Fear lowers vitality. It paralyzes effort. It shrivels up every emotion towards good behavior. It injures their health. It makes them nervous. It impairs their growth. It makes cowards of them. It warps and twists their characters. It is all evil and never good. The crime of frightening children should not be tolerated in civilized communities. It will not be tolerated once its enormity is realized.
They were crossing the street--a mother and her little daughter. The child was about three years old. It had done something to displease the mother. Her head went down near that of the child and in angry and excited tones and with a loud voice, she heaped threats and abuse upon the child.
People heard her shrill voice, above the din of traffic, a half a block away. They crossed the street. The mother repeated her foolish performance. Then, with her hand, there in the presence of every passer-by she vigorously spanked the child.
The woman lacked poise and self-control. She lacked intelligence and training. She lacked sympathy for and understanding of her child. Intellectually and tempermentally she was unfitted for parentage. Bullying and browbeating and brusing children in this brutal fashion is not good for them. To treat them thus, habitually, hardens and coarsens them. Such treatment of children always wounds their tender spirits more than it does their tender bodies. It makes them cowards. Brutal, harsh, unintelligent treatment of children does not engender in them any love or respect for their parents. Had this same woman treated a dog or a horse as she was treating her child, the S. P. C. A., would have had her punished for cruelty to animals. But it was "only a child," "her child," which she was abusing, and nothing was done.
But she will pay. The law of compensation will not miss her. The daughter will grow up and all of this cruel treatment of her will produce its harvest. Parents, be kind to yours children. Be sympathetic with them. Strive to understand them and to guide them with love and instruction and control them with reason and kindness. Respect them--their persons, their rights, their limitations, their inexperience, their lack of maturity. Treat them as you would like to be treated. Brutality does not build in them desirable characters. Give them the best there is in you--not your worst.
The faults of little children are largely the results of ignorance, accident, enthusiasm and the forgetfulness of immature minds
Children are not adults, with the experience and point of view of the adult. Children do not come into the world with a full knowledge of right and wrong. Their instincts relate them to a state of pure nature. But they are born into the highly complex and very unnatural conditions we call civilization, with its artificial standards and rules of conduct. Their faults are, then, largely those of inheritance--the inheritance of instincts which are out of place in civilization.
To whip a child because of ignorance, accident or a lack of the adult point of view is certainly wrong. Is it not a fact that children try much harder to fit themselves into an adult's world than adults try to build a world for children?
Such little minds and bodies and hearts need patient instruction, intelligent guidance, sympathetic understanding. They should be taught, instructed, reasoned with and led.
Children have difficult and nervous days just as adults do. Be patient with them under these trying conditions. Scolding only adds to their discouragement and moodiness. Try to dispel the gloomy, disobedient mood by diverting the child's mind into pleasant channels.
Children are good by nature. They are not vicious and criminal. They are only ignorant and inexperienced and are born into an unnatural environment. They need gentle and patient guidance. They need instruction and enlightenment. They surely do not need cruelty.
A litttle kindness goes a long way with children. Kindness and gentleness and patience and instruction and a good example are the proper means of governing children.
The gentle answer turneth away wrath. Make life pleasant for the child and it will make life easier for you.
Fear of punishment forms a very unstable and unsatisfactory basis for conduct. Knowledge of the principles of right and wrong are essential to intelligent conduct. Love of right and hatred of wrong are necessary to genuine morality. Any morality that is not founded on these--knowledge of the principles of conduct and love of right and hatred of wrong--is not true morality. All conduct based on fear is founded on sand. It cannot endure.
Whipping and spanking children begin to diminish when the children reach the age and size that they can hit back, and can defend themselves. The offenses of older children are often more serious, more deliberate and grosser forms of disobedience and more aggravating, and older children are certainly more responsible for their conduct, but parents are not so apt to beat them. The story is told of a little boy whose father was certain he had inflicted the right punishment on him. To make a deeper impression on the boy and make the lesson complete, he asked, "Do you know why I whipped you?" The little boy answered "Yes; because you are bigger than I am." Had the child been able to defend himself that parent would have treated the child with as much respect as he treats Mr. Jones, his neighbor.