The Nervous Child eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 183 pages of information about The Nervous Child.
of getting a place in the school Eleven.  He is probably much envied by those of the same age who, with the aid of their youthful aspect, can still occasionally extract compensation by inducing the railway company to let them travel to school at half fare.  But with girls it is different.  Many at fourteen or fifteen are children still; some are grown up, with the tastes, feelings, and attraction of maturity.  Those who have developed fastest are often, for that very reason, kept backward in school learning.  Often they are nervously the least stable.  Now that large schools for girls on the model of our public schools are become the fashion, such precociously developed and nervously unstable girls are apt to find themselves in the very uncongenial society of little girls of twelve or thirteen.  The elder girls commonly hold aloof, while mistresses are apt to view this precocious development with disapproval, and to attempt to retard what cannot be retarded by insisting that the young woman has remained a child.  I remember being called in consultation by a surgeon who had been asked to operate for appendicitis upon a girl of fourteen.  I found a tall, well-grown girl, with an appearance and manner that made her look four years older.  I could find no signs of appendicitis, but I learned from her that she had been for three months at a large girls’ school, and that in a few days’ time her second term was due to begin.  As we became friends, she agreed that her appendicitis and her resolve not to return to school, where she was unhappy, were but different ways of saying the same thing.  She was an only child who had travelled a great deal with her parents, had found her interests in their pursuits, and had grown backward in school work.  The little girls with whom she was expected to associate seemed to her mere children.  The elder girls did not want her friendship, and snubbed her.  I prescribed a change to a small boarding-school with only a few girls, where age differences would not matter so much, and where she could make friends with girls older than herself, though not more mature.

Into their school life we need not follow the children.  Happily the time is past when schoolmasters and schoolmistresses were incapable of understanding their charges, and confounded nervous exhaustion with stupidity or timidity with incapacity.

And so we come back to the point from which we started: 

The nervous infant, restless, wriggling, and constantly crying!  The nervous child, unstable, suggestible, passionate, and full of nameless fears!  The nervous schoolboy or schoolgirl prone to self-analysis, subject-conscious, and easily exhausted!  And how many and how various are the manifestations of this temperament!  Refusal of food, refusal of sleep, negativism, irritability, and violent fits of temper, vomiting, diarrhoea, morbid flushing and blushing, habit spasms, phobias—­all controlled not by reproof or by medicine, but by good management and a clear understanding of their nature.

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The Nervous Child from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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