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Hints on Child-training

Hints on Child-training
Title: Hints on Child-training
Release Date: 2018-07-23
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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JOHN D. WATTLES, Publisher

Copyright, 1890

[Pg 5]


Hints on Child-Training may be helpful, wherea formal treatise on the subject would prove bewildering.It is easier to see how one phase oranother of children’s needs is to be met, than itis to define the relation of that phase of the case toall other phases, or to a system that includes themall. Therefore it is that this series of Hints isventured by me for the benefit of young parents,although I would not dare attempt a systematictreatise on the entire subject here touched upon.

Thirty years ago, when I was yet a young father,a friend, who knew that I had for years been interestedin the study of methods of education, saidto me, “Trumbull, what is your theory of child-training?”“Theory?” I responded. “I have notheory in that matter. I had lots of theories beforeI had any children; but now I do, with fear andtrembling, in every case just that which seems to[Pg 6]be the better thing for the hour, whether it agreeswith any of my old theories or not.”

Whatever theory of child-training may showitself in these Hints, has been arrived at by inductionin the process of my experiences with childrensince I had to deal with the matter practically,apart from any preconceived view of the principlesinvolved. Every suggestion in these Hints is anoutcome of experiment and observation in my lifeas a father and a grandfather, while it has beencarefully considered in the light of the best lessonsof practical educators on every side.

These Hints were begun for the purpose of givinghelp to a friend. They were continued becauseof the evident popular interest in them. They aresent out in this completed form in the hope thatthey will prove of service to parents who are feelingthe need of something more practical in therealm of child-training than untested theories.

H. Clay Trumbull.

Philadelphia, September 15, 1890.

[Pg 7]


Child-Training: What Is It?11
The Duty of Training Children17
Scope and Limitations of Child-Training23
Discerning a Child’s Special Need of Training29
Will-Training, Rather than Will-Breaking37
The Place of “Must” in Training53
Denying a Child Wisely61[Pg 8]
Honoring a Child’s Individuality71
Letting Alone as a Means of Child-Training83
Training a Child to Self-Control93
Training a Child Not to Tease101
Training a Child’s Appetite109
Training a Child as a Questioner119
Training a Child’s Faith129
Training Children to Sabbath Observance139
Training a Child in Amusements155
Training a Child to Courtesy165
Cultivating a Child’s Taste in Reading175
The Value of Table-Talk187
Guiding a Child in Companionships197
Never Punish a Child in Anger205
Scolding is Never in Order217
Dealing Tenderly with a Child’s Fears223
The Sorrows of Children239
The Place of Sympathy in Child-Training247[Pg 10]
Influence of the Home Atmosphere257
The Power of a Mother’s Love263
Allowing Play to a Child’s Imagination277
Giving Added Value to a Child’s Christmas283
Good-Night Words291

[Pg 11]


The term “training,” like the term “teaching,”is used in various senses; hence it is liable to bedifferently understood by different persons, whenapplied to a single department of a parent’s dutiesin the bringing up of his children. Indeed, theterms “training” and “teaching” are often usedinterchangeably, as covering the entire process ofa child’s education. In this sense a child’s trainingis understood to include his teaching; and,again, his teaching is understood to include histraining. But in its more restricted sense thetraining of a child is the shaping, the developing,and the controlling of his personal faculties andpowers; while the teaching of a child is the securingto him of knowledge from beyond himself.

It has been said that the essence of teaching is[Pg 12]causing another to know. It may similarly be saidthat the essence of training is causing another todo. Teaching gives knowledge. Training givesskill. Teaching fills the mind. Training shapesthe habits. Teaching brings to the child thatwhich he did not have before. Training enablesa child to make use of that which is already hispossession. We teach a child the meaning ofwords. We train a child in speaking and walking.We teach him the truths which we havelearned for ourselves. We train him in habits ofstudy, that he may be able to learn other truthsfor himself. Training and teaching must go ontogether in the wise upbringing of any and everychild. The one will fail of its own best end if itbe not accompanied by the other. He who knowshow to teach a child, is not competent for the oversightof a child’s education unless he also knowshow to train a child.

Training is a possibility long before teaching is.Before a child is old enough to know what is saidto it, it is capable of feeling, and of conforming to,[Pg 13]or of resisting, the pressure of efforts for its training.A child can be trained to go to sleep in thearms of its mother or nurse, or in a cradle, or on abed; with rocking, or without it; in a light room,or in a dark one; in a noisy room, or only in aquiet one; to expect nourishment and to accept itonly at fixed hours, or at its own fancy,—while asyet it cannot understand any teaching concerningthe importance or the fitness of one of these things.A very young child can be trained to cry for whatit wants, or to keep quiet, as a means of securingit. And, as a matter of fact, the training of childrenis begun much earlier than their teaching.Many a child is well started in its life-training bythe time it is six weeks old; even though its elementaryteaching is not attempted until monthsafter that.

There is a lesson just at this point in the significationof the Hebrew word translated “train” inour English Bible. It is a noteworthy fact, thatthis word occurs only twice in the Old Testament,and it has no equivalent in the New. Those who[Pg 14]were brought up in the household of Abraham,“the father of the faithful,” are said to have been“trained” (Gen. 14: 14). A proverb of the agesgives emphasis to a parent’s duty to “train up”his child with wise considerateness (Prov. 22: 6).And nowhere else in the inspired record does theoriginal of this word “train,” in any of its forms,appear.

The Hebrew word thus translated is a peculiarone. Its etymology shows that its primary meaningis “to rub the gullet;” and its origin seems tohave been in the habit, still prevalent among primitivepeoples, of opening the throat of a new-bornbabe by the anointing of it with blood, or withsaliva, or with some sacred liquid, as a means ofgiving the child a start in life by the help ofanother’s life. The idea of the Hebrew word thusused seems to be that, as this opening of the gulletof a child at its very birth is essential to the habituatingof the child to breathe and to swallow correctly,so the right training of a child in all properhabits of life is to begin at the child’s very birth.[Pg 15]And the use of the word in the places where wefind it, would go to show that Abraham with allhis faith, and Solomon with all his wisdom, did notfeel that it would be safe to put off the start with achild’s training any later than this.

Child-training properly begins at a child’s birth,but it does not properly end there. The first effortin the direction of child-training is to train a childto breathe and to swallow; but that ought not tobe the last effort in the same direction. Child-traininggoes on as long as a child is a child; andchild-training covers every phase of a child’s actionand bearing in life. Child-training affects a child’ssleeping and waking, his laughing and crying, hiseating and drinking, his looks and his movements,his self-control and his conduct toward others.Child-training does not change a child’s nature,but it does change his modes of giving expressionto his nature. Child-training does not give a childentirely new characteristics, but it brings him tothe repression and subdual of certain characteristics,and to the expression and development of[Pg 16]certain others, to such an extent that the sum ofhis characteristics presents an aspect so differentfrom its original exhibit that it seems like anothercharacter. And so it is that child-training is, ina sense, like the very making of a child anew.

Child-training includes the directing and controllingand shaping of a child’s feelings andthoughts and words and ways in every sphere ofhis life-course, from his birth to the close of hischildhood. And that this is no unimportant partof a child’s upbringing, no intelligent mind willventure to question.

[Pg 17]


It is the mistake of many parents to supposethat their chief duty is in loving and counselingtheir children, rather than in loving and trainingthem; that they are faithfully to show their childrenwhat they ought to do, rather than to makethem do it. The training power of the parent is,as a rule, sadly undervalued.

Too many parents seem to take it for grantedthat because their children are by nature verytimid and retiring, or very bold and forward; veryextravagant in speech and manner, or quite disinclinedto express even a dutiful sense of gratitudeand trust; reckless in their generosity, or pitiablyselfish; disposed to overstudy, or given wholly toplay; one-sided in this, or in that, or in the other,[Pg 18]trait or quality or characteristic,—therefore thosechildren must remain so; unless, indeed, they outgrowtheir faults, or are induced by wise counseland loving entreaty to overcome them.

“My boy is irrepressible,” says one father. “Heis full of dash and spirits. He makes havoc in thehouse while at home; and when he goes out to aneighbor’s he either has things his own way, or hedoesn’t want to go there again. I really wish hehad a quieter nature; but, of course, I can’t changehim. I have given him a great many talks aboutthis; and I hope he will outgrow the worst of it.Still he is just what he is, and punishing himwouldn’t make him anybody else.” A goodmother, on the other hand, is exercised becauseher little son is so bashful that he is always mortifyingher before strangers. He will put his fingerin his mouth, and hang down his head, and twistone foot over the other, and refuse to shake hands,or to answer the visitor’s “How do you do, myboy?” or even to say, “I thank you,” with distinctness,when anything is given to him. And the[Pg 19]same trouble is found with the tastes as with thetemperaments of children. One is always readyto hear stories read or told, but will not sit quietand look at pictures, or use a slate and pencil.Another, a little older, will devour books of travelor adventure, but has no patience with a simplestory of home life, or a book of instruction inmatters of practical fact.

Now it is quite inevitable that children shouldhave these peculiarities; but

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