So, if children are to be called away from their play for any purpose whatever, it is always best to give them a little notice, if it be only a moment’s notice, beforehand. “John, in a minute or two I shall wish you to go and get some wood. You can be getting your things ready to be left.” “Mary, it is almost time for your lesson. You had better put Dolly to sleep and lay her in the cradle.” “Boys, in ten minutes it will be time for you to go to school. So do not begin any new whistles, but only finish what you have begun.”
On the same principle, if boys are at play in the open air—at ball, or skating, or flying kites—and are to be recalled by a bell, obedience to the call will be made much more easy to them by a preliminary signal, as a warning, given five minutes before the time.
Of course, it will not always be convenient to give these signals and these times of preparation. Nor will it be always necessary to give them. To determine how and in what cases it is best to apply the principle here explained will require some tact and good judgment on the part of the parent. It would be folly to lay down a rigid rule of this kind to be considered as always obligatory. All that is desirable is that the mother should understand the principle, and that she should apply it as far as she conveniently and easily can do so. She will find in practice that when she once appreciates the value of it, and observes its kind and beneficent working, she will find it convenient and easy to apply it far more generally than she would suppose.
No weakening of Authority in this.
It is very plain that softening thus the hardship for the child of any act of obedience required of him by giving him a little time implies no abatement of the authority of the parent, nor does it detract at all from the implicitness of the obedience on the part of the child. The submission to authority is as complete in doing a thing in five minutes if the order was to do it in five minutes, as in doing it at once if the order was to do it at once. And the mother must take great care, when thus trying to make obedience more easy by allowing time, that it should be prompt and absolute when the time has expired.
The idea is, that though the parent is bound fully to maintain his authority over his children, in all its force, he is also bound to make the exercise of it as little irksome and painful to them as possible, and to prevent as much as possible the pressure of it from encroaching upon their juvenile joys. He must insist inexorably on being obeyed; but he is bound to do all in his power to make the yoke of obedience light and easily to be borne.
Influence on the healthful Development of the Brain.