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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 12 (March 2, 1936)

Child Behaviour

Child Behaviour.

The train slowed down at a refreshment station. The noisy crying of a small child, to which we had grown partly accustomed while the train was in motion, smote our ears anew. The mother rose, grasping child and handbag. An older boy, of about three years, demanded, “Get some for me! I'm coming too!”

“Stop grizzling!” scolded the mother. “You've been grizzling all the afternoon. You stay here, or I won't go.”

With the child still calling out after her, she stepped out of the carriage and moved along the platform.

I looked at her through the carriage window. Judging by her voice, I expected to see an older, weary, nerveworn woman; but she was a girl, young, strong, fresh-faced. The children, too, were well-built and healthy. No occasion here for whining, grizzling, lack of temper—even on a train.

I felt sorry for her. Her children will make her old unless she alters her tactics with them. Children, naturally copy the tone of voice of those about them. A pleasant-spoken mother has the pleasure of hearing her children speak in the same way. I myself remember the hurt bewilderment when, as a tiny child, my father first spoke to me in an impatient, angry tone. Even a small child will respond to a courteous request and resent a snappy order.

All children are very quick to learn which grown-ups mean what they say, be it spoken ever so quietly; they know too, and take advantage of, the person who, loud-voiced and badtempered though he or she may be, can be cajoled into altering a decision.

A good rule for parents is: “Never give an order to a child, unless you are determined that it is to be carried out. Always express that order courteously, if necessary giving reasons for it, without pandering to a child's method of procrastination—the interminable ‘Whys,’ before an order is obeyed.