Then there is the mother who worries over her child’s clothing. She is never ceasing in her cautions. It is “don’t, don’t, don’t,” from morning to night, and whether this seems “nagging” to her or not, there would be a unanimous vote on the subject were the child consulted as to his feelings. Of course the boy, the girl, must be taught to take care of his, her, clothes, but this is never done by nagging. A far better plan would be to fit a punishment which really belongs to the evil or careless habit of the child. For instance, if a boy will persist in throwing his hat anywhere, instead of hanging it up, let the parent give him one caution, not in a threatening or angry way, but in just as matter of fact a fashion as if she were telling him of some news: “John, the next time you fail to hang your hat in its proper place I shall lock it up for three days!”
Then, if John fails, take the hat and lock it up, and let it stay locked-up, though the heavens fall. The same with a child’s playthings, tennis racquets, base-balls, bats, etc. As a rule one application of the rule cures. This is immeasurably more sensible than nagging, for it produces the required result almost instantly, and there is little irritation to either person concerned, while nagging is never effective, and irritates both all the time.
Other parents worry considerably over their children getting in the dirt.
In an article which recently appeared in Good Housekeeping Dr. Woods Hutchinson says some sensible things on “Children as Cabbages.” He starts out by saying: “It is well to remember that not all dirt is dirty. While some kinds of dirt are exceedingly dangerous, others are absolutely necessary to life.”
If your children get into the dirty and dangerous dirt, spend your energies in getting them into the other kind of dirt, rather than in nagging. Fall into the habit of doing the wise, the rational, the sane thing, because it produces results, rather than the foolish, irrational, insane thing which never produces a result save anger, irritation, and oftentimes, alienation.
In a little book written by J.J. Bell, entitled Wee MacGregor, there is a worrying mother. Fortunately she is sweet-spirited with it all, or it would have been unbearable.
She and her husband John, and the baby, wee Jeannie, with Macgregor were going out to dinner at “Aunt Purdie’s,” who was “rale genteel an’ awfu’ easy offendit.” The anxious mother was counselling her young son regarding his behavior at the table of that excellent lady:
‘An’ mind, Macgreegor, ye’re no’ to be askin’ fur jeely till ye’ve ett twa bits o’ breed-an’-butter. It’s no’ mainners; an’ yer Aunt Purdie’s rale partecclar. An’ yer no’ to dicht yer mooth wi’ yer cuff—mind that. Ye’re to tak’ yer hanky an’ let on ye’re jist gi’ein’ yer nib a bit wipe. An’ ye’re no’ to scale yer tea nor sup the sugar if ony’s