Child Guidance


Chapter 55—Unity in Discipline

The Teacher Needs Tact in Management—Among the youth will be found great diversity of character and education. Some have lived in an element of arbitrary restraint and harshness, which has developed in them a spirit of obstinacy and defiance. Others have been household pets, allowed by overfond parents to follow their own inclinations. Every defect has been excused, until their character is deformed. To deal successfully with these different minds, the teacher needs to exercise great tact and delicacy in management, as well as firmness in government. CG 323.1

Dislike and even contempt for proper regulations will often be manifested. Some will exercise all their ingenuity in evading penalties, while others will display a reckless indifference to the consequences of transgression. All this will call for more patience and greater exertion on the part of those who are entrusted with their education.1 CG 323.2

Let Rules Be Few and Well Considered—In the school as well as in the home there should be wise discipline. The teacher must make rules to guide the conduct of his pupils. These rules should be few and well considered, and once made they should be enforced. Every principle involved in them should be so placed before the student that he will be convinced of its justice.2 CG 323.3

The Teacher Must Enforce Obedience—In the school, as well as in the home, the question of discipline should be understood. We should hope that in the schoolroom there would never be occasion to use the rod. But if in a school there are those who stubbornly resist all counsel and entreaty, all prayers and burden of soul in their behalf, then it is necessary to make them understand that they must obey. CG 323.4

Some teachers do not think it best to enforce obedience. They think that their duty is merely to educate. True, they should educate. But what does the education of children amount to if, when they disregard the principles placed before them, the teacher does not feel that he has a right to exercise authority.3 CG 324.1

He Needs the Co-operation of Parents—The teacher should not be left to carry the burden of his work alone. He needs the sympathy, the kindness, the co-operation, and the love of every church member. The parents should encourage the teacher by showing that they appreciate his efforts. Never should they say or do anything that will encourage insubordination in their children. CG 324.2

But I know that many parents do not co-operate with the teacher. They do not foster in the home the good influence exerted in the school. Instead of carrying out in the home the good influence exerted in the school, they allow their children to do as they please, to go hither and thither without restraint. And if the teacher exercises authority in requiring obedience, the children carry to their parents an exaggerated, distorted account of the way in which they have been dealt with. The teacher may have done only that which it was his painful duty to do; but the parents sympathize with their children, even though they are in the wrong. And often those parents who themselves rule in anger are the most unreasonable when their children are restrained and disciplined in school.4 CG 324.3

When parents justify the complaints of their children against the authority and discipline of the school, they do not see that they are increasing the demoralizing power which now prevails to such a fearful extent. Every influence surrounding the youth needs to be on the right side, for youthful depravity is increasing.5 CG 325.1

Let Them Sustain the Faithful Teachers—Parents who have never felt the care which they should feel for the souls of their children, and who have never given them proper restraint and instruction, are the very ones who manifest the most bitter opposition when their children are restrained, reproved, or corrected at school. Some of these children are a disgrace to the church and a disgrace to the name of Adventists.6 CG 325.2

Let them [parents] teach their children to be true to God, true to principle, and thus true to themselves and to all with whom they are connected.... CG 325.3

Parents who give this training are not the ones likely to be found criticizing the teacher. They feel that both the interest of their children and justice to the school demand that, so far as possible, they sustain and honor the one who shares their responsibility.7 CG 325.4

Never Criticize the Teacher Before Children—Parents, when the church school teacher tries to train and discipline your children that they may gain eternal life, do not in their presence criticize his actions, even though you may think him too severe. If you desire them to give their hearts to the Saviour, co-operate with the teacher's efforts for their salvation. How much better it is for children, instead of hearing criticism, to hear from the lips of their mother words of commendation regarding the work of the teacher. Such words make lasting impressions and influence the children to respect the teacher.8 CG 325.5

If criticism or suggestion in regard to the teacher's work becomes necessary, it should be made to him in private. If this proves ineffective, let the matter be referred to those who are responsible for the management of the school. Nothing should be said or done to weaken the children's respect for the one upon whom their well-being in so great degree depends.9 CG 326.1

If parents would place themselves in the position of the teachers, and see how difficult it must necessarily be to manage and discipline a school of hundreds of students of every grade and class of minds, they might, upon reflection, see things differently.10 CG 326.2

Insubordination Often Begins in the Home—In allowing children to do as they please, parents may think themselves affectionate, but they are practicing the veriest cruelty. Children are able to reason, and their souls are hurt by inconsiderate kindness, however proper this kindness may be in the eyes of the parents. As the children grow older, their insubordination grows. Their teachers may try to correct them, but too often the parents side with the children, and the evil continues to grow, clothed, if possible, with a still darker covering of deception than before. Other children are led astray by the wrong course of these children, and yet the parents cannot see the wrong. The words of their children are listened to before the words of teachers, who mourn over the wrong.11 CG 326.3

Teacher's Work Doubled by Noncooperative Parents—The neglect of parents to train their children makes the work of the teacher doubly hard. The children bear the stamp of the unruly, unamiable traits revealed by their parents. Neglected at home, they regard the discipline of the school as oppressive and severe. Such children, if not carefully guarded, will leaven other children by their undisciplined, deformed characters.... The good that children might receive in school to counteract their defective home training is undermined by the sympathy which their parents show for them in their wrongdoing. CG 326.4

Shall parents who believe the Word of God continue their crooked management and confirm in their children their evil propensities? Fathers and mothers professing the truth for this time might better come to their senses and no longer be partakers in this evil, no longer carry out Satan's devices by accepting the false testimony of their unconverted children. It is enough for teachers to have the children's influence to contend with, without having the parents’ influence also.12 CG 327.1