Then, if she observes any expression of discontent or insubmission in Mary’s countenance, the mother would add,
“If you should not be a good girl, but should show signs of making us any trouble, I shall have to send you out somewhere to the back part of the house until we are gone.”
But this last supposition is almost always unnecessary; for if Mary has been habitually managed on this principle she will not make any trouble. She will perceive at once that the question is settled—settled irrevocably—and especially that it is entirely beyond the power of any demonstrations of insubmission or rebellion that she can make to change it. She will acquiesce at once.[A] She may be sorry that she can not go, but she will make no resistance. Those children only attempt to carry their points by noisy and violent demonstrations who find, by experience, that such measures are usually successful. A child, even, who has become once accustomed to them, will soon drop them if she finds, owing to a change in the system of management, that they now never succeed. And a child who never, from the beginning, finds any efficiency in them, never learns to employ them at all.
Of the three methods of managing children exemplified in this chapter, the last is the only one which can be followed either with comfort to the parent or safety to the child; and to show how this method can be brought effectually into operation by gentle measures is the object of this book. It is, indeed, true that the importance of tact and skill in the training of the young, and of cultivating their reason, and securing their affection, can not be overrated. But the influences secured by these means form, at the best, but a sandy foundation for filial obedience to rest upon. The child is not to be made to comply with the requirements of his parents by being artfully inveigled into compliance, nor is his obedience to rest on his love for father and mother, and his unwillingness to displease them, nor on his conviction of the rightfulness and reasonableness of their commands, but on simple submission to authority—that absolute and almost unlimited authority which all parents are commissioned by God and nature to exercise over their offspring during the period while the offspring remain dependent upon their care.
WHAT ARE GENTLE MEASURES?
It being thus distinctly understood that the gentle measures in the training of children herein recommended are not to be resorted to as a substitute for parental authority, but as the easiest and most effectual means of establishing and maintaining that authority in its most absolute form, we have now to consider what the nature of these gentle measures is, and by what characteristics they are distinguished, in their action and influence, from such as may be considered more or less violent and harsh.