Screamfree Parenting – Beyond Discipline with Love

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Now, on to today’s reading, which was edited and adapted from Love’s Way by Orison Swett Marden, published in 1918.

Love is the great educator, the great unfolder of youth. As the sun is the only thing that will bring out the exquisite beauty of fruits and flowers, so love is the only thing that will develop the sweetness and the beauty of the child. It is the only power that will call out the true, the beautiful side of its nature.

It is only the hard, coarse, and unlovely qualities of the child that are developed by force and repression. How often would a little kindness and forbearance on the part of a parent or guardian, a little better knowledge of a child’s nature, do wonders for a so-called “bad child” who is considered “incorrigible” or “hyperactive,” a fit subject for psychiatric drugs.

Benjamin Lindsey, a judge and social reformer who had, perhaps, a better knowledge of the nature of the growing boy and girl than any psychologist or expert in child study, says: “The child is a wonderful creature, a divine machine. We have much to expect from them, but they have much to expect from us, and what they return depends largely upon what we give.”

Children instinctively admire the good and the beautiful. They are natural hero-worshipers, and they respond enthusiastically to stories of heroism, high endeavor, loyalty, chivalry, all the highest and best instincts of humanity. The noblest qualities are inherent in the child. But wrong training (suppression, nagging, scolding, terrorizing, depriving the growing mind of the stimulus of good books, fine examples of living, the starving of its body through insufficient or improper food) all this may, and often does, turn what with proper training might have been a splendid boy or girl into a pitiable human wreck.

The destiny of the child hangs upon its early environment, its parents, teachers and associates. Upon these depend the qualities or characteristics that will be called out of its nature. There are seeds of all sorts of possibilities lying dormant in the boy and the girl. A bad mother or father, a bad teacher, by appealing to the bad in them, will call out the bad. A good parent, a good teacher, by appealing to the best in them, will call out the best.

Evil responds to evil. Nobility responds to nobility. If you want to get the most out of your child, you cannot do it by repressing, by cramping, by watching, or by criticizing. I have known children to become so completely discouraged by being constantly denounced, scolded, perpetually reminded of their shortcomings, their weaknesses, by being told that they were stupid and would never amount to anything, that they completely lost confidence in themselves, and instead of progressing in a natural healthy way, they constantly fell behind in their studies, in their work, in every way.

How often we hear a parent talking to child like this: “Now hurry up! Stop being so lazy! Don’t be stupid! You’ll will never amount to anything, if you keep acting like this!” anyway 1’* These denunciations so discourage a child after a while that they don’t care, and don’t try, to do their best. Then, of course, their standards drop and life deteriorates.

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