Child Guidance


Section 5—Other Basic Lessons

Chapter 13—Self-control

Prepare Children for Life and Its Duties—Well may the mother inquire with deep anxiety, as she looks upon the children given to her care, What is the great aim and object of their education? Is it to fit them for life and its duties, to qualify them to take an honorable position in the world, to do good, to benefit their fellow-beings, to gain eventually the reward of the righteous? If so, then the first lesson to be taught them is self-control; for no undisciplined, headstrong person can hope for success in this world or reward in the next.1 CG 91.1

Train the Child to Yield—The little ones, before they are a year old, hear and understand what is spoken in reference to themselves, and know to what extent they are to be indulged. Mothers, you should train your children to yield to your wishes. This point must be gained if you would hold the control over your children, and preserve your dignity as a mother. Your children quickly learn just what you expect of them, they know when their will conquers yours, and will make the most of their victory.2 CG 91.2

It is the veriest cruelty to allow wrong habits to be developed, to give the law into the hands of the child and let him rule.3 CG 91.3

Do Not Gratify Selfish Wishes—If parents are not careful, they will treat their children in such a way as will lead the children to demand attention and privileges that will call for the parents to deprive themselves in order to indulge their little ones. The children will call upon the parents to do things for them, to gratify their wishes, and the parents will concede to their wishes, regardless of the fact that it is inculcating selfishness in their children. But in doing this work parents are wronging their children, and will find out afterwards how difficult a thing it is to counteract the influence of the education of the first few years in a child's life. Children need to learn early that they cannot be gratified when selfishness prompts their wishes.4 CG 91.4

Give Nothing for Which Children Cry—One precious lesson which the mother will need to repeat again and again is that the child is not to rule; he is not the master, but her will and her wishes are to be supreme. Thus she is teaching them self-control. Give them nothing for which they cry, even if your tender heart desires ever so much to do this; for if they gain the victory once by crying they will expect to do it again. The second time the battle will be more vehement.5 CG 92.1

Never Permit Display of Angry Passions—Among the first tasks of the mother is the restraining of passion in her little ones. Children should not be allowed to manifest anger; they should not be permitted to throw themselves upon the floor, striking and crying because something has been denied them which was not for their best good. I have been distressed as I have seen how many parents indulge their children in the display of angry passions. Mothers seem to look upon these outbursts of anger as something that must be endured, and appear indifferent to the child's behavior. But if an evil is permitted once, it will be repeated, and its repetition will result in habit, and so the child's character will receive an evil mold.6 CG 92.2

When to Rebuke the Evil Spirit—I have often seen the little one throw itself and scream if its will was crossed in any way. This is the time to rebuke the evil spirit. The enemy will try to control the minds of our children, but shall we allow him to mold them according to his will? These little ones cannot discern what spirit is influencing them, and it is the duty of parents to exercise judgment and discretion for them. Their habits must be carefully watched. Evil tendencies are to be restrained, and the mind stimulated in favor of the right. The child should be encouraged in every effort to govern itself.7 CG 93.1

Begin With the “Songs of Bethlehem.”—Mothers should educate their babies in their arms after correct principles and habits. They should not allow them to pound their heads on the floor.... Let the mothers educate them in their infancy. Commence with the songs of Bethlehem. These soft tunes will have a quieting influence. Sing them these subdued tunes in regard to Christ and His love.8 CG 93.2

No Wavering or Indecision—Perverse temper should be checked in the child as soon as possible; for the longer this duty is delayed, the more difficult it is to accomplish. Children of quick, passionate disposition need the special care of their parents. They should be dealt with in a particularly kind but firm manner; there should be no wavering or indecision on the part of the parents in their case. The traits of character which would naturally check the growth of their peculiar faults should be carefully nourished and strengthened. Indulgence of the child of passionate and perverse disposition will result in his ruin. His faults will strengthen with his years, retard the development of his mind, and overbalance all the good and noble traits of his character.9 CG 93.3

An Example of Parental Self-control Is Vital—Some parents have not control over themselves. They do not control their own morbid appetites or their passionate temper; therefore they cannot educate their children in regard to the denial of their appetite, and teach them self-control.10 CG 94.1

If parents desire to teach their children self-control, they must first form the habit themselves. The scolding and faultfinding of parents encourages a hasty, passionate temper in their children.11 CG 94.2

Weary Not in Well-doing—Parents are too fond of ease and pleasure to do the work appointed them of God in their home life. We should not see the terrible state of evil that exists among the youth of today if they had been properly trained at home. If parents would take up their God-given work and would teach self-restraint, self-denial, and self-control to their children, both by precept and example, they would find that while they were seeking to do their duty, so as to meet the approval of God, they would be learning precious lessons in the school of Christ. They would be learning patience, forbearance, love, and meekness; and these are the very lessons that they must teach to their children. CG 94.3

After the moral sensibilities of the parents are aroused, and they take up their neglected work with renewed energy, they should not become discouraged or allow themselves to be hindered in the work. Too many become weary in well-doing. When they find that it requires taxing effort, and constant self-control, and increased grace, as well as knowledge, to meet the unexpected emergencies that arise, they become disheartened, and give up the struggle, and let the enemy of souls have his own way. Day after day, month after month, year after year, the work is to go on, till the character of your child is formed, and the habits established in the right way. You should not give up and leave your families to drift along in a loose, ungoverned manner.12 CG 94.4

Never Lose Control of Yourselves—Never should we lose control of ourselves. Let us ever keep before us the perfect Pattern. It is a sin to speak impatiently and fretfully or to feel angry—even though we do not speak. We are to walk worthy, giving a right representation of Christ. The speaking of an angry word is like flint striking flint: it at once kindles wrathful feelings. CG 95.1

Never be like a chestnut bur. In the home do not allow yourself to use harsh, rasping words. You should invite the heavenly Guest to come into your home, at the same time making it possible for Him and the heavenly angels to abide with you. You should receive the righteousness of Christ, the sanctification of the Spirit of God, the beauty of holiness, that you may reveal to those around you the Light of life.13 CG 95.2

“He that is slow to anger,” says the wise man, “is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit, than he that taketh a city.” The man or woman who preserves the balance of the mind when tempted to indulge passion stands higher in the sight of God and heavenly angels than the most renowned general that ever led an army to battle and to victory. Said a celebrated emperor when on his dying bed, “Among all my conquests there is but one which affords me any consolation now, and that is the conquest I have gained over my own turbulent temper.” Alexander and Caesar found it easier to subdue a world than to subdue themselves. After conquering nation after nation, they fell—one of them “the victim of intemperance, the other of mad ambition.”14 CG 95.3