The disposition to ask questions, which is so universal and so strong a characteristic of childhood, is the open door which presents to the mother the readiest and most easy access possible to the mind and heart of her child. The opportunities and facilities thus afforded to her would be the source of the greatest pleasure to herself, and of the greatest benefit to her child, if she understood better how to avail herself of them. I propose, in this chapter, to give some explanations and general directions for the guidance of mothers, of older brothers and sisters, and of teachers—of all persons, in fact, who may, from time to time, have young children under their care or in their society. I have no doubt that some of my rules will strike parents, at first view, as paradoxical and, perhaps, almost absurd; but I hope that on more mature reflection they will be found to be reasonable and just.
The Curiosity of Children not a Fault.
1. The curiosity of children is not a fault, and therefore we must never censure them for asking questions, or lead them to think that we consider the disposition to do so a fault on their part; but, on the other hand, this disposition is to be encouraged as much as possible.
We must remember that a child, when his powers of observation begin to be developed, finds every thing around him full of mystery and wonder. Why some things are hard and some are soft—why some things will roll and some will not—why he is not hurt when he falls on the sofa, and is hurt when he falls on the floor—why a chair will tumble over when he climbs up by the rounds of it, while yet the steps of the stairs remain firm and can be ascended without danger—why one thing is black, and another red, and another green—why water will all go away of itself from his hands or his dress, while mud will not—why he can dig in the ground, but can not dig in a floor—all is a mystery, and the little adventurer is in a continual state of curiosity and wonder, not only to learn the meaning of all these things, but also of desire to extend his observations, and find out more and more of the astonishing phenomena that are exhibited around him. The good feeling of the mother, or of any intelligent friend who is willing to aid him in his efforts, is, of course, invaluable to him as a means of promoting his advancement in knowledge and of developing his powers.
Remember, therefore, that the disposition of a child to ask questions is not a fault, but only an indication of his increasing mental activity, and of his desire to avail himself of the only means within his reach of advancing his knowledge and of enlarging the scope of his intelligence in respect to the strange and wonderful phenomena constantly observable around him.
Sometimes, perhaps, a Source of Inconvenience.