Ellen White's Approach To Discipline

"It means much to train up children that have not had proper discipline. But I have proved the matter; it can be done. I thank the Lord that I have had success, perfect success, in this line of work."

Manuscript 62, 1911


In reading articles on raising children by Mrs. White, I was surprised to learn that she not only raised her own children—in some cases she was helped by others as a result of ministry needs, but she also raised other children who came to her, (1) by way of adoption—she used this term, but it was not an "adoption" as we think of in our day, rather taking children into her home; and (2) people giving children to her to raise. Notice the following statement: "When I have seen children mismanaged I have said, Give them to me. And I have taken child after child, and I tried to fashion them after Christ’s order." She also said, "I have adopted children in order that they might be trained in right lines." Her approach was extremely positive, and used a gentle, loving, prayer-oriented approach, that brought, in her words, "perfect success." Needless to say, the claim of perfect success definitely attracted my attention. I have accordingly added some excerpts on how she raised her own children and other children, as described above.

A Longer General Article

Counsels On Discipline

This is an excerpt of a longer unpublished manuscript that combines her general counsel with two paragraphs on how she personally worked with children. You will learn much from reading this article.


A Longer Compilation On Discipline

The Longer Compilation Regarding Mrs. White's Approach To Discipline

On this page you will find almost all of the paragraphs that I have found on how Mrs. White worked with the children entrusted to her care. Here you will gain a practical understanding of what you read in Child Guidance.


Excerpts On Mrs. White's Disciplinary Approach

Shorter Excerpts

Up to now I have not seen an entire article devoted to Mrs. White's manner of working with children. Rather, mentions of her efforts with children are made in the course of a longer presentations, and consist of a sentence or two, sometimes several paragraphs. On this page I have added some of the shorter excerpts.

I Have Had Perfect Success

"It means much to train up children that have not had proper discipline. But I have proved the matter; it can be done. I thank the Lord that I have had success, perfect success, in this line of work. I have nursed them in sickness and brought them to God in prayer and to health. I have said to them, The Lord understands that you are trying to overcome and to please the Saviour who gave His precious life for you, that you should be converted and be a blessing to your associates in school." {Ms62-1911}

I Have Taken Children Into My Home

"I have taken children right into my home. I have prayed with those who had known nothing but the rod over them. I do not know that I ever had to strike them but once, and that was after repeatedly telling them what the right was. Most always they would submit, and throw their arms around my neck, and with tears confess their wrong."

"Ask The Lord To Forgive Me"

"I had replied that when we all came together in the evening we could talk it over. When evening came, they had all had time for reflection, and they did not feel inclined to bring charges against one another. They would say, “Mother, I have done thus and so,” and the tears would start from their eyes, as they would add, “I feel as if I would like to have you ask the Lord to forgive me. I believe He will.” And then we would bow in prayer and confess the sins of the day, and pray for forgiveness. After confessing their wrongdoings, these little fellows would soon fall asleep." – {1SAT 375.1}

I Would Not Do As I Knew Many Were Doing

"No scolding; no fretting. I made up my mind I would not have that, at any rate, in my house. When the children disobeyed, I would take them and talk with them. I would tell them I would not do as I knew many were doing, lay the rod upon them, or the rattan, but I would tell them: Now, you have done a wrong thing. You have grieved the Spirit of God. You have grieved Christ who gave His life for you. I have taken you and adopted you as my children, and if you will come into right order, I will help you in every way possible. My husband was an invalid, and so we would take them out to ride in our carriage, and we would take our dinner, perhaps, out in the grove, and we would make it as pleasant for them as we could." {Ms82-1912}