What “The Ant and the Grasshopper” Teaches about Discipline

Learn what the “Ant and the Grasshopper” fable teaches us about parenting and how we can prevent major issues with our teens by starting with our toddlers.

Ant and Grasshopper parody

In Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood (affiliate link), Fay and Fay compare teaching children early to the well-known story of Aesop’s fable The Ant and the Grasshopper.

Here is it is if you don’t remember (taken from DLTK’s website):

In a field one summer’s day a grasshopper was hopping about, chirping and singing to its heart’s content. A group of ants walked by, grunting as they struggled to carry plump kernels of corn. 

“Where are you going with those heavy things?” asked the grasshopper. 

Without stopping, the first ant replied, “To our ant hill. This is the third kernel I’ve delivered today.” 

“Why not come and sing with me,” teased the grasshopper, “instead of working so hard?”

“We are helping to store food for the winter,” said the ant, “and think you should do the same.”

“Winter is far away and it is a glorious day to play,” sang the grasshopper. 

But the ants went on their way and continued their hard work. 

The weather soon turned cold. All the food lying in the field was covered with a thick white blanket of snow that even the grasshopper could not dig through. Soon the grasshopper found itself dying of hunger. 

He staggered to the ants’ hill and saw them handing out corn from the stores they had collected in the summer. He begged them for something to eat. 

“What!” cried the ants in surprise, “haven’t you stored anything away for the winter? What in the world were you doing all last summer?” 

“I didn’t have time to store any food,” complained the grasshopper; “I was so busy playing music that before I knew it the summer was gone.” 

The ants shook their heads in disgust, turned their backs on the grasshopper and went on with their work.

There are a few morals to this story–like ‘Work before play’–but one to focus on for our purposes is that ‘It is wise to worry about tomorrow today.’

And, yes, this fable as written doesn’t teach the best about caring for our neighbors if you look at it in a monetary light. But if you look at the food stored up as something that can’t be shared, like teaching children, then it fits perfectly.

In 10 years, most of us will have teenagers–at the very least pre-teens. The work I do with my children now cannot be transferred to any of your children 10 years for now.

It is a similar point as made in the parable of the Ten Virgins found in the New Testament. There are some things you can’t share with others even if you want to.

Fay and Fay use this parable as a argument for teaching children today (found on page 4).

They point out that if you start young, you won’t be dancing through the teenage years trying to make up for what you didn’t do in preparation.

They state in the preface that starting early makes it easier (page xi). They repeat this throughout the book–Start as early as possible (page 27), Start as babies (page 30).

This is of course in line with Babywise and Baby Whisperer principles. Start as you mean to go on, be a parent first and friend later.

So keep this in mind as you struggle through your days now. Also keep in mind that right now, you have small stakes. Your child is disobeying you about touching something, not about more serious issues that face a teenager.

Work hard now so you, and most importantly your child, can make it through those harder trials that come along when the child is older.

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What parents should learn from the Ant and the Grasshopper

5 thoughts on “What “The Ant and the Grasshopper” Teaches about Discipline”

  1. i totally agree with you. I've gained a lot of insight, strength and courage to continue to nurture my kids.my kid now is in her terrible twos and is always whining/screaming when it comes to discipline and when she wants to get out of cleaning her mess or wants something her way.often, i have to get her to stop screaming first, then follow thru my instructions. then i will reassure her with some hugs & love.i do my darnest to 'mean what i say' and sometimes wonder if i'm too harsh and if my child will grow up to be rebellious. :(i hope i'm doing things right.

  2. Hi, I was just wondering what your suggestions are for correction of bad behaviour when either out in public or at someone's home, where Isolation may not be possible? Also, do you have any suggestions for how to react to other kids whose behaviour is bad? For example, there are twin boys that are so out of control it is rediculous. Our husbands are both military and currently deployed and at a unit function yesterday, my 18 month old daughter was in a jump house with one of them and he started tackling and punching her. I demanded he stop, because the mother was no where around and he kept doing it and then came up to me and spit at me. I have heard the mother give the excuse that her kids are 2 or 3 (cant remember which),but her kids are out of control. I want to approach the subject with her in a Godly manner, as she is not a Christian and is, from my observation clearly upset by others noticing her childrens misbehaviour, however, she does not do much to stop it. I would love your insight here. Thankfully, my daughter does listen well most of the time and respected my wishes to not touch the blow up Christmas decorations while these two were also punching and tackling them, so she does have self control, but this morning she hit me and I feel this is from what she saw from the two boys yesterday.

  3. Dueck Family,When in public, I think it is a good idea to always be willing to leave the public place if needed. Most children really enjoy going out, so I would explain that the rules are if the child cannot behave, you will leave. Another option is to take the child to the car and buckle her in the car seat, then sit in the front seat with her for a time out. As for other children, I wish I had great words of wisdom here. I feel like I often run into the same issues and I don't exactly k know how to handle it. It is hard when the other parent does not have the same standards for behavior as you do. And I understand what you mean about you child getting violent after spending time with certain children. I A)limit time around children who are not controlled by their parents B)am extra vigilant when they are around so I can stop my child as soon as she starts mimicking behavior C)stick to our rules even when they have no rules that are similar. Maybe you could just ask her, "The other day in the bounce house, your boys were tackling my daughter so I asked them to stop and they refused and just spit at me. I am just wondering if you have any tips for me on how to handle a situation like that? I think they were trying to have fun, but it was hurting and upsetting my daughter so I obviously wanted it to stop…" something like that where you ask her for her advice on what to do. Good luck! I really wish I had the answer for you, but there isn't much you can do when the parent is supposedly present.


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