When the young mother leaves the hospital with her new baby she is given careful instructions by doctor and nurse as a regularly of feeding,naps and fresh air. the physician care is emphasized.
Not always, unfortunately, is her attention directed to the need for care of the mind,k to the close association or mind and body, even in a little child. From lack of this knowledge both children and parents often suffer much.
The first requisite for health of mind and body is quite. During the time for sleep the child should be in a room by itself with plenty to fresh air or of weather permits, it should sleep out of doors in the data time. It should not be taken up to be shown off to admiring relatives and friends nor should older children be allowed to disturb it.
the child should be put to bed at night in a dark room and so taught not to fear the dark.
Quiet should be observed, too, for the times of feeding. The child will eat better if there is nothing to distract his attention from his food, and as he grows older and feeds himself, this becomes even more important. If a little child does not eat well, it is often a temptation to make a game of the meal or to read to him, but as a rule it is much wiser to keep his mind on the thing to be done at that moment. Excitement after a meal is also to be avoided, for quiet is needed for digestion. the little kitten or puppy curls up and goes to sleep after eating. The baby or little child should not be tossed or romped with.
It is often a question whether or not to allow toys during meals or nap time. Surely any noisy or mechanical plaything should be avoided, but a doll that can share a meal or lie down to sleep may have a soothing influence.
Very often valuable lessons may be give through instruction to dolls.
A very early lesson for a child to learn is that of self- control, and he should always have before him the example of self-controlled parents. A mother who loses her temper, stamps her foot and screams ” Stop! Stop!”: to the screaming child, is only adding fuel to the flames. The poor child will scream louder and louder till be becomes thoroughly hysterical. If digestion is in progress, such excitement may easily cause vomiting or even convulsions, and in any case the nervous reaction of such excitement is bad for mind and body.
All too easily a child learns to cry for what he wants, if he finds the method successful. It is a hard habit to break and one that leads to much misery for child and parents. It takes tact on the part of the parent to distract the childs attention from the desired object, or if he is old enough, to reason with him about it; but this can be cultivated and it is time well spent to help the little one learn to control himself. He will be stronger nervously, have a better digestion and better sleep if he is serene in temper.
Of great importance in promoting health of mind in a child. is the avoidance of fear. A child should not be afraid of the dark or of thunder storms, or of the people and objects he sees about him. Stories and pictures about ugly or harmful creatures should be avoided even “Red Ridinghood: is too frightful for many children and fairy stories should be carefully selected. The present day habit of taking little children to see the movies with all the excitement that they bring is most pernicious. “Show White” was supposed to be a suitable picture for children, yet there were scenes in it that would fill a child with horror and would haunt him day and night, interfering with play and sleep.
We might mention, only to condemn, the habit some people have to threatening to send for the doctor or sent for the police when a child is naught. In that way a fear is planted in a childs mind which is hard to eradicate and keep him for recognizing a good friend and protector in the person of the physician or officer.
Just as fear is harmful for a child mentally and physically, so happiness is health-giving. In every way the child should be helped to a feeling of friendliness toward the world which surrounds him. His parents should be his friends and companions even his playmates if possible. But the does need a lot of wholesome play with other children as well as by himself. If he can learn to amuse him self part of the time and even to contrive playthings for himself, it is all to the good. A train of cars made of chairs or boxes does not looks as real to the eyes of a grown up as a mechanical train but it can be quite as real to the small body who arranges it an his initiative is exercised in the planning of it.
Playing with other children teaches the body or girl to get on with the rest of the world, to regard the rights of others and so should help to fit him for life. If he learns to play the game fairly and honestly as a child, he will be much less apt to practice any sharp business tricks later in life and will be saved many a headache or heartache.
Of especial importance in the childs, relationship to others is his learning to respect their property, as well as his own, and not to be destructive. This in the end will make him happier, too. There is nothing cheering in the sight of a broken toy or a torn book.
Perhaps it sounds like preaching to say that the obedient child is the happiest one, but it is true if obedience is taught in a kind and natural way and the child has confidence in the parents justice. This obedience not only makes it easier to keep a child well, but it is infinitely easier to take care of a sick child if he has been taught to mind. A physician often has a sad time examining a child who will not mind and for a nurse it is doubly hard; but for the child himself the consequences of disobedience may be serious. If he cries and frets and tosses about he may do himself no end of harm, aggravating his sufferings and making his whole condition worse.
The careful physician will be on the alert to care for the minds as well as the bodies of his little patients, knowing that the serene, happy child is the really normal one.