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How to Discipline Children Effectively Timeless Advice from 1886. In the 1886 article “Disciplining Children: How To Do It and How Not To Do It” by Rose Dalton, the author discusses the importance of disciplining children and how it often becomes a concern for parents as their children grow. It emphasizes the need for discipline from an early age and highlights the role of firmness and consideration in child-rearing. The article advises parents to adapt rules to the individual needs and tendencies of each child, promoting a regular and harmonious upbringing. It also cautions against over-disciplining, which can lead to rebellion, and stresses the significance of understanding and guiding a child’s natural tendencies. Furthermore, it suggests that punishment should be reserved for significant occasions, and parents should provide opportunities for children to learn from their mistakes. The article emphasizes the importance of setting a good example and cultivating self-control in parents to effectively discipline and guide their children
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Disciplining Children, How To Do It and How Not To Do It, by Rose Dalton, published in Good Housekeeping in 1886.
When young people marry and set up housekeeping, probably the subject that least occupies their time is the disciplining of children, and yet it is a subject that will soon force itself upon their attention, and is going to cause great anxiety for a large part of their lives. The children come-soft, tender little things, that fill the household with happiness and content, and make the home complete, and the idea that this little bunch of loveliness has the remotest relation to the subject of discipline seems absurd. If the young mother expresses herself in regard to it, she undoubtedly says she expects her child will always do as she wishes, that she has control of the whole situation, the father stands ready, if difficulties should arise, to restore order. So the whole subject seems to them to require very little thought for a long time to come.
The baby is cared for from day to day, begins to notice and know a little, grows bright and cunning, is petted and laughed at and admired by all the family and friends, without restraint. It asks for things in such a pretty way and is made so happy by indulgence that it easily becomes the habit to let the baby have almost everything it wants, for with its little weak hands it can hold and play with delicate articles that babies must be refused. As the child grows its demands are more frequent and more persistent, and at this early age it is so much easier to yield than to have unpleasant results. So things go on, until some day the mother suddenly awakens to the fact that the baby is often more naughty than pretty, a strong will has developed itself in this soft mass of innocence and beauty, and a determination to have its own way is its strongest characteristic. Then the child must be brought under discipline, and the poor little thing has a hard time of it, for how can it understand why the order is changed and it is no longer the pivot upon which all things turn? Perhaps by this time another child has come, and life becomes a serious thing to the poor little dethroned prince or princess. The discipline of a child should begin as soon as it is born, and it is the duty of young people, as soon as they are married, to think about the requirements of children and try to be in a measure prepared for their care. Firmness and consideration are cardinal principles in disciplining children. Firmness is necessary at the earliest age. In all the care and management of a child much thought should be exercised.
At a very early age a child will take advantage of a weak mother. At the same time it is not strength to make a set of rules and compel children to obey them as if all children were made alike, but watch a child closely, find out what are its natural tendencies, and adapt to them the few rules necessary to its needs. If it is natural for a child to want its food at certain intervals, then feed it regularly according to its natural demands, and so on through the various things in which a child must be trained. By careful observation a mother can soon learn a child’s necessities and make its life regular without friction. The secret of good discipline lies in adaptation of forces to the nature of the child.
Consideration of peculiarities must be made even in very young children. Seldom two children can be governed in the same way, and it is a duty of parents to study their individualities, otherwise there is no discipline, but the care given aggravates evil tendencies in them. There can be no doubt that much of the naughtiness in children is unintentionally taught, or developed in them. When grown people are so far from perfect, it seems unfair that every apparent fault of the child should be made so much of; and many times what seems wrong in a child is only a natural act under the exciting conditions, and if we take time to examine the matter we shall be more just. Injustice and weakness in parents make sad havoc with children’s characters. There is a strong latent force in children which we must strive to control : we cannot change its nature, but by strength and patience, and thoughtfulness we may guide it.
Over-discipline is as harmful as the lack of discipline. It may be worse, for if a child is let alone, there is a chance for a natural development for good, but if a child is continually prodded with rules and directions, it may grow rebellious, its obstinacy is aroused, and its finer feelings are blunted. Many a time by forbidding we create a desire, as we invite falsehood by prohibiting something that the child will do thoughtlessly, and can only refrain from doing by constant self-control, and often the thing forbidden is of little consequence compared with the train of evils its prohibition introduces. When the child has disobeyed it is punished, the next time it disobeys it naturally tells a falsehood to avoid punishment.
Children are morally and physically cowards, and the greatest care is necessary to prevent this weakness from becoming a large element in their character. A thoughtless, wrong act is not so bad as wilful disobedience. We may give a child many opportunities to do wrong in this thoughtless way. It does not follow that because a mother slips over many of the small misdemeanors in a child’s life that she is without law or order. The strength of his influence is needed for the more important occasions. Let a child revolve in its own orbit, when it is out of order, replace it with as little disturbance as possible. It will live its own life in spite of everything, and it is the duty of parents to see that the conditions surrounding it are conducive to a healthy and pure growth, and that the faulty traits it has undoubtedly inherited be eradicated by every means possible.
We cannot have the care of children without going through a severe course of discipline ourselves. Our teaching is of less value if we do not improve by experience as we proceed. It is not a weakness to confess our lack of wisdom, we cannot impose upon children. If we are wrong we may as well admit it and try all the more to overcome our own faults. We are very well understood by the little ones around us, and to make our discipline effectual we must walk beside them, and guide and help them, sympathizing with them in their failures, not constantly holding their faults before them. n this way their faults are not a constant irritation, nor a hindrance to a noble development of character, but each failure is a means for a little firmer grasp of self-control. A child need not know how much it is directed. It may be led around many a difficulty by tact. It is a tribute to its parents when a child obeys from a sense of honor, rather than from fear of the consequences.