If, instead of being alone with his rocking-horse, he has company there, he will seem to continue his bodily effort a long time; but he does not really do so, for he stops continually, to talk with his companion, thus allowing his muscles to rest for a brief period, during which the vital force expends its strength in carrying on trains of thought and emotion through the brain.
He is not to be blamed for this seeming capriciousness. These frequent changes in the mode of action are a necessity, and this necessity evidently unfits him for any kind of monotonous or continued exertion—the only kind which, in ordinary cases, can be made conducive to any useful results.
3. Parents at home and teachers at school must recognize these physiological laws, relating to the action of the young, and make their plans and arrangements conform to them. The periods of confinement to any one mode of action in the very young, and especially mental action, must be short; and they must alternate frequently with other modes. That rapid succession of bodily movements and of mental ideas, and the emotions mingling and alternating with them, which constitutes what children call play, must be regarded not simply as an indulgence, but as a necessity for them. The play must be considered as essential as the study, and that not merely for the very young but for all, up to the age of maturity. For older pupils, in the best institutions of the country, some suitable provision is made for this want; but the mothers of young children at home are often at a loss by what means to effect this purpose, and many are very imperfectly aware of the desirableness, and even the necessity, of doing this. As for the means of accomplishing the object—that is, providing channels for the complete expenditure of this force in the safest and most agreeable manner for the child, and the least inconvenient and troublesome for others, much must depend upon the tact, the ingenuity, and the discretion of the mother. It will, however, be a great point gained for her when she once fully comprehends that the tendency to incessant activity, and even to turbulence and noise, on the part of her child, only shows that he is all right in his vital machinery, and that this exuberance of energy is something to be pleased with and directed, not denounced and restrained.
THE IMAGINATION IN CHILDREN.
The reader may, perhaps, recollect that in the last chapter there was an intimation that a portion of the force which was produced, or rather liberated and brought into action, by the consumption of food in the vital system, expended itself in the development of thoughts, emotions, and other forms of mental action, through the organization of the brain and of the nerves.
Expenditure of Force through the Brain.