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Monday, June 07, 2010

Susanna Wesley's Household Rule #3

Here are my thoughts on Susanna Wesley's Household Rules:
Rule #3: They are required to take medicine without complaining.
I like the fact that Susanna Wesley specifically states that the child should not complain about having to drink bitter medicine.  There is nothing more off-putting than a whining and complaining child.  A child who sees fit to whine and complain about medicine is one who has not fully grasped the concept of what medicine is meant to do.  In short, this rule is mostly about obedience.  

Obedience is not just about carrying out an instruction, but also about the attitude in which the instruction is carried out.

I have taught Stardust that obedience is "straight away, all the way and with a happy heart".  When I discipline him, I ask him to remember what obedience means and reciting the definition helps him to keep things in perspective.

However, for a child to truly be able to obey with a happy heart, they need to know why they are required to follow that instruction.  That is, parents should be able to give some form of explanation that goes beyond "Because I said so!".

I think it is very important for children to be able to have faith in their parents - that is, children should know that parents have only their best interests at heart.  If a child is secure in that knowledge, then I think that they are more willing to cooperate.

To me, this means that parents have a responsibility to be honest and to make sure that their children are given a full briefing before asking them to participate in a new experience (especially if the experience is likely to be unpleasant).

For example, a trip to the doctor's for an injection should never be disguised as a trip to the zoo (this actually happened to a 5 year old patient of mine, and let me tell you, she was *not* amused).  If you need to do something to them which is going to hurt (e.g. removing a thorn or cleaning a wound), then it is worth telling them that it is going to be painful but that it has to be done in order for them to get better.  Lying to a child in order to coerce them will only lead them to conclude that your wheedling ways are not trustworthy, and they will be more resistant to following your instruction in the future.

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Anonymous valerie said...

I quite agree that you need to tell them the truth. I always told the children what the injection was for in straightforward but simple terms and explained that it would hurt etc as you say and invariably they didn't make a fuss at all because they were prepared for what they thought was far worse!

11:07 pm  
Blogger tscd said...

valerie: Good for you! I always think that it is amazing how brave children can be when they are well prepared. I bet the nurses were impressed with how well you handled your children too!

2:29 pm  
Blogger valerie said...

I had 3 children with 16 mths between them. There was an older girl and twins, also girls. I thgink my doctor thought me "robust"!

8:32 pm  
Blogger tscd said...

valerie: WOW! Kudos to you for managing a 16 month old who probably still wants to be carried around, plus twin infants. You must have had to hop around on one leg very often. Do you have superb biceps now?

8:36 am  

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