This is an age when children are trained instead of being permitted to develop. Like circus animals, they are trained to go through certain motions and say certain things without understanding them. The idea is general that the form is enough--the spirit back of the form is unimportant. Voluntary or spontaneous activities are not encouraged.

Ellen Key tells of a little boy who had been rude to his brother and whose mother placed him on a chair to repent of his actions. After a time she inquired if he was sorry. "Yes," he answered with great emphasis. The mother, however, detected a mutinous sparkle in his eyes and asked, "Sorry for what?" "Sorry that I did not call him a liar, besides," came the quick reply. His mother had made the mistake of forcing him to repent. She demanded an expression of sorrow. She was transforming her son into a hypocrite and an artful liar.

Children are frequently compelled to apologize for something they have done. They go through the motion to avoid difficulty. They make an apology they do not feel. They are thus made into smooth hypocrites. When a child becomes truly sorry for something he has done, he shows his sorrow in his own way. Spontaneous penitence of this kind is full of meaning. There is no pretense about it. There is, at its base, a real desire for pardon and a desire to make amends.

Artificial or pretended emotions are both worthless and injurious. Parents should refrain from forcing their children to pretend sorrow and emotions they do not feel. We have learned that morality cannot be legislated into people. Do we imagine this applies only to grown-ups? Do we imagine we can force morality into children? The effort makes hypocrites out of grown-ups. It can but do the same for children.

An expression of "sorry" should be felt and meant, not merely made. Children should not be made into diplomatic hypocrites. A forced apology is no real apology. A forced "I'm sorry" is no expression of real sorrow. It is an expression of fear or of expediency. It is not sincere. Children have the same right to be sorry or not to be sorry that adults have. They have the same right to express their sorrow in their own way as adults have. Their morals should not be put upon them like a coat. Give them an opportunity to express their own inner natures.

The well known myth about George Washington cutting down the cherry three with his hatchet, was once being told to a little boy. That part of the story was reached where young George escaped a spanking by the remark: "Father, I cannot tell a lie. I cut it down with my hatchet." The little boy quickly remarked:--"It is no trouble telling the truth when one has such a kind father."

That remark is full of meaning. Every parent should mentally digest and assimilate it. Children lie through fear of punishment. A father once told his young son that if he would always tell him the truth about his activities he would never whip him. But, he added, if you lie to me and I find it out, I will whip you all the harder. The boy took the father at his word. He was always honest and truthful. Instead of cuffings and beatings, the father gave the boy advice and instruction.

Then, one day the father lost his head, when the boy confessed to some mischief. He gave the boy a severe whipping. This ended forever the beautiful relationship between the father and son. The boy no longer trusted him. He feared him ever after. He feared to tell him the truth. He feared he would receive another beating. He learned to lie as cleverly as other boys. He found that if he was clever enough he could avoid another whipping.

He grew to manhood and became a father himself. Remembering his own experience, he never gave his son a whipping. He treated his son with kindness and sympathy. He guided and instructed him. He never drove him like slaves are driven. This beautiful relationship between father and son was never broken until death carried the father away. The son was always honest and truthful with his father. He honored and trusted his father and respected his advice and counsel.

Ellen Key asks: "How many untrue confessions have been forced by fear of blows; how much daring passion for action, spirit of adventure, play of fancy, and stimulus to discovery has been repressed by this same fear? Even where blows do not cause lying, they always hinder absolute straightforwardness and the downright personal courage to show oneself as one is. As long as the word 'blow' is used at all in a home, no perfect honor will be found in children."

A little boy was telling his mother of some of his troubles at school. He had been into some boyish mischief. Two or three other boys had also been into the same mischief. The teacher asked who was guilty. The little boy, above referred to, admitted his guilt. He was punished. The other boys remained silent. They went unpunished.

--"You see, son, it does not always pay to be honest. Had you been dishonest you would have escaped punishment, as did the other boys." One is forced to wonder what the results of such training will be in this boy. The school places a premium on dishonesty. His mother encourages him to be honest only when to be so is immediately advantageous. Such teachings would soon undermine and wreck society. Human relations can go on only so long as one man may trust another. If we are to tell the truth only where nothing else will fit, business and social relations will end.

A teacher went out of the schoolroom. During his absence three of the boys in the room started a loud noise. They used one hand as a horn, their desk as a drum and the fist of the other hand as a drum stick. Bedlam reigned in the schoolroom. The teacher returned and heard the noise as he approached. When he opened the door everything was as quite as a mouse. He asked who made the noise. One boy frankly acknowledged his part in the celebration.

The other two boys remained quiet. The boy who told the truth was suspended from school. The other two remained in school. The teacher found later, through other sources, who the other two boys were, but as the incident was passed, did not punish them. He penalized truthfulness. He placed a premium upon dishonesty. Such procedings encourage dishonesty and deceit in children.

Teachers and parents should stop and think what they are doing, perhaps unintentionally, to encourage the development of unwanted characters in children. Surely the development of the character of a child is worthy of as much and as careful thought as the development of a new variety of peonies or a new color of roses. Children will choose the right as naturally and spontaneously as water flows down hill, if they are not encouraged to choose otherwise. We are too often responsible for ugly characteristics in our children, because we work in a haphazard and thoughtless manner. There is nothing in this world that requires, or that should receive more intelligent thought and patient understanding than the developing child.

"PLAGUING" CHILDREN: Dr. Page says: "The man who would not permit himself, nor anyone else, to 'plague' his colt or young horse lest it make him vicious, will devote considerable time to harrassing his infant or three-year-old child to his own and lookers-on infinite amusement, and the destruction of the child's good temper. I have seen a group of parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, amusing themselves at the anger and vexation displayed by a little, eighteen-months-old girl, whose puzzle had been tampered with so that she could not pull it apart as she had been accustomed to do. The trap was set again and again by the elders, anyone of whom would have been incensed at the suggestion that the action was even of questionable advantage in its influence upon the baby's character and temper."

The average adult is such a superinflated egotist that he resents advice, however well intentioned the giver may be. If he gets fun out of the anger, vexation and temper of his or some other person's child, who dares to suggest to his wisdom that he is an ass and is hurting the child. In a future and higher civilization adults who "plague" children will be punished in some appropriate manner.