STUDY OF CHILD LIFE
MARION FOSTER WASHBURNE
THE LIBRARY OF HOME ECONOMICS
A COMPLETE HOME-STUDY COURSE
ON THE NEW PROFESSION OF HOME-MAKING AND ART OF RIGHT LIVING; THE PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF THE MOST RECENT ADVANCES IN THE ARTS AND SCIENCES TO HOME AND HEALTH
PREPARED BY TEACHERS OF RECOGNIZED AUTHORITY
FOR HOME-MAKERS, MOTHERS, TEACHERS, PHYSICIANS, NURSES, DIETITIANS, PROFESSIONAL HOUSE MANAGERS, AND ALL INTERESTED IN HOME, HEALTH, ECONOMY AND CHILDREN
NEARLY THREE THOUSAND PAGES, ONE THOUSAND ILLUSTRATIONS TESTED BY USE IN CORRESPONDENCE INSTRUCTION REVISED AND SUPPLEMENTED
CHICAGO AMERICAN SCHOOL OF HOME ECONOMICS 1907
ISABEL BEVIER, Ph.M.
Professor of Household Science, University of Illinois. Author U.S. Government Bulletins, "Development of the Home Economics Movement in America," etc.
ALICE PELOUBET NORTON, M.A.
Assistant Professor of Home Economics, School of Education, University of Chicago; Director of the Chautauqua School of Domestic Science.
S. MARIA ELLIOTT
Instructor in Home Economics, Simmons College; Formerly Instructor School of Housekeeping, Boston.
Director Chautauqua School of Cookery; Lecturer Teachers' College, Columbia University, and Simmons College; formerly Editor "American Kitchen Magazine;" Author "Home Science Cook Book."
ALFRED CLEVELAND COTTON, A.M., M.D.
Professor Diseases of Children, Rush Medical College, University of Chicago; Visiting Physician Presbyterian Hospital, Chicago; Author of "Diseases of Children."
BERTHA M. TERRILL, A.B.
Professor in Home Economics in Hartford School of Pedagogy; Author of U.S. Government Bulletins.
KATE HEINTZ WATSON
Formerly Instructor in Domestic Economy, Lewis Institute; Lecturer University of Chicago.
MARION FOSTER WASHBURNE
Editor "The Mothers' Magazine;" Lecturer Chicago Froebel Association; Author "Everyday Essays", "Family Secrets," etc.
MARGARET E. DODD
Graduate Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Teacher of Science, Woodward Institute.
AMY ELIZABETH POPE
With the Panama Canal Commission; Formerly Instructor in Practical and Theoretical Nursing, Training School for Nurses, Presbyterian Hospital, New York City.
MAURICE LE BOSQUET, S.B.
Director American School of Home Economics; Member American Public Health Association and American Chemical Society.
CONTRIBUTORS AND EDITORS
ELLEN H. RICHARDS
Author "Cost of Food," "Cost of Living," "Cost of Shelter," "Food Materials and Their Adulteration," etc., etc.; Chairman Lake Placid Conference on Home Economics.
MARY HINMAN ABEL
Author of U.S. Government Bulletins, "Practical Sanitary and Economic Cooking," "Safe Food," etc.
THOMAS D. WOOD, M.D.
Professor of Physical Education, Columbia University.
H.M. LUFKIN, M.D.
Professor of Physical Diagnosis and Clinical Medicine, University of Minnesota.
OTTO FOLIN, Ph.D.
Special Investigator, McLean Hospital, Waverly, Mass.
T. MITCHELL PRUDDEN, M.D., LL.D.
Author "Dust and Its Dangers," "The Story of the Bacteria," "Drinking Water and Ice Supplies," etc.
FRANK CHOUTEAU BROWN
Architect, Boston, Mass.; Author of "The Five Orders of Architecture," "Letters and Lettering."
MRS. MELVIL DEWEY
Secretary Lake Placid Conference on Home Economics.
HELEN LOUISE JOHNSON
Professor of Home Economics, James Millikan University, Decatur.
FRANK W. ALLEN, M.D.
Instructor Rush Medical College, University of Chicago.
* * * * *
MAURICE LE BOSQUET, S.B.
Director American School of Home Economics.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE AMERICAN SCHOOL OF HOME ECONOMICS
* * * * *
MRS. ARTHUR COURTENAY NEVILLE
President of the Board.
MISS MARIA PARLOA
Founder of the first Cooking School in Boston; Author of "Home Economics," "Young Housekeeper," U.S. Government Bulletins, etc.
MRS. MARY HINMAN ABEL
Co-worker in the "New England Kitchen," and the "Rumford Food Laboratory;" Author of U.S. Government Bulletins, "Practical Sanitary and Economic Cooking," etc.
MISS ALICE RAVENHILL
Special Commissioner sent by the British Government to report on the Schools of Home Economics in the United States; Fellow of the Royal Sanitary Institute, London.
MRS. ELLEN M. HENROTIN
Honorary President General Federation of Woman's Clubs.
MRS. FREDERIC W. SCHOFF
President National Congress of Mothers.
MRS. LINDA HULL LARNED
Past President National Household Economics Association; Author of "Hostess of To-day."
MRS. WALTER McNAB MILLER
Chairman of the Pure Food Committee of the General Federation of Woman's Clubs.
MRS. J.A. KIMBERLY
Vice President of the National Household Economics Association.
MRS. JOHN HOODLESS
Government Superintendent of Domestic Science for the province of Ontario; Founder Ontario Normal School of Domestic Science, now the MacDonald Institute.
STUDY OF CHILD LIFE
MARION FOSTER WASHBURNE
Associate Editor Mother's Magazine; Author "Everyday Essays," "Family Secrets," etc.; Lecturer to Chicago Froebel Association
CHICAGO AMERICAN SCHOOL OF HOME ECONOMICS 1907
AN OPEN LETTER
DEVELOPMENT OF THE CHILD
FAULTS AND THEIR REMEDIES
ART AND LITERATURE IN CHILD LIFE
STUDIES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
APPLICATION OF PRINCIPLES
OTHER PEOPLE'S CHILDREN
THE SEX QUESTION
THE UNCONSCIOUS INFLUENCE
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
SUPPLEMENTAL STUDY PROGRAM
AMERICAN SCHOOL OF HOME ECONOMICS
January 1, 1907.
My dear Madam:
In beginning this subject of the "Study of Child Life" there may be lurking doubts in your mind as to whether any reliable rules can really be laid down. They seem to arise mostly from the perception of the great difference between children. What will do for one child will not do for another. Some children are easily persuaded and gentle, others willful, still others sullen unresponsive. How, then, is it possible that a system of education and training can be devised suitable for their various dispositions?
We must remember that children are much more alike than they are different. One may have blue eyes, another gray, another black, but they all have two. We are, therefore, in a position to make rules for creatures having two eyes and these rules apply to eyes of all colors. Children may be nervous, sanguine, bilious, or plethoric, but they all have the same kind of internal organs end the same general rules of health apply to them all.
In this series of lessons I have endeavored to set forth principles briefly and to confirm them by instances within the experience of every observer of childhood. The rules given are such as are held at present by the best educators to be based upon sound philosophy, not at variance with the slight array or scientific facts at our command. Perhaps you yourself may be able to add to the number of reliable facts intelligently reported that must be collected before much greater scientific advance is possible.
There is, to be sure, an art of application of these rules both in matters of health of body and of health of mind and this art must be worked out by each mother for each individual child.
We all recognize that it is a long endeavor before we can apply to our own lives such principles of conduct as we heartily acknowledge to be right. Why, then, expect to be able to apply principles instantly and unerringly to a little child? If a rule fails when you attempt to apply it, before questioning the principle, may it not be well to question your own tact and skill?
So far as I can advise with you in special instances of difficulty, I shall be very glad to do so; not that I shall always know what to do myself, but that we can get a little more light upon the problems by conferring together. I know well how difficult a matter this of child training is, for every day, in the management of my own family of children, I find each philosophy, science and art as I can command very much put to the test.
[Signature: Marion Foster Washburne.]
STUDY OF CHILD LIFE
The young of the human species is less able to care for itself than the young of any other species. Most other creatures are able to walk, or at any rate stand, within a few hours of birth. But the human baby is absolutely dependent and helpless, unable even to manufacture all the animal heat that he requires. The study of his condition at birth at once suggests a number of practical procedures, some of them quite at variance with the traditional procedures.
HOW THE CHILD DEVELOPS
[Sidenote: Condition at Birth]
Let us see, then, exactly what his condition is. In the first place, he is, as Virchow, an authority on physiological subjects declares, merely a spinal animal. Some of the higher brain centers do not yet exist at all, while others are in too incomplete a state for service. The various sensations which the baby experiences—heat, light, contact, motion, etc.—are so many stimuli to the development of these centers. If the stimulus is too great, the development is sometimes unduly hastened, with serious results, which show themselves chiefly in later life. The child who is brought up a noisy room, is constantly talked to and fondled, is likely to develop prematurely, to talk and walk at an early age; also to fall into nervous decay at an early age. And even if by reason of an unusually good heredity he escapes these dangers, it is almost certain that his intellectual power is not so great in adult life as it would have been under more favorable conditions. A new baby, like a young plant, requires darkness and quiet for the most part. As he grows older, and shows a spontaneous interest in his surroundings, he may fittingly have more light, more companionship, and experience more sensations.
[Sidenote: Weight at Birth]
The average boy baby weighs about seven pounds at birth; the average girl, about six and a half pounds. The head is larger in proportion to the body than in after life; the nose is incomplete, the legs short and bowed, with a tendency to fall back upon the body with the knees flexed. This natural tendency should be allowed full play, for the flexed position is said to be favorable to the growth of the bones, permitting the cartilaginous ends of the bones to lie free from pressure at the joints.
The plates of the skull are not complete and do not fit together at the edges. Great care needs to be taken of the soft spot thus left exposed on the top of the head—the undeveloped place where the edges of these bones come together. Any injury here in early life is liable to affect the mind.
[Sidenote: State of Development]
The bony enclosures of the middle ear are unfinished and the eyes also are unfinished. It is a question yet to be settled, whether a new-born baby is blind and deaf or not. At a rate, he soon acquires a sensitiveness to both light and sound, although it is three years or more before he has amassed sufficient experience to estimate with accuracy the distance of objects seen or herd. He can cry, suck, sneeze, cough, kick, and hold on to a finger. All of these acts, though they do not yet imply personality, or even mind, give evidence of a wonderful organism. They require the co-operation of many delicate nerves and muscles—a co-operation that has as yet baffled the power of scientists to explain.
Although the young baby is in almost constant motion while he is awake, he is altogether too weak to turn himself in bed or to escape from an uncomfortable position, and he remains so for many weeks. This constant motion is necessary to his muscular development, his control of his own muscles, his circulation, and, very probably, to the free transmission of nervous energy. Therefore, it is of the first importance that he has freedom to move, and he should be given time every day to move and stretch before the fire, without clothes on. It is well to rub his back and legs at the same time, thus supplementing his gymnastics with a gentle massage.
[Sidenote: Educational Beginnings.]
By the time he is four or five weeks old it is safe to play with him, a little every day, and Froebel has made his "Play with the Limbs" one of his first educational exercises. In this play the mother lays the baby, undressed, upon a pillow and catches the little ankles in her hands. Sometimes she prevents the baby from kicking, so that he has to struggle to get his legs free; sometimes she helps him, so that he kicks more freely and regularly; sometimes she lets him push hard against her breast. All the time she laughs and sings to him, and Froebel has made a little song for this purposes. Since consciousness is roused and deepened by sensations, remembered, experienced, and compared, it is evident that this is more than a fanciful play; that it is what Froebel claimed for it—a real educational exercise. By means, of it the child may gain some consciousness of companionship, and thus, by contrast, a deeper self-consciousness.
[Sidenote: First Efforts]
The baby is at first unable to hold up its head, and in this he is just like all other animals, for no animal, except man, holds up its head constantly. The human baby apparently makes the effort, because he desires to see more clearly—he could doubtless see clearly enough for all physical purposes with his head hung down, but not enough to satisfy his awakening mentality. The effort to hold the head up and to look around is therefore regarded by most psychologists as one of the first tokens of an awakening intellectual life. And this is true, although the first effort seems to arise from an overplus of nervous energy which makes the neck muscles contract, just as it makes other muscles contract. The first slight raisings of the head are like the first kicking movements, merely impulsive; but the child soon sees the advantage of this apparently accidental movement and tries to master it. Preyer[A] considers that the efforts to balance the head among the first indications that the child's will is taking possession of his muscles. His own boy arrived at this point when he was between three and four months old.
[Sidenote: Reflex Grasping]
The grasp of the new-born baby's hand has a surprising power, but the baby himself has little to do with it. The muscles act because of a stimulus presented by the touch of the fingers, very much as the muscles of a decapitated frog contract when the current of electricity passes over them. This is called reflex grasping, and Dr. Louis Robinson,[B] thinking that this early strength of gasp was an important illustration of and evidence for evolution, tried experiments on some sixty new-born babies. He found that they could sustain their whole weight by the arms alone when their hands were clasped about a slender rod. They grasped the rod at once and could be lifted from the bed by it and kept in this position about half a minute. He argued that this early strength of arm, which soon begins to disappear, was survival from the remote period when the baby's ancestors were monkeys or monkey-like people who lived in trees.
[Sidenote: Beginnings Of Will Power]
However this may be, during the first week the baby's hands are much about his face. By accident they reach, the mouth, they are sucked; the child feels himself suck its own fist; he feels his fist being sucked. Some day it will occur to him that that fist belongs to the same being who owns the sucking mouth. But at this point, Miss Shinn[C] has observed, the baby is often surprised and indignant that he cannot move his arms around and at the same time suck his fist. This discomfort helps him to make an effort to get his fist into his mouth and keep it there, and this effort shows his will, beginning to take possession of his hands and arms.
[Sidenote: Growth of Will]
Since any faculty grows by its own exercise, just as muscles grow by exercise, every time the baby succeeds in getting his hands to his mouth as a result of desire, every time that he succeeds in grasping an object as result of desire, his will power grows. Action of this nature brings in new sensations, and the brain centers used for recording such sensations grow.
As the sensations multiply, he compares them, and an idea is born. For the beginnings of mental development no other mechanism is actually needed than a brain and a hand and the nerves connecting them. Laura Bridgeman and Helen Keller, both of them deaf and blind, received their education almost entirely through their hands, and yet they were unusually capable of thinking. The child's hands, then, from the beginning, are the servants of his brain-instruments by means of which he carries impressions from the outer world to the seat of consciousness, and by which in turn he imprints his consciousness upon the outer world.
[Sidenote: Intentional Grasping]
The average baby does not begin to grasp objects with intention before the fourth month. The first grasping seems to be done by feeling, without the aid of the eye, and is done with the fingers with no attempt to oppose the thumb to them. So closely does the use of the thumbs set opposite the fingers in grasping coincide with the first grasping with the aid of sight, that some observers have been led to believe that as soon as the baby learns to use its thumb in this way he proves that he is beginning to grasp with intention.
[Sidenote: Order of Development]
The order of development seems to be, first, automatism, the muscles contracting of themselves in response to nervous stimuli; second, instinct, the inherited wisdom of the race, which discovered ages ago that the hand could be used to greater advantage when the thumb was separated from the fingers; and thirdly, the child's own intelligence and will making use of this natural and inherited machinery. This order holds true of the development, not only of the hand, but of the whole organism.
A little earlier than this, during the third month, the baby first looks upon his own hands and notices them. Darwin tells us that his boy looked at his own hands and seemed to study them until his eyes crossed. About the same then the child notices his foot and uses his hand to carry it to its mouth. It is some time later that he discovers that he can move his feet without his hands.
About this time, three or four months old, the child begins to tear paper into pieces, and may be easily taught to let the piece, that have found their way into his mouth be taken out again. Now, too, he begins to throw things, or to drop them; then he wants to get them back again, and the patient mother must pick them up and give them back many times. Sometimes a baby is punished for this proclivity, but it is really a part of his development, and at least once a day he should be allowed to play in this manner to his heart's content. It is tact, not discipline, that is needed, and the more he is helped the sooner he will live through this stage and come to the next point where he begins to throw things.
In this stage, of course, he must be given the proper things to throw—small, bright-colored worsted balls, bean-bags, and other harmless objects. If he is allowed to discover the pleasure there is in smashing glass and china, he will certainly be, for a time, a very destructive little person. When later he is able to creep throw his ball and creep after it—he will amuse himself for hours at a time, and so relieve those who have patiently attended him up to this time. In general we may lay down the rule, that the more time and attention of the right sort is to a young child, the less will need to be given as he grows older. It is poor economy to neglect a young child, and try to make it up on the growing boy or girl. This is to substitute a complicated and difficult problem for a simple one.
[Sidenote: The Grasping Instinct]
It is some time before a child's will can so overcome his newly-acquired tendency to grasp every possible object that he can keep his hand off of anything that invites him. The many battles between mothers and children it the subject of not touching forbidden things are at this stage a genuine wrong and injustice to the child. So young a child is scarcely more responsible for touching whatever he can reach that is a piece of steel for being drawn toward a powerful magnet. Preyer says that it is years before voluntary inhibitions of grasping become possible. The child has not the necessary brain machinery. Commands and sparring of the hands create bewilderment and tend to build up a barrier between mother and child. Instead of doing such thing, simply put high out of reach and sight whatever the child must not touch.
Another way in which young children are often made to suffer because of the ignorance of parents is the leaving of undesired food on the child's plate. Every child, when he does not want his food, pushes the plate away from him, and many mothers push it back and scold. The real truth is that the motor suggestion of the food upon the plate is so strong that the child feels as if he were being forced to eat it every time he looks at the plate; to escape from eating it he is obliged to push it out of sight.
[Sidenote: The Three Months' Baby]
But this difficulty comes later. Now we are concerned with a three-months-old baby. At this stage the child is usually able to balance his head, to sit up against pillows, to seize and grasp objects, and to hold out his arm, when he wishes to be taken. Although he may have made number of efforts to sit erect, and may have succeeded for a few minutes at a time, he still is far from being able to sit alone, unsupported. This he does not accomplish until the fifth or the month.
[Sidenote: Danger of Forcing]
There is nothing to be gained by trying to make him sit alone sooner; indeed, there is danger in it—danger in forcing young bones and muscles to do work beyond their strength, and danger also to the nerves. It is safe to say that a normal child always exercises all its faculties to the utmost without need of urging, and any exercise beyond the point of natural fatigue, if persisted in, is sure to bring about abnormal results.
The first efforts toward creeping often appear in the bath when the child turns over and raise, himself upon his hands and knees. This is sign that he might creep sooner, if he were not impeded by clothing. He should be allowed to spread himself upon a blanket every day for an hour or two, and to get on his knees as frequently as he pleases. Often he needs a little help to make him creep forward, for most babies creep backward at first, their arms being stronger than their legs. Here the mother may safely interfere, pushing the legs as they ought to go and showing the child how to manage himself; for very often he becomes much excited over his inability to creep forward.
The climbing instinct begins to appear by this time—the seventh month—and here the stair-case has its great advantages. It ought not to be shut from him by a gate, but he should be taught how to climb up and down it in safety. To do this, start him at the head of the stairs, and, you yourself being below him, draw first one knee and then the other over the step, thus showing him how to creep backward. Two lessons of about twenty minutes each will be sufficient. The only danger is creeping down head foremost, but if he once learns thoroughly to go backward, and has not been allowed the other way at all, he will never dream of trying it. In going down backward, if he should slip, he can easily save himself by catching the stairs with his hands as he slips past.
The child who creeps is often later in his attempts to walk than the child who does not; and, therefore, when he is ready to walk, his legs will be all the stronger, and the danger of bow-legs will be past. As long as the child remains satisfied with creeping, he is not yet ready either mentally or physically for walking.
If the child has been allowed to creep about freely, he will soon be standing. He will pull himself to his feet by means of any chair, table, or indeed anything that he may get hold of. To avoid injuring him, no flimsy chairs or spindle-legged tables should be allowed in his nursery. He will next begin to sidle around a chair, shuffling his feet in a vague fashion, and sometimes, needing both of his hands to seize some coveted object, he will stand without clinging, leaning on his stomach. An unhurried child may remain at this stage for weeks.
Let alone, as he should be, he will walk without knowing how he does it, and will be the stronger for having overcome his difficulties himself. He should not be coaxed to stand or walk. The things in his room actually urge him to come and get them. Any further persuasion is forced, and may urge him beyond his strength.
Walking-chairs and baby-jumpers are injurious in this respect. They keep the child from his native freedom of sprawling, climbing, and pulling himself up. The activity they do permit is less varied and helpful than the normal activity, and the child, restricted from the preparatory motions, begins to walk too soon.
[Sidenote: Alternate Growth]
A curious fact in the growth of children is that they seem to grow heavier for a certain period, and then to grow taller for a similar period. That is, a very young baby, say, two months old, will grow fatter for about six weeks, and then for the next six weeks will grow longer, while the child of six years changes his manner of growth every three or four months. These periods are variable, or at least their law has not yet been established, but the observant mother can soon make the period out for herself in the case of her own child. For two or three days, when the manner of growth seems to be changing from breadth to length, and vice versa, the children are likely to be unusually nervous and irritable, and these aberrations must, of course, be patiently borne with.
[Sidenote: Early Ripening]
In all these things some children develop earlier than others, but too early development is to be regretted. Precocious children are always of a delicate nervous organization. Fiske[D] has proved to us that the reason why the human young is so far more helpless and dependent than the young of any other species is because the activities of the human race have become so many, so widely varied, and so complex, that they could not fix themselves in the nervous structure before birth. There a only a few things that the chick needs to know in order to lead a successful chicken life; as a consequence these few things are well impressed upon the small brain before ever he chips the shell; but the baby needs to learn a great many things—so many that there is no time or room to implant them before birth, or indeed, in the few years immediately succeeding birth. To hurry the development, therefore, of certain few of these faculties, like the faculties of talking, and walking, of imitation or response, is to crowd out many other faculties perhaps just beginning to grow. Such forcing will limit the child's future development to the few faculties whose growth is thus early stimulated. Precocity in a child, therefore, is a thing to be deplored. His early ripening foretells a early decay and a wise mother is she who gives her child ample opportunity for growing, but no urging.
[Sidenote: Ample Opporunity for Growth]
Ample opportunity for growth includes (1) Wholesome surroundings, (2) Sufficient sleep, (3) Proper clothing, (4) Nourishing food. We will take up these topics in order.
[Footnote A: W. Preyer. Professor of Physiology, of Jena, author of "The Mind of the Child." D. Appleton & Co.]
[Footnote B: Dr. Robinson. Physician and Evolutionist, paper in The Eclectic, Vol. 29.]
[Footnote C: Miss Millicent Shinn, American Psychologist, author of "Biography of a Baby."]
[Footnote D: John Fiske, writer on Evolutionary Philosophy. His theory of infancy is perhaps his most important contribution to science.]
The whole house in which the child lives ought to be well warmed and equally well aired. Sunlight also is necessary to his well-being. If it is impossible to have this in every room, as sometimes happens in city homes, at least the nursery must have it. In the central States of the Union plants and trees exposed to the southern sun put forth their leaves two weeks sooner than those exposed to the north. The infant cannot fail to profit by the same condition, for the young child may be said to lead in part a vegetative as well as an animal life, and to need air and sunshine and warmth as much as plants do. The very best room in the house is not too good for the nursery, for in no other room is such important and delicate work being done.
The temperature is a matter of importance. It should not be decided by guess-work, but a thermometer should be hung upon a wall at a place equally removed from draft and from the source of heat. The temperature for children during the first year should be about 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and not lower than 50 degrees at night. Children who sleep with the mother will not be injured by a temperature 5 to 20 degrees lower at night.
[Sidenote: Fresh Air]
It is important to provide means for the ingress of fresh air. It is not sufficient to air the room from another room unless that other room has in it an open window. Even then the nursery windows should be opened wide from fifteen minutes to half an hour night and morning, while the child is in another room; and this even when the weather is at zero or below. It does not take long to warm up room that has been aired. Perhaps the best means of obtaining the ingress of fresh air without creating a draft upon the floor, where the baby spends so much of his time, is to raise the window six inches at the top or bottom and insert a board cut to fit the aperture.
[Sidenote: Daily Outing]
But no matter how well ventilated the nursery may be, all children more than six weeks old need unmodified outside air, and need it every day, no matter what the weather, unless they are sick.
The daily outing secures them better appetites, quiet sleep, and calmer nerves. Let them be properly clothed and protected in their carriages, and all weathers are good for them.
Children who take their naps in their baby-carriages may with advantage be wheeled into a sheltered spot, covered warmly, and left to sleep in the outer air. They are likely to sleep longer than in the house, and find more refreshment in their sleep.
Few children in America get as much sleep as they really need. Preyer gives the record of his own child, and the hours which this child found necessary for his sleep and growth may be taken for a standard. In the first month, sixteen, in full, out of twenty-four hours were spent in sleep. The sleep rarely lasted beyond two hours at a time. In the second month about the same amount was spent in sleep, which lasted from three to six hours at a time. In the sixth month, it lasted from six to eight hours at a time, and began to diminish to fifteen hours in the twenty-four. In the thirteenth month, fourteen hours' sleep daily; it the seventeenth, prolonged sleep began, ten hours without interruption; in the twentieth, prolonged sleep became habitual, and sleep in the day-time was reduced to two hours. In the third year, the night sleep lasted regularly from eleven to twelve hours, and sleep in the daytime was no longer required.
Preyer's record stops here. But it may be added that children from three to eight years still require eleven hours' sleep; and, although the child of three nay not need a daily nap, it is well for him, until he is six years old, to lie still for an hour in the middle of the day, amusing himself with a picture book or paper and pencil, but not played with or talked to by any other person. Such a rest in the middle of the day favors the relaxation of muscles and nerves and breaks the strain of a long day of intense activity.
Proper clothing for a child includes three things: (a) Equal distribution of warmth, (b) Freedom from restraint, (c) Light weight.
Equal distribution of warmth is of great importance, and is seldom attained. The ordinary dress for a young baby, for example, leaves the arms and the upper part of the chest unprotected by more than one thickness of flannel and one of cotton—the shirt and the dress. About the child's middle, on the contrary, there are two thicknesses of flannel—a shirt and band—and five of cotton, i.e., the double bands of the white and flannel petticoats, and the dress. Over the legs, again, are two thicknesses of flannel and two of cotton, i.e., the pinning blanket, flannel skirt, white skirt, and dress. The child in a comfortably warm house needs two thicknesses of flannel and one of cotton all over it, and no more.
[Sidenote: The Gertrude Suit]
The practice of putting extra wrappings about the abdomen is responsible for undue tenderness of those organs. Dr. Grosvenor, of Chicago, who designed a model costume for a baby, which he called the Gertrude suit, says that many cases of rupture are due to bandaging of the abdomen. When the child cries the abdominal walls normally expand; if they are tightly bound, they cannot do this, and the pressure upon one single part, which the bandages may not hold quite firmly, becomes overwhelming, and results in rupture. Dr. Grosvenor also thinks that many cases of weak lungs, and even of consumption in later life, are due to the tight bands of the skirts pressing upon the soft ribs of the young child, and narrowing the lung space.
[Sidenote: Objection to the Pinning Blanket]
Freedom from restraint.. Not only should the clothes not bind the child's body in any way, but they should not be so long as to prevent free exercise of the legs. The pinning-blanket is objectionable on this account. It is difficult for the child to kick in it; and as we have seen before, kicking is necessary to the proper development of the legs. Undue length of skirt operates in the same way—the weight of cloth is a check upon activity. The first garment of a young baby should not be more than a yard in length from the neck to the bottom of the hem, and three-quarters of a yard is enough for the inner garment.
The sleeves, too, should be large and loose, and the arm-size should be roomy, so as to prevent chafing. The sleeves may be tied in at the wrist with a ribbon to insure warmth.
Lightness of weight. The underclothing should be made of pure wool, so as to gain the greatest amount of warmth from the least weight. In the few cases where wool would cause irritation, a silk and wool fixture makes a softer but more expensive garment. Under the best conditions, clothes restrict and impede free development somewhat, and the heavier they are the more they impede it. Therefore, the effort should be to get the greatest amount of warmth with the least possible weight. Knit garments attain this most perfectly, but the next best thing is all-wool flannel of a fine grade. The weave known as stockinet is best of all, because goods thus made cling to the body and yet restrict its activity very little.
The best garments for a baby are made according to the accompanying diagram.
[Sidenote: Princess Garment]
They consist of three garments, to be worn one over the other, each one an inch longer in every way than the underlying one. The first is a princess garment, made of white stockinet, which takes the place of shirt, pinning-blanket, and band. Before cutting this out, a box-pleat an inch and a half wide should be laid down the middle of the front, and a side pleat three-fourths of an inch wide on either side of the placket in the back. The sleeve should have a tuck an inch wide. These tucks and pleats are better run in be hand, so that they may be easily ripped. As the baby grows and the flannel shrinks, these tucks and pleats can be let out.
The next garment, which goes over this, is made in the same way, only an inch larger in every measurement. It is made of baby flannel, and takes the place of the flannel petticoat with its cotton band. Over these two garments any ordinary dress may be worn. Dressed in this suit, the child is evenly covered with too thicknesses of flannel and one of cotton. As the skirts are rather short, however, and he is expected to move his legs about freely, he may well wear long white wool stockings.
As the child grows older, the principles underlying this method of clothing should be borne in mind, and clothes should be designed and adapted so as to meet these three requirements.
[Sidenote: Natural Food]
[Sidenote: Bottle-fed Babies]
The natural food of a young baby is his mother's milk, and no satisfactory substitute for it has yet been found. Some manufactured baby foods do well for certain children; to others they are almost poison; and for none of them are they sufficient. The milk of the cow is not designed for the human infant. It contains too much casein, and is too difficult of digestion. Various preparations of milk and grains are recommended by nurses and physicians, but no conscientious nurse or physician pretends that any of them begins to equal the nutritive value of human milk. More women can nurse their babies than now think they can; the advertisements of patent foods lead them to think the rather of little importance, and they do not make the necessary effort to preserve and increase the natural supply of milk. The family physician can almost always better the condition of the mother who really desires to nurse her own child, and he should be consulted and his directions obeyed. The importance of a really great effort to this direction is shown by the fact that the physical culture records, now so carefully kept in many of our schools and colleges, prove that bottle-fed babies are more likely to be of small stature, and to have deficient bones, teeth and hair, than children who have been fed on mother's milk.
[Sidenote: Simple Diet]
The food question is undoubtedly the most important problem to the physical welfare of the child, and has, as well, a most profound effect upon his disposition and character. Indiscriminate feeding is the cause of much of the trouble and worry of mothers. This subject is taken up at length in other papers of this course, and it will suffice to say here that the table of the family with young children should be regulated largely by the needs of the growing sons and daughters. The simplified diet necessary may well be of benefit to other members of the family.
FAULTS AND THEIR REMEDIES.
The child born of perfect parents, brought up perfectly, in a perfect environment, would probably have no faults. Even such a child, however, would be at times inconvenient, and would do and say things at variance with the order of the adult world. Therefore he might seem to a hasty, prejudiced observer to be naughty. And, indeed, imperfectly born, imperfectly trained as children now are, many of their so-called faults are no more than such inconvenient crossings of an immature will with an adult will.
[Sidenote: The Child's World and the Adult's World]
No grown person, for instance, likes to be interrupted, and is likely to regard the child who interrupts him wilfully naughty. No young child, on the contrary, objects to being interrupted in his speech, though he may object to being interrupted in his play; and he cannot understand why an adult should set so much store on the quiet listening which is so infrequent in his own experience. Grown persons object to noise; children delight in it. Grown persons like to have things kept in their places; to a child, one place as good as another. Grown persons have a prejudice in favor of cleanliness; children like to swim, but hate to wash, and have no objections whatever to grimy hands and faces. None of these things imply the least degree of obliquity on the child's part; and yet it is safe to say that nine-tenths of the children who are punished are punished for some of these things. The remedy for these inconveniences is time and patience. The child, if left to himself, without a word of admonishment, would probably change his conduct in these respects, merely by the force of imitation, provided that the adults around him set him, a persistent example of courtesy, gentleness, and cleanliness.
[Sidenote: Real Faults]
The faults that are real faults, as Richter[A] says, are those faults which increase with age. These it is that need attention rather than those that disappear of themselves as the child grows older. This rule ought to be put in large letters, that every one who has to train children may be daily reminded by it; and not exercise his soul and spend his force in trying to overcome little things which may perhaps be objectionable, but which will vanish to-morrow. Concentrate your energies on the overcoming of such tendencies as may in time develop into permanent evils.
[Sidenote: Training the Will]
To accomplish this, you most, of course, train the child's own will, because no one can force another person into virtue against his will. The chief object of all training is, as we shall see in the next section, to lead the child to love righteousness, to prefer right doing to wrong doing; to make right doing a permanent desire. Therefore, in all the procedures about to be suggested, an effort is made to convince the child of the ugliness and painfulness of wrong doing.
[Sidenote: Natural Punishment]
Punishment, as Herbert Spencer[B] agrees with Froebel[C] in pointing out, should be as nearly as possible a representation of the natural result of the child's action; that is, the fault should be made to punish itself as much as possible without the interference of any outside person; for the object is not to make the child bend his will to the will of another, but make him see the fault itself as an undesirable thing.
[Sidenote: Breaking the Will]
The effort to break the child's will has long been recognized as disastrous by all educators. A broken will is worse misfortune than a broken back. In the latter case the man is physically crippled; in the former, he is morally crippled. It is only a strong, unbroken, persistent will that is adequate to achieve self-mastery, and mastery of the difficulties of life. The child who is too yielding and obedient in his early days is only too likely to be weak and incompetent in his later days. The habit of submission to a more mature judgment is a bad habit to insist upon. The child should be encouraged to think out things for himself; to experiment and discover for himself why his ideas do not work; and to refuse to give them up until he is genuinely convinced of their impracticability.
It is true that there are emergencies in which his immature judgment and undisciplined will must yield to wiser judgment and steadier will; but such yielding should not be suffered to become habitual. It is a safety valve merely, to be employed only when the pressure of circumstances threatens to become dangerous. An engine whose safety valve should be always in operation could never generate much power. Nor is there much difficulty in leading even a very strong-willed and obstinate child to give up his own way under extraordinary circumstances. If he is not in the habit of setting up his own will against that of his mother or teacher, he will not set it up when the quick, unfamiliar word of command seems to fit in the with the unusual circumstances. Many parents practice crying "Wolf! wolf!" to their children, and call the practice a drill of self-control; but they meet inevitably with the familiar consequences: when the real wolf comes the hackneyed cry, often proved false, is disregarded.
When the will is rightly trained, disobedience is a fault that rarely appears, because, of course, where obedience is seldom required, it is seldom refused. The child needs to obey—that is true; but so does his mother need to obey, and all other persons about him. They all need to obey God, to obey the laws of nature, the impulses of kindness, and to follow after the ways of wisdom. Where such obedience is a settled habit of the entire household, it easily, and, as it were, unconsciously, becomes the habit of the child. Where such obedience is not the habit of the household, it is only with great difficulty that it can become the habit of the child. His will must set itself against its instinct of imitativeness, and his small house, not yet quite built, must be divided against itself. Probably no cold even rendered entire obedience to any adult who did not himself hold his own wishes in subjection. As Emerson says, "In dealing with my child, my Latin and my Greek, my accomplishments and my money, stead me nothing, but as much soul as I have avails. If I a willful, he sets his will against mine, one for one, and leaves me, if I please, the degradation of beating him by my superiority of strength. But, if I renounce my will and act for the soul, setting that up as an umpire between us two, out of his young eyes looks the same soul; he reveres and loves with me."
[Sidenote: Negative Goodness]
Suppose the child to be brought to such a stage that he is willing to do anything his father or mother says; suppose, even, that they never tell him to do anything that he does not afterwards discover to be reasonable and just; still, what has he gained? For twenty years he has not had the responsibility for a single action, for a single decision, right or wrong. What is permitted is right to him; what is forbidden is wrong. When he goes out into the world without his parents, what will happen? At the best he will not lie, or steal, or commit murder. That is, he will do none of these things in their bald and simple form.
But in their beginnings these are hidden under a mask of virtue and he has never been trained to look beneath that mask; as happened to Richard Feveril,[D] sin may spring upon him unaware. Some one else, all his life, has labeled things for him; he is not in the habit of judging for himself. He is blind, deaf, and helpless—a plaything of circumstances. It is a chance whether he falls into sin or remains blameless.
[Sidenote: Real Disobedience]
Disobedience, then, in a true sense, does not mean failure to do as he is told to do. It means failure to do the things that he knows to be right. He must be taught to listen and obey the voice of his own conscience; and if that voice should ever speak, as it sometimes does, differently from the voice of the conscience of his parents or teachers, its dictates must still be respected by these older and wiser persons, and he must be permitted to do this thing which in itself may be foolish, but which is not foolish, to him.
And, on the other hand, the child who will have his own way even when he knows it to be wrong should be allowed to have it within reasonable limits. Richter says, leave to him the sorry victory, only exercising sufficient ingenuity to make sure that it is a sorry one. What he must be taught is that it is not at all a pleasure to have his own way, unless his own way happens to be right; and this he can only be taught by having his own way when the results are plainly disastrous. Every time that a willful child does what he wants to do, and suffers sharply for it, he learns a lesson that nothing but this experience can teach him.
But his suffering must be plainly seen to be the result of his deed, and not the result of his mother's anger. For example, a very young child who is determined to play with fire may be allowed to touch the hot lamp or a stove, whenever affairs can be so arranged that he is not likely to burn himself too severely. One such lesson is worth all the hand-spattings and cries of "No, no!" ever resorted to by anxious parents. If he pulls down the blocks that you have built up for him, they should stay down, while you get out of the room, if possible, in order to evade all responsibility for that unpleasant result.
Prohibitions are almost useless. In order to convince yourself of this, get some one to command you not to move your right arm or to wink your eye. You will find it almost impossible to obey for even a few moments. The desire to move your arm, which was not at all conscious before, will become overpowering. The prohibition acts like a suggestion, and is an implication that you would do the negative act unless you were commanded not to. Miss Alcott, in "Little Men," well illustrates this fact in the story of the children who were told not to put beans up their noses and who straightway filled their noses with beans.
[Sidenote: Positive Commands]
As we shall see in the next section, Froebel meets this difficulty by substituting positive commands for prohibitions; that is, he tells the child to do instead of telling him not to do. Tiedemann[E] says that example is the first great evolutionary teacher, and liberty is the second. In the overcoming of disobedience, no other teachers are needed. The method may be tedious; it may be many years before the erratic will is finally led to work in orderly channels; but there is no possibility of abridging the process. There is no short and sudden cure for disobedience, and the only hope for final cure is the steady working of these two great forces, example and liberty.
To illustrate the principles already indicated, we will consider some specific problems together with suggestive treatment for each.
[Footnote A: Jean Paul Richter, "Der einsige." German writer and philosopher. His rather whimsical and fragmentary book on education, called "Levana," contains some rare scraps of wisdom much used by later writers on educational topics.]
[Footnote B: Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher and Scientist. His book on "Education" is sound and practical.]
[Footnote C: Freidrich Froebel, German Philosopher and Educator, founder of the Kindergarten system, and inaugurator of the new education. His two great books are "The Education of Man" and "The Mother Play."]
[Footnote D: "The Ordeal of Richard Feveril," by George Meredith.]
[Footnote E: Tiedemann, German Psychologist.]
This, as well as irritability and nervousness, very often springs from a wrong physical condition. The digestion may be bad, or the child may be overstimulated. He may not be sleeping enough, or may not get enough outdoor air and exercise. In some cases the fault appears because the child lacks the discipline of young companionship. Even the most exemplary adult cannot make up to the child for the influence of other children. He perceives the difference between himself and these giants about him, and the perception sometimes makes him furious. His struggling individuality finds it difficult to maintain itself under the pressure of so many stronger personalities. He makes, therefore, spasmodic and violent attempts of self-assertion, and these attempts go under the name of fits of temper.
The child who is not ordinarily strong enough to assert himself effectively will work himself up into a passion in order to gain strength, much as men sometimes stimulate their courage by liquor. In fact, passion is a sort of moral intoxication.
[Sidenote: Remedy—Solitude and Quiet]
But whether the fits of passion are physical or moral, the immediate remedy is the same—his environment must be promptly changed and his audience removed. He needs solitude and quiet. This does not mean shutting him into a closet, but leaving him alone in a quiet room, with plenty of pleasant things about. This gives an opportunity for the disturbed organism to right itself, and for the will to recover its normal tone. Some occupation should be at hand—blocks or other toys, if he is too young to read; a good book or two, such as Miss Alcott's "Little Men" and "Little Women," when he is old enough to read.
If he is destructive in his passion, he must be put in a room where there are very few breakables to tempt him. If he does break anything he must be required to help mend it again. To shout a threat to this effect through the door when the storm of temper is still on, is only to goad him into fresh acts of rebellion. Let him alone while he is in this temporarily insane state, and later, when he is sorry and wants to be good, help him to repair the mischief he has wrought. It is as foolish to argue with or to threaten the child in this state as it would be were he a patient in a lunatic asylum.
It is sometimes impossible to get an older child to go into retreat. Then, since he cannot be carried, and he is not open to remonstrance or commands, go out of the room yourself and leave him alone there. At any cost, loneliness and quiet must be brought to bear upon him.
Such outbursts are exceedingly exhausting, using up in a few minutes as much energy as would suffice for many days of ordinary activity. After the attack the child needs rest, even sleep, and usually seeks it himself. The desire should be encouraged.
[Sidenote: Precautions to be Taken]
Every reasonable precaution should be taken against the recurrence of the attacks, for every lapse into this excited state makes him more certain the next lapse and weakens the nervous control. This does not mean that you should give up any necessary or right regulations for fear of the child's temper. If the child sees that you do this, he will on occasion deliberately work himself up into a passion in order to get his own way. But while you do not relax any just regulations, you may safely help him to meet them. Give him warning. For instance, do not spring any disagreeable commands upon him. Have his duties as systematized as possible so that he may know what to expect; and do not under any circumstances nag him nor allow other children to tease him.
This fault likewise often has a physical cause, seated very frequently in the liver. See that the child's food is not too heavy. Give him much fruit, and insist upon vigorous exercise out of doors. Or he may perhaps not have enough childish pleasures. For while most children are overstimulated, there still remain some children whose lives are unduly colorless and eventless. A sullen child is below the normal level of responsiveness. He needs to be roused, wakened, lifted out of himself, and made to take an active interest in other persons and in the outside world.
[Sidenote: Inheritance and Example]
In many cases sullenness is an inherited disposition intensified by example. It is unchildlike and morbid to an unusual degree and very difficult to cure. The mother of a sullen child may well look to her own conduct and examine with a searching eye the peculiarities of her own family and of her husband's. She may then find the cause of the evil, and by removing the child from the bad example and seeing to it that every day contains a number of childish pleasures, she may win him away from a fault that will otherwise cloud his whole life.
All lies are not bad, nor all liars immoral. A young child who cannot yet understand the obligations of truthfulness cannot be held morally accountable for his departure from truth. Lying is of three kinds.
(1.) The imaginative lie. (2.) The evasive lie. (3.) The politic lie.
[Sidenote: Imaginative "Lying"]
(1.) It is rather hard to call the imaginative lie a lie at all. It is so closely related to the creative instinct which makes the poet and novelist and which, common among the peasantry of a nation, is responsible for folk-lore and mythology, that it is rather an intellectual activity misdirected than a moral obliquity. Very imaginative children often do not know the difference between what they imagine and what they actually see. Their minds eye sees as vividly as their bodily eye; and therefore they even believe their own statements. Every attempt at contradiction only brings about a fresh assertion of the impossible, which to the child becomes more and more certain as he hears himself affirming its existence.
Punishment is of no use at all in the attempt to regulate this exuberance. The child's large statements should be smiled at and passed over. In the meantime, he should be encouraged in every possible way to get a firm, grasp of the actual world about him. Manual training, if it can be obtained, is of the greatest advantage, and for a very young child, the performance every day of some little act, which demands accuracy and close attention, is necessary. For the rest, wait; this is one of the faults that disappear with age.
[Sidenote: The Lie of Evasion]
(2.) The lie of evasion is a form of lying which seldom appears when the relations between child and parents are absolutely friendly and open. However, the child who is very desirous of approval may find it difficult to own up to a fault, even when he is certain that the consequence of his offense will not be at all terrible. This is the more difficult, because the more subtle condition. It is obvious that the child who lies merely to avoid punishment can be cured of that fault by removing from him the fear of punishment. To this end, he should be informed that there will be no punishment whatever for any fault that he freely confesses. For the chief object of punishment being to make him face his own fault and to see it as something ugly and disagreeable, that object is obviously accomplished by a free and open confession, and no further punishment is required.
But when the child in spite of such reassurance still continues to lie, both because he cannot bear to have you think him capable of wrong-doing, and because he is not willing to acknowledge to himself that he is capable of wrong-doing, the situation becomes more complex. All you can do is to urge upon him the superior beauty of frankness; to praise him and love him, especially when he does acknowledge a fault, thus leading him to see that the way to win your approval—that approval which he desires so intensely—is to face his own shortcomings with a steady eye and confess them to you unshrinkingly.
[Sidenote: The Politic Lie]
(3.) The politic lie is of course the worst form of lying, partly because it is so unchildlike. This is the kind of fault that will grow with age; and grow with such rapidity that the mother must set herself against it with all the force at her command. The child who lies for policy's sake, in order to achieve some end which is most easily achieved by lying, is a child led into wrong-doing by his ardent desire to get something or do something. Discover what this something is, and help him to get it by more legitimate means. If you point out the straight path, and show the goal well in view, at the end of it, he may be persuaded not to take the crooked path.
[Sidenote: Inherited Crookedness]
But there are occasionally natures that delight in crookedness and that even in early childhood. They would rather go about getting their heart's desire in some crooked, intricate, underhanded way than by the direct route. Such a fault is almost certain to be an inherited one; and here again, a close study of the child's relatives will often help the mother to make a good diagnosis, and even suggest to her the line of treatment.
[Sidenote: Extreme Cases]
In an extreme case, the family may unite in disbelieving the child who lies, not merely disbelieving him, when he is lying, but disbelieving him all the time, no matter what he says. He must be made to see, and, that without room for any further doubt, that the crooked paths that he loves do not lead to the goal his heart desires, but away from it. His words, not being true to the facts, have lost their value, and no one around him listens to them. He is, as it were, rendered speechless, and his favorite means of getting his own way is thus made utterly valueless. Such a remedy is in truth a terrible one. While it is being administered, the child suffers to the limit of his endurance; and it is only justified in an extreme case, and after the failure of all gentler means.
[Sidenote: Justice and Love]
Too often this deadly evil is encouraged in infancy, instead of being promptly uprooted as it ought to be. It is very amusing, if one does not consider the consequences, to sec a little child slap and push away the father or the older brother, who attempts to kiss the mother; but this is another fault that grows with years, and a fault so deadly that once firmly rooted it can utterly destroy the beauty and happiness of an otherwise lovely nature. The first step toward overcoming it must be to make the reign of strict justice in the home so obvious as to remove all excuse for the evil. The second step is to encourage the child's love for those very persons of whom he is most likely to be jealous. If he is jealous of the baby, give him special care of the baby. Jealousy indicates a temperament overbalanced emotionally; therefore, put your force upon the upbuilding of the child's intellect. Give him responsibilities, make him think out things for himself. Call upon him to assist in the family conclaves. In every way cultivate his power of judgment. The whole object of the treatment should be to strengthen his intellect and to accustom his emotions to find outlet in wholesome, helpful activity.
One wise mother made it a rule to pet the next to the baby. The baby, she said, was bound to be petted a good deal because of its helplessness and sweetness, therefore she made a conscious effort to pet the next to the youngest, the one who had just been crowded out of the warm nest of mother's lap by the advent of the newcomer. Such a rule would go far to prevent the beginnings of jealousy.
This is a fault to which strong-willed children are especially liable. The first exercise of will-power after it has passed the stage of taking possession of the child's own organism usually brings him into conflict with those about him. To succeed in getting hold of a thing against the wish of someone else, and to hold on to it when someone else wants it, is to win a victory. The coveted object becomes dear, not so much for its own sake, as because it is a trophy. Such a child knows not the joy of sharing; he knows only the joys of wresting victory against odds. This is indeed an evil that grows with the years. The child who holds onto his apple, his Candy, or toy, fights tooth and nail everyone who wants to take it from him, and resists all coaxing, is liable to become a hard, sordid, grasping man, who stops at no obstacle to accomplish his purpose.
Yet in the beginning, this fault often hides itself and escapes attention. The selfish child may be quiet, clean, and under ordinary circumstances, obedient. He may not even be quarrelsome; and may therefore come under a much less degree of discipline than his obstreperous, impulsive, rebellious little brother. Yet, in reality, his condition calls for much more careful attention than does the condition of the younger brother.
[Sidenote: The Only Child]
However, the child who has no brother at all, either older or younger, nor any sister, is almost invited by the fact of his isolation to fall into this sin. Only children may be—indeed, often are—precocious, bright, capable, and well-mannered, but they are seldom spontaneously generous. Their own small selves occupy an undue proportion of the family horizon, and therefore of their own.
[Sidenote: Kindergarten a Remedy]
This is where the Kindergarten has its great value. In the true Kindergarten the children live under a dispensation of loving justice, and selfishness betrays itself instantly there, because it is alien to the whole spirit of the place. Showing itself, it is promptly condemned, and the child stands convicted by the only tribunal whose verdict really moves him—a jury of his peers. Normal children hate selfishness and condemn it, and the selfish child himself, following the strong, childish impulse of imitation, learns to hate his own fault; and so quick is the forgiveness of children that he needs only to begin to repent before the circle of his mates receives him again.
This is one reason why the Kindergarten takes children at such an early age. Aiming, as it does, to lay the foundations for right thinking and feeling, it must begin before wrong foundations are too deeply laid. Its gentle, searching methods straighten the strong will that is growing crooked, and strengthen the enfeebled one.
[Sidenote: Intimate Association a Help]
But if the selfish child is too old for the Kindergarten, he should belong to a club. Consistent selfishness will not long be tolerated here. The tacit or outspoken rebuke of his mates has many times the force of a domestic rebuke; because thereby he sees himself, at least for a time, as his comrades see him, and never thereafter entirely loses his suspicion that they may be right. Their individual judgment he may defy, but their collective judgment has in it an almost magical power, and convinces him in spite of himself.
[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.
[Sidenote: Abnormal Laziness]
However, there is a degree of laziness difficult of definition which is abnormal; the child fails to perform any work with regularity, and falls behind both at school and at home. This may be the result of (1) poor assimilation, (2) of anaemia, or it may be (3) the first symptom of some disease.
(1.) Poor assimilation may show itself either by (a) thinness and lack of appetite; (b) fat and abnormal appetite; (c) retarded growth; or (d) irregular and poorly made teeth and weak bones.
(2.) Anaemia betrays itself most characteristically by the color of the lips and gums. These, instead of being red, are a pale yellowish pink, and the whole complexion has a sort of waxy pallor. In extreme cases this pallor even becomes greenish. As the disease is accompanied with little pain, and few if any marked symptoms, beyond sleepiness and weakness, it often exists for some time without being suspected by the parents.
(3.) The advent of many other diseases is announced by a languid indifference to surroundings, and a slow response to the customary stimuli. The child's brain seems clouded, and a light form of torpor invades the whole body. The child, who is usually active and interested in things about him, but who loses his activity and becomes dull and irresponsive, should be carefully watched. It may be that he is merely changing his form of growth—i.e., is beginning to grow tall after completion of his period of laying on flesh, or vice versa. Or he may be entering upon the period of adolescence. But if it is neither of these things, a physician should be consulted.
A milder degree of laziness may be induced by a too monotonous round of duties. Try changing them. Make them as attractive as possible. For, of course, you do not require him to perform these duties for your sake, whatever you allow him to suppose about it, but chiefly for the sake of their influence on his character. Therefore, if the influence of any work is bad, you will change it, although the new work may not be nearly so much what you prefer to have him do. Whatever the work is, if it is only emptying waste-baskets, don't nag him, merely expect him to do it, and expect it steadily.
In their earlier years all children love to help mother. They like any piece of real work even better than play. If this love of activity was properly encouraged, if the mother permitted the child to help, even when he succeeded only in hindering, he might well become one those fortunate persons who love to work. This is the real time for preventing laziness. But if this early period has been missed, the next best thing is to take advantage of every spontaneous interest as it arises; to hitch the impulse, as it were, to some task that must be steadily performed. For example, if the child wants to play with tools, help him to make a small water-wheel, or any other interesting contrivance, and keep him at it by various devices until he has brought it to a fair degree of completion Your aim is to stretch his will each time he attempts to do something a little further than it tends to go of itself; to let him work a little past his first impulse, so that he may learn by degrees to work when work is needed, and not only when he feels like it.
[Sidenote: Neatness Not Natural]
Essentially a fault of immaturity as this is, we must beware how we measure it by a too severe adult standard. It is not natural for any young creature to take an interest in cleanliness. Even the young animals are cared for in this respect by their parents; the cow licks her calf; the cat, her kittens; and neither calf nor kittens seem to take much interest in the process. The conscious love of cleanliness and order grows with years, and seems to be largely a matter of custom. The child who has always lived in decent surroundings by-and-by finds them necessary to his comfort, and is willing to make a degree of effort to secure them. On the contrary, the street boy who sleeps in his clothes, does not know what it is to desire a well-made bed, and an orderly room.
The obvious method of overcoming this difficulty, then, is not to chide the child for the fault, but to make him so accustomed to pleasant surroundings that he not help but desire them. The whole process of making the child love order is slow but sure. It consists in (1) Patient waiting on nature: first, keep the baby himself sweet and clean, washing the young child yourself, two or three times a day, and showing your delight in his sweetness; dressing him so simply that he keeps in respectable order without the necessity of a painful amount of attention. (2) Example: He is to be accustomed to orderly surroundings, and though you ordinarily require him to put away some of his things himself, you do also assist this process by putting away a good deal to which you do not call attention. You make your home not only orderly but pretty, and yourself, also, that his love for you may lead him into a love for daintiness. (3) Habits: A few set observances may be safely and steadfastly demanded, but these should be very few: Such as that he should not come to breakfast without brushing his teeth and combing his hair, or sit down to any meal with unwashed hands. Make them so few that you can be practically certain that they are attended to, for the whole value of the discipline is not in the superior condition of his teeth, but in the habit of mind that is being formed.
Impudence is largely due to, (1) lack of perception: (2) to bad example and to suggestion; and (3) to a double standard of morality.
[Sidenote: Lack of Perception]
(1.) In the first place, too much must not be expected of the young savages in the nursery. Remember that the children there are in a state very much more nearly resembling that of savage or half-civilized nation than resembling your own, and that, therefore, while they will undoubtedly take kindly to showy ceremonial, they are not ripe yet for most of the delicate observances. At best, you can only hope to get the crude material of good manners from them. You can hope that they will be in the main kind in intention, and as courteous under provocation as is consistent with their stage of development. If you secure this, you need not trouble yourself unduly over occasional lapses into perfectly innocent and wholesome barbarism.
Good manners are in the main dependent upon quick sympathies, because sympathies develop the perceptions. A child is much less likely to hurt the feelings or shock the sensibilities of a person whom he loves tenderly than of one for whom he cares very little. This is the chief reason why all children are much more likely to be offensive in speech and action before strangers than when alone in the bosom of their families. They are so far from caring what a stranger thinks or feels that they cannot even forecast his displeasure, nor imagine its reaction upon mother or father. The more, then, that the child's sympathies are broadened, the more he is encouraged to take an interest in all people, even strangers, the better mannered will he become.
[Sidenote: Bad Example]
(2.) Bad example is more common than is usually supposed. Very few parents are consistently courteous toward their children. They permit themselves a sharp tone of voice, and rough and abrupt habits of speech, that would scarcely be tolerated by any adult. Even an otherwise gentle and amiable woman is often disagreeable in her manner toward her children, commanding them to do things in a way well calculated to excite opposition, and rebuking wrong-doing in unmeasured terms. She usually reserves her soft and gentle speeches for her own friends and for her husband's, yet discourtesy cannot begin to harm them as it harms her children.
It is true that the children are often under foot when she is busiest, when, indeed, she is so distracted as to not be able to think about manners, but if she would acknowledge to herself that she ought to be polite, and that when she fails to be, it is because she has yielded to temptation; and if, moreover, she would make this acknowledgment openly to her children and beg their pardon for her sharp words, as she expects them to beg hers, the spirit of courtesy, at any rate, would prevail in her house, and would influence her children. Children are lovingly ready to forgive an acknowledged fault, but keen-eyed beyond belief in detecting a hidden one.
[Sidenote: Double Standard]
(3.) The most fertile cause of impudence is assumption of a double standard of morality, one for the child and another for the adult. Impudence is, at bottom, the child's perception of this injustice, and his rebellion against it. When to this double standard,—a standard that measures up gossip, for instance, right for the adult and listening to gossip as wrong for the child—when to this is added the assumption of infallibility, it is no wonder that the child fairly rages.
For, if we come to analyze them, what are the speeches which find so objectionable? "Do it yourself, if you are so smart." "Maybe, I am rude, but I'm not any ruder than you are." "I think you are just as mean as mean can be; I wouldn't be so mean!" Is this last speech any worse in reality than "You are a very naughty little girl, and I am ashamed of you," and all sorts of other expressions of candid adverse opinion? Besides these forms of impudence, there is the peculiarly irritating: "Well, you do it yourself; I guess I can if you can."
In all these cases the child is partly it the right. He is stating the feet as he sees it, and violently asserting that you are not privileged to demand more of him than of yourself. The evil comes in through the fact that he is doing it in an ugly spirit. He is not only desirous of stating the truth, but of putting you in the wrong and himself in the right, and if this hurts you, so much the better. All this is because he is angry, and therefor, in impudence, the true evil to be overcome is the evil of anger.
Show him, then, that you are open to correction. Admit the justice of the rebuke as far as you can, and set him an example of careful courtesy and forbearance at the very moment when these traits are most conspicuously lacking in him. If some special point is involved, some question of privilege, quietly, but very firmly, defer the consideration of it until he is master of himself and can discuss the situation with an open mind and in a courteous manner.
In all these examples, which are merely suggestive, it is impossible to lay down an absolute moral recipe, because circumstances so truly alter cases—in all these no mention is made of corporal punishment. This is because corporal punishment is never necessary, never right, but is always harmful.
[Sidenote: Moral Confusion]
There are three principal reasons why it should not be resorted to: First, because it is indiscriminate. To inflict bodily pain as a consequence of widely various faults, leads to moral confusion. The child who is spanked for lying, spanked for disobedience, and spanked again for tearing his clothes, is likely enough to consider these three things as much the same, as, at any rate, of equal importance, because they all lead to the same result. This is to lay the foundation for a permanent moral confusion, and a man who cannot see the nature of a wrong deed, and its relative importance, is incapable of guiding himself or others. Corporal punishment teaches a child nothing of the reason why what he does is wrong. Wrong must seem to him to be dependent upon the will of another, and its disagreeable consequences to be escapable if only he can evade the will of that other.
[Sidenote: Fear versus Love]
Second: Corporal punishment is wrong because it inculcates fear of pain as the motive for conduct, instead of love of righteousness. It tends directly to cultivate cowardice, deceitfulness, and anger—three faults worse than almost any fault against which it can be employed. True, some persons grow up both gentle and straightforward in spite of the fact that they have been whipped in their youth, but it is in spite of, and not because of it. In their homes other good qualities must have counteracted the pernicious effect of this mistaken procedure.
[Sidenote: Sensibilities Blunted]
Third: Corporal punishment may, indeed, achieve immediate results such as seem at the moment to be eminently desirable. The child, if he be young enough, weak enough, and helpless enough, may be made to do almost anything by fear of the rod; and some of the things he may thus be made to do may be exactly the things that he ought to do; and this certainty of result is exactly what prompts many otherwise just and thoughtful persons to the use of corporal punishment. But these good results are obtained at the expense of the future. The effect of each spanking is a little less than the effect of the preceding one. The child's sensibilities blunt. As in the case of a man with the drug habit, it requires a larger and larger dose to produce the required effect. That is, if he is a strong child capable of enduring and resisting much. If, on the contrary, he is a weak child, whose slow budding will come only timidly into existence, one or two whippings followed by threats, may suffice to keep him in a permanently cowed condition, incapable of initiative, incapable of spontaneity.
The method of discipline here indicated, while it is more searching than any corporal punishment, does not have any of its disadvantages. It is more searching, because it never blunts the child's sensibilities, but rather tends to refine them, and to make them more responsive.
[Sidenote: Educative Discipline]
[Sidenote: Permanent Results]
The child thus trained should become more susceptible, day by day, to gentle and elevating influences. This discipline is educative, explaining to the child why what he does is wrong, showing him the painful effects as inherent in the deed itself. He cannot, therefore, conceive of himself as being ever set free from the obligation to do right; for that obligation within his experience does not rest upon his mother's will or ability to inflict punishment, but upon the very nature of the universe of which he is a part. The effects of such discipline are therefore permanent. That which happens to the child in the nursery, also happens to him in the great world when he reaches manhood. His nursery training interprets and orders the world for him. He comes, therefore, into the world not desiring to experiment with evil, but clear-eyed to detect it, and strong-armed to overcome it.
We are now ready to consider our subject in some of its larger aspects.
The following questions constitute the "written recitation" which the regular members of the A.S.H.E. answer in writing and send in for the correction and comment of the instructor. They are intended to emphasize and fix in the memory the most important points in the lesson.