HEALTH AND CLEANLINESS
thing should be taught to a child from his early years:
to enjoy cleanliness and observe hygienic habits.
But, in obtaining this cleanliness and respect for
the rules of hygiene from the child, one must take
great care not to install into him the fear of illness.
Fear is the worst instrument of education and the
surest way of attracting what is feared. Yet, while
there should be no fear of illness, there should be
no inclination for it either. There is a prevalent
belief that brilliant minds are found in weak bodies.
This is a delusion and has no basis. There was perhaps
a time when a romantic and morbid taste for physical
unbalance prevailed; but, fortunately, that tendency
has disappeared. Nowadays a well-built, robust, muscular,
strong and well- balanced body is appreciated at its
true value. In any case, children should be taught
to respect health and admire the healthy man whose
vigorous body knows how to repel attacks of illness.
Often a child feigns illness to avoid some troublesome
obligation, a work that does not interest him, or
simply to soften his parentsí hearts and get them
to satisfy some caprice. The child must be taught
as early as possible that this does not work and that
he does not become more interesting by being ill,
but rather the contrary. The weak have a tendency
to believe that their weakness makes them particularly
interesting and to use this weakness and if necessary
even illness as a means of attracting the attention
and sympathy of the people around them. On no account
should this pernicious tendency be encouraged. Children
should therefore be taught that to be ill is a sign
of weakness and inferiority, not of some virtue or