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India-Gods's Abode

When Children Cry for Things

Q: Sweet Mother, why do some children have the habit of always asking for things? Material things, like sweets, everything they see...

Oh, because they are full of desires. They were probably formed with vibrations of desires, and as they have no control over themselves it is expressed freely. Older people are also full of desires, but usually they have a kind of... how do we call it?... They are a little shy of showing their desires or they feel a bit ashamed or perhaps are afraid they will be laughed at; so they don’t show them. Well, they too are full of desires. Only children are more simple. When they want something they say so. They don’t tell themselves that perhaps it would be wiser not to show this, because they don’t yet have this kind of reasoning. But I think, generally speaking, with very few exceptions, that people live in perpetual desires. Only, they don’t express them, and sometimes they are ashamed also to acknowledge it to themselves. But it is there, this need of having something... you know, one sees something pretty, it is immediately translated into a desire for possession; and this is one of the things... it is absolutely childish. It is childish and indeed it is ridiculous, because at least ninety times out of a hundred, when the one who had a desire for something possesses it, he doesn’t even look at it any longer. It is very rarely that this thing continues to interest him once he has it, whatever the nature of the object.

-The Mother
(Ibid. Vol. 6,pp.411-15)

Q: Sweet Mother, how can we help a child to come out of this habit of always asking?

There are many ways. But first of all you must know whether you will not just stop him from freely expressing what he thinks and feels. Because this is what people usually do. They scold, even sometimes punish him; and so the child forms the habit of concealing his desires. But he is not cured of them. And you see, if he is always told, “No, you won’t have that”, then, simply, this state of mind gets settled in him: “Ah, when you are small, people don’t give you anything! You must wait till you are big. When I am big I shall have all that I want. “ That’s how it is. But this does not cure them. It is very difficult to bring up a child. There is a way which consists in giving him all he wants; and naturally, the next minute he will want something else, because that’s the law, the law of desire: never to be satisfied. And so, if he is intelligent, one can tell him, “But you see, you insisted so much on having this and now you longer care for it. You want something else. “ Yet if he was very clever he would answer, “Well, the best way of curing me is to give me what I ask for.

“Some people cherish this idea all their life. When they are told that they should overcome their desires, they say, “The easiest way is to satisfy them.” This kind of logic seems impeccable. But the fact is that it is not the object desired that has to be changed, it is the impulse of desire, the movement of desire. And for this a great deal of knowledge is needed, and this is difficult for a very young child.

It is difficult. Indeed, they don’t have the capacity for reasoning; one can’t explain things to them, because they don’t understand the reasons. So you see, when it is like that the parents usually tell the child, “Keep quiet, you area nuisance!” In this way they get out of the difficulty. But this is no solution. It is very difficult. It asks for a sustained effort and an unshakable patience. Some people are like that all their life; they are like babies throughout their existence and it is impossible to make them see reason. As soon as one tells them that they are not reasonable and that one can’t all the time be giving them things to satisfy their desires, they simply think, “These people are unpleasant.

This person is not nice.” That’s all.

In fact, perhaps one should begin by shifting the movement to things which it is better to have from the true point of view, and which it is more difficult to obtain. If one could turn this impulsion of desire towards a... For example, when a child is full of desires, if one could give him a desire of a higher kind - instead of its being a desire for purely material objects, you understand, an altogether transitory satisfaction - if one could awaken in him the desire to know, the desire to learn, the desire to become a remark- able person... in this way, begin with that. As these things are difficult to do, so, gradually, he will develop his will for these things. Or even, from the material point of view, the desire to do something difficult, as for example, construct a toy which it is difficult to make - or give him a game of patience which requires a great deal of perseverance.

If one can orient them - it requires much discernment, much patience, but it can be done - and if one can orient them towards something like this, to succeed in very difficult games or to work out something which requires much care and attention, and can push them in some line like this so that it exercises a persevering will in them, then this can have results: turn their attention away from certain things and towards others. This needs constant care and it seems to be a way that’s most - I can’t say the easiest, for it is certainly not easy - but the most effective way. To say “No” does not cure and to say “Yes” does not cure either; and sometimes it becomes extremely difficult also, naturally.

I knew people, for example, whose children wanted to eat everything they saw. They were allowed to do it. So they fell very ill. After that, they felt disgusted. But this is a little risky, isn’t it? There are children who fidget with everything. Now, one day, you see, one child got hold of a box of matches. Then, instead of telling him, “Don’t touch it”, they let him do it: he burnt himself. He never touched them again.

But it is a little dangerous, because some children are altogether unconscious and very bold in their desires: for example, those who like to walk on the edge of a wall or the top of a roof or have the desire to plunge into water when they see it or to dive into a river... you see, this becomes sometimes very difficult... or those who have the mania for crossing the street: each time they see a car coming... they try to cross it. So if they are allowed to do so, the experience may one day be fatal...

Probably, one needs to find a middle term between the two, between the two extremes: that of watching over him all the time and that of leaving him absolutely free to do what he likes, without even warning him against the accidents which are likely to occur. An adjustment to make every minute! Difficult.

-The Mother