OBEDIENCE! Why is it that mother or governess finds it necessary repeatedly to remind a child of his misconduct ? Why so many interruptions of social conversation or of business affairs ? Why so often, “Don’t do that,” “Stop it,” “Do as I tell you,” etc. ? The answer is, absolutely because the child is not properly disciplined. In the case of a very young child, because he is not systematically spanked for every offense. When I look at a child, under my care, who is misbehaving in the presence of company, be knows that invariably he will receive a spanking. Hence it is that seldom do I find it necessary to speak to him a second time. Neither do I forego punishment because the misbehavior has ceased. My rule is: punishment positively follows misconduct once the child has learned what is expected in behavior. Observe the child thus treated and you will notice little continued naughtiness, little annoyance given guests, business people, mother, or governess. This does not mean that the child is miserable, intimidated, or unhappy. A short time ago a prominent educator told me that she was fully convinced that the happiest babies and young children are they who are properly disciplined. The reason is obvious: mothers and governesses who are considerate of the rights and comforts of elders are the best providers for happiness for the children. Here is what I consider ideal: Permit no annoyance by children to elders, and yet let no opportunity pass to provide legitimate happiness to the little ones. Legitimate, I say, not that which costs the comfort of elders.
“But you forget,” it will be objected, “that the children of the present age are living under conditions distinctly different from the conditions of a generation or two back. This is an electrified age and children cannot be kept down.” The foregoing is a literal quotation of an objection brought forward by a young mother, whose children are often referred to as “spoiled brats.” My answer was, “I beg to differ from your first statement; far from forgetting the fact, I have kept it always in mind. I admit that owing to this ‘electrified’ age the task of properly rearing children is no easy one, nevertheless, I emphatically deny the impossibility of the task. One of the strongest elements working against good behavior in children is this excuse, that present day conditions demand that we be blind and deaf to childish misconduct. Conditions of the present age render quite difficult the observance of the many civil laws. Are we therefore to ignore the law and become outlaws? Among my clippings, I find this of recent date, ‘Why should a fellow be forced to observe a law he does not like ? Ask the highwayman, the sneak thief, or murderer. It’s an outrage on personal liberty, damn the laws anyhow, that is, those a fellow doesn’t want.’ Regardless of the twentieth century conditions, quite different from those of even our childhood days, children can be taught all things necessary for good behavior, but it takes parents of the forefathers’ stamp to accomplish the task.