[Sidenote: Cultivate Affections]
Whatever strong affections the selfish boy shows most be carefully cultivated. Love for another is the only sure cure for selfishness. If he loves animals, let him have pets, and give into his hands the whole responsibility for the care of them. It is better to let the poor animals suffer some neglect, than to take away from the boy the responsibility for their condition. They serve him only so far as he can be induced to serve them. The chief rule for the cure of selfishness is, then, to watch every affection, small and large, encourage it, give it room to grow, and see to it that the child does not merely get delight out of it, but that he works for it, that he sacrifices himself for those whom he loves.
[Sidenote: The Physical Cause]
This condition is often normal, especially during adolescence. The developing boy or girl wants to lop and to lounge, to lie sprawled over the floor or the sofa. Quick movement is distasteful to him, and often has an undue effect upon the heart’s action. He is normally dreamy, languid, indifferent, and subject to various moods. These things are merely tokens of the tremendous change that is going on within his organism, and which heavily drains his vitality. Certain duties may, of course, be required of him at this stage, but they should be light and steady. He should not be expected to fill up chinks and run errands with joyful alacrity. The six- or eight-year-old may be called upon for these things, and not he harmed, but this is not true of the child between twelve and seventeen. He has absorbing business on hand and should not be too often called away from it.
[Sidenote: Laziness and Rapid Growth]
Laziness ordinarily accompanies rapid growth of any kind. The unusually large child, even if he has not yet reached the period of adolescence, is likely to be lazy. His nervous energies are deflected to keep up his growth, and his intelligence is often temporarily dulled by the rapidity of his increase in size.
[Sidenote: Hurry Not Natural]
Moreover, it is not natural for any child to hurry. Hurry is in itself both a result of nervous strain and a cause of it; and grown people whose nerves have been permanently wrenched away from normal quietude and steadiness, often form a habit of hurry which makes them both unfriendly toward children and very bad for children. These young creatures ought to go along through their days rather dreamily and altogether serenely. Every turn of the screw to tighten their nerves makes more certain some form of early nervous breakdown. They ought to have work to do, of course,—enough of it to occupy both mind and body—but it should be quiet, systematic, regular work, much of it performed automatically. Only occasionally should they be required to do things with a conscious effort to attain speed.