Lady Befuddled:     Dear Sir Peabody, I know I came into your lovely Emporium with a great deal of concern for my son Thomas.  However, looking at the situation now, I think to myself:  is it not possible, at only two years old, he will merely outgrow this fitful stage of life?

Sir Peabody:     Why Madame, that is a most exquisite question, unfortunately, unless carefully guided most children do not.  If you are to continue granting Thomas his every wish, as you have so already done, the situation will grow only worse.  As good Sir Samuel Pickering says, “when a child is accustomed to having all it asks for, it soon becomes unreasonable in its demands.”8  Children must be appropriately directed from their first breath.  Keeping this in mind, it is important to remember that children learn best from example; they are natural copiers and imitate almost everything they see.  Parent’s cannot simply tell their children to act one way then themselves behave another.  If a mother wishes her child to have self-knowledge, duty and virtue--all very desirable traits--she should herself exhibit these qualities.  Likewise, obedience, love of truth, innocence, courage--these do not come with birth.  They come with loving nurture, example and guidance.8

Lady Befuddled:     By guidance, Sir Peabody, what exactly do you mean?  I would like to properly show Thomas the way, but I do not know the exact way how.

Sir Peabody:     Guidance is simple and difficult at the same time.  First, when Thomas is misbehaving, take his toys away or show him a facial expression that lets him know he was in the wrong.  Whipping your child is not appropriate.  Your aim should be to teach reason.  As said above, children learn by example.  If you yourself are in a passion and enter into whipping, you are not engaging in reason.  Reason and passion work never together.  Your child may learn his lesson, but it will be by fear.  He will not understand why the behavior was wrong. 


Street Fight--the perils of

Lady Befuddled:     Well, as long as he never behaves in that manner again, what is the difference?

Sir Peabody:     The difference is that if your child understands why his behavior is wrong, it is possible for him to use that knowledge and apply it to similar incorrect behavior.  If he has gotten in trouble for lying, through reason he will be able to conclude that stealing is also wrong, for it also involves deceit.  However, if a child is never explained why an activity is inappropriate, he might never make a connection between the various deceits and could find himself stumbling into each of their snares one at a time. 

Lady Befuddled: I certainly do not want to see Thomas getting into so much folly, attempting each crime because I have not explained to him the destructive, unhealthy aspects of such behavior.  I shall certainly follow your advice on this account.

Sir Peabody: It is my hope you will follow my advice on many accounts.  In addition to what I have already said, it is important that you do not show your child any extremes of passion, never demonstrating intense anger or excessive fondness.  Also, do not bribe your children.  Offering candy in exchange for good behavior is simple bribery; reason and understanding have no place there. 

On that note, I will show you James Nelson’s An Essay on the Government of Children7 and offer you an abridged list of the essentials leading to good manners and the misleading vice that sometimes block their path.




Children's Moral Instruction

Proper Letter Writing



Ball Room Etiquette