Thursday, March 26, 2009
Training our children in right reactions takes deliberate focus and patience. We cannot give parenting a few rushed moments here or there in our day, intentional mothering requires time, lots of time.
Our children need to learn to rightly respond to fear (the thunder, new situations, strange people, animals) to joy (the gift received, the promised treat, the holiday, visitors) sadness (illness, injury, wounded feelings) frustration (toys not fitting right, the missing puzzle piece, time to leave the park, waiting in the supermarket) and so on and so on.
We need to model the right responses, role play, teach the why, encourage, practice, praise the efforts and correct the inapproriate choices.
Slowly, oh so slowly, they will learn to demonstrate right reactions based on self-control and kindness to others. Joy!
Saturday, March 21, 2009
WOLLONGONG GEMS FEBRUARY 2009 – QUESTION and ANSWER NIGHT
Hello Ladies! These answers assume you have read TERRIFIC TODDLERS (ideas for planning your day and teaching self-control – the base virtue for parenting) and TERRIFIC TODDLERS 2 (practical ways to teach virtues such as obedience, patience, kindness, cheerfulness, helpfulness etc). Also, they are a brief starting point for dealing with the issue raised, each one could have had a two page answer and my two finger typing speed is just not up to that!! Please feel free to email me with any additional questions or clarifications. firstname.lastname@example.org
“Parents who follow Christ’s example do not correct without the Gospel of grace as part of the message. They do not admonish without pointing to the reality of the love of Christ. They see every instance of trouble, failure, and sin as another opportunity to teach their teenager to cast himself on Christ. They never call wrong, right, but they always deal with wrong in a way that depicts the glorious realities of the Gospel. And they never try to do with the power of their words or the gravity of the discipline what only Christ can do as he enters a teen’s heart by His grace. The pre-eminent theme of their home will not be their disappointment and their anger at their teenager’s failure. The pre-eminent theme will be Christ. He will dominate the times of failure as Forgiver and Deliverer, and he will dominate the times of obedience as the Guide and Strength. In each experience he will be sought and he will be given glory. Teenagers who live in homes like this will be regularly surprised at the love of their parents and the grace of Christ who has chosen them to live in a family where the redeeming love of Christ reigns supreme.”
Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens, page 195, Paul David Tripp
My son seems to love doing the opposite of what I ask him to do. He thinks everything is a game. What can I do? My son is age 3.
Use a very different voice for your instructions. A deep, firm voice will show you are serious. Have a calm and consistent IMMEDIATE consequence EVERY time he does the opposite and he will be motivated to obey.
How do I get my boys to do chores without complaining or whinging?
Be calm and consistent. Have a regular chore time every day as part of a daily schedule. If your whole day is structured, then the acceptance of your authority in chores time is easier. Make it a race – time the boys and record their times – 10 seconds off for everything being done right the first time!
How do you get a child to eat faster? Almost 3, and no dessert doesn’t work!
Use a timer!
Set it for 20 minutes the first week, and simply remove the food when the timer goes off. Then move it to 15 minutes the next week, then 10 minutes. If you are serving three reasonably sized meals each day, with only water in between, the child will be motivated to eat in the allocated time. Also, do ensure there are no major distractions during meal times e.g. TV, radio or lots of other people milling about.
My 3 yr old is very good on his own, but different naughty things with friends. All different so how can the consequence for varied things be determined and punished?
Be pro-active and set very clear guidelines for the play time beforehand. Have a general plan and closely monitor each activity. Isolation can be the immediate consequence and missing a ‘play date’ or two can be the logical consequence.
What are the first steps to take when training a ‘bossy’ 7 yr old to want to play with her happy, friendly 4 yr old sister?
Teach her the five love languages (by Gary Chapman) so she has practical ways to show love to her sibling. Also, limit the time they spend together so that their together time can be positive and enjoyable for both of them. Reserve a few activities, or toys just for together time to make it more appealing. Continue to teach verses about kindness etc – it does sink in EVENTUALLY!!
What do you do for outright defiance in a 5 yr old?
Have a calm and consistent consequence every time. We only chastised for deliberate disobedience and safety issues. Combine this with isolation and a logical consequence that relates to the offence.
Training in non-conflict times is 99% more effective than training in the moment. Focus on teaching the virtue of obedience and verbally role playing expected behaviours and responses.
How do you advise your kids to stop other kids from bullying them at school, without they themselves getting in trouble (e.g. from hitting them?)
Give them a phrase to say e.g. “No thanks” or “Please Stop”.
Give them a specific action to take e.g. Walk away or go and get a drink from the bubblers.
To be proactive, talk though with your child how to play in a safe place e.g. near a teacher in the middle of the playground, or in the library. Also, talk through how to show love to the bully, just as Jesus would. My 5 year old would take a muffin or cookie for his ‘friend’ each day. We also prayed for the boy each day. Discussing why he/she behaves likes this is also a wonderful teaching time, and helps your child appreciate kindness.
I have a 7 year old daughter, the oldest of my four children. I am finding it difficult to teach her kindness/compassion with her siblings. Any tips?
Ensure she has set chores each day to show love to her siblings e.g. putting away their clean clothes, wiping down the bathroom sink so they have a clean place to brush their teeth etc so she is thinking of others and not herself.
Teach her the five love languages (by Gary Chapman) and have her practically ‘speak’ each language to her siblings.
Every time she deliberately chooses to show unkindness have her write in a “LIFE LESSON BOOK” (blank A4 book form discount store). Have her answer these same 4 questions each time -
“What did you do wrong?”
“Why is it wrong?”
“What will you do to make it right?”
“What will you do next time?”
She would lose the freedom to play with friends until she is characterised by choosing to show kindness to her siblings. Continue to teach her WHY kindness is important. This is a long process but your calm consistency will reap fruit.
My 15 month old thinks “come to mummy’ means start laughing and run in the other direction.
Use a very different voice for your instructions. Make it quite firm, deep and serious. This makes it very clear this is not a play suggestion, but a parental directive. If they choose to disobey, immediately pick up your child with an “Oh dear, that’s a bad choice,” or similar (same phrase each time, and place them in the cot, porta-cot or playpen. Isolate for 10 – 15 minutes. Your calm consistency will reap obedience.
What if your toddler is naughty when they are sick? How harsh can you be?
Be extra loving and gentle when they are ill with lots of cuddles, stories, TV time and naps. When they are well enough to choose to be disobedient, they are well enough to have a consequence. For those transition days (not really sick but not quite healthy) we would simply implement an early or extra nap time, or play time alone as a consequence to avoid further issues.
How do you deal with quick (bad) tempered children?
In non-conflict times, role-play the expected response.
If they feel cross,
Give them something physical to do e.g. hands together, walk to a teacher, and sit on your bed.
Give them something verbal to say e.g. “I am feeling quite cross now” or “I need some time out.”
Give them something positive to think e.g. a relevant bible verse or short phrase.
Also don’t under-estimate your self-control training in all areas. The basis of self-control will help enormously in this particular battle.
In the moment of conflict have a non-verbal signal to remind child what to do.
Have a consequence afterwards. Either praise or encouragement for progress or a calm and consistent consequence for a wrong choice.
This may be a life long struggle for your child (as it is for many adults!). Ultimately we need to point them to God as their help in this.
How do you get 2 and 4 yr old back into evening sleep routines after having relatives stay for 2 months?
You can ease them back into your expected routine or you can go ‘cold-turkey’
And expect the old standard immediately. This second approach is kinder to the child as it is back to the same standard (not a varying standard each night) and reaps far quicker results. Simply explain to them that we are going back to our family standard tonight, and outlined the consequence for non-compliance. A week or two should see everyone back on track again.
6 year old girl with a bad attitude e.g. wilful disobedience, nastiness to brother (younger sibling). How to deal with self-centredness if your child doesn’t naturally care about their friends and are consumed with their own needs.
All children are born beautiful, but selfish. We all naturally care for ourselves most. Only with God’s help, can we choose to show kindness to others. We need to first show our children the absolute value of kindness. It is not optional, it is what we expect. We teach our younger ones through calm and consistent consequence – praise and rewards for a good choice, correction and punishments for bad choices. However, we are not just focused on behaviour. From age 3 we need to teach the WHY behind what we do, so our children can grow into adults who choose to do the right things for the right reasons. We also need to provide the training in the basis of self-control so they are able to consistently live this out.
A tight routine is the place to start. Then focus on obedience. Have an immediate, meaningful consequence for disobedience. EVERY time. Be firm, be consistent and be relentless. This attitude needs to be dealt with now, before the pre-teen years.
Time with siblings needs to be sparse, and fully supervised. Social time with peers needs to be suspended until kindness can be shown in the home. Chores are crucial – the child needs to be giving to others in the family in a practical daily form. Also ensure one-on-one time happens each day. Even 10 minutes of uninterrupted positive interaction will fill your child’s love needs. Your calm consistency will reap fruit.
How to respond to kids who joke with their friends, without checking if friend knows how to take it.
Much nastiness is disguised in joke form. Forbid joking for a time. The child only has the freedom to say positive and kind things to his friends. Use the life lesson book process (in previous question above – somewhere!) for EVERY offence. Focus on the child’s heart – explore why he is choosing to show unkindness in this manner.
Can you talk a bit about boundaries with things like mobile phones, music, talking on the phone etc for teenagers.
Each family will be different, and each child will be different. Our almost 16 year old has a mobile and he pays for his own credit – hence very limited use!! Our 14 year old does not – mostly because of the lack of funds to pay for one, but also we are not sure the freedom to own one would be honoured.
Music is powerful – you can’t deny this. Chat to your teen about the lyrics and power of music. Set clear boundaries for your family. For us the music can not be heard out of the room (I do not enjoy some of the modern ‘music’!!) to be kind to other’s ears and there is very limited time each week to listen (idleness is to be avoided).
Face book is limited to one hour each Saturday. Chores, sports and homework fill up the school week anyway. Phone conversations are limited to a reasonable time (20 mins max) as there are other things to do and family to be with.
Random surfing of the net is discouraged. Again, idleness can, and does, lead to sin so a specific purpose needs to be stated before using the computer. Game time is limited to one hour on Saturday (for our younger one who does not have Face book).
Give your teen the reasons why you have your boundaries, and focus on the heart issues. Viewing these issues in light of eternity can put them in perspective!!
Peer pressure (for teens)?
It is real, and very powerful. Start talking about it with your pre-teens. A strong relationship between you and your teen, and your teen and their siblings, will greatly dilute the power of peer pressure. Talk through all decisions – rarely just say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. These discussions are great opportunities to explore the moral reasons behind each decision, and hence modelling decision-making processes for your teen to imitate. Encourage good friendships by having your home available for their get togethers. Pray without ceasing!
How do I stop my 4 yr old boy from stealing little treasures from his friends home/pre-school?
Talk about this behaviour on your way there. Check the pockets before you leave. Have an immediate and meaningful consequence as soon as you get home, EVERY time. Have your child work for restitution. If it is a deliberate act of theft, we had our children pay back four times the value. This came in the form of chores to earn the money to pay it back. Talk through the feelings of the other person (sad and happy are fine for this age!). Closely supervise or temporarily suspend visits to friend’s houses until you feel you are on top of this a bit more.
Tell us a bit about how boys and girls are different and whether your parenting differs for this.
They are very different! The virtues goals were the same (love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) but the way I got there was very different! My boys were allowed to be boys – to be loud and busy and get dirty (outside in the yard only!) and to explore and take risks with bike jumps and tree houses etc. However they still desperately needed to learn self-control in their all day every activities as well.
How to deal with pre-teen defiance? Discipline strategies for attitude of pre-teens?
Calmly and consistently. Have consequences for attitude and defiance, not lecture. Loss of freedoms is the most powerful and meaningful result. Examples include loss of TV viewing, computer time, choice of extra clothing items, decrease chores money, limited social interactions with peers, earlier bedtime, increased chores to decrease free time.
What happens when your child (20 months) doesn’t respond to consequences?
The best consequence for this age group, for deliberate disobedience, is two firm swats on the upper thigh with 20 – 30 minutes of isolation. Time your isolation from the time they stop fussing. This, in the context of a fairly tight routine where mum is making all the choices will be effective. Use logical consequences for most other behaviours in the day (examples in book 2) if you are not seeing improvement in two to three weeks, then email me and we can chat about the routine and additional strategies.
Any encouraging words for women with post-natal depression?
Please seek medical help and advice to manage this situation. Accept any and all offers of help from friends and family and have a fun time out planned for you each week.
How do we incorporate all our children (big age group) in family life/activities?
The beach is great – the younger ones can play in the sand and on the edge while the older ones can surf. The park is another favourite – little ones can enjoy the playground while the older ones can play cricket or football. Old classic movies can be great for the whole family too – despite the initial protests of the older ones. We have also found the meals out together work well. Tennis has been a favourite too – the younger one playing on an adjacent court or playground while the older ones play a game. For table time in holidays we would be together for an hour each morning – just with different activities e.g. the older one composing a poster to represent a verse or psalm while the younger one colouring in a picture on it.
Also, it is important for the older ones to sometimes play the game the younger ones choose and vice versa to promote family unity.
What to do with tantrums in the supermarket?
Leave. Never give in to what they have ‘performed’ for. Go home and give an immediate and firm consequence. Read book one for ideas on how to implement a positive and pro-active routine to teach self-control, rather than deal with the fruits of a lack of self-control. Role-play the expected behaviour. Think through the time you go – best when the child is well fed and well rested.
Bedtime issues - how to get them to stay in bed and go to sleep?
Bedtime success is rooted in day time routine. If mum is gently in charge of the whole day – where and when the child is playing – then the children are much more likely to accept authority at night. If your child is characterised by obedience and self-control (both outlined in my books) during the day, then this obedience will help them obey you by going to bed, and the self-control will help them stay there. Also, have a ritual every night (e.g. an order of quiet play after dinner, bath, reading, prayers, and lights out).
How do I stop my child from temper tantrums – I have sent him to his room, I have spanked, I have time out, I have rewarded bad behaviour, ignored it? Will it EVER pass?
In my books I talk about parenting at first base. That is, focusing on all the little displays of self-ruling and self-pleasing behaviour, BEFORE they reach the home base! Dealing with the little expressions of disapproval, e.g. fussing, body language, grumpy face, calmly and consistently will reap fruit. An age-appropriate flexible routine for your day will minimise most of the ‘no’s and most of the choices. After the first week or so of adjustment, you will have a much calmer day. Is there are pattern to the tantrums? Are they always near nap or bedtime? Then pop into bed half an hour earlier. Are they always with siblings? Then limit the time he has with them and closely supervise their play. Are they over certain toys? Maybe pop them away and try them later when he is developmentally ready. Does he tantrum at meal times? Simple isolate twice, then move on with your day. Training in self-control is the positive and pro-active way to deal with tantrums - focusing your energy into teaching virtues of patience, obedience and kindness, rather than putting energy into dealing with their lack of self-control through tantrums and other negative behaviours.
My eldest is 4.5yrs old and loves to pretend to tell stories. I think it is lying and she does not quite understand it. When should I expect her to understand what she is doing?
Talk this through in non-conflict times. Start with a sentence “this is just pretend” or similar. Then tell a wonderfully creative story! Explain that this is how she must start her ‘stories’ so everyone knows it is just pretend. If she chooses not to start a pretend story with this – there will be a consequence (tell her your specific one.) By modelling the difference, you will help her through this developmental transition phase. Encourage her creativity by writing down her stories, but encourage her integrity by insisting on honesty, which is the basis of trust for all relationships.
My 4.5 yr old insists on answering back. What do I do? Do I keep insisting on punishment? What sort of punishment fits the crime?
In a time of non-conflict role play EXACTLY what you expect. For example, he may reply with a ‘Yes, mum” and nothing else! Explain what will happen for compliance (maybe a reward chart just for a few weeks to start this right behaviour) and non-compliance (your choice). Also give the reason why you expect this behaviour (one sentence – not a lecture!). Have your child repeat the consequences and reason back to you as verbalising the standard helps them accept the standard – eventually! A few suggestions re your response include – having the child sit for 10, 15, 20 then 30 minutes (increasing the time every few days) until the timer goes off and you will then repeat the instruction. Or having a time of isolation, as they have lost the freedom to speak, since they have chosen not to speak kindly to you. Or completing a practical act of kindness (chore) when they are calm to make up for not speaking kindly. Or maybe an early bedtime to think about being kind and obedient. Loss of freedom that would be meaningful to your particular child (e.g. no TV, or computer games, or social privileges, or special treat) until they are characterised by obedience and kind words)
My neighbours 2.5 year old climbs out of his cot when placed in there for isolation. What should my neighbour do?
Your neighbour could check her routine and make sure she is in charge of her whole day – no gaps and no choice time for the 2.5 yr old. The neighbour can also role play the expected behaviour with bears or trucks, clearly showing the consequences for each choice. She can also play obedience games and implement self-control training into every part of her day. Also, the neighbour needs to hover just outside the door and chastise when the child raises his leg to get out – cutting down any pleasure of ‘escape’. Removal to a high chair or pram (strapped in safely of course!) after the second ‘escape’ attempt can avoid a power struggle. Do assure your neighbour that her calm consistency will reap much fruit.