Hints on Child Training (1890) presents a gentle, loving and holistic approach to rearing children. Henry Clay Trumbull, a minister of an American Congregationalist church, head of the Sunday School Movement and grandfather, believed that children are whole persons and, accordingly, parents must train their children’s bodies, emotions and minds. “Teaching” involves imparting knowledge; “training,” on the other hand, concerns “the shaping, the developing, and the controlling of [a child’s] personal faculties and powers.”
Drawing on his own experience as a father, grandparent and teacher, Trumbull wrote in Child Training that a parent’s best tools for disciplining their child into obedience are caring, sympathy, gentleness, attention and respect. Parents should not try to force their children to comply, but rather should encourage the desire in their children to obey. Always humbly turning to scripture as a guide, Trumbull explains that God, our preeminent parenting model, desires us to obey happily, not out of fear or force. God does not break his children’s will, but rather leaves them to the unhappy consequences of their own choices as punishment.
Hints on Child Training also counsels parents to establish good habits in every aspect of their child’s life, from their appetite and manners to their choices in reading, companions and more. Most importantly, Trumbull admonishes parents to present their children with an authentic faith, not a wish-genie god or some other such superficial belief that crumbles when trials come. This “hint,” among other child-training advice, makes Trumbull’s book as relevant and helpful today as it was over one hundred years ago.