The Child With A Temper
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
THE Child with a Temper does not need anybody to diagnose her case, but she sadly needs treatment. We all know the symptoms — red face, flashing eyes, frowns and clenched fists. Furthermore, we all know the cause lack of self-control. But of the cure we are not so certain.
The world at large seems to regard the Person with a Temper as belonging to a special species, which must be endured but can by no possibility be cured. Outbursts that would not be tolerated in most people are winked at because, "He has a temper, you know."
Shall we save the Child with a Temper from such a fate? For it is not an enviable position to be made allowance for, which means that one is also dreaded and usually disliked.
Now, as the antidote for temper is self-control, our problem is to get self-control in the saddle before temper has the reins in hand. Temper is quick, mounts hastily and dashes off, while self-control usually arrives only by the time temper is disastrously thrown.
Child with a Temper, we intend to give you something quicker than your temper. Your mother began well with you, during your first tantrums. She either shut you in a room by your-self or put you to bed. She never whipped you then, or scolded you till the outburst was over. Then she explained how unhappy it had made everybody. She appealed to your wish to be liked by telling the story of "The White Dove." Then she meted out your punishment. For every out-burst of temper was as certain to be followed by punishment as day by night. Your mother believed that the more remote natural punishment -- lack of popularity, slavery to anger — must be anticipated by other punishments imposed by her-self. Sometimes you went without a favorite dessert. Sometimes you were denied a pleasure. If your fit of temper had made any particular per-son unhappy, you did what you could to make it up to him.
Your mother made these tasks rather arduous. It was not enjoyable to stick together the bits of glass of the vase you broke in anger. Your fingers got sticky and the pieces were hard to fit. When you had done it, the vase would not hold water, and you were obliged to save up your pennies to buy your aunt a new one. You did not want to part with your doll's new hat, but you had torn your playmate's doll's hat, in a fit of temper, and of course you had to replace it. There was no real way of making up to your grandmother for spoiling her visit by a tantrum but you did give her joy by the scrap-book it took you many hours to make.
So gradually you have become imbued with the idea that temper 'brings unpleasant results, and you desire to master it. Your chief reason, frankly, is because these results affect you unpleasantly, but you are beginning to have a feeling that people will hate you if you show temper, and there is dawning a wish not to hurt others.
Your mother has also helped you to ward off approaching ill-temper. She speaks your name when she sees the red flag of danger flying in your cheeks. "Count before you speak," she cautions, and by ten counts self-control is in the saddle. "Sing first, quick," she cries, and the song makes you forget your anger. You are learning to employ some of these devices by yourself. Self-control is growing quicker. Temper is less rapid.
Ah ! my dear, we who teach you and love you rejoice in all this. It means the saving of a great many people's feelings. It means the saving of yourself from slavery and dislike. We will join in the effort to give self-control the start over temper, but we shall hope never to tame you down to such an extent t at your temper will not rise at injustice or unkindness to others!