The child’s need for activity provides it with experiences, enriches it with knowledge, introduces it to the environment, fills it with security and self-confidence. It also brings it in touch with other people, gives it the opportunity to develop socially and to adapt to the community. Through various activities, the child gradually becomes independent, and this helps it to bravely cope with various life difficulties. The activity gives the child the opportunity to experience the success of its own effort. Self-confidence is based on that. It is intensified if the success in one’s own activity brings recognition of the environment and the affirmation of its individuality. Experiencing one’s own value instills in the child at the same time trust in other people, motivating it to adapt to the community and the useful cooperation in it.
That is why educators are obliged to provide the child with as many opportunities as possible from the very beginning of life to practice acquiring various skills, to gather knowledge and experience. The child must first and foremost gain a positive experience about its abilities. We cannot suggest or tell it that: it only has to experience it. The child needs to feel its strength, skill, intelligence, dexterity and resourcefulness. It must know its possibilities and experience the success of its endeavor, and as often as possible; because man never has too many positive experiences about himself. There is no point in educators convincing a child that it is smart, skilful, capable, etc. The child must feel this in practice. Therefore, it is necessary to allow the child to independently perform all the actions to which it has grown up.
The child must immediately know from the beginning of life the fact that the way of life is not sprinkled with rose petals, but that it is full of stones and thorny bushes. In life, only a man who has learned to overcome various difficulties and obstacles, who has acquired sufficient resistance to the blows of life, who has become accustomed to failures and defeats, experiences real success and satisfaction. The motto is often heard that children should be provided with a happy and carefree childhood. There is no doubt that this setting is correct, because a happy childhood is a basic prerequisite for the healthy development of a young person. But this requirement also contains great danger if we do not interpret it sufficiently. Most parents will conclude from this slogan that the child should be spared from all tasks, duties and difficulties, because it is still small, it will still have a lot of worries and duties when it grows up, so at least let it enjoy itself now. This “enjoy itself” then consists in the child remaining dependent and relying on its educators in everything. The danger of this motto, then, lies in the fact that it leads people – when they misunderstand it – to spoil their children to the extreme.
The belief that a spoiled child enjoys itself is completely wrong. Namely, the child feels the consequences of its lack of independence very early. It is timid, does not get along with other children, does not feel grown up with its peers, does not believe in its abilities, so it avoids difficulties, seeks relief, runs away from responsibility and tries to insure itself against risks. Such a child lives in constant mental tension, in a conflict between its insecurity and life problems. It is quite amazing that such a child is happy and enjoying itself. On the contrary, it is very unhappy and will be more unhappy the older it gets, that is, the harder its life tasks will be.
From the beginning of life, the child should face various difficulties, tasks and duties. Kinds of tasks, of course, that the child can master on its own. It should be constantly encouraged to solve problems on its own. It should not be spared or helped in those activities that it can perform on its own. On the contrary, it should be burdened as much as possible with tasks that suit it.
When the child struggles with the first steps, a sensible mother will encourage it with calm and kind words, and will not hold its arms convulsively, frightening it with the dangers of that first step into space. Every step taken independently is a positive experience that contributes to raising self-confidence. But every timid step with someone else’s help and with warnings and intimidation is a negative experience because it is discouraging. Then the child will take the next step with less certainty. It will be scared and feel the need for help because it has experienced that it cannot do it on its own.
A proper educator will allow the child to eat only when it shows a desire for that activity. Although the child will spill half of the meal at the beginning because it will clumsily handle the spoon, a reasonable mother will remain patient and will not prevent it from practicing these actions. Later, it should be allowed to get dressed on its own, to wash itself, to store its things, to do various small chores in the household, to go to the store. When a child feels the need for the company of other children, the parents will let it play with them and will not timidly keep it with them. If a child stumbles and falls, a prudent educator will encourage it to get up, and will not immediately run to its aid and raise it with a hundred superfluous questions and anxious rebukes.
One might object that a child will sooner or later learn to govern itself independently, to walk, to dress and wash, to move among people, to learn, to play – no matter how it is treated . There is no doubt that a child will definitely master basic life skills one day. But for the development of its personality, it is not secondary whether it will acquire a skill and become independent in an activity two or three years sooner or later. It should master a skill as soon as it matures for it, that is, as soon as interest in such an activity appears in its behavior. If this does not happen, the child is burdened with a whole range of experiences about its incompetence and helplessness. It then loses motivation for the activity, no longer shows initiative for it, tries to avoid it and forces the environment to do it for it.
In order to support a child in activities, it is necessary to constantly encourage it to productive training, i.e. to practice abilities and to gain experience. But it is not enough for a child to be active. Its sense of success will only be complete when it experiences recognition from adults. Only the knowledge that the environment has noticed its activity, that it appreciates it and thus attaches a certain value to its personality, will motivate the child to accept new activities with more confidence. That is why it is necessary to recognize, point out and praise every, even the smallest success of the child. That is the essence of a child’s systematic encouragement. Even when something is objected to, when some of its mistakes are pointed out, it is necessary to show confidence in it in the same sentence and thus encourage it.
When a child does poorly on a homework assignment, a sensible educator will do something like this:
‘You did this badly, you were careless, you were in too much of a hurry and you were superficial, but you can do it much better. The other day you did a difficult task correctly. Try again, think a little better, and you’re sure to do a good job. “
If we want the child to get rid of the shortcomings, they should not be attacked directly. Mistakes should be pointed out along the way, but the starting point for their elimination should be sought in the positive qualities, in its successes. But when pointing out either the positivity or the negativity in a child’s behavior, one should never point the finger at the child’s personal characteristics. For example, the child should not be reprimanded personally, as a person; only its mistake should be rebuked. When a child is told:
“You’re stupid, you’re naughty, you’re lazy,” etc., then it is discouraged. With such words, we diminish the value of its personality in our own, and then in its eyes. And we want to achieve just the opposite. We want to constantly raise our self-confidence. Therefore, in the same situation, we would rather react like this:
“You made a mistake in this, you did this wrong, you acted carelessly in that.”
By complaining about a certain act and current behavior, and not its personality, or more or less constant characteristics, the child is tacitly given the opportunity to correct its behavior. In this way, the educator indirectly expresses confidence in the child because they do not conclude from some momentary negativity that it constantly carries negativity within itself. That is why such an action motivates it to behave more positively, while attacking its personal qualities encourages it to defy.
The same principle should be followed when recognition is given to children’s successes. Instead of praising the personal characteristics of the child – for which, after all, it is not always deserving – only a positive act, i.e. concrete success, should be praised. If it is praised personally, the child will become vain and conceited, and this is avoided in proper upbringing. When only a concrete act is acknowledged, the child is motivated to constantly prove its true worth with new positives and successes. In this way, it automatically develops into an increasingly healthy personality. Therefore, the child’s success should be roughly responded to as follows:
>> You did this well; I didn’t expect you to do it so skillfully; I knew you would understand that correctly; I like this ”etc.
You should not be too loud and demonstrative. It is enough to say a few words of recognition, but as often as possible. Special and solemn hymns are unnecessary. It is better to include praise in everyday conversation.
When a child is facing a more difficult or long-term task, in which it must invest a lot of energy, and success can be expected only after some time, it is necessary to recognize attempts to solve the task, even if it will not succeed immediately. Thus the child is encouraged to persevere in its endeavor despite initial failures.
When children are burdened with various tasks from an early age, when they practice to overcome difficulties, they become resilient and persistent in their work and do not lose interest and self-confidence as soon as something fails them.
Reasonable parents do not tie the child to themselves, but try to make themselves appear unnecessary in front of it in as many areas of activity as possible. Many parents think that they will secure their child’s attachment if they serve it in everything, keep it close, deny it independence and save it from any burden. It is true that children raised in this way remain overly attached to their parents, but not out of love and loyalty, but out of pure opportunism – because they are incapable of living independently, because they depend on their parents and cannot cope without their help. Such people do not know how to break away from parental influence, although at the same time they sometimes hate their parents – at least unconsciously – precisely because of their psychological dependence on them.
A properly raised child, who has become emotionally independent in time and acts on its own initiative and responsibility, will remain loyal and grateful to its parents all its life, even though they never made a special effort to ensure its gratitude. Precisely because they raised a child for life, and not for themselves, the logic of life rewards them many times over for their natural attitude towards a young person. It rewards them by the fact that their children manage successfully in life, that they grow into socially positive people, to the joy and pride of parents to whom they always pay respect, because they instinctively feel how much they are responsible for their success in life.
A prudent educator allows the child to decide on its own conduct, to bear responsibility for its actions. From the beginning of life, the child must gain the experience as often as possible that it is, admittedly, free in its activity, but that no one will bear the consequences of its behavior instead. The basic fact of life’s reality is that no one has to do what they don’t want and that no one can forbid a man from doing what he wants. But no one can avoid the consequences of their behavior. It is a law of life logic, a relentless law that a child must know as soon as possible in order to take a realistic attitude towards life.
A proper educator does not determine how children will play or forbid them from playing a game unless it is extremely harmful or dangerous. They shouldn’t interfere with children’s play even when children quarrel or fight. If the child is playing in a way that could cause it inconvenience and despite the warning does not stop, for example, teasing other children, it is best to let it experience the natural consequences of its behavior. Let it hit, let it fall, let it receive a blow from another child who has been treated awkwardly, let it get a poor grade in school if it has not learned its lesson. These are all valuable experiences that a child needs to learn in order to learn to behave in a realistic way. We cannot replace its own experiences with anything.
When a child experiences the unpleasant consequence of its awkward behavior among other children, it should not be scolded or blamed for being disobedient, tactless, stubborn and the like.. It is necessary to calm it down, show understanding for its trouble and convince it that it will not happen again if it changes its behavior. In this way, even the most unpleasant experience becomes useful and contributes to emotional maturation.
Trying to make a child independent, allowing it self-initiative, exposing it to the logical consequences of its behavior and trying to become responsible for every act, does not mean that it should be left to itself, that you should give up and not take care of it. It is the task of the educator to constantly monitor the child’s development, to monitor its activity and to take care of its progress. A proper educator helps the child when needed, but does not take over its tasks. They will explain a task to the child if the child does not understand it and will point out the possibility of a solution, but they will not solve it for it. The child must gain the experience that in every activity it can count on the support of adults if it is faced with a task that it simply cannot solve. That makes it safer. A prudent educator is interested in children’s play, shows interest in what the child learns in school or what it does in its free time. They talk about it with the child, teach it, ask it what it thinks about certain problems, and sometimes ask for advice. Such an educator does not bother the child with constant persecution at work or moral sermons, or endless objections. But it is not relieved by the consequences of mistakes.
What is basic, therefore, is the principle of proper upbringing: to remain always a friend to the child, well-meaning and ready to acknowledge success, but not to relieve it of the duties, responsibilities, tasks, and logical consequences of its actions; be always supportive and there for the child, but not intrusive; allow the child freedom and independence, but don’t solve its personal problems for it. It is a process that makes the child independent, instills in it a sense of security and deep trust in the environment.
It is necessary for the educator to supervise the children’s activity, but in such a way that it is with friendly cooperation and not authoritative control. Systematic work can be most successfully encouraged if interest in its interests is shown, if their value is recognized, and if they are used to direct children’s activity to what is necessary for the proper development of a young person. Many educators only know how to condemn, ridicule and belittle children’s interests – for example, football, comics, adventure movies. But they do not achieve a positive effect. Because children – as well as adults – long for the “forbidden fruit” the more it is forbidden.
The child will soon take a positive attitude towards its educator if they ever talk to it about football, cowboy movies, comics and the like, about the positive and negative sides. Then the child will gain more trust in the educator, it will not feel the need to defy them. This will give the educator the opportunity to shift the child’s interest to increasingly useful areas. It is well known: we gladly receive advice, instructions and orders from the one we respect, but we automatically resist the one we feel distrustful of.
You should never show your superiority in encouraging productive work, because the child is discouraged by that. The child should be given the opportunity to express a dissenting opinion from ours and to defend its point of view. It is more useful to discuss with the child than to command it in everything. It is wiser to teach a child a few times than to constantly impose your knowledge on it. When an educator makes a mistake, it is imperative that they admit it.
When a child experiences failures or does not behave the way the environment wants, patience should not be lost immediately. It is useless to force it to take action by impatient admonition. It is better to patiently encourage it and show unwavering confidence in it, although there is no success at the moment. In addition, educators need to be active and enterprising people who are not afraid of tasks and do not shy away from difficulties. Their behavior must be imbued with life optimism if they want to develop such traits in a child as well. Educators will best stimulate children’s interest in expanding their intellectual, aesthetic and ethical horizons if they themselves show a lively interest in acquiring knowledge, science, nature, art, moral values and social justice.
It is a big mistake when parents promise various rewards to persuade their children to learn better. It’s a bribe. The child then loses sight of the real purpose of learning and learns only for the sake of a reward. In addition, they undermine their authority by bribing them, because the child can now blackmail them and play with them at will. It can set the conditions they need to meet in order to be worthy of learning.
It is nonsense to especially reward children for their innate abilities. It often happens that a child gets a prize because it is the best student in the class. At the same time, teachers do not ask what is the cause. Perhaps excellent grades are not the result of diligence at all, but the result of above-average talent. In that case, teachers reward something that is not the child’s fault. And in that same class, there are probably children who have tried much harder to master the curriculum, but due to poorer intelligence, they achieve only mediocre grades. Their effort is usually not acknowledged or rewarded by anyone, so it is understandable that they are increasingly losing motivation to learn. For a successful child, success alone is a sufficient reward. A less successful child should also be recognized for his or her efforts to succeed, although the success is only partial.
It should not be inferred from this that educators should never reward children. On the contrary, gifts are an important educational tool because they enhance the emotional connection between the child and the educator. But they must not be a reward for the success of the child or for its positive trait, but should be an expression of the love of adults for the child. It is wrong, then, to say: If you are good, I will buy you this and that.
The educator should occasionally surprise the child with some grace that will be a sign of attention, proof that it means something to the educator and that despite its shortcomings, it has preserved the educator’s trust. Gifts must not be unconditional.
In the life of a child, there are two activities that are specific to the developmental age and are a significant means of independence and self-worth. It’s games and schooling.