Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students


Teaching Children to Be Useful

One of the surest safeguards of the young is useful occupation. Children who are trained to industrious habits, so that all their hours are usefully and pleasantly employed, have no inclination to repine at their lot and no time for ideal daydreaming. They are in little danger of forming vicious habits or associations. CT 122.1

In the home school the children should be taught how to perform the practical duties of everyday life. While they are still young, the mother should give them some simple task to do each day. It will take longer for her to teach them how than it would to do it herself; but let her remember that she is to lay for their character building the foundation of helpfulness. Let her remember that the home is a school in which she is the head teacher. It is hers to teach her children how to perform the duties of the household quickly and skillfully. As early in life as possible they should be trained to share the burdens of the home. From childhood, boys and girls should be taught to bear heavier and still heavier burdens, intelligently helping in the work of the family firm. CT 122.2

When children reach a suitable age, they should be provided with tools. They will be found to be apt pupils. If the father is a carpenter, he should give his boys lessons in carpentry. CT 122.3

From the mother the children are to learn habits of neatness, thoroughness, and dispatch. To allow a child to take an hour or two in doing a piece of work that could easily be done in half an hour is to allow it to form dilatory habits. Habits of industry and thoroughness will be an untold blessing to the youth in the larger school of life, upon which they must enter as they grow older. CT 122.4

Children are not to be allowed to think that everything in the house is their plaything, to do with as they please. Instruction in this line should be given even to the smallest children. By correcting this habit, you will destroy it. God designs that the perversities natural to childhood shall be rooted out before they become habits. Do not give the children playthings that are easily broken. To do this is to teach lessons in destructiveness. Let them have a few playthings, and let these be strong and durable. Such suggestions, small though they may seem, mean much in the education of the child. CT 123.1

Mothers should guard against training their children to be dependent and self-absorbed. Never give them cause to think that they are the center and that everything must revolve around them. Some parents give much time and attention to amusing their children; but children should be trained to amuse themselves, to exercise their own ingenuity and skill. Thus they will learn to be content with simple pleasures. They should be taught to bear bravely their little disappointments and trials. Instead of calling attention to every trifling pain or hurt, divert their minds; teach them to pass lightly over little annoyances and discomforts. CT 123.2

Study how to teach the children to be thoughtful of others. The youth should be early accustomed to submission, self-denial, and regard for others’ happiness. CT 123.3

They should be taught to subdue the hasty temper, to withhold the passionate word, to manifest unvarying kindness, courtesy, and self-control. CT 124.1

Burdened with many cares, the mother may sometimes feel that she cannot take time patiently to instruct her little ones and to give them love and sympathy. But she should remember that if the children do not find in their parents and in their homes that which will satisfy their desire for sympathy and companionship, they will look to other sources, where both mind and character may be endangered. CT 124.2

Give some of your leisure hours to your children; associate with them in their work and in their sports, and win their confidence. Cultivate their friendship. Give them responsibilities to bear, small at first, and larger as they grow older. Let them see that you think they help you. Never, never let them hear you say, “They hinder me more than they help me.” CT 124.3

If possible, the home should be out of the city, where the children can have ground to cultivate. Let them each have a piece of ground of their own; and as you teach them how to make a garden, how to prepare the soil for seed, and the importance of keeping all the weeds pulled out, teach them also how important it is to keep unsightly, injurious practices out of the life. Teach them to keep down wrong habits as they keep down the weeds in their gardens. It will take time to teach these lessons, but it will pay, greatly pay. CT 124.4

Tell your children about the miracle-working power of God. As they study the great lesson book of nature, God will impress their minds. The farmer plows his land and sows his seed, but he cannot make the seed grow. He must depend on God to do that which no human power can do. The Lord puts His vital power into the seed, causing it to spring forth into life. Under His care the germ of life breaks through the hard crust encasing it, and springs up to bear fruit. First appears the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. As the children are told of the work that God does for the seed, they learn the secret of growth in grace. CT 124.5

There is untold value in industry. Let the children be taught to do something useful. More than human wisdom is needed that parents may understand how best to educate their children for a useful, happy life here, and for higher service and greater joy hereafter. CT 125.1