“Some time afterwards I said: ’Come here, Joseph, I wish you to be my messenger boy.’ This was a privilege highly desired by the children. Joseph came reluctantly as if expecting some hidden censure, but soon he was busy running back and forth, giving each child the proper materials for the next half-hour’s work. As soon as the joy of service had melted him into a mood of comradeship, I whispered: ‘Run over now and get Paul’s soldier.’ Instantly he obeyed, picked it up, and placed it on the table before its owner, quietly slipped into his own place and began his work. His whole nature for the time being was changed. Continued treatment of this kind completely transformed the nature of the child.”
Scolding and finding fault are the most common forms of negative training employed by parents. Such treatment brings out and emphasizes the opposite qualities from those desired, since they appeal to the very worst side of the child’s nature. Usually, too, the sympathy of the mother and the affection of the child are separated and coldness takes their place. Suggest to the child at the right time the act you wish him to do and usually it will be quickly accomplished; then if a child is praised a little for his promptness, he will soon grow into the habit of doing promptly other more important tasks. The boy who dallied over everything he did was soon cured by the simple device of counting while he ran an errand and then praising him for his quick return. A little praise goes farther than much censure. Sometimes a boy’s tone and manner are lacking in respect to his mother, or a girl becomes troublesome and defies authority. This condition did not come about suddenly; it is the result of continued negative treatment. Usually, if a boy is disrespectful or a girl impudent, it is because the parents through neglect or improper training, have unconsciously fostered such behavior.
Some children are timid and superstitious, too often they are laughed at and ridiculed; on the other hand, fun should never be made of such children and they should be given every opportunity to develop courage and self-reliance. If a child is irreverent, he should have his eyes opened to the wonders of creation and to the majesty and power displayed by the Maker of the universe. So, in all cases, the parents should beware of the almost universal, negative mode of training which represses, scolds, finds fault, and results in producing hardness, slyness, obstinacy, and other undesirable qualities; instead, positive methods should be employed. They suggest correct action, substitute the right for the wrong, praise for blame, encouragement rather than discouragement, and stimulate to higher endeavor. However, if occasion demands, parents may be stern, unrelenting and even resort to punishment.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. What is the main point of this lesson?