing such as eating his dinner, picking up his toys, coming when you call, going to bed quietly, or any number of things. My son, on one occasion, simply refused to blow his nose! My wife would say, "Blow!" and wait, holding the handkerchief to his nose. He had been blowing his nose by himself for quite some months — there was no question but that he knew how. He rebelled. My wife spanked him, and then told him, "Blow!" again. Again, he refused. My wife spanked him the second time. Finally, my wife called me. I took over the situation, and he still refused to "blow." It took a number of separate spankings. However, after the last one — he BLEW!
Had I let my son win that battle, I may never have gained control of him again!
My child was not bruised — he was not injured — and the pain was all over in just a few moments. But the lesson he learned is still with him to this day. My wife and I then explained to him that he would never have needed even one spanking if he had merely blown his nose as he should have — in the beginning. We impressed this firmly upon his mind, telling him that spankings are not enjoyable; they are not "fun" for anyone concerned, but that because we love him, we must teach him what is best for him, in order that he will grow up to be an obedient, loving, respectful child, always doing exactly what his parents tell him.
I have seen many parents spank their children once or twice for an infraction, and then give up because their children continued to rebel. This is disastrous to teaching real discipline.
Use caution, however. NEVER go to an extreme and beat your child. Punish wisely, in love.
Punishment, to be truly effective, must always be just and graded to the nature and degree of the offense. Never punish harshly, or overly much for a small infraction. Never punish lightly, or too little for a major infraction. Use wisdom and judgment. I never punished very hard for reaching for a knick-knack or teacup. I punished very firmly for running out into the street. The one offense, if repeated, might result in a broken teacup; the other, if repeated, might result in the loss of the life of the most precious possession any parent can be given.
Use Right Psychology Punishment must be adapted to the individual child. However, in explaining this, I may run the risk of having some parents retort, "My child never needs a spanking!" But this would be sheer ridiculousness. Any and every child needs spankings. It is a vital, integral part of his positive teaching and training. To be left without punishment is to be left without a very precious tool for instilling a deep sense of respect, discipline, self-control and a settled, orderly appreciation of loving authority.
Granted, some children are of totally different NATURES than others. Some are "easily upset" while others seem to be quite stoical, almost imperturbable. It may take only one or two sharp swats for one child to burst into a veritable flood of tears and repentance. It may take more for another child to show equal remorse. Surely, no one is in a better position to know and evaluate this than you — if you are wise and loving parents.
A child should always understand the purpose of the punishment. Spanking should always be accompanied by the positive teaching as to how to do the right thing, as opposed to the wrong. Most parents have come to feel that spanking is entirely "negative." This is simply not true. Spanking should be, if properly utilized, the most positive method of child rearing there is. With the proper teaching of the right action, both before and after the spanking, a positive and negative side to the spanking procedure is given. This will be lastingly beneficial.
For example, your child is frequently running in and out of the house, and leaving the door open. Simply call him back, inform him of his mistake and firmly tell him to always close the door after him when either coming in or going out of the house. Assuming he forgets within a few minutes and leaves the door ajar again, call him to you, show him the open door and administer a just spanking. Then, take the child to the door, and have him close it. Have him then go in and out of the door five or six times, each time he does it, opening and closing it properly. Instill the habit of obedience.
Positive Instruction Necessary Teach him the positive act he should be expected to do. In this way, with the positive teaching immediately following and accompanying the spanking for an infraction, a valuable and long-lasting lesson may be taught.
Most of the time, your child is going to disobey "accidentally." He will disobey through carelessness, thoughtlessness, forgetfulness, or simply through a lack of understanding what is expected of him. However — don't be deceived. There are occasions when a child will deliberately disobey — and needs to be spanked accordingly.
Let your child know you believe in his underlying good intent. Frequently, the young boy or girl will say, quite tearfully, "I didn't mean to!" You should answer, "Of course you didn't mean to!" Explain to the child how you understand that he did it merely through carelessness or forgetfulness. But say, "Had I thought you would have done such a deed on purpose I would have punished you much more severely. I know and understand that you wouldn't have done this deliberately — trying to be disobedient — but because I love you, I must impress upon you that you should never do this through forgetfulness or carelessness again."
Then, when the tears have subsided after a spanking, love your children — take them up and show them some affection! Never allow the child to run from the one parent who has done the punishing to the other for the loving and the affection — but always make sure the child is loved, first of all by the parent who has done the punishing.
Yes, punishment when used properly and in love, is a truly marvelous method of positive child teaching and training.
There are many methods of proper punishment — not all of them involving physical or corporal punishment.
Natural Consequences Sometimes Punish Sometimes, natural consequences of a child's action may serve. However, this should only be done when the natural consequences of the act are not too severe, and no real injury or lasting harm is involved. Obviously, a parent should not wait until a very young child is severely shocked in order to teach him not to pull out or play with electric cords. However, a child will oftentimes learn unassisted by the parents, through natural consequences of his acts, how to get along in his surroundings. For example, he may, by bumping his head when raising up under the piano bench or the table, learn to crawl out from under any such obstacle before pulling up or standing. He will learn after one or two minor brushes with a hot radiator to avoid it.
The parent may warn a child crawling toward a hot (but not too hot!) radiator — "no!" The child may disobey this command, and reach out to touch it anyhow. Obviously, if it is going to result in a severe burn, the parent should snatch up the child before the child is allowed to touch the radiator and apply corporal punishment in a right and loving manner. However, if it is merely going to result in a momentary pain, the natural consequence may, in all likelihood, serve to illustrate to the child that immediate retribution and pain will follow the disobedience of the "no!" command.
Isolation Isolation may be used as a proper method of punishment if the circumstances warrant it. Especially would this be beneficial if the child is being uncooperative in playing with other children. The simple "no!" command for a very young child, or a longer admonition, in the event the child is older, should always precede any form of punishment. If the child is taking toys away from others, or not playing in a cooperative manner, he may be secluded in his own room, or removed and taken to a safe place (never a darkened closet, cupboard, or small, confined place), preferably his own room. He may be made to remain there for a SHORT period of time.
Deprivation Deprivation of some special toy, some particular pleasure, dessert after a meal, a trip to the store, or any number of things will serve as a lasting admonition for SOME offenses.
For example, a child who is old enough to talk and can understand such admonitions might be warned: "If you don't eat all your spinach, you shall not have any dessert with the rest of us." If the child persists in his rebellion, and does not finish his spinach — the parent should be firm, and deprive the child of dessert.
Voiced disapproval may be utilized in some instances. However, mere "nagging" at the child, constant recriminations and rebukes, or parental disgust shown over and over again will do nothing more than frighten, dishearten and induce sulkiness in a child.
Never Use Short Cuts None of the aforementioned methods should ever, under any circumstances, supplant corporal punishment. There are thousands of parents who will assure others that they can "reason with" their children, and therefore have never needed to spank them. There are many thousands of others who assure all who will listen that their children can merely be "shamed" as a result of any wrong deed, and have never "needed" a spanking.
These are simple excuses and attempted "short cuts" by parents who don't grasp the central importance of corporal punishment.
Train Your Children Together It is a heinous crime for one parent to nullify the instructions of the other — or to "take up for a child" because it is felt that the other parent is dealing too harshly with him.
If the mother feels the father is being too harsh and begins to loudly say so — in front of the child or teen-ager — it will result in a sense of inner conflict within the child, and begin to set the stage for the child's future HABITS of using one parent against the other to get his own way.
If the father does ALL the punishing — this will be an automatic risk. Therefore, the parents should cooperate fully in the positive teaching and training of the child, and also in the disciplining. The father should certainly take the lead — doing the heavy share of the disciplining. However, in many homes, where the father is at work during most of the daylight hours, and the mother is with the children of pre-school age during the day, it is the mother who will have to do the bulk of the punishing during those hours.
A father who does discipline in a loving and proper manner, and a mother who is against discipline and never uses it, is a disastrous combination for child rearing.
Never Be at Cross Purposes If parents are at cross purposes with one another in teaching and training their children — it would be far better if no children had ever been born into such a family. The children would have less chance than the proverbial "hoot in a whirlwind" for growing up to be obedient, respectful, morally and emotionally stable.
In all the examples of teaching and discipline already given in this book, each parent should follow the exact same procedures, together. Oftentimes, both parents can share in the same period of instruction. For example: If the father gives Johnny a command to pick up his toys, the mother could follow the command immediately with saying, "Johnny, as soon as you finish obeying your father in picking up your toys, come here to the kitchen — I have something for you to do." In this way, the mother acknowledges the father's priority, driving home the lesson that the father's command should be FIRST obeyed — and then enforces upon the mind of the child that she too is to be obeyed with equal dispatch.
Never Take Sides Let's assume the father really is disciplining just a little too hard.
What should the wife do? Should she reprimand her husband, attempt to intervene in his handling of the problem?
The answer should be obvious! There is NEVER a time for the mother to openly disagree with, disapprove of, or show contempt for the teaching or discipline of the father.
What, then, is she to do? Suppose she's right — suppose her husband really is disciplining a little harder than he should?
Then the mother should wait until later — wait until she is alone with her husband — and discuss the matter.
The child will not suffer any injury if the discipline is not really overly severe. He would suffer far worse injury to his permanent character if he saw his mother shrilly accusing his father, and taking sides. It would be one of the most damaging things she could do to her child.
Never take sides with your children against your mate. Never try to countermand an order given by the other parent — whether that order is right or wrong!
If mother tells daughter she can't have a new dress, and father countermands mother's decision — father is guilty of taking sides. He has hurt his daughter, his wife, and himself, more than he begins to realize.
The simple answer, to avoid taking sides, is to talk things over. Know how you intend dealing with your children under specific situations. Know each other better. Cooperate with one another in rearing your children.
SHOULD CHILDREN BE SEEN AND NOT HEARD? TODAY, Americans laugh at the antics of children of the "Dennis the Menace" type. It seems we believe that boisterousness, interference by little boys and girls in the activities of adults, presumptuousness and rudeness are funny.
The "Smart Alec" Child Have you noticed the "Smart Alec" child? Have you noticed how many children will boldly interrupt their elders' conversations, demand loudly to know, "Where are you going?" or "What are you doing?" or say, "Hey! You!" to the postman?
How many children have you seen who "talk big" and "act big" and receive praise and glowing flattery because of it?
Many seem to delight in a little child acting "grown up." It is "cute" we seem to think, for a little child to use big words, talk up boldly to his elders, and become the center of attention in every group. But in reality, it teaches children to feel as equals toward their elders — to disrespect the conversations of those who are their superiors — to be rude, brusque, and presumptuous.
Let's use our minds! Is it really "cute" for a little toddler to walk boldly up to an adult chewing food, and demand loudly to know, "What are you eating?" Is it really "cute" for a tiny boy or girl to walk boldly into the midst of a group of adults conversing together, and interrupt their conversation — becoming the center of attention with some quip or "cute saying"? Do postmen, milkmen, workmen and visitors really think it is "sweet" to have your little children demand their attention in a loud and noisome voice?
Of course not! It is embarrassing, frustrating and bothersome. No milkman wants to loudly tell your child to SHUT UP. But he is probably thinking it. None of the guests in the restaurant in the scene already described had the courage to speak up and tell the little child to shut up and sit down. But dozens of them were grumbling under their breath about it. No guest in your home will answer to your child's demand to know what they are eating that it is "none of your business!" But they will probably wish they could.
Do you begin to see? It is not "cute" or "sweet" to permit children to mimic the abominable practices our depraved society seems to laugh at in the comics and TV today — it is the exact opposite. Check these tendencies in your children.
Teach your children to show respect to any and all elders. Show them how others, whether workmen, delivery men or guests are superior to them — that they are older, mature, responsible. Explain to your children that they are just little children.
Treat Your Children Like Children What is a child's status? That of a child! Can we learn this simple truth? I have heard parents say they would never talk any of this syrupy "baby-talk" to their children. Their children were going to sound like grown-ups. What a pity! Is it a crime for a child to BE a child, to act like a child, and to be treated like a child? Is it more proper to solemnly shake your little toddler's hand, while sternly telling him you are "pleased with his performance" or to catch him up in your arms, kissing him all over his face and neck, and roll around on the floor with him in playful fun?
Pity the child made to act "older" by naive parents who think it a shame for a baby to be a baby, a child to be a child.
Let your children be children! Teach them their status. It will not give them an inferiority complex.
For an example, let's think of a child riding with his parents in a car. He has a healthy curiosity, of course; and this should be encouraged in the right way — but channeled and guided, nevertheless. Suppose he should realize you are looking for a parking place. What if he sees a place across the street, and, leaning over the back of the front seat, loudly says, "Daddy! Turn in here."
Here is an opportunity to teach your children a vital lesson. It is not necessary to completely squelch all initiative, or to take all spontaneity and enthusiasm from children, but it is necessary to teach them the proper relationship to their elders and their parents.
Here is an opportunity to teach such balanced relationship. Teach your child he or she is a passenger. Explain why you can't park in the place across the street, and then tell the child that when he is riding in the car he does not assist in the guiding, driving and manipulation of that car. Tell him that Daddy is doing the driving. Explain it. It will be really GOOD for your children to realize you are in control. Explain to your children they should be observant passengers — but passengers, nevertheless. As silent observers, they can appraise the driving, they can watch their father's actions at the wheel — but they should never be permitted to presumptuously try to control those actions.
Make your children realize their status. Make them realize there are many things they can learn from their elders. Make them respect those in authority over them. Treat them like children — not equals!
What About Clothes and Mannerisms? I'm sure you have seen little girls clopping along the street, wearing their mother's high-heeled shoes, or a big hat, and carrying a big purse, haven't you? Surely you've seen little children try to mimic their parents' habits, or their dress, and their mannerisms.
Perhaps this is harmless enough — and certainly not necessarily that which would warrant a spanking (unless, of course, the child has been forbidden to take such articles, or has on her mother's best things, and is being totally presumptuous and careless with them!) — but it does illustrate a potential danger nevertheless.
Today, the trend seems to be to hurry the "growing up" process in children. We want to hurry them into school, hurry them into adult clothing styles. In turn, we see mere youths wanting to hurry into marriage — worried about a tottering civilization closing in on them, stripping from them the years of happiness they had envisioned as growing youths.
This is a trend! Clothiers and designers have helped it along by providing tiny replicas of adult-style clothing for little children. You've heard it a hundred times. The grandparents, or the relatives, or the guests in the home would say, "Why, he's a real little MAN!" as they exclaim in pleased tones about the complete little suit the toddler is wearing, replete with necktie, tie pin, and all the requirements of adult dress. Or, "What a BIG boy you are now!" they bemusedly exclaim to Johnnie as he strolls by in his adult-appearing clothing. Or, "What a regular little LADY," they say of the little girl, wearing clothes styled just like mother's.
A Child Is Simply a Child But no — they are not big men and ladies — they are little children. It is right to compliment a child within reason (remembering not to flatter, or give a child a sense of vanity about his appearance) but NOT to imply he is older than he is, more mature than he is, or that he is anything other than just what he is — a child.
There is nothing embarrassing about being a child. There is nothing wrong with being a child. There is nothing shameful about being a child. Let your little children BE little children. Don't hasten them into adulthood too soon.
But don't go to the opposite extreme, and try to treat growing, strapping big boys and girls of early teens like little children. Treat them just like they are — as growing boys and girls in their teens, whose bodies are maturing, and whose minds still need a great deal of guidance and control.
No one needs to encourage a child to talk baby talk. But you certainly should not, in the beginning of his speech training, go to the opposite extreme, teaching him to talk like the head of the Supreme Court. Do not try to mold and shape your children merely for the sake of the vanity of the parents.
Now let's notice a few more examples of how to teach your children some of the vitally necessary habits they should learn to really be in their correct status as children.
I remember one occasion when my son, Mark, who had behaved inconsiderately in the presence of guests, was taken to his room and placed in a chair. I placed him firmly in the chair, knelt down and told him, "Mark! You are to sit in this chair and not move until I speak to you — is that clear?" "Yes, sir!" he answered. I retired to the living room, and we continued our visiting. However, I forgot all about Mark, until over TWO HOURS LATER! I was deeply ashamed of having forgotten him, and, suddenly remembering I had not yet given him permission to move from the chair, rose hurriedly and went into his room. There he was, curled up in the easy chair, sound asleep. He had stayed in that chair-had gone to sleep — because he had not yet heard permission from me that he could arise.
One major pitfall with this particular habit which needs to be taught young children is this: Many parents attempt to enforce such a habit only when friends are visiting, or when in a public place. Parents try to get a child to sit still in church, for instance, who was never made to sit still for any period of time during the other six days of the week. One problem many parents seem to face is that of having children who increasingly "act up" and put on their "very worst" only when guests are present, or when they are in a public place.
Notice what really lies behind such actions of a disobedient child.
"Where did the child get the idea he could do anything he pleased when discipline was hard to enforce? Search into the past and you will see. Extensive observation has shown me that parents who invariably cannot control their children on special occasions never really control them at any time" (Hohman, op. cit., p. 38).
Any parent who is making a constant display of spanking his children in public, in a restaurant, or in church, while attempting to get the child to be quiet and sit still, is merely advertising that the child has never been taught to do these things at home. Teach your child to sit still at various times during the day for periods of five to ten minutes, or even longer. On occasion, have your child sit still, allowing him to look at a picture book, or color, or some similar pursuit, for as long as an hour or longer. In this way, you can begin to instill a vitally important habit in your child at a very early age.
Teach Your Child to Be Quiet There are all sorts of the "grandparent" type of excuses for a child's not obeying his parents in sitting still. Young parents are told their children just "can't" be made to sit still for long periods of time — that their little bodies are filled with energy, that they must fidget, squirm, change positions, jump and run almost constantly.
Don't believe it. Children can and should be trained how to sit still in certain circumstances. Begin to teach them at home.
No child should be taught to be quiet all the time. Any child should have an opportunity to yell, to make various childlike noises, to laugh and to play boisterously with other children. However, unless you have taken the pains to teach your child to sit still and be quiet in the house on occasions before important guests come, or before you go to a restaurant to eat, or before you take the child to church — how can you expect him to learn the first time in such circumstances?
Such teaching takes concentration and real attention to duty on the part of the parent. The parent cannot give the child a command, and then dismiss the child and the circumstances from his managing on about his own pursuits. On many occasions, I have seen similar circumstances develop where parents will give the child a command to sit still and be quiet. However, because guests are present or the parent is watching an interesting TV show, or has his mind on other things, he soon forgets what he told his child to do — and the child, willing to "try out" his parents to the absolute limit of their endurance — has long since gotten down from his chair and is now just as noisy, if not noisier, than he was before.
Teaching children should not merely be "keeping them out of your hair," "getting them out of your way," or "keeping them occupied." Too many parents today seem to regard their children as little "house-apes" or a "ball and chain."
In order to teach your child any of these constructive habits, you will need to apply constant diligence and never-failing attention to duty. You simply cannot expect to have decent results if you just give your child instructions, and then forget all about the lesson — letting the child get down from the chair when he decides, put up his toys when he gets around to it, or begin to talk when you have told him to be quiet.
Don't Be a Liar to Your Child If you tell your child you are going to spank, deprive him of privileges, or punish him in some other way for infraction of the rules — carry out your promise!
How can your child ever learn to trust anything you say — if you do not even carry out such simple promises?
Surely, if you have promised your child a trip to the zoo, a picnic or an outing, or some type of a reward, the child is going to fully expect you to be true to your word. In like fashion if you have promised your child a spanking or other due punishment as the result of an infraction, always be faithful to your word — and carry it out.
For example: Father puts little Johnnie in a chair when guests are present and says, "Johnnie — sit still, and do not speak again or I will spank you!" After a few moments of conversation, the parent happens to notice that Johnnie is busy talking or making other noises. He looks at Johnnie warningly, with a ferocious scowl. Johnny notices the look, and his talking or noise making subsides to a surprised whisper — and gradually diminishes altogether. The parent goes on talking with the guests, feeling the situation has been met, and that Johnnie has been silenced again. However, he is going to notice more and more frequent infractions — until, finally, he will have no control whatever over Johnnie — unless he is true to his word and always spanks when he has promised such a spanking.
There are thousands of parents today who kid themselves they are doing a perfectly wonderful job of child rearing. And yet, they almost never spank their children after only ONE infraction — they almost never follow up their instructions, carry out what they say, or teach their children positive habits of obedience. To be sure, they DO spank their children. They do give their children plenty of orders and commands. But their inconsistencies, their broken promises, their simple neglect of their children is leading toward disaster.
In order to teach your child these basic right habits, you must do it unfailingly, persistently, diligently, consistently — or all your efforts will be of no effect.
Should children actually be seen, and not heard? The surprising and perhaps "old-fashioned" answer is yes. They should be seen and not heard unless their elders speak to them first. They should be taught to be quiet, reserved, and respectful around their elders. They should be taught to sit quietly and obediently in a restaurant, on a bus, on an airplane, or whenever told to do so.
YOUR CHILDREN AT PLAY "BANG! BANG!" yells a little toddler, fully equipped with Stetson hat, cowboy boots and chaps — waving two six-guns in the general direction of a playmate. "Bang! Bang!" shouts his playful opponent, bedecked with glittering two-gun holsters and badge.
Adults chuckle to themselves, as they see their little children imitating their favorite TV heroes — they don't see any harm in it — the boys are "just playing."
But what about children's play? What kind of games should children play? What kind of toys should they use? Where should they play, and with whom? Can play possibly be harmful? Can it be used as a teaching method?
Few parents give adequate thought to the kinds of toys their children have and the effect of toys on future physical, mental and character development.
"I Didn't Mean It!" How many times have you read or heard of tragic accidents involving firearms?
How many of those times were those accidents involving children?
Perhaps you have heard of a great many — because they occur almost daily. Little toddlers, barely able to walk, are often equipped by naive parents with various types of potentially harmful toys — including guns — and are busily pretending to kill one another.
In hundreds of cases, little children have been allowed freely to play with "toys" which are, in some cases, difficult to distinguish from the real thing. As a result, when playing with a real gun, they have shot their own brothers, sisters, playmates, or even their own parents.
Today there are thousands of different varieties of modern, gleaming, beautifully designed and fantastic electronic gadgets and toys available for children.
But perhaps no toy will excite the imagination of little toddlers (especially boys!) as a gun.
Today's toy stores display dozens of models and varieties, all the way from a tiny replica of a cowboy's six shooter right up to a deadly looking submachine gun that "shoots real bullets." Complete with some of these sets will come even electronic gadgets such as real-life targets in the shape of a man, which will fall over when struck, and then spring back up to be shot at again.
And what a pity! What a pity it is that naive and gullible parents seemingly take for granted or carelessly assume whatever is manufactured and produced, and therefore offered for sale designed "for children," must be all right for their children to use.
Why the furor over guns? Simply because guns are not for children! One especially sickening example was that of a nine- or ten-year-old boy who had been allowed to play with toy guns freely, and who was playing in the upstairs bedroom of his parents' home while guests were visiting in the living room downstairs. The grandchild of one of the guests, a sweet, pretty little five-year-old girl, and a cousin of the boy upstairs, started to go upstairs to find out what her cousin was doing. However, the boy upstairs had found several rifles in a closet, which were war trophies his father had brought home from overseas.
As the little girl's head appeared at the top of the landing, the guests downstairs were startled out of their chairs by a loud roar, a series of sickening thumps, and were shocked to complete unbelief and incomprehension at the sight of what had once been a sweet, living, five year-old girl lying in a sickening huddle at the bottom of the stairs. She had been shot through the head.
"I didn't mean it!" sobbed the boy — "I was only playing!" Who really was the culprit in this case? The misguided boy who had been allowed to freely shoot at his playmates with toy guns all his life? The boy who didn't know a real gun from a toy anyhow had never been taught about guns — and who had been allowed free access to his father's guns? Or the parents, who in the first place had never taught their child a healthy respect and fear for guns — their proper usage and proper place — and had never taught their child he should never point any kind of gun at anyone under any circumstances at any time — the parents who had left loaded guns in the closet?
What about it? Is it really right, by any stretch of the imagination, for a child to play with toy guns at any time?
Today the gun ranks as the biggest seller of the toy line! Matched six-guns of the Cowboy and Indian era are often slung low on the hips of a four-year-old outfitted in a space helmet holding a death-ray gun leveled at your midsection. Most popular was the fad of secret-agent weapons of the 007 ilk. Transistor radios, fountain pens, attache cases suddenly transformed into fantastic death dealers at the touch of a kiddie's finger.
Guns are for killing. If you don't intend to kill — don't use a gun — the real thing or an imitation!
Children Like to Imitate A great deal of space has already been consumed regarding the habits of children in mimicking things they see and hear.
A great deal of time has also been spent discussing the tremendous pressures of a berserk modern society plunging toward its own oblivion. However, a good deal more needs to be said about the pressures of society from the comics, books, movies, and especially the television.
Need it be repeated again that the "children's hours" on television are truly some of the most monstrously frightening, hideously sadistic, ghastly shows to be found at any hour?
As mentioned, surveys have been made to determine the number of shootings, knifings, strangulations, occurrences of rape, armed assaults, muggings, beatings, and other sadistic forms of torture, such as burning humans alive, grinding them to bits in machinery, or driving over them with speeding cars and trucks that appear during the "children's hours." The results were shocking.
Even the cartoons — supposedly "harmless" short little skits that are apparently hilariously funny to children — are not exempt from terribly damaging forms of violence.
In a cartoon, one character can be chasing another, shooting anything from a huge cannon to a small gun, and if the other character does not outrun the bullets, he apparently never suffers any ill effects. An explosion? Perhaps the cat is standing bereft of his fur, looking like a charred match stick with a hideous expression on his face in one hilariously funny scene, but in the very next scene he is completely equipped with fur and a grin on his face again as he chases the mouse. He has apparently suffered no harm from being blown up.
From this, little children "learn" that there is no real harm in shooting a person, knifing a person, or even blowing him to bits in an explosion.
A little toddler, allowed to handle a gun in a store, turned and shot his mother in the stomach. A look of incredibility crossed his face when he saw the slowly spreading pool of blood, and the writhing body of his mother on the floor! He simply couldn't comprehend it. Hadn't "other people" in the TV shows and movies he'd always seen, gotten up and run about just as actively as before?
What about it? Do your children play with guns? Do you allow your children to vicariously kill one another and do it all "in fun"?
If you do — it's time to take stock. It's time to think really seriously, and to think about the play habits of your children.
Aimless Playing Let us analyze just what a child does when he plays with a gun. In general he pretends to shoot and kill human beings. He uses his vivid imagination. But not in the right way!
His imagination is used to "kill" vicariously. It is not used to create, plan, or build. It is not used to organize. And he is not learning anything constructive.
He is just aimlessly wasting hours — playing. His play has no meaning. It is not constructive. And in the cases where he is pretending to kill — it is extremely destructive.
How can parents avoid these evils? How can they use wisdom in purchasing toys which will create a constructive rather than destructive influence on their children?
The Purpose of Toys Toys are a child's tools for learning. They can help him develop his mind and character. They can also help him develop his body and personality.
The development of your child's body, mind, personality and character should be foremost in your thoughts when choosing a toy for your child.
Look at this spectacle. A parent walks into a department store. His child is with him as they walk through the toy department. Suddenly the child begins tugging on his parent's arm. He pulls his parent over to a counter and points with great joy at a certain toy on the shelf. His parent starts away. But immediately the child cries and screams for the object of his affection. In a minute or two the parent acquiesces. He buys the toy for his child.
Why? Simply because his child wanted it. There was no thought or purpose to this purchase. It was merely to satisfy his child's desires. The parent wanted to stop his child from crying and give him a toy that would amuse him for a few hours — or at most a few days.
After the newness is worn off in the first two or three hours, many toys are either broken or discarded. The child has very little to do with that toy afterward. Many people can take you into a room and point to hundreds of dollars worth of purchases in toys.
The manufacture of toys is a gigantic business today. With department store shelves literally bulging with all kinds of toys, it is calculated that manufacturers' sales of toys are well over ONE BILLION DOLLARS!
The amount of raw materials used in the manufacturing of toys is astounding. In a recent year, toy manufacturers spent more than 100 million dollars for steel, 86 million dollars for plastics, 77 million dollars for packaging and more than 10 million dollars each for rubber, fabrics, and wood. The toy industry is big business.
Many people who cannot afford too many of the luxuries in life seem to be able to spend money on senseless toys. Actually, it amounts to throwing money away. Their child does not appreciate the toy. He does not derive any definite benefit from it. And very soon afterward he is tired and sick of it.
But how many people really give thought to the toy they buy? How many have a purpose in mind when they buy toys for their children?
How to Choose Toys Knowing that toys are instrumental in the development of children, many toy manufacturers have come out with "educational" toys. And in this category one may find nearly any type of toy.
It would be good to use caution in the choice of even so-called educational toys. Many of these toys are designed to appeal to adults. And when purchased for children they become very disappointing. Too many times toys are purchased in the educational line too far above a child's level. Parents will purchase the toys, give them to their children, sit back, watch them become "educated." But, to their surprise, this particular toy only frustrates their children.
All parents should beware of buying the toy THEY want rather than the toy that suits their child.
In order to show their affection parents tend to overdo the purchasing of toys. In the United States especially children tend to have far more toys than they need. This is not good.
Many child psychologists agree that too many toys are worse than not enough. The child with too many toys actually becomes confused and bored. He very seldom plays with any of them. Thus parents should concentrate on a purposeful and useful toy. It is better to purchase a few toys that are used than dozens of toys in many toy boxes that are never touched.
Toys should be purchased with the development of your child's body, mind, personality and character as a goal. They should also be chosen with a concern for safety.
Some suggestions of the National Commission on Product Safety are:
Test doll heads. Twist and turn the head, as well as the arms and legs, as a child might. Look for sharp edges.
Make sure the eyes and ears of toy animals are firm. If a toy comes only in a package, ask the retailer for a sample you can examine.
Be wary of electrical toys. Get assurance that paint on toys is nonpoisonous. And finally — above all — use common sense! Developing the Body There are many toys that will provide hours of fun and entertainment for your child — and at the same time will give him plenty of exercise for developing his body. Some parents feel toys of this type are not worth anything. They want only toys to develop the mind. But in order to have a well-balanced child — he must have a well-balanced curriculum. And this must take place at home.
Here are a few examples of toys that would aid in the development of your child's body and coordination. A ball can be one of the most effective toys along this line. Balls come in all sizes and colors. They are relatively inexpensive. And yet they give a child hours of enjoyment and fun. They are also a means by which the parent himself can participate in his child's activities.
Balls develop coordination, timing — agility in bodily movements. They also give the child a chance to use his imagination in inventing several types of games. Most school sports are played with balls. This will help your child to become better adjusted in games at school.
Tricycles and bicycles are excellent toys in the development of the child's body. They provide fine exercise for children. They give many hours of entertainment and fun as well.
Other toys can be mentioned along this line such as swing sets, badminton games, and various types of sport games.
Developing the Mind There are many toys which can aid school children and preschool children in the development of mind and education. At the same time these toys and games provide hours of fun. They are also conducive to a close family relationship. Parents can participate in these games with their children. It helps the children to become more closely associated in the family. It also helps them in the development of their personality by being with their parents.
For preschool children, sets of plastic numbers and letters are available. A small child can learn to play with them and to identify the various shapes. Parents are surprised how quickly a small child learns the alphabet. Your child can learn to recognize almost every letter in the alphabet before going to school. And he will not have been forced to learn it. He will have done it as a matter of course — in his playing.
Word games can be very helpful in developing vocabulary and in improving spelling. Parents and children alike can participate in these games. These, of course, are for school-age children.
In this same category of developing the mind, there are many fine books on the market that will entertain and teach your children. But again, it is necessary for the parent to choose material that is suited for his child's age limit and ability!
Animal books are excellent for one- and two-year-old children. There are other books which supplement your child's learning in school such as the "Child Craft" series of educational books. And for children in school, "The World Book Encyclopedia" is certainly a fine home addition to supplement your children's learning if you can afford it.
Developing Personality Participation games are excellent for developing personality. Many games can be thought up in which children have to participate. There are games in which they have to express themselves verbally. These are excellent in helping them in group playing. Some of these games can be thought up rather than purchased.
Along the line of personality development is the development of creative skills. In expressing their personality through creative thought, many children enjoy tinker toys or erector sets.
In helping round out a child's personality, music is one of the best forms of entertainment. Children can learn to sing many fine songs. They can develop a rhythm and genuine feeling for music. There are children's records which help the children in songs and rhythms for their own age.
Starting a child on a musical instrument can help develop a rounded personality. Children do not have to be effeminate in order to learn music. They should not be pushed to extremes along this line, but they can be encouraged to learn to play some form of musical instrument. This will not only add to their personality development but will also help in discipline and the development of creative skills. It will help in their appreciation of finer things too. It will give them a sense and a feeling for beauty.
Developing Character and Responsibility Toys are a child's responsibility. In having them he must learn to take care of them. Parents would do well to emphasize this to their children.
Have you ever walked into a home that was littered with toys from one end of the house to the other? This is not only unsightly but indicates a breakdown of character in a child. It shows a lack of discipline from the parents.
Children should be taught to take care of and put away their toys!
Toys with many parts and pieces can teach a child responsibility. Blocks, farm sets, tinker toys, etc., have many parts. After a child is finished playing, he usually is sitting in the midst of parts and pieces everywhere. It is HIS RESPONSIBILITY — and this should be emphasized by his parents — to put away these toys. He must pick up the pieces — gather up his toys.
This teaches a child responsibility. And as he learns responsibility and continues to fulfill it, he develops character!
Many a grown man now wishes he had the training of discipline and character development. Many upon growing up have had to learn to discipline themselves. They have had to learn in later life what they should have learned as a child. Their parents never enforced rules upon them. They were never taught to take care of their own toys and possessions.
Teach your child these things NOW! "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." We have all heard this expression. Its basic principle is true.
Many parents see that their children need more discipline and responsibility. They then feel that children should not be allowed to play at all. Some even have gone to the extreme of feeling that play was wrong or sinful. But it is not.
Remember to treat your children as children! The Extra Ingredient There is an extra ingredient that makes any type of entertainment more enjoyable. Without this ingredient, toys, games, good times cannot be enjoyed to the full!
What is it? Work! At a very early age, children may be taught to put up their own toys, fold and hang up clothing, help make their beds, clean up after themselves in the bathroom, or do other simple tasks about the house or yard.
Without this responsibility, children will never be able to appreciate the good times of entertainment and fun. Take our society for an example. There is more vandalism now than ever before. Yet — paradoxically — we have more bowling alleys, skating rinks, movie houses, miniature golf courses, etc., than ever before in the history of this nation.
Why then the vandalism? Simply because children get bored with playing. Without responsibility and work, play becomes frustrating to children — or anyone for that matter.
The person who can truly enjoy a good time better than all others is a person who has worked hard and has fulfilled his responsibilities. By making your child fulfill certain responsibilities you will actually help him enjoy his playtime more. This extra ingredient is needed in his play and in his life.
Boy Versus Girl "What are little boys made of?" went the old poem. Children are deeply impressed with the idea, practically from birth, that little boys are "devils," "monsters," and inherently evil — while little girls are "nice," "sweet," and inherently little angels.
Little boys are told they are made of dirt, snails, and even puppy dogs' tails, while little girls are made of "sugar, spice and everything that's nice."
The naive boy, growing up to mature adulthood, marries, and finally tells his son, "There's no use, son — you'll never understand 'em." He means the boy must swallow the same old line that has been handed down for generations and centuries that there is something "mysterious" and incomprehensible about women.
Don't you believe it! Boys and girls in their basic selfish natures are identical. Perhaps they will express this selfishness in different ways. But to say girls are "nice" and "mysterious" while boys are "bad" is ridiculous. And to force little boys and girls — not yet teen-agers — into social dating, dancing and the like is criminal and nonsensical.
Surprising as it may sound — much of the play of children, and the toys that are provided for them, is bent toward accomplishing the evil purpose of waging the age old "battle of the sexes" even from the cradle.
At a very early age, children begin to be segregated by their parents, or their teachers.
Girls are told they "do not play 'that way' or 'so rough' as do the boys" and boys are told "that's a GIRL'S game!" Normal children who would play happily together in active sports and games are instead instilled with a deep sense of the difference between the sexes at a very early age.
Thus — boys play with guns. Girls play with dolls. Whenever boys and girls play together it is either in the earliest years of their schooling (later, gym periods are segregated) or, when still of pre-school age, they play such games as "Mom and Dad," "Nurse" or "Keeping House." These imaginative games of child fantasy seem harmless to most parents at first glance — and yet, little do they even begin to realize how children, forced into an unnatural type of play activity by poor guidance, will begin to "imitate" parents — even beginning sex experimentation as a direct result of this type play.
Should Children Pretend? Children should not be permitted to "play house," or "doctor and nurse," or any other type game where they are building little makeshift houses, tents, or using garages, barns, or other enclosures. They should not be permitted to "pretend" they are adults — playing games in an adult like fashion, in an intimate enclosure, where parents cannot check up on them from time to time.
Let's really understand this principle. Is it right for children to pretend? "But they will just 'naturally' pretend..." some will reason.
Yes — they certainly will just "naturally" pretend to be a personality, a character, an individual they are not. And why? Simply because they have never been taught not to pretend.
Never forget PRETENSE is a wrong principle! It is hypocrisy, untruth, falsehood, a sham and a mockery. It is not truth — but pretense. Many parents, victimized by the tremendous pressures of this berserk society, whose minds are thoroughly calloused with childhood myths, fairy tales, enlarged and falsified "nighttime 'stories'" from their parents — would justify their children living in utter day-dreaming pretense.
These tales themselves are sometimes the most hideously gruesome of any stories imaginable.
Remember, however, there is a difference between a child's "pretending" the airplane he is playing with is a real airplane, holding it in his hand, making noises like an airplane — and pretending to be a different personality than he really is.
There is a difference between a little girl's pretending her doll house is her own home, that her little toys are real — and the little girl herself being a totally different personality.
There are many dangers inherent in allowing children to pretend, without careful parental knowledge and guidance. Do not permit your children to pretend they are "just like mommy and daddy," and begin to get off by themselves, where the parents do not know what they are doing.
Teach your children to play healthful, sensible, out-of-doors games wherever circumstances and weather permit. Kick ball, softball, hide-and-seek, tag, hop-scotch, backyard basketball; these are just a few of the dozens of healthful outdoors activities, not to mention the many, many games children will develop among themselves.
Teach them they are not adults — but little children — and that they should be just what they are!
Many parents try to force their children out of the child's age as soon as possible. They want them to act more "grown-up" and talk more "grown-up." Therefore, many parents fully approve of their children playing more "grown-up" type games.
Left to themselves and without the influence of this corrupt society (at least as to choice of playmates), boys and girls would play with no self-consciousness together in many really beneficial, and really interesting type games. They would remain, for several years, in an open acceptance of each other, and in somewhat blissful ignorance of any sense of great difference in them — with girls enjoying the softball game just as much as boys; racing together, playing "tag" together, and engaging in dozens of the active, healthful, out-of-door type sports and games for children.
However, when children are inescapably made aware of supposed basic psychological differences at a very early age, it leads toward completely false and harmful concepts toward members of the opposite sex.
Boys become "afraid" around girls — and girls become "shy" around boys. Why? Yes — why, when in large family after family with several children of both sexes, children play in many active, beneficial games together with a selfless enthusiasm, with complete spontaneity, and with total lack of any feeling of "difference" between them.
It is usually by adults trying to make adults out of CHILDREN that many harmful attitudes are developed.
What Are the Real Differences? There really are differences, of course. But those differences are primarily physiological. They are in the physical makeup and muscular development, rather than really deep emotional and psychological differences. Let's understand. It is only when children have been made AWARE of some fabled "mystery" about the opposite sex that they become apprehensive of it.
Normally innocent childish play becomes, instead of open, friendly, enthusiastic and carefree enjoyment, an intrigue. It becomes burdened with wonderment, with fears and embarrassment, and with a natural desire to satisfy curiosity.
Make no mistake. Far from being a mere punctuation mark in the day of a child, his play periods (and the younger he is, the more heightened is the intensity of it) are, to him, the most important part of his day.
A child will reveal himself in his play. His inner motives — his attitudes about his parents, his friends, toward many situations will spontaneously burst forth — while he's playing.
That's why it is so important to guide your children in how they play, in what they play with, and with whom they play, and where.
If there is a truly normal, natural and God-like attitude toward the sexes in the home, and if the parents realize that children should be children, and are not trying to force a little girl to be a "lady" or a mature woman, or a little boy to be a "big man," then the children will play happily together in a really healthy, wholesome attitude.
For a child. the greatest enjoyment in play is with other children, not just things or toys. What Kind of Play? But let's get down to cases. What kind of play should your children engage in?
Let's speak plainly. It is, believe it or not — and shocking though it may sound to many of us in this "modern world" — absolutely wrong for children to play war! To see a little child pointing anything, whether real gun, toy replica, or a simple piece of wood he picks up, at another person, and pretending to shoot him is a heinous act. It's wrong. It should be stopped by parents who have any sense of love and responsibility toward their children.
Further, the source of such play, such as the TV and magazines that inspire it, should be removed or strictly controlled. Then, the parents should really explain God's principles regarding killing. They should impress upon the child the dead seriousness of ever even playfully pretending to point a gun at someone.
After ample instruction and guidance, infractions should be punished. The lesson must be learned.
There are hundreds of varieties of playthings being manufactured today. The greatest enjoyment a child seems to experience comes from play — not just with "things" but with other children. Therefore, the group type games are certainly to be desired.
Certainly children will break things, make mistakes, become confused. But the type play in which they indulge should be orderly. It should make sense. It should have an object to it — and not merely be aimless wanderings, and hideous noises.
How often have you observed children laughing in a silly fashion or making noises that are excessive? Noises that are not controlled, that are "silly" and that lead toward nervous, upset confusion? Perhaps you have not given it much thought before — but trivial as it may seem to some, this is another very important opportunity to teach your children a lasting lesson.
Let them know it's good to express themselves — to laugh loudly, openly, freely. It's good to be enthusiastic about their play. But even for children — it's not good to be in confusion, to be "silly" or to be making hideous, uncontrollable noises.
So remember to encourage your children to play in a manner that is orderly. Teach them to play orderly games — games with rules to be followed, such as hide-and-seek, tag, and numerous others which children invent themselves.
The kind of play should always be constructive. It should be orderly. It should be beneficial both to the child's mind and his body. It should never be dangerous, and it should never be unsupervised.
When Should Children Be Left to Themselves? Some parents reason that children need a time when they can get "off by themselves." But do they really?
Most assume the play period is the time when children get together by themselves. It is a "sacred" kind of "children's hour" in which adults are not to interfere.
Not true. There is never a time when a child should be left to himself!
When a child is playing is when he will evidence traits of selfishness, of vanity, of "foolishness" and other traits which should be corrected. It is only when the parent can observe, guide, and really control even the child's play that the parent can be aware of certain problems, or certain areas in which his (the parent's) training has been deficient.
Athletic directors are conscious of the fact that the heat of vigorous sports and games, especially the competitive ones, will quickly reveal basic attitudes. A person with no basic drive, with a lack of zeal in tackling his problems will inevitably show that lack, and show it plainly in sports and games.
So it is with children. Basic traits of selfishness which may NEVER BE SEEN over the dinner table will be observed readily in children's play.
Nearly all child's games are at least mildly competitive. It is in the spirit of right competition, the kind where one player does not prevent the other from doing his best, that many really good and constructive habits can be taught.
Realizing, then, that simple play can be a very valuable method of teaching your children — let's understand that children should not simply be turned out of doors, and left to fend for themselves.
This is perhaps one of the greatest infractions of good child-rearing principles.
Of course a parent cannot "watch" a child constantly. But supervision does not mean merely watching constantly — it means starting their play in the right direction — it means instructing in where to play, how to play, with whom to play, and when to quit playing. It means having the parent look in on the children from time to time during their play — it means checking up on them frequently.
But, sad to say, there are millions upon millions of children learning abominable practices today, because instead of really supervised play, they are merely "turned out to pasture" like any animal! Their parents don't know where they are during major portions of the day or night. They don't know with whom they are, or what they are doing.
No — even in play, a child should never be left to himself. Is Play Only for Children Another false concept is that children's play cannot be encroached upon by adults.
Misguided psychologists assume children want to get away from their parents — that they wish "Daddy wouldn't interfere" in their games.
This is simply untrue. Children should be able to play, and play often with their own parents.
The father who will frolic with his children, play hide- and-seek with them, run with them, play catch and various forms of ball with them, will find his children really love to play with "Dad." Not all the time, or to the exclusion of other children their own age, of course — but from time to time, they will actually choose to play with their parents instead of children their own age.
Parents should not play like children. They should not descend in dignity. But they certainly should play with their children. They'll find their children will love them even more for it.
When is the time for Dad to play with his children? Well — certainly not by calling them home from the middle of an interesting game with a few neighbor children (if all other considerations are normal, such as type game, type children, etc.).
The time should be spontaneous — whenever Dad really feels like it — and when he wants to enjoy playing with his children, not just fulfill a "duty" toward them, and it should be OFTEN!
Where Should Children Play? Thousands of parents do not know where their children play during the day. They could be on the railroad tracks, on a raft in the river, on the parapet of a high building, or in the street, for all the parents know.
Can we get the point? Children should play in an area where their parents can supervise them, an area that is close to their home, or, if farther away, a completely safe area, and one that is supervised by competent personnel, such as playground managers, teachers, or other responsible adults.
Too often, the child comes home tired from play, and mother asks, "Where were you all afternoon?" The child gives half an answer, and the mother seems satisfied.
Probably, the child was with neighbor children — and so "Mom" assumes all is well.
But is it, really? Where was the child playing? Was it in an area conducive to wholesome, healthy, orderly games and sports? Or was it in an area, and with the type of children, that would result in serious trouble?
If children want to go to a public park or playground, the parents should accompany them there the first time, look over the area, and instruct the children on how to play there. The child should never be allowed to play there alone, or even with a group of children, unless the play area is supervised by responsible personnel the parent knows.
How many kidnappings, with sadistic, bestial sex crimes have there been lately, involving little children, who were allowed to be out on their own, away from their parents, in a public area? What a tragedy! Make sure it doesn't happen to your child. Know where he is playing at all times.
With Whom Should Children Play? Your child should play with the children whose parents you know, or else with other school children at school, and in supervised areas at specified times.
When it is purely "neighborhood" children with whom your child wants to play — you should make it a point to know the other children. Know their parents. Know something of their moral character, and their principles.
Many people are very careful about the kind of dogs their favorite purebred pet is around, but they will indiscriminately allow their precious children to play with practically anyone — in a place they know not where.
If your child wants to go to the neighbor's yard to play — let him — if you know the neighbors, you KNOW their children, and you know the area in which they'll be playing. And then, only if you know that the parents of the other child will be supervising their play.
If you do not know these things — then invite the neighbor children to your yard.
It's a whole lot safer. Why not be careful with your children — and know where they are, and what they're doing — and know the same things about the neighbors' children as well, rather than be in ignorance of the whole thing?
We all know that most children learn most of what they supposedly "know" about the "facts of life" from other children of slightly older age.
Why? Simply because they are indiscriminately allowed to be in areas, and with the type children where they have access to smut, and sex experimentation. What a shameful pity to see the twisted pervert peddle his pornography, his heinous habit of dope addiction — right on the high school grounds — and for parents to find their children, barely in their teens, perverted, or dope addicts.
Can we understand? Protect your children. Don't be "overprotective" to the point of suppressing all independence as they gradually grow and become capable of being a little more self-reliant. But don't go to the other extreme, and leave them to shift for themselves in a rotten, hideous jungle of a society filled with terrifying horrors unrealized in your worst nightmares.
In summary, then, begin to look upon your child's play period as a vital part of his training.
USE the play times to teach valuable lessons. Teach unselfishness, sportsmanship, cleanliness, orderliness, self reliance (with special emphasis on reliance on God over self!) and real dependability.
Get your children interested in constructive crafts and hobbies as they grow.
Help them to become interested in animals and wildlife. Help them to become interested in growing things-in the helpful, constructive, interesting activities that are in every way UPbuilding, and not just whiling away time.
Then, watch your children play. Frequently, they'll want to show you some new things they've learned — whether how to throw a ball or how to play hopscotch and you will learn more about your children and you'll learn even more about where they need your help and instruction.
HOW TO PREPARE YOUR CHILDREN FOR SCHOOL MANY parents are in a frightful hurry to get their children out of the home, and into some sort of formal education. A desire for more time, for another job, for belonging to various and sundry "social" clubs and groups has led countless young mothers to give rise to a burgeoning new profession in our land. It is the "day school," the "nursery school" and the "kindergarten."
Many parents try to enroll their children in a public school at 5 years of age, or one year prior to the standard entrance age in most school districts. Seemingly their only concern is to get rid of their children — get them in school as soon as possible. How many ladies' magazines, novels, TV serials and movies have portrayed the "typical" harassed mother who sends her poor, shuffling, bumbling clod of a husband off to work with a disinterested peck for a kiss, and then, hair streaming, apron strings flying, bustles busily through the house, scrubbing, dressing, feeding and shoving her children out the door, to collapse on the couch with exhaustion, a cup of coffee, and her favorite love story?
Why, oh, why is it such a disgrace to work in America and Britain today? Why is it such a disgrace for parents to really take the time to teach their children? Why are such normal, natural, wholesome and good things as homemaking, cooking, and teaching children at home looked upon as mere bondage and drudgery?
Decades of experience with growing children has taught teachers that a child is still too immature, too much a little INFANT to really be placed in a DAILY classroom environment before he is six full years of age. Most teachers are very reluctant to admit children under their sixth birthday for that reason, and rightly so.
The average child should never be placed in a DAILY school until after he is six. However, today there are so many broken homes, so many divorcees with children, so many homes with parents striving frantically to live far beyond their means, and holding down two jobs, that myriads of children are, through one excuse or another, placed in schools even at age three. Here is another heartbreaking tragedy of our age.
There are, to be sure, INESCAPABLE SITUATIONS that would demand that a child be cared for by a responsible, bona fide nursery school. However, never forget that such situations are the direct result of the parents' problems and that they are causing the children to suffer for it! There is nothing normal about tiny children barely able to talk being "farmed out" to others for rearing. Millions of helpless, innocent little toddlers have had to pay dearly for their parents' mistakes.
How Much Should Your Child Know Before Going to School? Some parents diligently teach their children the alphabet before placing them in school. Others teach their children how to read simple stories. Some even have their six-year-olds doing simple arithmetic before going to the first grade. But why? "Why," they might answer, "because I want my child to get a 'head start'! I want him to learn a little faster — and not just be an 'average' child!"
Parents who teach their children these things prior to their first year in school are certainly in the minority. But in a far greater minority are those who teach their children the most important things of all — how to learn!
Your child does not necessarily need to know the alphabet, or how to count, or how to spell before being registered in a competent school. But your child does need to know HOW to learn when he gets there.
It is certainly good to teach your child how to read, count and how to write, especially if accompanied by proper discipline. However, the emphasis should be on correct discipline.
The greatest key to learning is proper discipline. A disciplined mind, an attentive mind, a thoughtful mind, that is generally responsive, eager to learn, that is diligent to do what the teacher says — this is the mind that will really learn in school.
It is by teaching your child the real meaning of discipline, and how to be self-disciplined, that he will become a really "good student."
Discipline Most Important Without exception, a well-disciplined child will be a good student. He might not be an all "A" student, since this also hinges on his heredity and his capacity — but he will invariably learn more rapidly, and retain more fully, than others of his SAME CAPACITY who are undisciplined.
But what about your child? Your child is your responsibility. Even though there are frightfully serious handicaps in today's Babylon of confusion, you, as a loving and conscientious parent, can instill right values and principles in your child, and he can learn.
More important than any memory work, such as the alphabet or numbers, and more important than any other thing that a child should learn is discipline. A well disciplined child will invariably learn while others are standing still.
What, then, are some of the most important habits that will aid your child in learning? What should your child learn before going to school?
Teach Your Child to Listen to Your Instructions "He is governed best who is governed least," goes the saying. But no one can be truly self-governed until he has learned how to be governed. When your child begins in school, a great deal of the time he will have to be self-governed.
In today's unhappy situations, classrooms are bulging, teachers are overworked, underpaid, and often poorly trained. Classes are mixed according to various ages, mental abilities, race, religion, and so on.
The average pupil can get virtually no personalized instruction in the large city school systems of this pulsating Babylon of confusion we call "society." Therefore, he will simply have to be well enough disciplined, and self-disciplined, at that. Then he will learn in spite of terrible handicaps.
Begin giving your child a basis for attentiveness, alertness, careful listening to instructions with your mind set on the long-range goals. Think of how badly he will need this good habit later, when he's in a classroom literally filled with distractions, noises, confusion, disobedient children and, in some cases, a disinterested teacher. Be diligent in preparing your child for such an eventuality.
Begin speaking only once. Speak firmly, quietly, telling your child to do certain tasks, one after the other. Tell him to fold his clothes, clean the room, draw the drapes, put certain articles in certain places.
Get him accustomed to following detailed instructions, one after the other in proper order. He will be learning a vitally important lesson that will be a great aid to learning later on.
Remember to apply always, and never feelingly, swift, sure, and yet loving punishment for infractions. Patiently explain the whole procedure. Tell your child exactly what is required of him — then see that he follows through with your instructions to the absolute letter.
If you tell him to pick up his toys, then get his book and color, or then put on his coat and go outside, make sure he does it just exactly in that order.
A child will — at times — deliberately do things contrary to the way in which you tell him. But what is his attitude? What is the look on his face? It is far more important that you as the parent come to recognize his attitude of rebellion or of uncooperativeness than to merely make him perform the prescribed tasks — although both are surely important.
A first-grade teacher was telling me how a child, when told to sit up straight, would slowly "wriggle" in a serpentine motion until finally, after what seemed like minutes, one part of the body after the other would "straighten up." Finally, he would be erect in his seat. There is a case of open rebellion.
What if a child is told to fold his hands, and place them on the table?
What if the child does not do it? Or what if he is slow to do it? What excuse would the average parent give? That he is tired, nervous, sick, or "didn't understand"? But we really know better, don't we? We know that if the child were older, and more independent, he would be saying with a level stare, "No! I'm not about to obey you!" But, since he is a child, we tend to excuse slowness to obey, and deliberate rebellion.
Make sure your child listens to your instructions, and then make him carry them out, and carry them out cheerfully, and in a willing spirit. It isn't easy — it won't happen the first few times, or even the first several times — but if you diligently apply what you have read in these pages, it can and will be accomplished.
Teach Your Child to Sit Still Notice the example of a child going to school for the first time in his life.
In all of his youthful six years, he has never been actually taught to simply sit still for any considerable length of time. All of a sudden, he is thrown together with dozens and dozens of other children his own age, in strange surroundings, under a teacher he knows not, and is told to sit still at his desk for perhaps many hours during the course of a day. He simply is unable. He can't accomplish it so quickly. Hence, first-, second-, and third-grade teachers will tell you with almost one voice that their biggest problem is with a group of "fidgeters" who squirm and writhe in their seats, look out the window, play with pencils, cards, or papers, and who simply seem to be unable to sit still while in school.
Why? Simply because they have never been taught at home. Too many parents today wish to abdicate their responsibility of teaching their children anything — merely expecting to push them off on a school system and have the well-trained teachers, by means of some unknown procedures and near-miracles, turn out decent, respectful, humble, obedient, kind and loving future citizens. This is nothing more than an idle dream — an abysmal miscalculation.
A child may be taught to sit still while still very young! Picking up the child after he has had a lot of activity and simply placing him in a chair or on the sofa and saying, "Sit!" is ample. If the child gets down, just one sharp swat on the buttocks, being placed back on the sofa and then being told with a pointed finger, "Sit" again might well accomplish a great deal as a first lesson. However — once you have begun even this first lesson — keep at it! You may be absolutely guaranteed, that whether it takes more than one spanking on this one occasion for the child to associate immobility in the chair with the command "Sit!" — he will certainly learn it. This should be learned very quickly after the child learns to walk.
Most parents want their children to do well in school, to bring home good grades, and to be at the top of the class scholastically, if not to be the most outstanding student in the grade.
As never before, many parents are trying to accomplish these goals for their children by enrolling them in preschool programs, hiring special tutors, or, what is even more common, trying to help their children get a head start by teaching them how to read and count at home before they enter school.
A few, at the other extreme, however, are afraid to teach their children anything, thinking that when their children get to school the teacher's instruction might be so different from theirs that their children will only become confused.
The Real Key To Success The real key to the success of your children in school lies neither in exposing them to the "Three R's" before entering the classroom, nor in a complete lack of familiarity with such teaching. It is the training in character and in the right study habits that will determine whether or not your children will be a success in school. It is character, and good study habits, therefore, that every parent needs to be teaching his children at home before anything else.
Of course, if there is time it would be good to teach your children all you can about reading, writing, and arithmetic. This knowledge will not hinder their learning when they start school — especially if you explain to them that there are several ways to do almost everything and that at school they will learn other ways of learning that are just as good or even better than what you are teaching them at home.
But in this chapter I want to emphasize developing strong character traits and good study habits in your children that are even more important than any technical knowledge about a certain subject they will study in school.
Let's first start with important character traits every child should be thoroughly grounded in before entering school.
Character Traits When school is about ready to start, we see our ideal first grader walking up the walk with lunch pail in hand, hair neatly combed, clothes clean and pressed, eyes sparkling from a good night's sleep, and with a big smile for the teacher's "Good morning." It is observed that she is not afraid to come to school without her mother coming into the room with her, having already learned that only babies are tied to their "mother's apron strings."
Upon entering the room, our little student puts her lunch pail neatly on the shelf provided, hangs her coat on the hook by its nape, walks happily but in an orderly manner to her desk, and sits quietly, ready for instruction to begin.
As the class begins, it is noticed that our little student is not playing with fingernails, picking her nose, scratching an arm or ear, tying shoe laces, or looking around the room.
When instructions are given to place pencil, eraser, and book on desk, our little student quickly responds. Within a few seconds she has the exact items before her.
When the teacher asks for answers to particular questions, her hand is in the air — not waving frantically — and she is eager to respond. If her answer is wrong, or if it provokes a sincere laugh from the teacher and other students, she does not begin to cry and think about her mistake, but quickly responds with another possible answer.
Halfway through the period it is also noticed that this little first grader will raise her hand to add her experience to the topic being discussed or to ask a question. She does not hold it high in the air for several minutes while the teacher is talking, or ask questions having nothing to do with what is being discussed. No, our student has learned to wait until her elders are finished talking, and has learned to think about the appropriate time to ask her questions, besides.
During the play period, our student is seen playing with her whole heart and strength. If her team loses or is behind, discouragement or "give-up-itis" does not set in.
If she falls down while running, she's up and running again before self-pity takes hold of her mind. She is not too tired to run again if the teacher asks for volunteers, either. She is also happy when others win over her — she has learned to be a winner and a loser.
At lunch time, our little first grader sits quietly with the other students while finishing her whole lunch within the allotted half hour. No loud talking or the telling of exaggerated stories to gain attention, chewing of food with mouth open, talking with food in mouth, throwing oranges or apples into the air that should be eaten, not played with; no continual unfinished lunches, or spilled milk. Yes, she has even learned to sit so her slip will not show, and stand with good posture.
No, the teacher has not had to tell her all these things: our little first grader has already learned these character traits AT HOME!
When she begins to manifest a little vanity, while the others are busy working, the teacher whispers into her ear, "You are beginning to act a little silly, I want you to stop it." Her eyes fill with water, but within seconds they are dry, and the expression on her face shows she fears to continue to do wrong, for our student has been taught what will follow if she doesn't change.
When the bell rings to go home, our first grader gets her desk in order, stops and thinks about what she brought with her or needs to take home — so coat, hat and lunch pail do not become left behind or lost. She finds these things and gives the teacher a big smile as she WALKS quietly out of the room.
Can you imagine what an inspiration a student like this can be to a teacher?
This can be said about your children, if you will begin at home to train them in the important character traits illustrated.
But most parents make the mistake of comparing their children with others. What other children do may be entirely wrong.
Here are just a few character traits that your children need to be developing at home before ever starting school. These are ever so much more important than technical things such as the alphabet or multiplication tables.
1. Personal cleanliness and orderliness. 2. Friendliness. 3. Confidence; enthusiasm; positive, happy approach. 4. Ability to follow instructions. 5. Respect for all elders. 6. Stick-to-it-iveness and perseverance. 7. Endurance of hardship. 8. Good sportsmanship. 9. Accurate description of events. 10. Good posture. 11. Emotional control. 12. Responsibility. 13. Courtesy. 14. Modesty. With continuous effort strive to make your children the type that will warm not only your heart but also those who must work with them in school.
What then are some of the study habits you should be teaching your children?
Listening First of all, as mentioned, teach your children to listen. Most teachers would tell you that one of the biggest problems they face in the classroom is just getting children to LISTEN.
The number of minutes that are wasted each day alone in obtaining the attention of children would probably total over an hour.
Children need to come to school with the habit of sitting quietly and giving their undivided attention to the teacher who is conducting the class at the front of the room.
But this is not usually the case. Instead, lacking self discipline over mind and body, after only a few minutes most children begin squirming, looking around the room, or having their attention diverted by a swinging door, a passing car, or the roar of an airplane overhead.
Here is the teacher, who through years of training and study has learned the knowledge that is vital to your children's growth and happiness, teaching away at the front of the room, and most of the students, instead of listening, are simply day-dreaming — hundreds of miles away, thinking about some worthless pastime.
Yes, listening is an essential key to learning. The ability to concentrate on what is taking place before you must be instilled in children and adults alike. And the earlier the better.
Here is one way we can prepare our children for school. Teach them to sit still and give their undivided attention to what is being said. Make listening, whenever elders are speaking, something they practice as a real habit. You may start by teaching them to listen for only a minute or two at first. Then work into periods of ten to twenty minutes.
You must have the wisdom to determine what you can expect your children to become attentive to at their particular age — which is usually just a matter of experience.
But whatever you do, start developing in your children the HABIT of listening. If you do, they are going to push ahead of other students in their class. They will be absorbing the information that most students who are daydreaming never hear. On tests and examinations they will have the information their teachers expect. Their grades will thus improve. But most of all, they will be learning that knowledge so essential to their future learning and to life itself.
It takes self-discipline to listen and think out what is taking place before you.
But, it can be done through developing the habit of listening. Taking Notes Somewhere around the sixth grade begin teaching your children how to take notes. Although the majority of what your children will learn in school will come through the sense of hearing, much of what they hear will be forgotten soon after hearing it unless some system of recording that vital information is established.
Teach your children to take notes. Of course, if your children are very young, this will be impossible. But beginning around age twelve you would be surprised how soon they could learn the habit of good note-taking if you helped them.
(Just because young children are able to take notes like grown-ups, however, make sure they realize they are still children. Tell them note-taking is for anyone who wants to remember what he hears.)
In taking notes, teach them the importance of writing the main ideas and putting those ideas into one's own words. There is no sense in recording information unless you understand what you are writing.
Your children should also learn to make important statements, ideas, or thoughts stand out, by placing stars in the margin of their paper or underlining that information they feel is most important.
If they take notes properly, they will have at their fingertips the information they should know — and no doubt the information they will be called upon to remember in the future.
Scheduling Time Time is one of the most important possessions we have been given. It might even be said that life is nothing more than time.
Children should be taught to control their time — to schedule their day. Every successful man knows and practices this principle.
Yes, we should teach our children the value of time. Teach them not to let hours slip through their fingers uncontrolled.
By the time they are in junior high school — about age children should have some type of routine to follow at least during the week — if not weekends as well.
Having a recreational or relaxing activity immediately after coming home from school would be good followed, perhaps, by dinner, cleanup, and then one or more hours of study, before finally going to bed.
Whatever the plan, help your children schedule their homework, play and recreation periods. Teach them to make the most of the twenty-four hours they have every day. Make sure that somewhere in that schedule is time for them to be with YOU, their parent — a time when, as a family, you can relax and enjoy one another. Playing cards, or singing around the piano, or just talking about the interesting things that happened during the day would suffice.
Not only schedule WHEN your children are to do their homework — specifically — but help them find a quiet place where they can do it as well. Many people like to use the kitchen as a study room. Others find the bedroom is a good place for study. Whatever the location, it should be as conducive to study as possible.
And when your children sit down to study — away from disturbances such as radio or TV — help them to really concentrate.
Reading How important is reading? In this day and age it is mighty important. Everyone needs to read, and read widely. There is a storehouse of information in books.
What we feed the mind is what we turn out to be in the end. There are many good books worth reading, but we will have to teach our children to select the good from the bad.
Reading is important in many ways. It helps us spell correctly. It improves our vocabulary and grammar-besides giving us important knowledge.
It will be very hard at first, to apply these principles of character and study, because most children, and for that matter most college students and adults alike, do not have these strong character traits or study habits. But, slowly and surely, they can be acquired.
Remember, it is going to be little use trying to teach your children these principles unless you get right in with them and develop these habits, also.
Children learn principally through example. It does little good to tell them something unless you are working on it too.
It is your responsibility to see that your children are prepared for school, and to help them acquire these habits of character and study.
HOW TO HELP YOUR TEEN-AGERS THE teens have been called the "dangerous age" by many sociologists and child psychologists. They see the teen-age years as an age of rebellion against authority, of unbridled energy and emotions.
Many psychologists have little understanding of the basic principles of dealing with teen-agers. What's more, they know little of how a teen-age mind works.
Today many throw up their hands in utter amazement and frustration when their child reaches teen age. Why should this be?
Do you know how to help your teen-ager? How can you "reach" him? How can you earn his respect?
Why does he not confide in you? How can you win his confidence? And just what mistakes are you making right now that are driving your child farther away?
Parents Just Don't Care Young men and women have been given no purpose for life, no real training, no discipline, and precious little love, attention and interest from their parents.
Yet they are your children or your neighbor's just down the way. They live on your street, in your city — now! They will certainly affect your future. They are the leaders of tomorrow. And all too often, as the grisly crime statistics indicate, they are the murderers, the muggers and the rapists of today.
Increasingly, law enforcement officials have come to realize that the parents of these lawless children are often the chief culprits. A sheriff's officer said: "The real trouble here is that too many parents don't know — or don't care — where their children are at night."
In an article on juvenile drug addiction in the Reader's Digest, the authors stated: "Virtually every official we talked with emphasized that the ultimate cure for the teen-age drug menace lies in the home, the neighborhood, the community... Lieutenant Norbert Currie, head of the San Francisco Narcotics Squad, put it succinctly: 'We are never going to lick this pill and glue stuff until parents really care about the youngsters'" (June 1966, p. 70).
It's time parents everywhere woke up! If you are a parent, then you have a God-given responsibility to teach and train your children. You also have the opportunity to make your family life a thing of joy and productivity — enriching your own life immeasurably and preparing leaders for the world tomorrow.
Positive Teaching and Proper Discipline Every child needs BOTH the proper discipline and the positive teaching and admonition of the right way of life. Parents have a responsibility to teach and to train. In the early years of life, children need more training and discipline as they are unable to understand much teaching at this time. But as the child continues to grow older, parents need to continue to train through discipline while consistently bringing in more positive teaching. The older child and teen-ager needs to be continually taught, and thoroughly instructed in the right way of life.
If a parent neglects this proper teaching he will soon find his discipline not doing the job it should. If, on the other hand, he neglects the proper discipline of a very young child and tries to do it all through teaching, he will find himself on the short end as well. For the child will be unruly, and unresponsive to the teaching. The child will not SIT STILL to listen to the teaching given to him. Thus the parent will be headed for many problems and trials with his child.
Worldly Influences Your children are constantly being exposed to worldly habits and teachings. Through other children — especially teen-age children — the world has inroads into your family.
You send your child to school at six years of age. He may be well disciplined and taught to sit still. He may be well behaved and mannerly in almost every way. But then he begins to learn through sight, sound and the bad examples of others around him. He soon learns the dirt, filth and smut of this world. He also sees the unruliness and rebellion that is evidenced by many in his own class. This exposure is a constant form of teaching — a bombardment which very few are able to resist unless their parents come to their aid with constant right teaching.
As the child gets older, he or she learns many dirty jokes in school, is exposed to the theory of evolution, hears curse words, erotic sayings, and many other things that appeal to his human nature. Little by little YOUR child is being influenced from a right way of life to a wrong way. Little by little the insidious, cancerous growth of worldly attitudes takes hold of your child's mind. Soon the once sweet, innocent little child you had now becomes a DIFFERENT person.
Many parents exclaim, "Why, I don't even know my child anymore!" Why does this parent not know his teenage son or daughter anymore? Why is it that when the real attitude of this youngster is shown the parent is frankly shocked?
The simple answer is this: The parent has assumed that once he has taught his child to sit still, come when called, answer "Yes, Sir" and "Yes, Ma'am," he has done all that is necessary as a parent. Thus his child comes into the home, sits at the table when he is told to sit, gets up when he is told to get up, and answers his parents with respect. But what else is going on in his mind the parents do not know.
Positive Teaching Needed Year after year the child is bombarded with wrong thoughts. He is put under pressures, frustrating circumstances in school life. He is either ashamed or afraid to talk it over with his parents. And many parents do not encourage their children and teen-agers to talk their problems over with them. The parent is too busy — he has done his job — he has taught the child to sit still, come when called, answer with respect.
But there is much more to child rearing than that! Most parents do very little teaching of their children. It is much easier for some to spank than to teach. Many parents don't realize they cannot deal the same way with their child for the rest of his life. They cannot understand that spanking ALONE is not the answer. Spanking will have very little effect on a child who has passed the age where he will repent through physical punishment. At this point most parents throw up their hands and say, "What's the use? I can't do anything with him!"
Necessary Homework How is your home life? Do you really know your teenager? Oh yes, many THINK they do. But do they? Are you sure you know what is in the mind of your youngster?
Many parents never take the time to talk with their children. They have their own pleasures and activities to do, television shows to watch, and business to take care of — so they have no time to talk with their youngster. They don't know what's going on in his mind. They are not aware of the various problems he is facing at school or the frustrations which may be in his or her mind.
How many parents devote a certain amount of time EACH DAY to talking with their children?
How many times has YOUR teen-ager come home with a serious problem on his mind — actually wishing to talk it over with you — and you gave him no opportunity to do so? How many times after a date does a daughter come home wishing to talk with her mother about certain things, yet she is partially ashamed or afraid to do so and is never given the opportunity?
Do you ask your teen-ager what happens at school each day? Do you take the time to find out what they have been doing? Or where they have been? Or with whom they have been associating? Do you ask them certain questions to get their point of view on life and its problems? Not in a prying grill session with suspicion in your voice — but an open, friendly, warm and loving INTEREST.
Right Examples of Teaching The Bible is full of examples on how to teach your children — even what to say. Many parents never realize that they are put in the Bible to teach the parent how to teach his own child.
Here are some examples of proper teaching of children. Notice Proverbs 4:20. "My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings." This is an example of a parent talking with and admonishing his own child. The parent asks the child to listen, to pay attention to the teachings he is about to hear. In the next few verses we find the things the parent should teach the child. He also tells the child the advantages of paying attention to the things he is about to be taught (verses 21-22).
Then the parent goes on to give the child these various admonishments: put away a fro ward (wilfully contrary, not easily managed) mouth and perverse lips, look straight ahead (concentrate, don't be easily distracted), ponder ("look before you leap" — think about what you are going to do BEFORE doing it) the path of your feet, and don't turn to the right or to the left from your goal (finish the job you start). These are SOME of the things you should be teaching your children! (Verses 24-27.)
Notice how many times the Bible gives examples of a parent teaching his child to heed his words.
In Proverbs 5:1 we read, "My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding." Again in Proverbs 6:20, we read, "My son, keep thy father's commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother." Again, "My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart" (Proverbs 7:1-3).
So we see in these various examples how the wise parent goes about teaching his child. He talks with him, instructs him in the right way of living.
Every parent secretly says: "My son, if thine heart be wise, my heart shall rejoice, even mine" (Proverbs 23:15). Also, "My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me" (Proverbs 27:11). Every parent is glad when his son or daughter does well in life. No parent wants his child to be foolish, cause destruction and bring on a bad name.
"A foolish son is the calamity of his father" (Proverbs 19:13). But there is a way to avoid this calamity.
But HOW does one teach his son to be wise? How much teaching and training is needed on the part of parents to counteract the foolishness of this world?
"The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame" (Proverbs 29:15). Many parents do just that. They do not ask their children the proper questions or take an interest in their daily activities. They leave them to themselves!
Wise or Foolish? "A wise son maketh a glad father; but a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother" (Proverbs 10:1). How true! It is the dream of every parent to have his son or daughter grow up to be respected and liked, to be wise and understanding, and to make a good name for himself. Perhaps the only reward a parent gets in child rearing is to see his son or daughter become a success in life.
But a foolish son, as the proverb says, is the "heaviness of his mother." He brings shame, heartache and headache to his parents. For a parent there is no worse feeling than failure with his children. To sit back and watch your children reap harm from the things they sow is painful indeed. To see your children suffer for things you have neglected to teach them is agony.
This does not have to be! Many are encouraging their children to be foolish. Some parents think it is cute or smart when their child misbehaves. They laugh at the wrong things the child does. This encourages the child all the more in foolishness.
Another way parents contribute to foolishness is to encourage laziness and slothfulness in their children. Many parents never give a child an assignment or work to do around the house.
Many mothers never have their daughters do anything around the house. And if they do, it is only a very small task. It seems mothers have a hard time teaching their daughters to cook, sew or clean house. Many mothers say it like this, "Oh, well, it takes her so long. It's so much trouble to teach her that I would rather do it myself." Yes, this is the common attitude. But in this case the mother is concerned only with herself. She is not concerned with her daughter's development.
Thus many girls grow up not knowing how to cook, sew or do housework. Many grow up with no idea of how to manage a home. It is the daughter who suffers. But the fault lies with the parents — especially the mother.
Mother's Place in Child Rearing Today's society in America, Britain, Australia, and South Africa contains many career women. The term "professional" seems glamorous to women. Somehow they feel a career outside the home is very important. So they farm out their children to day nurseries while they pursue their careers.
Samuel G. Kling, a divorce lawyer, says woman's "emancipation" is a major reason why many marriages fail.
"Today the very word 'housewife' is an apology. Not to have a career is considered unglamorous and unattractive. There are books by the thousands telling her how unfulfilled she is. No wonder modern women quail at the thought of just being a wife!
"Before women were emancipated they settled more or less happily for being wives and mothers. It was their destiny, and in most cases they accepted it. Not always, of course, and not always happily. But in any case they knew that this was their career. A girl didn't have to waver all through high school trying to decide for which career to train. She had a definite and tremendously important place in society which satisfied her ego and gave her most of the fulfillment she needed" ("This Week" magazine, November 20, 1966).
Many Hours a Day Prior to school a child spends many hundreds of hours under the direct supervision of his mother. In infancy much of his time is spent in his mother's arms. She coos, talks to, and cuddles him.
As the child grows older he is with his mother every day while his father is at work. His mother has a tremendous influence on him. She teaches him proper habits, cleanliness, discipline. More than anyone else at that tender age her supervision over him is of utmost importance. She sets the stage for future habits in his life.
Properly carried out, her discipline can help ready her child for years to come. Wrong rearing makes it twice as hard for the child later on.
Children will either love and respect their mother and her authority or will come to relegate it to insignificance — or worse yet, despise it.
In later life, a daughter must have the proper example of her mother to follow. A teen-age girl must learn how she is to fulfill her place in life in just a few years — perhaps at age 23 to 25. "Mother" has to teach her all the basic things that she will need to know.
Be Aware of What's Happening Another way parents encourage foolishness in their children is by not knowing what's going on. In many cases everyone knows but the parents. One example: A boy was smoking and almost everyone knew it except his father and mother. They had no idea their son was smoking. Yet it was common knowledge among all the teen-agers. And through them other parents knew.
Why were his parents in the dark? Why were they the last to find out?
The answer is simple. They never asked! Had his parents asked him, the boy may have readily admitted he smoked.
Are you afraid to ask your child? When parents never ask, it encourages more foolishness. Children begin to think their parents don't care. They then think their activity is none of their parents' business. Since their parents do not care to know, they feel that the parents have no right to know. One girl made the statement about her DATING HABITS, "What they don't know won't hurt them." She was speaking of her parents.
[Editor's Note: Ambassador College publishes an attractively printed booklet entitled "Modern Dating." This booklet is a must for children about to enter teen-age. It provides basic guidelines in dating. Every parent and teenager should read it.]
One foolish move some parents make is this. They brag about their children's smart-aleck remarks and arguments. Many times teen-agers talk back to their parents. They come up with a "smart" or "clever" (but rebellious) remark. Parents become proud of their child's "genius." This is sheer folly! Being so "proud" of their child, they neglect any punishment. What kind of reasoning is this?
There are many ways in which parents can help their children and teen-agers. The most important underlying principle is that you come to know your children — and that they know you.
This can be accomplished in several areas, which will be discussed briefly. All require your time and effort. But it is effort enjoyably spent; it is effort which becomes an investment in the future success of your children.
Here are some ways to make your children's and teenagers' lives abundant and happy.
Make Family Play and Outings a Habit Build the habit of playing regularly with your children and sharing with them many hours of good times. Often, children will deeply and long remember the fact that their father used to take them "piggyback" and laugh and romp with them on the floor. This type of activity, kept in right balance and without undue roughness, can establish a sense of rapport and closeness with your children more quickly than almost any other type of activity. Having family card games, monopoly, croquet, ball games — these are all things to introduce as the children's ages permit.
Then, on weekends and vacations, family picnics, hikes, hunting and fishing trips, camping out or going to the cabin will be an experience your sons and daughters will always remember.
You fathers need to teach your sons to do masculine things — to hunt, to fish, to take care of themselves in the woods and in many other circumstances. Teach your sons to speak like a man. Teach them to think like a man and to work hard, perspire, accomplish and produce, and not be a coward. Teach them to be self-reliant, not pantywaists or effeminate creatures and candidates for some type of institution.
If you orient your children's play and activities around the family — allowing them to bring in one or two other children of good character on occasion — this alone will prevent a great deal of the tendency toward carousing and juvenile delinquency into which so many unattended children fall. And you will be establishing a closeness and contact with your very heritage which will enable you to guide their lives for many years in the future.
What If One Parent Is Missing? You're working under a big handicap if one parent is missing. But it's not so big you can't overcome it with a little thought and wisdom, and a lot of patience.
Let's assume the mother (since this seems to be the most general case) is trying to rear her children without a husband present. Perhaps there has been a separation, a divorce, or even a death.
She ought to realize, then, that the basic environment for the home is missing. She ought to take whatever steps possible to remedy that lack — where those steps are right and good.
What if you have growing sons, and they have no father to be with them, to give them of his masculine personality, his male interests and ways of doing things, his discipline?
You should use real wisdom. Think about your situation. Do you know some of the close friends of your children? Do you know their parents? Is it possible for the father of a neighbor boy to include your boys on an outing just once in a while?
What about the local YMCA? They have arts and crafts classes, swimming classes and the like which are usually (but be mighty careful to make sure) run by a competent man in the field.
What about summer camp? Ever think of sending your boys to one of the many healthful, wholesome camps where rigorous outdoor activities are offered?
And, finally, what about being a little more active yourself? Get interested in some of the activities, sports, hobbies that would appeal to either sex. Don't run the risk of letting boys become "mother-dominated" or begin to mimic or unconsciously take on only feminine characteristics.
Take them hiking where possible, with groups of friends where you, their mother, are along. Take them picnicking, bicycling, horseback riding, swimming. These are activities that many men and women enjoy with equal relish.
Look around at your environment and your locality. Look at your home life. Do you spend too much time looking at TV? Too much time with other women? Do you spend time feeling sorry for yourself instead of being really absorbed in rearing your children properly?
Can you improve your situation? Based upon a right knowledge of marriage, is there any chance for a reconciliation with the father of your children? Think about it. Realize what a handicap it is to attempt rearing children without a father around!
Make Family Study a Habit Fathers should sit down regularly with their children, at least a few times each week, and study with them and explain to them important principles of successful living. Read chapters of the Proverbs — explaining how to apply the wisdom contained in these pages. Inspire them to want to make a success of their lives and build the very character of God. Have father-son or mother-daughter talks with them, telling them about your past life experiences and lessons which you hope they will not have to learn personally by suffering as you did. Teach them positive principles of success and happiness.
Teach your children basic things — honesty and integrity, the value of hard work and productivity. Teach them never to lie nor be deceitful. Teach them to respect and value human life — to be careful in their own playing, swimming and driving so that you will never have to have a funeral ceremony for your own child! Explain this to them heart-to-heart — and make it meaningful.
Teach your children — as they get up toward the fourth, sixth and eighth grades — to read newspapers and magazines, to be aware of what is going on in the world. Teach them to read worthwhile books on geography, history, the biographies and autobiographies of great and successful men, etc. Inspire the right kind of ambition and desire for success in your sons and daughters.
Take time to go over with them certain outstanding articles in various magazines and newspapers you may read regarding principles of life and success which you want your children to know. Teach them wisdom and balance in applying these things. Remind them, for instance, that many multimillionaires would give all they had simply to have one happy marriage. Teach them that the grasping, clawing, greedy, competitive way of getting ahead is not the real way to permanent happiness and true success. But do, in right balance, inspire them to develop their minds, bodies, personalities and characters so that they may be productive human beings and leaders as God directs their lives.
Your children and teen-agers will never forget this kind of teaching, training, love and inspiration. It will be a help and have an impact upon their lives which will last not only through this age — but through eternity. And that is a fact.
Father Must Be Leader Father MUST be the head of the home. There is no substitute for this primary requirement. If the father is not the head of the home then none of the other rules used will really work. (However, if the father is not at home, then the mother must assume the role of head of household. This is a big handicap, as mentioned above.) Children must see and experience proper government in the home. They learn the proper respect for government through their home.
The man must be the dominating personality and force that stands for the right way in the family. He also must take a very active and intense interest in the children. This point cannot be over-emphasized. Every man needs to examine himself and make sure that he is doing all he needs to be doing to be the head of his house. He needs to be the head of the house in SERVICE and LOVE, as well as in authority.
Be a Family Warm and loving family fellowship is a major key in the development of a child's sense of security, a balanced personality and positive approach to life. Every family should talk, laugh and share their lives with each other at all times — and especially at mealtime. Having "family" meals is certainly a great asset in the development of your children. Here, indeed, is an opportunity to talk over with the children the events of the day.
Ask Johnny: "What did you learn in school today?" And show yourself interested in his answer, in his analysis of the events of his life. Learn to know who your children are associating with and what kind of people they are. In a positive way, not picking and nagging, guide your children to choose right companionships, to play games in a positive manner without fighting and quarreling, and to develop habits for success in their future lives.
Learn to listen to your children talk. Notice their voice inflection, their personality and the enthusiasm — or lack of it — which they convey. Then try to guide and encourage them toward further development, making sure that you set the example above all else. For children will follow your example more than anything else.
Learn to laugh with and love your children deeply. Share with them the knowledge of their origins — the type of people their great-grandparents and grandparents were, how you yourself grew up, and things that will give their lives a sense of continuity and purpose. Although you should always retain proper dignity as the parent and leader of the child, you can certainly joke and laugh with and bring out his personality and give him confidence in the family situation more than in any other.
Have a close family life. Dinner time can help. There is nothing like a family eating its meal together to bring about a close family life. This provides an excellent opportunity for parents to get to know their youngsters. They can ask them about problems at school — daily activities. This is a vital part of family life. Don't neglect it!
Encourage loyalty to the family. When a child loves and respects his family — has a loyalty for it — he will not want to bring shame or problems upon the family. He will watch his conduct, being loyal to his parents' teaching so that it does not reflect upon his parents or the family. He will do what is best for the family. He will try to please them. Right loyalty to the family unit is indeed a very precious and worthwhile thing. Parents should cultivate more loyalty in their children.
Develop Responsible Children and Teen-agers Teach your children responsibility while young. Millions of modern children grow up without ever being exposed to the discipline of work and productivity. In their idle hours they develop countless wasteful and foolish habits. And they never develop the habit of work and success in this manner.
Teach your children the habit of work. Even in the city, children can be given many things to do if you properly organize them. Your boys can mow the lawn, rake leaves, shovel snow, carry in wood and kindling for the fireplace and even help with the vacuuming, washing and scrubbing of the floors. Your girls can regularly help do the dishes, clean the house, polish the furniture and other similar chores. Each child should be taught to keep his own room clean, to make his own bed daily, and to be responsible for putting things back where they belong and organizing his things throughout the house. This will give each child a sense of responsibility and accomplishment and may help more than you can imagine in the future success of your children.
Today's children are encouraged to neglect responsibility. The philosophy of the educational systems of this world is to remove all responsibility from the children, giving them a free hand. Children are shielded from responsibilities today.
Children of all ages should have responsibilities at home as well as at school. Too many parents neglect this phase of their children's training. It is good for a child to have responsibilities around the house. It is necessary for that child to fulfill them! This teaches him responsibility. It disciplines him at the same time.
You should give your children and teen-agers certain assignments — routine work that they are required to fulfill. This teaches self-discipline. In doing this work your child will assume responsibility. He will exercise self discipline. As he grows older he should be able to assume more responsibility. These responsibilities should start small when he is young and increase as he grows older.
Numerous men desert their families each year. They leave their homes — lose themselves in society. They never had responsibilities. When married they could not cope with them. Many who stay with their families are dominated by their wives. Their wives take the responsibility for the family. Had these men learned responsibility as boys, this tragedy would not have occurred. To a degree the blame lies with their parents.
Encourage Home Entertainment Why go out all the time? Too many teen-agers today feel they cannot have a good time unless they "go out." This is wrong! And the parents do nothing to counteract this feeling.
There are many things a teen-ager can do at home. Parents should strive to provide a happy atmosphere — a "good time" at home. Your teen-agers don't need to always "go out" to have a good time. But sad to say, most parents make no effort to have fun in a family unit. And this is essential! There are all kinds of family games that provide "at home" entertainment.
Today most teen-agers think that a date is not a date unless they go to a drive-in movie and neck. They feel their date is spoiled if their parents are anywhere around.
Why this attitude? The answer is that they have been taught to think like this. They want to do things that are not lawful. Their minds are on the foolishness of this world.
Encourage your teen-agers to be with the older men and women you know to be of sound character. They can gain much valuable experience in an enjoyable atmosphere and get their minds on more serious and more edifying things. If fathers will include their sons in mutual activities, the sons will gain valuable experience and maturity. Thought this association with older men they will come to learn, and to love and respect their father even more.
To be wise, walk with wise men. But many consign their boys to association with only other "kids." These parents push them into foolish contacts with other teen-agers. Include your youngsters in discussions with older, wiser men!
The same goes for young ladies. Your teen-age girls should be included in conversations — encouraged to associate with other ladies.
The Bible gives us this principle: that the aged women "may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed" (Titus 2:3-5).
Teen-ager girls should learn from older women about homemaking. They should learn how to be good mothers and wives!
Family Training and Discipline Are Indispensable Many people train their dogs far more than they train their own flesh and blood! They will spend literally hours teaching their dogs to sit, to heel and to respond to commands. Yet practically no time is given to teaching their own children similar habits of obedience.
As a parent you have both the responsibility and the opportunity to teach your children not only obedience and the respect for the rights and property of others, but to teach them personality development, proper culture, and the importance of self-discipline and study. You have in your own hands the potential leaders of the world tomorrow. It all depends upon how much time and effort you are willing to put into training them.
All children are potentially juvenile delinquents! It is a matter of disciplining and teaching them the right way. This kind of loving correction is something that gives a child — all psychologists and psychiatrists to the contrary notwithstanding — a deeper sense of security and balance in his mind and personality than he will ever get by any other method.
So be sure that you make this matter of family teaching and discipline an important part of your family's life. Teach your children not only to control themselves physically but to control their tempers — control their thoughts and guide them away from competition, greed, violence and envy, and from foolish daydreaming and lust. Teach them to think positively, to live positively.
Be Candid With Your Children Don't be afraid to tell your children what will happen if they will not obey. Sometimes parents know their children are not doing what is right but they are afraid to tell them.
Why should parents be afraid of their own children? Why not call your teen-ager aside — have a good serious talk with him. Why not "lay it on the line"? Tell him just where he is headed if he will not obey. Tell him who is the head of the house. Let him know what his obligations are. Make him understand. Explain thoroughly.
They should know this: Although their parents may not have done a perfect job in child rearing, they — the teen-agers — will be responsible for their own deeds. They themselves will have to answer for what they do. It's time for them to sober up and face the facts.
Many are in their last couple of years in high school. How many of them have concrete plans for their future? For many it is merely a vague idea. Some think "maybe" they will go to college.
Some hide behind the high school cloak. It is their protection from responsible thinking.
Have you asked your son or daughter what he or she plans to do upon graduation? Will you let them drift along until the last few weeks of their senior year in high school — then try to rush them into something?
Apply These Principles Only the basic principles and a few examples have been covered. It is up to you to apply them in the countless situations that arise in the home.
Remember, knowledge is of no value except as it is applied. Read this material several times. Think of how its principles apply to your situation. Then, use the principles consistently in your family circle. Keep it as a guide, and a manual. Refer to this material whenever a special problem arises. Reread it occasionally as time passes. Your children will, of course, become older and new problems may arise.
May God give you the wisdom and judgment, the patience and the love you will need to guide you in one of the most important responsibilities of life — rearing your children!