The will is a powerful force. It leads the way, commands behavior, it makes kingdoms rise and fall.
A strong willed child is disobedient, hard to get along with, tries to take the reigns at every turn. At least that is the philosophy I learned in my early parenting, until I was introduced to Charlotte Mason’s writing. From her I learned that the child I just described is weak willed. He has difficulty directing his will. His flesh is in control. This is the child that cannot sit and stay on task, does not do what you ask immediately but instead argues and fusses at any request. His will is weak.
“The will is the controller of the passions and emotions, the
director of the desires, the ruler of the appetites” (Vol. 1, p. 319).- Charlotte Mason
Earlier today, I overheard one of my children instructing his father on how to discipline him.
“Dad, don’t do that! You can’t do that! So, what did I do? I don’t get it! What’s the big deal?” He did get it. He knew the what the problem was. He knew he had name called, been disrespectful and disobedient. He didn’t want to pay the piper. His will was weak. He challenged authority because he struggles with having authority over himself.
A child with a weak will is undisciplined. Outer discipline trains for inner discipline. An undisciplined child lives by the “pleasure principle”. He may be willing to do something if it is fun or immediately rewarding. This is exhausting and achieves no character or significant learning in the child. (Ruth Beechik)
A weak willed child only does a task if he feels like doing it. He is likely to freeze frame when the parent leaves the room because he has no inner resolution to complete the task. This a fifteen minute bedroom cleaning session can turn into hours of agony for the parent. This same child will give into his appetites- eating an entire bag of cookies, stealing sugary sweets from his siblings and lying about it, chowing down on a whole box of granola bars, etc…
“The passions, the desires, the appetites, are there
already, and the will gathers force and vigour only as it is
exercised in the repression and direction of these” (Vol. 1,
p. 319).- Charlotte Mason
So, what is to be done to strengthen resolve and point the will in the right direction?
Watch for Part II of The Will!