As a mother of four young children, I have found that avoiding anger or raised tones in the governing of my young ones goes far to create both a happier home and children. In my experience, it also makes for a happier mother.
Maintaining a gentle and happy disposition can be much more easily said than done, however, so I find myself often looking to the guidance of those with more wisdom and experience than I. Without fail, reading over their advice helps me to set aside my frustrations and resolve to govern the children as much as possible with consistency, strength, and a cheerful disposition.
The passage that follows is from Miss Beecher’s volume, Housekeeper and Healthkeeper. I find it most helpful, and refer to it often:
Miss Beecher’s Guidance on Parenting Without Anger
Another maxim, and perhaps the most difficult, is, Do not govern by the aid of severe and angry tones. A single example will be given to illustrate this maxim. A child is disposed to talk and amuse itself at table. The mother requests it to be silent, except when needing to ask for food, or when spoken to by its older friends. It constantly forgets. The mother, instead of rebuking in an impatient tone, says, “My child, you must remember not to talk. I will remind you of it four times more, and after that, whenever you forget, you must leave the table and wait till we are done.” If the mother is steady in her government, it is not probable that she will have to apply this slight penalty more than once or twice. This method is far more effectual than the use of sharp and severe tones, to secure attention and recollection, and often answers the purpose as well as offering some reward.
Cross and Angry Tones Not More Effective Than Gentle Consistency
The writer has been in some families where the most efficient and steady government has been sustained without the409 use of a cross or angry tone; and in others, where a far less efficient discipline was kept up, by frequent severe rebukes and angry remonstrances. In the first case, the children followed the example set them, and seldom used severe tones to each other; in the latter, the method employed by the parents was imitated by the children, and cross words and angry tones resounded from morning till night in every portion of the household.
Happy Children Are More Easily Governed
Another important maxim is, Try to keep children in a happy state of mind. Every one knows, by experience, that it is easier to do right and submit to rule when cheerful and happy, than when irritated. This is peculiarly true of children; and a wise mother, when she finds her child fretful and impatient, and thus constantly doing wrong, will often remedy the whole difficulty by telling some amusing story, or by getting the child engaged in some amusing sport. This strongly shows the importance of learning to govern children without the employment of angry tones, which always produce irritation.
Governing Children of Difficult Temperaments
Children of active, heedless temperament, or those who are odd, awkward, or unsuitable in their remarks and deportment, are often essentially injured by a want of patience and self-control in those who govern them. Such children often possess a morbid sensibility which they strive to conceal, or a desire of love and approbation, which preys like a famine on the soul. And yet they become objects of ridicule and rebuke to almost every member of the family, until their sensibilities are tortured into obtuseness or misanthropy. Such children, above all others, need tenderness and sympathy. A thousand instances of mistake or forgetfulness should be passed over in silence, while opportunities for commendation and encouragement should be diligently sought.