Child Guidance


Chapter 39—The Will a Factor in Success

Every Child Should Understand the Power of the Will—The will is the governing power in the nature of man, bringing all the other faculties under its sway. The will is not the taste or the inclination, but it is the deciding power, which works in the children of men unto obedience to God, or unto disobedience.1 CG 209.1

Every child should understand the true force of the will. He should be led to see how great is the responsibility involved in this gift. The will is ... the power of decision, or choice.2 CG 209.2

Success Comes When the Will Is Yielded to God—Every human being possessed of reason has power to choose the right. In every experience of life God's word to us is, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” Joshua 24:15. Everyone may place his will on the side of the will of God, may choose to obey Him, and by thus linking himself with divine agencies, he may stand where nothing can force him to do evil. In every youth, every child, lies the power, by the help of God, to form a character of integrity and to live a life of usefulness. CG 209.3

The parent or teacher who by such instruction trains the child to self-control will be the most useful and permanently successful. To the superficial observer his work may not appear to the best advantage; it may not be valued so highly as that of the one who holds the mind and will of the child under absolute authority; but after years will show the result of the better method of training.3 CG 209.4

Do Not Weaken, but Direct the Child's Will—Save all the strength of the will, for the human being needs it all; but give it proper direction. Treat it wisely and tenderly, as a sacred treasure. Do not hammer it in pieces, but by precept and true example wisely fashion and mold it until the child comes to years of responsibility.4 CG 210.1

Children should early be trained to submit their will and inclination to the will and authority of their parents. When parents teach their children this lesson, they are educating them to submit to God's will and obey His requirements, and fitting them to be members of Christ's family.5 CG 210.2

To Be Guided, Not Crushed—To direct the child's development without hindering it by undue control should be the study of both parent and teacher. Too much management is as bad as too little. The effort to “break the will” of a child is a terrible mistake. Minds are constituted differently; while force may secure outward submission, the result with many children is a more determined rebellion of the heart. Even should the parent or teacher succeed in gaining the control he seeks, the outcome may be no less harmful to the child.... CG 210.3

Since the surrender of the will is so much more difficult for some pupils than for others, the teacher should make obedience to his requirements as easy as possible. The will should be guided and molded, but not ignored or crushed.6 CG 210.4

Lead; Never Drive—Allow the children under your care to have an individuality, as well as yourselves. Ever try to lead them, but never drive them.7 CG 210.5

Exercise of Will Expands and Strengthens Mind—A child may be so trained as to have ... no will of his own. Even his individuality may be merged in the one who superintends his training; his will, to all intents and purposes, is subject to the will of the teacher. Children who are thus educated will ever be deficient in moral energy and individual responsibility. They have not been taught to move from reason and principle; their wills have been controlled by another, and the mind has not been called out, that it might expand and strengthen by exercise. They have not been directed and disciplined with respect to their peculiar constitutions and capabilities of mind, to put forth their strongest powers when required.8 CG 210.6

When There Is a Clash of Wills—If the child has a stubborn will, the mother, if she understands her responsibility, will realize that this stubborn will is part of the inheritance she has given him. She will not look upon his will as something that must be broken. There are times when the determination of the mother meets the determination of the child, when the firm, matured will of the mother meets the unreasoning will of the child, and when either the mother rules because of her advantage of age and experience, or there is a ruling of the older will by the younger, undisciplined will of the child. At such times there is need of great wisdom; for by unwise management, by stern compulsion, the child may be spoiled for this life and the next. By a lack of wisdom everything may be lost. CG 211.1

This is a crisis that should seldom be permitted to come, for both mother and child will have a hard struggle. Great care should be shown to avoid such an issue. But once such an issue is entered into, the child must be led to yield to the superior wisdom of the parent. The mother is to keep her words under perfect control. There are to be no loud-voiced commands. Nothing is to be done that will develop a defiant spirit in the child. The mother must study how to deal with him in such a way that he will be drawn to Jesus. She must pray in faith that Satan shall not be victor over the child's will. The heavenly angels are watching the scene. CG 211.2

The mother must realize that God is her helper, that love is her success, her power. If she is a wise Christian, she will not attempt to force the child into submission. She will pray; and as she prays, she will be conscious of a renewal of spiritual life within herself. And she will see that at the same time the power that is working in her is working also in the child. And the child, in the place of being compelled, is led and grows gentler; and the battle is gained. Each kindly thought, each patient action, each word of wise restraint, is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. The mother has gained a victory more precious than language can express. She has renewed light and increased experience. The “true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world,” has subdued her will. There is peace after the storm, like the shining of the sun after rain.9 CG 212.1

Parents Should Retain Youthful Feelings—Too few realize the importance of retaining, as far as possible, their own youthful feelings, and not becoming harsh and unsympathizing in their nature. God would be pleased to have parents mingle the graceful simplicity of a child with the strength, wisdom, and maturity of manhood and womanhood. Some never had a genuine childhood. They never enjoyed the freedom, simplicity, and freshness of budding life. They were scolded and snubbed, reproved and beaten, until the innocence and trustful frankness of the child was exchanged for fear, envy, jealousy, and deceitfulness. Such seldom have the characteristics that will make the childhood of their own dear ones happy.10 CG 212.2

A Great Mistake—A great mistake is made when the lines of control are placed in the child's hands, and he is allowed to bear sway and control in the home. This is giving undue direction to that wonderful thing, the will power. But this has been done and will continue to be done because fathers and mothers are blind in their discernment and calculation.11 CG 213.1

A Mother Who Yielded to Her Crying Child—Your child ... needs the hand of wisdom to guide him aright. He has been allowed to cry for what he wanted, until he has formed the habit of doing this. He has been allowed to cry for his father. Again and again, in his hearing, others have been told how he cries for his father, until he makes it a point of doing this. Had I your child, in three weeks he would be transformed. I would let him understand that my word was law, and kindly but firmly I would carry out my purposes. I would not submit my will to the child's will. You have a work to do here, and you have lost much by not taking hold of it before.12 CG 213.2

Unhappy Life of the Spoiled Child—Every child that is not carefully and prayerfully disciplined will be unhappy in this probationary time and will form such unlovely traits of character that the Lord cannot unite them with His family in heaven. There is a very great burden to be carried all through the life of a spoiled child. In trial, in disappointment, in temptation, he will follow his undisciplined, misdirected will.13 CG 213.3

Children who are allowed to have their own way are not happy. The unsubdued heart has not within itself the elements of rest and contentment. The mind and heart must be disciplined and brought under proper restraint, in order for the character to harmonize with the wise laws that govern our being. Restlessness and discontent are the fruits of indulgence and selfishness.14 CG 213.4

The Background of Many Trials—The sad trials, which prove so dangerous to the prosperity of a church, and which cause the unbelieving to stumble and turn away with doubt and dissatisfaction, usually arise from an unsubdued and rebellious spirit, the offspring of parental indulgence in early youth. How many lives are wrecked, how many crimes are committed, under the influence of a quick-rising passion that might have been checked in childhood, when the mind was impressible, when the heart was easily influenced for right and was subject to a fond mother's will. Inefficient training of children lies at the foundation of a vast amount of moral wretchedness.15 CG 214.1