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Character Building - Work

( Originally Published Early 1900's )



OH, mamma! Don't you just hate to do that?" said the dainty, small daughter, as she watched her mother washing up the baking-dishes.

"Why no, dear, I don't. I like to work for the people I love," said the mother.

The daughter spent a moment deep in childish reflection, and then she remarked that she believed she would dust the dining-room chairs while mother finished the kitchen work.

Let the little ones work with you as soon as they can, Zelia Margaret Walters advises leaders of "The Mothers' Magazine," even if their childish awkwardness does hinder more than help for a while, and let them see always a cheerful, faithful performance of every duty. The reward will come by and by when the children grow older with the spirit of helpfulness firmly fixed in them. Then they can be entrusted with parts of the work, and the mother can be sure it will be done faithfully.

In training little children the mother should see that the task is suited to the child's endurance. If you give a little girl a great tableful of dishes to wash, you need not be surprised if she becomes fretful before she is done. A child's enthusiasms are short-lived, and a child's task should be something that can be finished before it becomes wearisome.

Parents must be careful to give the children tasks that are suited to their age. The thought that they are working for mother, for those they love, will be an inspiration. At three or four years of age they can begin to help older people by dusting, brushing up, helping with dishes, etc. At four or five years of age they can make presents for friends. From six to nine they can begin to do "chores" regularly, to dig in the garden, to do weeding, to do ironing, to wash dishes, and to care for small animals. From nine to fourteen they can begin and continue housework, taking care of large animals, washing clothes, cutting grass, pruning trees, hoeing, sewing by hand or on a ma-chine, general care of the house, and many other things, de-pending on their home and surroundings. Both boys and girls should be taught to be helpful and useful, and, if possible, to love work-that is, really to enjoy the work they are doing.

In early years children should be taught that all honest work -be it work of the hands or work of the brain-is noble and proper and honorable. To be a drone, to be a loafer, is mean and ignoble. They should be shown that all great and successful men and women have been great workers-that they will succeed in proportion as they work with hands or brain. And so they should be taught to do honest work in mastering school and college studies, and in reading good books.

"The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night '

Mothers may begin to teach the all-important value of work to tiny tots by reading them such poems as "How Doth the Little Busy Bee" and " Good Night and Good Morning," in Volume I. Then the "Robinson Crusoe" stories and the tale "Amendment," in Volume III, are both enjoyable and stimulating. Older children will find much to interest them in Volume VI, such as "The Ascent of Mount Tyndall" and "Historical Sketch of Arctic Exploration," which recount great work accomplished. Take up Volume VII and read "Scott in Adversity" and "Charles Darwin," and in volume VIII " The Flying Machine" and " Bees in the Hive." Volume IX might be called our "Workers' volume," for in it are the shining examples of Lincoln, Webster, Roosevelt, Edison, and Palissy among men, and Louisa May Alcott, Emma Willard, and Jenny Lind among women. See also in that volume "The Start and the Goal." In Volume X girls should find plenty of advice regarding domestic activities. There is a department in Volume XI entitled " Work and Industry." From this volume learn "The Builders," "Labor," "A Psalm of Life," and other kindred poems.



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