Through Affection to Appreciation
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
IS a little child affectionate by nature? This seems an easy question to answer, till we hear that some psychologists contend true affection does not appear till adolescence. This arises, I suppose, from the theory that in the teens the appeal to idealistic service is strong, while in earlier years love expresses itself in the wish for physical nearness and in response to benefits received.
I am not a specialist in adolescence, but I was once an adolescent and a very selfish one, as I recall, and I see reflected in girls of today that same intense self-consciousness, love of pleasure and sense of abuse if it is not forthcoming. I confess that to me a little child's spontaneous show of affection and his delight in being with the people who make up his world is refreshing in comparison.
His liking is transitory, and out of sight is usually out of mind, so long as he is comfortable. However, he will sometimes greet a returned parent with tears, which shows that unknowingly he has felt a loss. On the other hand, many a child shows utter unconcern or even regret on such an occasion. "Why did you come back so soon? We are having a lovely time with grand-ma," was one child's welcome to her mother.
There is affection that shows itself in mere physical demonstration, there is the give-and-take kind, and the higher sort that combines admiration and appreciation.
What we want to do is to assist in a little child's dawning ability to appreciate. We might almost call the Beginners' Course a course in appreciation. We know that it is beyond the possibilities for him to appreciate others to any extent. We simply point out the way.
1. Stories. The stories of the baby Moses and of Hannah help toward an appreciation of human motherhood, and those of the orioles and Tabby Gray and Fluff in an appreciation of animal and bird motherhood. "Joseph Taking Care of His Father" shows one son's love and care for his father, and the stories of Ruth a daughter's affection expressing itself in demonstrations, in the desire for close companionship and in service.
Stories that help little children to appreciate God are those that recount his care for them, such as "The Heavenly Father's Care for His Children" and "Thanking God for Good Gifts." Such stories as "Jacob's Ladder" and "David Praising God" show two men's recognition of God's part in their lives. Indeed, all the Old Testament stories we tell are permeated with the thought of God.
The stories of Jesus help a child to appreciate him. "Love for a Guest" and "A Room for a Friend" show love made practical
2. Bible Verses. Bible verses that tell of love are these : "God is love" ; "He careth for you" "Thou, Lord, hath made me glad" ; "We love, because he first loved us"; "Love one another"; "Forget not to show love unto strangers."
3. Songs. Such songs as "Jesus loves me"; "God is love" (Songs for Little People) and "He Cares for Me" help to foster appreciation.
4. Prayer. Informal prayers that name food and clothes and other gifts from God help in this education in appreciation, as do the more formal prayers that tell of God's blessings. "We are glad for our mothers," or "that little birds have mother birds to make nests," is another form of appreciative prayer.
5. Pictures. Pictures that show a mother's tender care or God's gifts make a child's appreciation concrete.
6. Handwork. To draw God's gifts — the apple on the tree that the teacher draws, the bird, or flower, or glass of milk, or egg, also make appreciation concrete. Parents' gifts, too, can be crudely drawn.
7. Play. Play is after all children's most normal expression. They love to show in pantomime ways in which their mothers and other members of the family care for them. They delight in acting out ways in which they have been entertained, and all that others do to make them happy.
8. Department Attitude. In the department itself affection is not allowed to show itself in demonstration to any great extent, but little loving acts of consideration for others are made much of, to raise the ideal of affection to its finest form.
In such ways may a child's natural affection be made "open sesame" to appreciation.