The Indolent Child
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
TO begin with, it must be admitted that the Indolent Child is rare, and that he is usually the victim of his diet. The wise mother realizes that when new machinery does not run something is clogging it, and removes the cause.
Occasionally, however, she discovers that the trouble is not physical, and then she faces a more difficult proposition. A child does occasionally seem to be "born lazy," and, though the Indolent Child does not greatly disturb the world's progress, he is the guaranty that the loafer's bench of the future will be occupied.
It is possible, while the Indolent Child is young, to arouse in him the thing that lies dormant, the germ of activity — interest. The Indolent Man is jolted out of his inertia by such sensations as cold, hunger and fear. A young child, however, can be trained to respond to less elemental-appeals.
Curiosity often proves effective. Persistent effort in untying a hard knot is the only way to disclose the contents of a paper parcel containing a gift. A long walk is undertaken because the unknown goal is pointed out as highly desirable.
The Indolent Child's teacher feels justified in planning tasks that entail effort but which invariably_ have a pleasurable result. She realizes that this gives a one-sided view of work, but her idea is that love of work for work's sake cannot be expected at first. So the reward of care in mounting a picture is the privilege of taking it home; a blackboard drawing is commented upon and praised; perfect memory work recorded by a star.
Not until the habit of work is started is the appeal . of another's happiness of much avail. Here, too, praise and appreciation are necessary. If the Indolent Child has achieved an uninteresting errand, the interest must be supplied by the grateful parent.
The question of payment in money is a serious one. Regular payment for regular tasks seems legitimate, when these are not the only ones required, and money often acts as a stimulus to work for the Indolent Child.
As the will to work strengthens artificial stimulus is less and less needed and the world is saved another "slacker" as the Indolent Child finds activity a habit and necessity, if not a joy.