1. Never make a promise you don’t intend to keep. It brings discredit on you and teaches your child to lie.
2. Never shout. To rear a child you must control him. As humans we are only controlled by qualities we do not have ourselves. If there is one quality a child does not possess, it is calm, which is the direct opposite of the extreme mobility of his nature,
his impulsive impressionability. Calmness controls him, not shouting.
3. Never deceive. “Give me your whistle; you will see what fine music I can make.” The child, with no defense, gives you his whistle and you put it in your pocket: “Now with the whistle there, you can’t annoy us anymore.”
4. Never punish trust. By saying, for example, if you want the child to take some disagreeable medicine: “Oh this is good! Drink it, you will see.” The child sips it and pushes away the deceiving
cup. You have failed him in your words. A few scenes of this kind and the child will lose all confidence in those who speak to him. If we wish to be believed, we must not abuse belief.
5. Never do yourself what the child, with a little time and ingenuity, can do himself; otherwise, he will never learn to take the initiative. On the contrary, confront him as soon as possible and as often as possible with tasks that are beyond him and which are capable of challenging him a bit so that he learns to gauge his strength, to remain humble because of non-success, and eager for
struggle because he wants to conquer the obstacle.
6. Never tolerate backtalk to a command, or grumbling, or any argument about it. Never take back a prohibition especially if the child tries to work its recall by tears and coy maneuvering.
7. Never present a task to the child as completely beyond his capabilities as in “Could you do that? You’ll be too afraid to do that?”—so that he gets the idea of a possible sidetracking of the issue or a sliding out of it altogether. No, tell him squarely what to do as if it were just an ordinary, simple matter. “Do this. Go there, please.” In this way the child will not question his ability to do what is asked.
8. Never seem to attach importance to little scratches, bumps, and bruises he gets (naturally, proper attention should be paid to real needs). The child often cries when he hurts himself just to get
attention, and being pitied makes him think he is a more interesting individual when injured. If you do not appear excited, he will understand that it is useless to make a tragedy of the affair. Care for the hurts that need care, and far from magnifying the
case, explain that it isn’t anything much: “You will have many others! Be brave and try to have more nerve about it!” The child grows calm.
9. Never inflict a humiliating punishment in the presence of others, except in the rare case that might be needed to punish an ineradicable pride. Aside from such a case, you would be degrading a child beyond reason: “Look how ugly he is!” “How clumsy you are!” Or what is worse— “Look at your brother, see how good he is!” Such comparisons are odious and only excite jealousy.
10. Never flatter: “Isn’t he a darling!” The child knows this only too well. Encourage him, but don’t praise him. To praise him [in this instance—Ed.] is to admire him for an advantage he has without merit on his part; to encourage him is to congratulate
him on meritorious effort. Never tolerate the adulations of people who visit you either.
Adapted from Raoul Plus, S.J.’s Christ in the Home (Colorado
Springs, CO: Gardner brothers, 1951), 138 – 140. It is a treasure chest of advice for Catholics on the practical and spiritual concerns of raising a family. To obtain a copy