How I Do It–The Basics

 

063

“How do you do it?” When people see how many kids I have (5), and how close they are, (between 1 & 8 years old), a question I’m often asked is, “How do you do it?” “I don’t know, I bribe them,” I respond. But deep down, I am thankful they are well-behaved. I’m not bragging. No one’s perfect over here, and I apologize to my kids a lot. But if there’s something I’ve learned that can make your parenting experience easier- no delightful, here it is:

This is the very basic foundation of all my kids behavior. I teach them to obey when they’re young. I’m talking like one-year-old young. The one basic command that they learn before they can even put a spoon of cheerios in their mouth is, “Don’t touch.” That’s the main thing that 1-year-olds do wrong is they they touch stuff that they’re not supposed to.

And good news- teaching a one-year-old not to touch is easy! You can do it like 10 minutes. And if you consistently enforce your “don’t touch” rules at home, people will be flabbergasted how well behaved your kid is. However, if you wait till they’re 3, 4 or 5 years old to obey, it may take months to instill this principle in their hearts.

Whenever my toddlers go after the books on the shelf, or light sockets, or knives in the open dishwasher, I tell them “Don’t touch.” I have a rubber spatula that enforces my voice. If they touch after I’ve told them not to, I grab their hand and tell them, “Don’t touch this,” and spank their hand. They cry, I hug them and kiss them, tell them to say, “Yes, ma’am,” (no, they don’t actually say this yet, but it’s for future training) and let them give me a kiss back. Repeat this process as many times as it takes until they stop touching it. And when they finally stop touching it, do not forget to praise them! “Yay! You did a good job! Good boy!” And throw in some extra kisses.

Does a one-year-old understand? Absolutely! If you stick to it for 10 minutes or so, you will see your toddler pull his hand back when you say, “don’t touch.” Your kids are so intelligent! These are not dogs or horses learning tricks. These kids are human beings, made in the image of God, and they learn quickly! I have often times seen joy in their eyes after learning to obey. It’s almost as if they are proud of themselves for listening.

What do I do if they just keep touching no matter how many times I spank their hand? You are probably doing one of two things wrong: 1) You aren’t spanking their hand hard enough. Simply put, the pain you’re inflicting is not enough motivation to convince them to obey you. Increase the force, and they will cry. But don’t waste those tears. Pull them close, hug and kiss, them and reinforce your rule: “Don’t touch.” 2) You might have too much irritation in your heart. If you are angry and irritated as you are disciplining them, it’s better to just leave it alone. Take a break, and revisit it when you can control the emotions of your heart. Disciplining in anger is something we never want to do. Make sure your heart believes in them, is patient with them, and sticks around to follow up with the hugs and kisses. If you are barking, “Don’t touch!”, spanking their hand, then walking away, it will not work.

Isn’t it mean to spank them? No. What’s mean is never helping your kids develop self-control. Kids with no self-control are hard to be around. Also, kids are unreasonable. You may have noticed that your toddler gives no mind to your convincing argument why sticking a fork into the light socket is bad. But a quick sting will teach him the lesson in 5 seconds. Your kids will be safer and more likable as they grow in self-control.

This whole thing is so important, not just so you don’t have to follow your toddler around picking up the stuff they’ve pulled off the shelf, but because it teaches them respect. They will learn respect for authority and respect for things. A one-year-old who obeys will be a two-year-old who obeys, who will be a three-year-old who obeys, etc. It’s easy to teach this to a one-year old! Not so much for a five-year-old. So start as young as you can!

Ending note: If your kids are older, and you never started them out on these basics of obeying. Don’t worry. You may have to work harder to teach them to obey, and it will take longer, but it is possible. The principles are the same, if they don’t listen to your voice, there will be a consequence that “stings.” Be consistent, and don’t discipline in anger. And always go out of your way to praise them for doing something right.

“Not The Choice We Want Americans To Make”

2014-07-19 10.42.10Our president offended millions of women all over America the other day. In an effort to further equality for women, he noted that mom is usually the one who leaves the workplace to stay at home with the kids. “And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make,” he stated. (Read all his remarks here.)

He justifies his statement by pointing out that staying home with the kids leaves mom earning a lower wage for the rest of her life. And he assumes that the only reason she would even consider staying home with her children rather than getting back to work is because she can’t find a good preschool.

To remedy the problem of moms having to stay home with young children, the government aims to provide high-quality preschools for us. Because according to the president, sending mom to work, and sending the kids to day care is “good for the children” and “good for the family.”

I’m not so much offended as I am infuriated at his statement because he is perpetuating the lie that staying home with children is of little value. The atmosphere of our culture tells us that children are a burden, thus doing all the mundane work of caring for them is kind of like a dishwasher’s job. Someone’s got to do it, but the most intelligent and gifted among us rise to greater things.

But women need to know that their job of training and taking care of their child is the most important job in the world. No preschool teacher can replace the impact you are going to make on your child’s life.

Let me tell you something. The first handful of years of your child’s life are foundational for cultivating the soil from which your child’s character grows. The time to begin teaching self-discipline, respect, diligence, generosity–all the tokens of a healthy economy–is from the very beginning of a child’s life. You will make a difference in America. And it will be measured by the adults that your children grow to be.

So if you can, stay home with your kids. Be relieved from the pressure to “get a career, get a career, get a career.” Pouring your time, energy, and talents into your children is the most profitable, most worthwhile, most rewarding thing you can do with your time. No higher wage can hold a candle to the value of being with your children during the little years. Having mom available at home is what is good for children and good for the family.

Nip It In The Bud

20130829-113142.jpgI’d like to take this posts’s space to stress the importance of training your children while they’re young. Teaching kids not to hit, grab, scream, and throw tantrums should begin as soon as you see it. Usually you start to see them begin to demand their own will around 1 year old.

Don’t be fooled by the powerlessness of your toddler. It might come across cute or the at the very least amusing when they’re this tiny chubby person impotently demanding their own way. In about 5 minutes, they’ll be in elementary school with the same attitude, but with a lot more strength and a larger vocabulary, doing their best to get you to do what they want… unless they learned previously not to act that way.

It’s a lot easier to nip bad behavior in the bud than to try to undo it when the kid older. My son used to hate having his play interrupted for a diaper change. At 11 months old, he would slam his legs down on the changing table in defiance. I would then give him a stinging swat on the bum. The purpose being that I want him to learn as early as possible the attitude that drives us to swing and hit, hurting ourselves or damaging things is never acceptable.

“If I discipline my kids for this stuff early, does that mean they won’t throw tantrums, hit, grab or scream when they’re older?” No. I wish! But the idea that those things are wrong will have already been planted deep in their hearts, and that in and of itself will make life a lot easier. Instead of trying to drive a car that’s out of control, you’ll be constantly and consistently nudging them back on the course that they already know is right.

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Six Tips on Potty Training

20130505-105926.jpg

After potty training 3 times, here are some pointers I’ve collected along the way.

1. Toilet seat lips. The cute character-themed toilet seat lips are not worth the trouble. They trap urine in the crevasses, and have to be cleaned constantly to avoid making your bathroom smell like urine. You’re continually taking them off for the adults, and putting them back on for the kid. Also, where do you store those things? Mine was an eye sore in my bathroom. Storing it on the side of the toilet was usually what I did, but it was bulky and awkward. I was always worried that it was secretly dripping urine on my floor. Turns out, my 2 year old can balance perfectly on a adult-sized toilet without falling in! Skipping the toilet lip saved me a lot of hassle and messes this last time around!

2. Incentive. A little treat each time they go to the restroom will help with motivation. I think a small edible reward is a good little prize for going on the potty. I like to hand out something like Goldfish Crackers. It’s not as unhealthy as candy, but fun enough to get them excited. It’s small enough that you won’t mind giving them one each time they potty on the toilet.

3. Bare bottoms. Toddlers are more aware of their plumbing when they’re bare (or mostly bare). They will be more likely to notice the sensation of needing to use the bathroom if they don’t have diapers, or layers of clothes “padding” them from the consequences. If you go hard on this method for a few days, you could potentially have your toddler potty trained in a weekend.

4. Salty snacks and favorite drinks. Let them go crazy on their favorite salty snack. Popcorn is good, because it’s so light, and they can eat more of it. Then pump them full of fluids. Get them excited about getting their favorite drink in their favorite cup. You can do juice, milk, chocolate milk, tea; however, I never advocate kids drinking a lot of soda which lends nothing to their nutrition. Doing this is especially helpful if you are trying to potty train in a short amount of time, and you want to increase their trips to the bathroom.

5. Diapers over Pull-ups. Pull-ups are fun and cute, and a little more convenient, but they are pricey and not completely necessary. You can get the same use out of your diapers, just by fastening them slightly looser than normal. That way you can pull them up and down with ease. You can use up the rest of your diapers and save a little money by bypassing the Pull-ups.

6. The casual method. The more casual method of potty training may look like taking your toddler to the toilet whenever you have the chance, not really worrying about accidents. You keep them in their diaper all day, praising and rewarding them when they actually drop something in the toilet. This method takes longer, but is more convenient if you don’t have the opportunity to stay glued to your toddler’s side, watching him like a hawk for several days.

What are some potty-training tricks that made your potty-training experience successful?