How did Indians discipline their children

Of course, there were also twin or even triplet births among the Indians (but relatively seldom) and attitudes towards this were different. In some tribes the mothers of such multiple births were estimated (e.g. Chippewa), in others less (e.g. Arapaho) and occasionally a twin was abandoned. The controversial question of whether boy or girl did not play this role, which one liked to persuade a male-oriented hunter and warrior society, even if in certain tribes (where the danger that men died early through fighting, etc., was greater and therefore often a "Excess women" prevailed) a son was valued higher. But that's not why the parents loved girls less. Social ties are critical to a child's mental development from the start. Of course also with the Indians. The family relationships among them were very different from ours and, although not always the same, were dictated by precisely defined moral codes. In many tribes there was a very close relationship between siblings, so that the term mother or father often also included the mother's sisters or the father's brothers, and their children and their own children were considered siblings. The term uncles and aunts also referred to mother brothers, father sisters, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law and, moreover, often all of themCousins ​​and bases of children. Among the Comanches, for example, the girl called her biological aunt "mother" and this mother-daughter relationship was less formal than that between biological mother and daughter. Hopi children used the same word for mother and aunt. The aunts and uncles looked after their nephews and nieces as much as they did their own children. There was a very close bond between Indian parents and their children, but with many not without a certain distance or restraint, just as a certain shyness was shown between brother and sister in some tribes. In contrast, the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren without this reluctance was cordial, open and humorous. The grandparents made a significant contribution to the upbringing, as they were mostly available and especially mothers of small children took care of them so that they could take care of many other tasks. Grandfather and grandmother were also mostly the ones who gave instructions, advice, and conveyed values, often in the form of stories and stories of bygone times. They instructed the grandchildren in manual skills, in short, they "trained" them in many things that the grandchildren would need in their later life. All of this was done with a lot of patience and forbearance, without ranting, just with gentle admonitions. The grandmother often took care of the sexual too

. |. back to top of page. |.
Educated her granddaughter and described the tasks of women in marriage. So much for social ties in a nutshell. Indian children also went through the same stages in their first phase of life as all other children on earth. The first tooth, the first word, the first step. Up to the age of three or four, many Indian children were breastfed for the reasons mentioned above.
The naming of a child was taken very seriously, as the name plays an important role in the imagination of the Indians. Usually there was a festival for the first naming (whereby the rites were very different), because Indians were often given several names in their lives. The name was important because it was an expression of a spiritual power that, beyond normal upbringing, was also made responsible for fame, efficiency, courage, modesty and others. To a certain extent it meant the transmission of life force. But names were also compulsory, especially those of famous ancestors, and could thus have an educational effect.
Native American children were disciplined very early on, starting with suppressing screaming. In some tribes babies shut their mouths when they screamed, and older children were so terrified with a kind of bogeyman that they fell silent. That sounds harsh, but it was under the aspect that a screaming child would make the enemy aware of the group or the camp
could, vital. There are reports of frightening naughty children everywhere, including the Indians. One of the most common horrors in North America was the owl. The fear of the owl's cry was probably also due to the fact that enemy scouts imitated this call when scouting, and the attacks that often followed it stuck in the kids' minds negatively. Sometimes older people would dress up and frighten disobedient children.
Although the principle of threats and intimidation was practiced in almost all tribes, there was little physical punishment, some tribes even rigorously rejected it, as it harmed the spirit of the child. You never actually hit children under the age of five. However, the educational methods also diverge here. While the peoples of the plains, prairies and many groups of the north and north-east were known for their forbearance and patience and the other cultural zones also harbored a more or less pronounced aversion to this type of punishment, the Shoshone, Kutenai and other Indians of the Large basins and plateaus fail to physically punish their children for repeated offenses. Except in these two areas, beating was seldom the preferred means, mostly admonitions, humiliations and threats were used, as these had a great effect in a community that paid attention to reputation and ideal values.

. |. back to top of page. |.
If you did something wrong, there were immediate repercussions, you were soberly made aware of the social consequences of an ethical misstep, for example: if you are lazy, if you cannot get a husband or if you are brave, you will get a good wife. As part of the discipline for a hard life in a harsh environment, toughening was of course important, but it has nothing to do with corporal punishment. In a society in which insensitivity to pain and fearlessness have been declared a virtue, fear and pain cannot be used to exert pressure and to balance behavior. Therefore there was hardly any beating, but all the more hardening.
As with all primitive peoples, the game played an important role with the Indians. The game was played at all ages, including adulthood. The first toys included objects that were hung over the cradle or child carrier (craddle), some of which had religious significance, while others such as rattles, small bird head skeletons, etc., were only used to distract and entertain the child. From the age of three or four onwards, the boys 'and girls' toys differed. Boys usually received small bows and arrows, the girls dolls made of grass or fur and small pictures of household items such as tipis and the like. The "training" on their respective future roles actually began here.
Some games were played only by girls, some only by boys, some together. The gender separation, however, varied from tribe to tribe. With some it happened at the age of four or five, with others the children were allowed to play with each other up to the age of eleven and even until puberty. Common physical training games or games of skill were very popular. There were ball, throw, marble and hide and seek games of all kinds. Tobogganing was also very popular wherever possible. Later, the boys in particular practiced equestrian games, races, archery, sneaking and stealing (mind you, not to get rich, it was a kind of more or less permitted attempted theft to prepare for raids on enemy camps) and hunting. Although all of this served in preparation for their gender role and was necessary, the character of the game was not lost up to a certain age.
Bathing was particularly popular with all children, and many competitions were held here as well. In general, the children of tribes who lived by the water were advised to bathe daily and not to be afraid of cold water temperatures. Girls of all peoples were prepared for their roles as women and mothers through games, hence dolls and miniature replicas of household appliances.

. |. back to top of page. |.
Even so, the girls often did not have as much time to play as the boys, as they often had to take care of their smaller siblings and helped their mother or other female relatives with the housework at an early age and thereby learned all the things they needed to do . This included working the fur, tanning, cooking, sewing, decorating with pearl or porcupine bristle embroidery (quillwork), planting and / or harvesting, collecting berries and roots and much more. At the same time, the moral instruction and the associated sex education took place, which - as already mentioned - mostly took place through the grandmother or an older female relative. In some tribes the older girls were separated from their male relatives, which of course was not always possible. Adolescent girls were also expected to show a certain shyness and reserve in the presence of their peers of the opposite sex, which in some peoples went so far that the sister shamefully lowered her eyes in front of her brother. Chastity before marriage was a highly valued virtue among most tribes and was closely monitored, although some, such as the Comanches, tolerated premarital intercourse. If a girl had a husband before marriage without anyone knowing, her "horned" husband could send her back, which would be a great shame for the girl's family.From all of this it can be seen that there was also an ideal image for the girls. If the goal for the boys was to be a brave warrior and a successful hunter, the girls strived for the image of the beautiful, hardworking, technically skilled woman, panting before marriage and loyal during marriage.
The Indian upbringing thus consisted, to a very substantial extent, in the moral education of both sexes with regard to their respective roles in the community. This was always done in accordance with the prevailing group morality and its social and ethical norms. Educational means were in summary: the admonitions and advice, the discipline, the toughening, the lessons from fairy tales and myths and above all the incitement of ambition and pride to positively excel in tribal life. Respect for old age played an important role here, because one's own older relatives and especially the old people, who had earned the respect of the entire community through their glorious way of life, were often the bearers of the teachings, were often the narrators of the legends and fairy tales and the desirable goal of every adolescent, since public opinion with regard to moral education became more and more important to him. In conclusion, it can be said that the physical, mental and moral upbringing of Indian children took place in harmony with their way of life, with nature, shaped by religious ideas and determined by the way they lived together.