There will be occasion, however, to refer to this subject more fully in a future chapter.
The mode of action described in the last two chapters for training children to habits of obedience consisted in discouraging disobedience by connecting some certain, though mild and gentle disadvantage, inconvenience, or penalty, with every transgression. In this chapter is to be considered another mode, which is in some respects the converse of the first, inasmuch as it consists in the encouragement of obedience, by often—not necessarily always—connecting with it some advantage, or gain, or pleasure; or, as it may be stated summarily, the cautious encouragement of obedience by rewards.
This method of action is more difficult than the other in the sense that it requires more skill, tact, and delicacy of perception and discrimination to carry it successfully into effect. The other demands only firm, but gentle and steady persistence. If the penalty, however slight it may be, always comes, the effect will take care of itself. But judiciously to administer a system of rewards, or even of commendations, requires tact, discrimination, and skill. It requires some observation of the peculiar characteristics of the different minds acted upon, and of the effects produced, and often some intelligent modification of the measures is required, to fit them to varying circumstances and times.
Obedience must not be Bought.
If the bestowing of commendation and rewards is made a matter of mere blind routine, as the assigning of gentle penalties may be, the result will become a mere system of bribing, or rather paying children to be good; and goodness that is bought, if it deserves the name of virtue at all, is certainly virtue of a very inferior quality.
Whether a reward conferred for obedience shall operate as a bribe, or rather as a price paid—for a bribe, strictly speaking, is a price paid, not for doing right, but for doing wrong—depends sometimes on very slight differences in the management of the particular case—differences which an undiscriminating mother will not be very ready to appreciate.