It is during the baby’s second year that his mother and father will begin to teach him the things he must learn if he is to live comfortably and happily with other people. They must be careful not to expect too much too soon. It takes many months and much patience to teach a little child. It will be several years before he can really begin to be responsible for what he does. Children are not born knowing what they may and may not do. It is the responsibility of the parents to teach the little child gradually and in a kindly way. All children must learn that there are limits beyond which they may not go. It is unfair to a little child not to teach him what he may do as he is growing up.
How the little child is taught is all-important. If his parents are constantly punishing him or are expecting too much of him, he will become bewildered, upset, and finally angry. Then he becomes “negative” and much more difficult to teach. If his parents have done a good job during his first year, they will have built up a warm, happy, comfortable, and friendly feeling between themselves and their child. This is important, now that they must teach him, for a little child learns best when he feels happy and comfortable with the person from whom he must learn. This will be important throughout his entire life.
There are two ways of teaching a little child. One is through pain or fear, the other through pleasure or satisfaction. The fear and un-happiness that a little child derives from the first method makes it one that should be used as little as possible. If he is continually punished and scolded his fear may become great enough to keep him from learning, instead of helping him to want to learn. A little child usually learns best when his mother and father are good-natured, relaxed, and patient, friendly, yet firm. Little children want to please their mothers and fathers. They will try to do many of the things they are expected to do if their parents do not push them too hard or expect too much of them. Too many parents forget that, in order to do things the way mother and father want them done, the child is continually being asked to give up doing them in his own way. He will give up his way more readily if he is rewarded by a fine feeling of having done something that pleased father and mother. Their smile or hug of approval means a lot to him.
Before parents try to teach their little one-year-old, they must be careful to think through what are the important “no” things in his young life. If they are continually saying, “No, you mustn’t do that,” or “No, you can’t have this,” or just “No, no, no,” the baby naturally becomes confused and upset. Then he begins to respond to his parents with “nos.”
Wise parents plan for this second year. It is best for a mother to expect it to require her patience and time. There is no other way. During his first year the baby could be kept more or less in one place, where she knew he was safe. During his second year his play pen becomes too confining for more than short periods of time and he is “into everything.” This is not naughtiness, but it is part of his growing-up. He is getting to know the world about him by touching, feeling, and tasting everything within reach. He is finding out about the many strange things he encounters during his day. He is learning to walk and, later, to run and climb. He is developing the use of the large muscles of his hands and legs. He wants to push and pull and will push chairs about if nothing else is available. As the Chinese say, he is no longer a “lap baby” but a “knee baby.” (Continue below to page 2)