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Children's SectionCustomer Question: Sir Peabody! Allow me to introduce myself; I am known as Lady Befuddled—and truly dear Sir, that I am. The situation is this: as of late, my beloved son Thomas, now only two years into this world, has been acting amuck—behaving pertinently and engaging in all sorts of unpleasantries. I give him all he asks for; but truly sir, it seems not to do a bit of good. The moment he has one object, he simply wants another and will stop at no number of tears or moans to get at it. His passions are extreme and tragically outweigh reason. I am utterly at a loss as to how I might cure this dreadful ailment.
"the Smile" (Corporation of London)
Answer: My dear Lady, how sincerely distraught am I to hear of your unhappy predicament. Yet fear not for your son, he may still come to cure. If his age were any higher I might hesitate in this assurance, but as temper is most pliable during the first few years of life, your child maintains high promise. Additionally, I am almost certain I have already detected at least one source of his unruly behavior. Madame, before I begin in my explanation, I want to assure you I do not mean this as insult. With that I proceed: while granting Thomas all he demands may seem at first the most effective mode of subduing his passions--logic being, what person could be ill content when at whim he may hold in hand any desire. Unfortunately, such methods only increase want. And when want cannot be satisfied, the child does not have the knowledge or means to manage his disappointment with reason. Hence, my first recommendation is this, do not spoil your child, giving to his every plea. When a request is untimely or inappropriate, it will do your Thomas best, not to grant him his wish, but to calmly and sternly reject his request. Since he has not of yet had his will rejected, he may not take quickly to such a change. However, Madam, fret not, if you stick to such a method, Thomas’ temper will surely improve over time.
However, to make certain Thomas grows into a mild tempered reasonable man more than non-indulgence will be required. He must have knowledge. Behold about you our fine collection of books. Within these pages Thomas may find the knowledge he needs. It is never too early to begin teaching children correct morals, manners and beneficial behavior. Many of today’s authors have put such advantageous lessons to story. It is true, as you may have heard, some of these stories lend strongly to the imagination, indulging children in overly fantastic thought. However, I give you full assurance, I thoroughly inspect all stories entering this door and not one such fantastic story may be found on my shelves. Today’s collection of children’s stories is vast and can be divided into roughly seven categories, each shaping the story line to enforce specific moral lessons: allegory and school stories, foundling tales, stories based on Pamela, and stories discouraging improper treatment of servants and inferiors.