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III. UNFOLDING OF A CHILD'S FACULTIES
(Family Circle Continued) The unfolding of a child's faculties is illustrated by Mrs. Wilbur F. Crafts from a banana blossom (see picture) as follows:
A child has been compared with the flower on a plant, the blossom on a tree. But how different is the human bud from any plant or blossom save one in its unfolding. For example, the petals of the rose bud and the apple blossom unfold together, and all at once open into flower. This is not the way the human bud unfolds. But we do find in the opening of the banana bud the exact counterpart of the human bud. It opens petal by petal one after the other, and under each petal a row of little flowers appears of which bananas are formed; and this process goes on until a 'ong stalk of bananas has grown, the ripest of which are those which were first formed.
So it is with the human bud. A child does not at once open into perfect manhood or womanhood. His faculties develop by degrees. Let us compare with what is found under the first uplifted petal, the child's faculties of taste and smell, which are early developed and are a safeguard to the infant in relation to his food.
Under the second petal, so to speak, sight and hearing appear. It is a glad day to the parents when their little child begins to "take notice."
Then follows the development of another set of faculties: the activities of hand and feet. The little one is never still except when asleep. His frequent crying is a part of this activity.
Speech next unfolds, and the little one is able to tell his wants, and to express his feelings.
All the while, activity is developed in creeping about, and then in walking.
Very early the rhythmic instinct develops, and the little one delights in the lullabies with which his mother sings him to sleep. And soon he begins to make little rhymes himself. In the earliest years of his childhood nursery rhymes are just what he needs, and out of these grows the love of poetry. Wise mothers will teach children to memorize beautiful poetry.
Among the early unfolding is the instinct of imitation. The little one smiles back when his mother smiles upon him. He begins to make sounds which he hears others make, and we say, “He coos," "He is beginning to talk.” A little babe not more than three months old imitated the peculiar squeal of a child nearly a year old in less than four days' association.
A lively little girl three and a half years old remarked to her nurse on a very warm day, “It's as hot as the devil.” The nurse was shocked, and told the mother, saying, "Indeed she did not hear it from me, for I never talk that way.” “I know you do not,” replied the mother, “but we will not say anything to her about it, and perhaps she will forget it.” But two or three days after, the little girl said the same thing to her mother. “Why, Betsy,” said the mother, "the devil is the one who makes little girls do bad things. He is so bad that none of us who live in this home ever speak his name. If you do it again I will have to wash out your mouth with some of that soap down in the kitchen, and then I will have to spank you very hard and put you to bed." "Why, mama," said the little girl, "I won't do it any more, I just thought it was very hot, I didn't know about the devil.” “Did you ever hear any
The child heart is so strange a little thing
So mild-so timorously shy and small,
It is the veriest mouse,
That hides in any house,
- JAMES WHITCOMB Riley. 48
body say 'as hot as the devil'?” “Oh yes,” replied Betsy, "Josie, the boy who lives across the street, he often says it.” It was a case of imitation.
Another petal unfolds, and the loving faculties appear. Even in infancy, mother is loved first and best of all. It is the child's nature to love everybody, and it is easy in the loving time of life to lead little children to love Jesus. A little four-year-old girl said to her mother, “If Jesus loves us so much why does he not come to see us?” The mother answered, “He does, but we do not see him. When you have loving and kind thoughts, Jesus is visiting you, and showing you how to be good.” And thus we rightly begin early to teach little children to pray, and to be the little servants of God, as Samuel and Timothy were.
A little later than infancy, another set of faculties unfold which are named “inventive” for lack of a better term; the child wants to do something. If ready-made toys are given him, he will be quite sure to break them. Better give him blocks that he can use constructively, or a ball that he can toss about. Parents unwisely blame their children for destroying things and look upon it as total depravity. Play material is usually better than playthings.
Very early the child begins to know that he has "a will of his own.” We ought to feel very sorry for him if he lacks this. It is certainly not the duty of the parent to "break the will," but rather to teach self-control. Some wise mothers will not rock their children to sleep, even if they cry, but tuck them comfortably in little beds, and go away. It may not work at first, but after a while it will. The will of the child should be enlisted by gentle means, as far as possible, rather than by the stronger will of the parent manifested by force or punishment.
Associated with the will and the moral faculties, but later in development, the reasoning faculties appear. A
child less than six years of age cannot reason much, but parents do not always recognize this, and oftener chide their children for "not knowing better"; and then just as foolishly "try to reason" them into obedience and rightdoing. It has been said that “one might as well expect to see the sun rise at midnight as to find judgment in a child of ten years of age.” Children are often blamed for not doing things required of them because parents have not considered that their children have not reached that state of development when it is possible for them to respond. Richter once said, “We must excuse children for being children."
One thing children are blamed most for is “forgetting what they were told.” We grown-ups ought to know that the faculty of memory is of comparatively late development. The memory age is about the twelfth year. From twelve to fifteen years of age is the best time of life for memorizing, and parents as well as teachers should act accordingly.
A child of twelve years resembles in his faculties a stem of bananas, all formed, but not yet ripe. It will take only a few weeks for the bananas to ripen, but the child will not be fully matured until at least twenty-one years
Wall Decorations as Helps in Child Training
Both religion and refinement can be promoted in a child's soul by the right use of pictures and statuary and wall decorations. The New York Commercial Advertiser had a timely editorial on “Teaching by Pictures,” which we quote in part:
"The average nursery, with its Mother Goose tiling and friezes; its border of babies with hoops and kittens with collars, is a distinct abomination. Any house that