Child Guidance


Section 10—Discipline and its Administration

Chapter 41—Objectives of Discipline

Self-government the Paramount Objective—The object of discipline is the training of the child for self-government. He should be taught self-reliance and self-control. Therefore as soon as he is capable of understanding, his reason should be enlisted on the side of obedience. Let all dealing with him be such as to show obedience to be just and reasonable. Help him to see that all things are under law, and that disobedience leads, in the end, to disaster and suffering. When God says, “Thou shalt not,” He in love warns us of the consequence of disobedience, in order to save us from harm and loss.1 CG 223.1

Enlisting the Power of the Will—The true object of reproof is gained only when the wrongdoer himself is led to see his fault and his will is enlisted for its correction. When this is accomplished, point him to the source of pardon and power.2 CG 223.2

Those who train their pupils to feel that the power lies in themselves to become men and women of honor and usefulness will be the most permanently successful.3 CG 223.3

Correct Habits, Inclinations, Evil Tendencies—It is the work of the parents to restrain and guide and control. They cannot commit a worse evil than to permit their children to gratify all their childish wishes and fancies, and leave them to follow their own inclinations; they cannot do them a greater wrong than to leave upon their minds the impression that they are to live to please and amuse themselves, to choose their own ways and find their own pleasure and society.... The youth need parents who will educate and discipline them, correct their wrong habits and inclinations, and prune away their evil tendencies.4 CG 223.4

Break Down Satan's Stronghold—Mothers, the destiny of your children rests to a great extent in your hands. If you fail in duty, you may place them in Satan's ranks and make them his agents to ruin other souls. Or your faithful discipline and godly example may lead them to Christ, and they in turn will influence others, and thus many souls may be saved through your instrumentality.5 CG 224.1

Let us look carefully and begin to catch up our dropped stitches. Let us break down the strongholds of the enemy. Let us mercifully correct our loved ones and keep them from the power of the enemy. Do not be discouraged.6 CG 224.2

Teach Respect to Parental and Divine Authority—Children ... should be trained, educated, and disciplined until they become obedient to their parents, giving respect to their authority. In this way respect for divine authority will be implanted in their hearts, and the family training will be like a preparatory training for the family in heaven. The training of childhood and youth should be of such a character that children will be prepared to take up their religious duties, and thus become fitted to enter into the courts above.7 CG 224.3

He who is the fountain of all knowledge has stated the condition of our fitness to enter the heaven of bliss, in the words, “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Obedience to God's commandments is the price of heaven, and obedience to their parents in the Lord is the all-important lesson for children to learn.8 CG 224.4

Obedience From Principle, Not Compulsion—Tell your children exactly what you require of them. Then let them understand that your word is law and must be obeyed. Thus you are training them to respect the commandments of God, which plainly declare, “Thou shalt,” and “Thou shalt not.” It is far better for your boy to obey from principle than from compulsion.9 CG 225.1

A Lesson in Implicit Confidence—Isaac is bound by the trembling, loving hands of his pitying father, because God has said it. The son submits to the sacrifice, because he believes in the integrity of his father.... CG 225.2

This act of faith in Abraham is recorded for our benefit. It teaches us the great lesson of confidence in the requirements of God, however close and cutting they may be; and it teaches children perfect submission to their parents and to God. By Abraham's obedience we are taught that nothing is too precious for us to give to God.10 CG 225.3

Youth Will Respond to Trust—The youth must be impressed with the idea that they are trusted. They have a sense of honor, and they want to be respected, and it is their right. If pupils receive the impression that they cannot go out or come in, sit at the table, or be anywhere, even in their rooms, except they are watched, a critical eye is upon them to criticize and report, it will have the influence to demoralize, and pastime will have no pleasure in it. This knowledge of a continual oversight is more than a parental guardianship, and far worse; for wise parents can, through tact, often discern beneath the surface and see the working of the restless mind under the longings of youth, or under the forces of temptations, and set their plans to work to counteract evils. But this constant watchfulness is not natural, and produces evils that it is seeking to avoid. The healthfulness of youth requires exercise, cheerfulness, and a happy, pleasant atmosphere surrounding them, for the development of physical health and symmetrical character.11 CG 225.4

Self-government Versus Absolute Authority—There are many families of children who appear to be well trained, while under the training discipline; but when the system which has held them to set rules is broken up, they seem to be incapable of thinking, acting, or deciding for themselves. These children have been so long under iron rule, not allowed to think and act for themselves in those things in which it was highly proper that they should, that they have no confidence in themselves to move out upon their own judgment, having an opinion of their own. And when they go out from their parents to act for themselves, they are easily led by others’ judgment in the wrong direction. They have not stability of character. They have not been thrown upon their own judgment as fast and as far as practicable, and therefore their minds have not been properly developed and strengthened. They have so long been absolutely controlled by their parents that they rely wholly upon them; their parents are mind and judgment for them. CG 226.1

On the other hand, the young should not be left to think and act independently of the judgment of their parents and teachers. Children should be taught to respect experienced judgment and to be guided by their parents and teachers.... They should be so educated that their minds will be united with the minds of their parents and teachers, and so instructed that they can see the propriety of heeding their counsel. Then when they go forth from the guiding hand of their parents and teachers, their characters will not be like the reed trembling in the wind. CG 226.2

The severe training of youth—without properly directing them to think and act for themselves as their own capacity and turn of mind will allow, that by this means they may have growth of thought, feelings of self-respect, and confidence in their own ability to perform—will ever produce a class who are weak in mental and moral power. And when they stand in the world to act for themselves, they will reveal the fact that they were trained, like the animals, and not educated. Their wills, instead of being guided, were forced into subjection by the harsh discipline of parents and teachers.12 CG 227.1

Evil Results When One Mind Dominates Another—Those parents and teachers who boast of having complete control of the minds and wills of the children under their care would cease their boastings could they trace out the future lives of the children who are thus brought into subjection by force or through fear. These are almost wholly unprepared to share in the stern responsibilities of life. When these youth are no longer under their parents and teachers, and are compelled to think and act for themselves, they are almost sure to take a wrong course and yield to the power of temptation. They do not make this life a success, and the same deficiencies are seen in their religious life. Could the instructors of children and youth have the future result of their mistaken discipline mapped out before them, they would change their plan of education. That class of teachers who are gratified that they have almost complete control of the wills of their scholars are not the most successful teachers, although the appearance for the time being may be flattering. CG 227.2

God never designed that one human mind should be under the complete control of another. And those who make efforts to have the individuality of their pupils merged in themselves, and to be mind, will, and conscience for them, assume fearful responsibilities. These scholars may, upon certain occasions, appear like well-drilled soldiers. But when the restraint is removed, there will be seen a want of independent action from firm principle existing in them.13 CG 228.1

Through Skill and Patient Effort—It requires skill and patient effort to mold the young in the right manner. Especially do children who have come into the world burdened with a heritage of evil, the direct results of the sins of their parents, need the most careful culture to develop and strengthen their moral and intellectual faculties. And the responsibility of the parents is heavy indeed. Evil tendencies are to be carefully restrained and tenderly rebuked; the mind is to be stimulated in favor of the right. The child should be encouraged in attempting to govern himself. And all this is to be done judiciously, or the purpose desired will be frustrated.14 CG 228.2