Child Guidance


Chapter 38—Study Age, Disposition, and Temperament

Do Not Hurry Children Out of Childhood—Parents should never hurry their children out of their childhood. Let the lessons given them be of that character which will inspire their hearts with noble purposes; but let them be children and grow up with that simple trust, candor, and truthfulness which will prepare them to enter the kingdom of heaven.1 CG 204.1

There Is a Beauty Appropriate to Each Period—Parents and teachers should aim so to cultivate the tendencies of the youth that at each stage of life they may represent the beauty appropriate to that period, unfolding naturally, as do the plants in the garden.2 CG 204.2

One of Christ's most beautiful and impressive parables is that of the sower and the seed.... The truths which this parable teaches were made a living reality in Christ's own life. In both His physical and His spiritual nature He followed the divine order of growth, illustrated by the plant, as He wishes all youth to do. Although He was the Majesty of heaven, the King of glory, He became a babe in Bethlehem, and for a time represented the helpless infant in its mother's care. CG 204.3

In childhood Jesus did the works of an obedient child. He spoke and acted with the wisdom of a child, and not of a man, honoring His parents and carrying out their wishes in helpful ways, according to the ability of a child. But at each stage of His development He was perfect, with the simple, natural grace of a sinless life. The Sacred Record says of His childhood, “The child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.” And of His youth it is recorded, “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” Luke 2:40, 52.3 CG 204.4

Diversity of Disposition in Family Members—Marked diversities of disposition and character frequently exist in the same family, for it is in the order of God that persons of varied temperament should associate together. When this is the case, each member of the household should sacredly regard the feelings and respect the right of the others. By this means mutual consideration and forbearance will be cultivated, prejudices will be softened, and rough points of character smoothed. Harmony may be secured, and the blending of the varied temperaments may be a benefit to each.4 CG 205.1

Study Individual Minds and Characters—Every child brought into the world increases the responsibility of the parents.... Their dispositions, their tendencies, their traits of character are to be studied. Very carefully should the discriminating powers of the parents be educated, that they may be enabled to repress the wrong tendencies and encourage right impressions and correct principles. CG 205.2

Violence or harshness is not required in this work. Self-control must be cultivated and leave its impression on the mind and heart of the child.5 CG 205.3

It is a very nice work to deal with human minds. All children cannot be treated in the same way, for that restraint which must be kept upon one would crush out the life of another.6 CG 205.4

Stimulate Weak Traits; Repress Wrong Ones—There are few well-balanced minds, because parents are wickedly negligent of their duty to stimulate weak traits and repress wrong ones. They do not remember that they are under the most solemn obligation to watch the tendencies of each child, that it is their duty to train their children to right habits and right ways of thinking.7 CG 206.1

Learn the Disposition of Each Child—Children must have constant care, but you need not let them see that you are ever guarding them. Learn the disposition of each as revealed in their association with one another, and then seek to correct their faults by encouraging opposite traits. Children should be taught that the development of both the mental and the physical powers rests with themselves; it is the result of effort. They should early learn that happiness is not found in selfish gratification; it follows only in the wake of duty. At the same time the mother should seek to make her children happy.8 CG 206.2

Mental Needs Are as Important as Physical—Some parents attend carefully to the temporal wants of their children; they kindly and faithfully nurse them in sickness, and then think their duty done. Here they mistake. Their work has but just begun. The wants of the mind should be cared for. It requires skill to apply the proper remedies to cure a wounded mind. CG 206.3

Children have trials just as hard to bear, just as grievous in character, as those of older persons. Parents themselves do not feel the same at all times. Their minds are often perplexed. They labor under mistaken views, and feelings. Satan buffets them, and they yield to his temptations. They speak irritably and in a manner to excite wrath in their children, and are sometimes exacting and fretful. The poor children partake of the same spirit, and the parents are not prepared to help them, for they were the cause of the trouble. Sometimes everything seems to go wrong. There is fretfulness all around, and all have a miserable, unhappy time. The parents lay the blame upon their poor children and think them very disobedient and unruly, the worst children in the world, when the cause of the disturbance is in themselves.9 CG 206.4

Encourage Amiability—The ill-balanced mind, the hasty temper, the fretfulness, envy, or jealousy, bear witness to parental neglect. These evil traits of character bring great unhappiness to their possessors. How many fail to receive from companions and friends the love which they might have, if they were more amiable. How many create trouble wherever they go, and in whatever they are engaged!10 CG 207.1

Varied Temperaments Need Varied Discipline—Children have varied temperaments, and parents cannot always give the same manner of discipline to each. There are different qualities of mind, and they should be made a prayerful study that they may be molded so as to accomplish the purpose God designed.11 CG 207.2

Mothers, ... take time to get acquainted with your children. Study their dispositions and temperaments, that you may know how to deal with them. Some children need more attention than others.12 CG 207.3

Dealing With Unpromising Children—There are some children who need more patient discipline and kindly training than others. They have received as a legacy unpromising traits of character, and because of this they need the more of sympathy and love. By persevering labor these wayward ones may be prepared for a place in the work of the Master. They may possess undeveloped powers which, when aroused, will enable them to fill places far in advance of those from whom more has been expected. CG 207.4

If you have children with peculiar temperaments, do not, because of this, let the blight of discouragement rest upon their lives.... Help them by the manifestation of forbearance and sympathy. Strengthen them by loving words and kindly deeds to overcome their defects of character.13 CG 208.1

You Can Train More Than You Think—Just as soon as the mother loves Jesus, she wants to train her children for Him. You can train the disposition of children much more than you think you can from their earliest years. That precious name of Jesus should be a household word.14 CG 208.2