Question: Are children and
Answer: No, I don't believe children and
adults are "equal" in every respect. In some
ways yes, but not every way. I believe we are
equally human. I believe that God loves and values us
equally. I believe our thoughts and emotions are equally
important to God and should be to each other. I believe
we have equal rights to life and freedom from injustice.
I believe we have an equal right in respect to our
personhood. However, I do not believe children and
adults, or even any two adults, are exactly the same.
Since they vary in talents, ability, position, etc, they
can not be "equal".
I believe God gives more responsibility to those who
have more, and less to those who have less. Parents have
more experience and wisdom than a child, therefore God
expects more from parents. God has charged the
parent with the responsibility to care for, to love, and
also to educate and train (form habits in) the younger
weaker child. In order to assumed this great
responsibility, God has also granted the parents
authority over their child. No, I do not believe that a
child is equal to his parents in the area of rights and
authority. I believe a child is to respectfully learn to
submit to the authority of his parents until his parents
release him from that authority.
On the flip side, the parent will be held accountable
for any abuse of authority on their part. They have been
given that authority for a good purpose and not their
own pleasure. They are to do whatever they do,
with the one purpose of doing what is "best"
for their child (that is not the same as "doing
what pleases" their child).
Question: Have you ever been
affiliated with Bill Gothard's Institute In Basic Life
Principles? I just wondered because much of your advice
Answer: We have never worked in
the Gothard organization, but we are very familiar with
it. I attended my first seminar about 26 years ago and
have been to many, many since. I think we were area
coordinators for a while or had some other minor role in
helping with a few seminars. I've forgotten. The Bill
Gothard Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar (now called the
Institute in Basic Life Principles) was one of the top 4
life changing events in my life (the other three were:
discovering the Bible on tape, discovering home
schooling, and learning a better way to parent.)
There are a number of things I don't 100% agree with
Gothard on (like his suggestion that you just might be
slothful if you need more than 5 hours sleep, BAH!), but
for the most part we are certainly on the same wave
length. I must add that many of the things that we
learned from our mentors (whom I've mentioned before),
we later heard Bill Gothard repeat at some of his
advanced seminars. Interesting.
We almost signed up for Gothard's home
schooling program, but we pulled out after we were
approved, because we just felt we didn't want to give up
the way we were already doing things. Because the
Gothard program would take so much time, we would have
had to restructure our days. I think their
materials are wonderful, and would have loved to use
them, but couldn't without signing up for the entire
Question: I don't believe in
spanking because it can cause resentment. I was spanked
often as a child. Outwardly I was very obedient, but I
harbor deep feelings of anger against my parents to this
day. What do you think about this? Wouldn't something
other than spanking be best? I think that if you don't
resent your parent spanking you, it is only because you
think you "deserved" it.
Answer: I do agree a
parent's discipline can, in some cases, cause resentment
in a child. I do not, however, believe that the specific
type of punishment or discipline alone is usually what
causes these bad feelings. I believe a child becomes
resentful and bitter when they feel they have been
treated UNFAIRLY or have been BETRAYED. This can occur
with any type of discipline, whether it be removing a
privilege, or grounding, or yelling, or anything else.
It can also be caused by parents who fail to keep their
promises, or who lose their tempers, or who criticize or
belittle. Bitterness occurs when a person feels his
rights have been violated.
It is also correct to say that a person who does not
resent his parents for spanking them, believes he deserved it. Yes, you are
correct. They believe that it is within a parent's rights to spank
their child for disobedience, and if that is what their
parent did, (spanked them when they disobeyed) they are
not bitter about it. The same can be said for any other
type of discipline.
If you, as a child, believe that your
parent has the right to take your car keys away if you
violate your curfew, then if you choose to violate your
curfew and your parents take your keys away, you will
not be bitter. Repentant perhaps, but not bitter.
That is why it is so important when you discipline (by
any method) that you do it fairly and bring your child
to the belief that he was indeed wrong and that he
deserved the correction he got, and that you had the
right to give it.
This is easier said than done. It can
not be done afterward. It must be part of your everyday
life and the teaching you give your child before he ever
disobeys you to begin with. He must believe you have the
right to correct him and he must be convinced that you
are doing so fairly.
Every child is different. Know your children. A
parent can discipline two children in the same way for
the same act and have it be too harsh for one and not
harsh enough for the other. The first child may deem
their treatment unfair and will become bitter, while the
second will not be fazed in the least, and may even come
to disrespect their parent for being too lenient. Know
your children and be sensitive to their differences.
Discipline them only to the extent that you have to, and
always do so fairly.
Question: How do you
Answer: I have a slight problem
answering only the question "How do you Discipline".
Why? Because the minute I begin to describe any
discipline techniques, many people jump to the
conclusion that discipline is ALL that I do. Almost the
opposite is true. Because I train my children early,
when they are just toddlers, I rarely have to discipline
them at all after that.
Anyway, with that in mind, I begin teaching my babies
what "no-no" means before they are a year old.
Usually a firm tone of voice and a scowl on my face and
consistency, is all it takes. When they get a bit older,
usually about 1 1/2, and begin to deliberately choose to
disobey me, I usually pick a day to start and then
correct them EVERY SINGLE TIME, with a small swat on the
rear end. I do not get angry, I do not wait until
they've pushed me to my limit, I do not count to 10, I
do not reserve these spanking for only the really big
issues. I correct them EVERY TIME they choose to disobey
me in ANYTHING I have asked them to do. THEN I see to it
that they DO obey me (if they refuse, they get another
swat). Usually I will see a dramatic change for the
better in only a few days or weeks.
Usually, prior to this "beginning to test"
stage, they are pleasant and cooperative. Then, when
they start the testing and disobedience, they often
become sullen and cranky. Within days or even hours of
me consistently correcting them for their disobedience,
they revert right back to their early pleasant
personality. It is as if they WANT to be corrected. I
think that is the way God designed us. When we are doing
what is right, we are happy. When we are rebelling, we
Although I make no special effort to change my
disciplining after that, I have found that along with
this attitude change comes a behavior change, and I find
very few reasons to spank after those first few days or
weeks. By age 3 my children very rarely need to be
spanked at all, simply because they willingly obey me
virtually all of the time. I may need to remind them or
correct them verbally (no yelling or nagging), but I
very rarely need to spank. (I also never have to take
away privileges or use time-outs, etc.)
The end result is that with so little time spent
correcting, I have abundant time to enjoy, teach,
nurture, love, etc. my children. THAT'S what I spent
most of my time doing.
Question: How do I get my baby
to stop biting me? He chomps into my arm or leg or
wherever, and just laughs if I tell him "NO".
Answer: My little guy is at that
"stage" right now. I'll pick him up to cuddle
him and he'll laugh and play, then bite me in the
shoulder or arm or leg or wherever. The first time I
yelped loudly and scared him (not really on purpose, I
was startled myself). Since then I've been watching his
body language carefully and when he leans forward with
his mouth open I hold him back and say, "Don't bite
mama!" with a serious look on my face, then I smile
and go back to cuddling him. I've probably had to do
this about 20 times in the last few weeks, but now he
stops and looks at me with a "Huh?" look on
his face. And last night there was a little glimmer of
"Oh yeah, I'm not supposed to do that" in his
eyes. He's getting the idea slowly, but surely. This is
not something I'd discipline him for; he is being
affectionate, not mean, and just doesn't realize it
hurts (he is only 10 months).
Question: How do I teach my
child to hold my hand when crossing the street or
walking in the mall?
Answer: I train all of my little ones to
"hold my hand" whenever I tell them to, and
whenever crossing a street or even whenever they are in
a parking lot. I rarely hold THEIR hand, I train them to
hold MY hand. When they let go, I immediately stop, call
their name sharply, and say firmly "HOLD MY
HAND". We don't continue until they are holding my
hand (finger). If their grip loosens, or I think they
are considering letting go, I stop and say, "Hold
my hand", and "tighter". I might lecture
(teach) them a little according to age and what they can
understand. I might say, "Always hold Mama's hand
in the store, I might lose you." Soon I change that
to a cheerful, "Always hold Mama's hand in the
store, I might get lost." (They all think
that's pretty funny.) That said, I wouldn't trust a
young toddler to always obey in any situation, and
especially not in a dangerous situation. I would always
hold THEIR hand (wrist) in any dangerous situation.
Now what do you do if your child refuses to obey? I
always seem to come back to spanking, (one swat on the
bottom as soon as they let go, repeated consistently
until they stop letting go), but that is really only for
a child who has not been taught that they must obey you
always. If you have already taught that, then you should
be able to get your child to obey with your demeanor and
words alone (as in my example).
Question: What do you think of
harnesses for children? My toddler won't hold my hand
(he falls down and throw a temper tantrum) and I'd like
to try a harness, but I'm worried about the disapproving
looks I might get from strangers at the mall.
Answer: Harnesses are better than losing
your child, or letting him run wild and get hurt, but I
really think you should teach your child to hold your
hand then MAKE him do it. Don't hold his hand, make him
hold yours. Practice at home first and don't allow a
temper tantrum. Expect him to obey you. If you don't
know how to get this to work, imagine that this is a
life or death situation. What if you HAD to teach your
child to hold your hand or his life would be at risk? I
bet you would think of a way to persuade him to obey
you, wouldn't you?
This is not so farfetched. What if you were crossing the
street and he refused to hold your hand and instead
darted into traffic? One of the first lessons my
children learn as soon as they can walk with me is that
they MUST hold my hand when I ask them to, PERIOD, END
I must stick in a little dog story
here. Yes, it's about a dog not a child, but it is
really about the importance of obedience. One day I was
up on the roof of our house trying to tape a patch on a
hole in our awning. As I struggled to keep from falling
off the roof and reach the hole at the same time, I was
also keeping an eye on our big sweet collie who was
wandering around in the front yard not doing much of
anything. Suddenly she saw a squirrel across the street
and bolted madly after it. Naturally, to my great
dismay, a car was heading down our street at a nice
pace, and our dog had timed her lunge to coincide
perfectly with the passing of said car. I was panicked
and helpless. All I could think to do, from up on roof
of the house, was to shout, "SHADOW, DOWN!"
She dropped instantly to the ground with her front paws
touching the curb as the car sped by in front of her.
Whew! I was so very thankful I had spent the time and
effort to take her to obedience training classes and
practice with her every night. She was a wonderful
pet and lived for another 11 years and still dropped to
the ground instantly (often with a playful bark) until
she was too old to do it any longer. Perhaps it is not
politically correct to compare child training to dog
training, but there are some similar benefits to each.
Question: I don't know why, but lately I have just
felt like a failure. I am so busy with everything I
don't have anytime to enjoy my own kids. I am constantly
driving them to this activity and that activity or
cleaning up after them or doing all my other housework.
I just want to start over sometimes. Get out of all this
stuff. I love all my children so much, but
sometimes I wonder what God was thinking to trust me
with these children. I feel like I am failing Him. How
do you do it with 10 kids?
Answer: I realized a LONG time ago that
I couldn't do it all. I started by canceling all the
activities I could. I learned to say "no" to
everything possible including most church activities. I
still do very little outside the home. I can do those
things when my children are grown.
I not only cut out most of my personal activities, but I
also cut out unnecessary child related activities. They
take a lot of time too, and are not always as valuable
as they seem on the surface. Our younger ones don't
participate in anything outside the home. The older ones
do a few things, but if life becomes too hectic, and we
feel the family is suffering for it, we take turns with
special activities, or rotate activities, or do things
Each of our children age 5 and up take piano and string
lessons. We found teachers who are willing to come to
our home to give the lessons. This still consumes a
large part of 3 days a week, but at least I don't have
to go driving around dragging the little ones. Maybe you
can try to find a teacher who will do this. If he is
teaching several lessons he will likely agree. Perhaps a
friend would like to bring their child over for a lesson
at your house if you can't find a teacher who will come
for just one lesson.
Toys: We do not allow any toys in the bedroom. All the
toys are sorted by type into plastic tubs or baskets and
kept in the basement storage room. The kids can get out
one tub at a time and can't get out another until the
last one is picked up and put away. They have to play
where I designate. Games come out one at at time and
have to be put away completely before the next one can
come out. I do keep one tub of baby/toddler toys in the
family room for the youngest ones. Note: although we
virtually never buy toys for our kids, they seem to
spontaneously materialize from somewhere. Occasionally,
when things get out of hand, I sort and pitch. I once
culled out 7 garbage bags full of toys for the
Goodwill!!!!! Believe me, there were still too many
left. If your kids have a lot of stuff and your husband
doesn't want YOU to get rid of it, try giving each one a
box and tell them they can sort the stuff themselves and
can keep as much as they can fit in that one box. You'd
be surprise to see how much they will gladly throw out.
Room cleaning in general: First of all, your kids are
not too old to be taught to keep their rooms clean. In
fact, your oldest is right at the perfect age to put
your foot down with. I try to have one or two clean-up
times a day. I allow about 1/2 hour before bed for them
to clean up their room. I stand there and watch and
direct if that's what it takes (and it will for a
while). Then we do it again in the morning. I usually
don't supervise then, but their room must be picked up
before they come down for breakfast. Each older child
must also help a younger child pick up. I also do it
about 1/2 hour before dad comes home from work.
Lastly, my kids all help with "my" jobs. I
assign jobs according to age and ability and I
reevaluate quite often and switch things around to make
it work better. I'm not naturally organized, so I just
look at a particular task and ask myself, "Okay,
who is the youngest child who can do this?" I start
with the youngest because the older ones can do
everything and if I assign them the jobs first then the
younger ones end up doing nothing.
An 8 year old can do most of the laundry and vacuuming
and can load the dishwasher, etc. The younger ones can
pick up, dust, empty the dishwasher, sort laundry,
collect laundry, etc. etc. I prefer to do the ironing
and bathroom cleaning.
Anyway, our house isn't perfect, but I no longer feel so
stressed and overwhelmed and it is neat enough to have
anyone over to see it with only 1/2 hour's notice.
P.S. I've moved 9 times and believe me there is always
another "perfect" house, so try not to get
your heart set on any one in particular. Usually when I
let God make the choices for me I end up with the better
end of the bargain.
I have 2 girls, an 18 year old and a just turned 14 year
old. I never told them, "You can't wear makeup
until "X" age." What I did do was:
1.) Keep them out of school and away from overwhelming
pressures in that area and a multitude of more important
2.) Had many small discussions here and there with them
throughout their lives about things such as makeup and
dress and clothing and tattoos and shaving and looks in
I taught my kids that true beauty originates from one's
character. If a woman is godly, then she will be
Still, the physical can detract from the spiritual, if
neglected or overdone. How one dresses or wears their
hair or clothes, etc., can give wrong or right
impressions. I taught my girls very early about modesty
and how your clothes can affect the impression you give
off in that area, especially before someone knows you
well. Make-up "can" do the same, but mostly,
when we got on the subject of makeup, I focused more on
the age appropriateness.
I gave my girls my opinion (which they valued). First of
all, I told them that I saw nothing wrong with an adult
woman wearing makeup. I do it myself when I go out and
if I had more time, I'd do it at home too. I don't
overdo it and I think it enhances my natural
"beauty" (although I don't consider myself
"beautiful"). I think when I wear a little
well applied makeup, people tend to look more at
"me" and see my countenance, rather than
looking at my individual features and thinking,
"she really needs something around her eyes"
or "why doesn't she throw a little foundation on
once in a while so her skin doesn't look so
blotchy". I think we can all recall looking at
someone and thinking "why don't they wash their
hair?" It's the same kind of thing, in my opinion.
(Of course, in communities where few women wear makeup
this would not apply. Any makeup there might be
Then I explain to my girls that because they are young
their skin is younger and naturally more beautiful and
they really don't need makeup for the same purpose I do.
I tell them that when a girl wears makeup at too young
an age, they just look like a little girl "playing
makeup". My girls understood immediately what I
meant by this and did not want to look that way. I
pointed out others to demonstrate, and (since they are
not in school and brainwashed into another mindset) they
could see immediately what I meant.
As my girls got a little older, I watched for signs that
they were interested in makeup and I guided them along
the way. When they were given some bright nail polish as
a gift at maybe 10 years of age, I encouraged them to
enjoy it a home for fun if they wanted to, but then I
suggested more of a sheer light gloss for some special
occasions outside the home. My girls both readily
responded and tried the bright colors no more than once
As they got to the shaving stage, I encouraged them as
soon as they brought it up or perhaps I even suggested
it myself. I feel this is more of a hygiene issue so I
had no problem at any age. (I realize that some adults
don't feel the way I do and I discussed that with my
girls also, but they felt the way I did, that unshaved
legs and arm pits look unkempt and unfeminine.)
As far as actual face makeup, when my oldest daughter
got to be more of a young woman than a girl, I watched
for cues of interest from her and responded by
suggesting subtle makeup that helped cover the blemishes
and a slight amount of mascara to enhance her small
eyes, a tiny bit of natural blush and a clear lip gloss.
My 18yo can basically wear whatever she wants to now,
but has continued to go for the very natural look and on
most days wears no makeup at all. My 14 year old wears
no makeup at all yet, but we have spent time and
interest on skin care products instead. She wears
natural looking nail polishes and does her hair in
different styles, but still feels that she would look
like she were "playing dress-up" if she were
to wear makeup. Perhaps a little blush for special
occasions will come soon. Much of this, I feel, depends
on the need.
We have had no conflicts in this area, but I believe
this would not be the case if my girls were in school.
Most girls today are wearing full makeup long before age
16 these days, and if your child spends all day with
others who are doing this, then they are very likely to
have a stronger desire to do it than they would
vs. dresses for girls:
the way it's been with me. When I was little, I had one
nice dress for church ("Sunday clothes"),
several ordinary dresses for school ("school
clothes"), and maybe 5 or 6 mismatched slacks/shirt
combinations for after school ("play
clothes"). I was always required to wear a dress to
school and church, even when slacks became common place,
but I was not to wear a dress after school.
Dresses were "good clothes". It was a
frugality thing for my mom. She could not afford to buy
hardly anything, therefore anything nice enough for
school had to be saved for school. All dresses were
"too nice" to play in. So that's the way it
was until I grew up and got married and could afford to
basically buy whatever I wanted. Oh, and by the way, my
mother grew up on a farm and to her "jeans"
were "barn clothes". Since I didn't have a
barn, I couldn't wear barn clothes. Although I was
raised in the city among millions of jean wearers, I
never owned or wore a pair, until I was 18 and purchased
my first horse and had to ride in something.
Eventually, 5 or so years after I married, in a sincere
desire to please my Lord, I decided that He might be
pleased if I tried to look more feminine, and I gave up
wearing slacks and went to dresses only. Things
continued that way for a good number of years and I
raised my two daughters wearing only dresses as well. No
About 5 years ago, I started wearing more slacks, and my
girls (now 14 and 18) do now very occasionally also. I
wear them around the house, but they usually only wear
them when they are working construction or dog training
or shoveling snow, etc. What happened? Frankly, I'm not
really sure, but at that time some other serious
concerns came up in my life and attention to clothing
became a very trivial issue. I began putting on what fit
and looked decent and was feminine (in my and my
husband's opinion), and that's about all I had time to
think about. Then I put the rest of my energies into
things I felt had more lasting importance.
How do I feel about the dress vs. pant issue now? I
don't claim to be right for sure, or even that I won't
change my mind tomorrow, but currently I feel like this:
I believe the issue is basically one of femininity. I
think it is wrong (as in "sinful") to
purposely try to look like a man or to deliberately wear
men's clothing to that effect. Transvestitism is very
wrong. The question to me, is whether or not all pants
are "men's clothing". In Old Testament times
the men wore skirts like women (the priests were the
only ones who wore pants - under their skirts), so I
don't think that the issue is a definite one of "NO
PANTS, EVER". Jesus dressed more like a modern
woman than a modern man. Therefore, I think it must have
something to do with custom (although generally I hate
that excuse). Where I live it is customary for women to
wear pants. In fact, it is extremely unusual for them to
only wear dresses (when I was doing it, I was the ONLY
one I'd ever met doing it!), so I don't think I am
violating God's command. However, since guy pants and
girl pants can look an awful lot alike, care must be
taken to be sure one's clothing looks feminine, as if it
were designed for women, not men. I do think it is best
to not walk too close to the edge of the cliff however,
so I would never discourage any woman from giving up
pants and sticking to skirts. I'm glad I raised my girls
exclusively wearing skirts and that is what now feels
right and comfortable to them. Now that I have a little
more time, I am trying to work them into my own wardrobe
far more often as well. (Of course it would help if I
weren't changing sizes every few months!)
note: When a lesbian woman dresses femininely, is she
still a lesbian? Yes, her manner of dress did not change
her heart. When a transvestite dresses in normal
clothes, does it make him normal? No, he is still a
transvestite in his heart. The most important part is
what's in the heart. God looks at the heart and judges
that. Yes, our heart is reflected in how we dress, but
if we have a heart that is right with God, and we search
His word and ask for His guidance, we can trust Him to
direct us according to His will.
If I could make up my ideal church, it would be kind of
small, with NO nursery or Sunday School or basketball
court. Whole families would sit together in church. The
pastor would give a down to earth sermon on how to apply
the Bible to our everyday life. Maybe we'd actually read
the Bible for a while every Sunday. The old-fashioned
hymns would be sung; not all those praise choruses
unless there were a few that were really good.
can't find any tradtional churches like that, so we
don't go to a traditional church. Actually, our home
church IS like that. Here's what we do: Every
Friday night our whole family goes over to our
"pastor's" house for dinner. (He is not an
ordained pastor and we don't call him
"pastor", but he is the one we all look up to
as our mentor and spiritual leader.) After dinner, we
chat and shares the week's lessons in life for a little
while, then a few other couples start to come and we may
sing some hymns around the piano. It is all very
unstructured. A little later we all sit down and have a
sort of Bible study/sermon with our "pastor"
leading. We usually have ice cream afterward (now that's
REALLY informal isn't it?) We also all share our
"blessing of the week".
My view about "stages" and
"growing out of" behaviors is that they really
don't; the problems just change into other things if the
root problem in not corrected. If a child throws
tantrums out of lack of self-control, and the
self-control issue is not resolved, then why would he
grow out of the tantrums or some other equally poor
expression of his lack of self-control? Whenever my kids
see an adult swearing and yelling, they immediately
recognize it as an "adult temper tantrum".
One word about "teaching" your child.
I don't feel it is helpful to offer long explanations to
a 1 1/2 year old. They don't understand you anyway and
it just delays your response to him and that makes it
hard for him to make the connection between the action
and the response.
As my children grow, I do more and more explaining, but
I do it AFTER they obey. I especially do it when there
is no disciplining going on at all. For example, when my
6 year old wants to go outside and ride his bike, I
might have a discussion with him first about being
courteous with his bike. I don't just order him to
"stay off the neighbor's grass". If I think
this is new or needs reinforcing, I will talk to him and
point out how hard the neighbor works on his lawn, and
how it is upsetting him to have others ruin it, and we
don't want our lawn ruined either, and etc, etc, so be
very careful not to ride on the neighbors' lawn. I don't
nag if the child had demonstrated that they are
responsible, but I do occasionally remind, and I educate
often. DON'T allow these discussions to turn into
debates. They can ask questions as long as they are
children have short attention spans?
the "little children have short attention
spans" idea, I don't think they do. The problem is
that they are not interested in everything you and I are
interested it. If the child is sufficiently interested
in what he is doing, he can demonstrate a tremendously
long attention span, even if he is young.
used to teach vacation Bible school and had to follow
the program laid out for me by others who didn't believe
small children could concentrate on anything more than a
few minutes. I'd just get my group settled down and
starting to get involved in a project or story, and time
would be "up" and they'd all have to go
outside and tear around for a few minutes, "to get
exercise" and "because little children can't
sit still for more than 15 minutes". Then, just
when they started having fun, it was back inside to hear
a story, then back outside, then inside, then outside
and so on. Every 15 minutes, everything changed for
those poor kids. I felt it just left them in a state of
excited confusion. There was no time to talk to them, or
get to know them, or relate to them, or hug them, or
really "teach" them much of anything. The
organizers were of course thrilled when many of these
children raised their hands at the the alter call, and
"accepted Christ". I felt they were just being
sheep and didn't have the slightest clue what they were
doing. There was no time to discuss anything with them
one-on-one at a relaxed pace.
Yes, I guess these children were a little older than
toddlers, but it was similar with the toddlers when I
used to teach them in Sunday School every week. 15
minutes of this, 15 minutes of that, etc, etc. When I
was in charge, I sometimes allowed them to continue with
what interested them until they showed beginning
signs of boredom. I think that's a better way.
in Little Children:
In my experience, very few little children have a
problem with frustration. Now maybe the word has be
redefined these days, but to me, "frustration"
occurs when a person is trying their hardest to do
something for a period of time, and are unable to do it.
Tears and an emotion similar to genuine sadness results.
I don't see this happening very often in little
children. Most moms have had their just-learning-to-talk
toddlers try to tell them something and not been able to
understand it. The child will repeat the same word at
least a hundred times before showing any sign of
frustration, won't he? On the other hand, if he is told
"no", he will drop to the floor and begin
screaming and head banging. That's ANGER, not
frustration. That's anger motivated by
self-centeredness, not frustration.
last week I accidentally gave some advice that I thought
was about as simple a possible and still very effective.
I told a mom whose child kept doing the same wrong thing
again and again, to WATCH, AMBUSH, REPEAT. Hmmm, that
makes the acronym "W.A.R." So I thought some
more about it and thought, "You know, moms are
always admitting that they aren't consistent enough and
so have kids with chronic behavior problems". So, I
thought maybe I could use my little accidental acronym
to remind moms to be consistent.
If you are a mom like this, my advice is to make this
your new Slogan: DECLARE W.A.R. ON YOUR OWN
INCONSISTENCY: WATCH, AMBUSH, REPEAT
Trust me, this will solve a LOT of problems. Most
parents are not watching their children closely enough.
Because they aren't watching and listening to them all
the time, they miss most of their childrens' wrong
attitudes and resulting misbehavior. They only notice
when things have escalated beyond the point where a
correction could be simple, painless, and effective.
Then they have the more difficult major discipline to
Because they aren't watching their kids well enough,
they can not seem to correct chronic problems like
whining at all. They don't really notice the whining
until the child has succeeded in whining for a few
seconds or minutes. At that point discipline is far less
effective because the child already feels they've
"won". They're been allowed to whine briefly,
and they've gotten the feeling of satisfaction - a
reward - out of that. So they do it again, experiencing
that little bit of satisfaction is worth the risk of
Same with temper tantrums. If you don't discipline until
your child is down on the floor screaming and kicking,
it's almost too late. To stop tantrums, you have to
catch and correct the child BEFORE he gets past that
ugly, pouting look that usually appears on his face just
prior to a full-fledged tantrum. If you are watching
your child you can clearly see heart signs like this,
read them accurately, and ambush the child with an
IMMEDIATE correction. If you are not watching your
child, you won't notice them and so of course won't deal
with them promptly, when it would be effective.
So, if you think you are guilty of inconsistency, and as
a result are seeing a lot of repeat offenders, try my
little "gimmick". Think: DECLARE W.A.R. ON
INCONSISTENCY: WATCH, AMBUSH, REPEAT
Keep your child with you.
Keep them close enough to hear and see.
Keep them close enough to correct promptly.
Study their face.
Learn their body language.
Read their heart in all the outward signs.
Correct at the first sign of a heart problem.
A verbal rebuke NOW may be all that's needed.
An immediate swat might be needed if this is a repeat or
Don't warn, correct.
Don't do this "now and then".
Don't do this only for the big stuff.
Catch and correct EVERY offense.
You might want to vary the exact correction, but correct
Mothergoose, one of my message board
members, distinguished between spanking and swatting
this way: "Swatting
is training, spanking is a consequence and used
differently. Neither of these tools should be used in
frustration or anger. "
I agree completely! Swatting (whether it is mild
or firm) is what you do to TRAIN. It is for teaching,
not for punishing. Neither should be used in anger.
Spanking (usually done firmly) is a CONSEQUENCE and is
used differently - for something the child did that he
knew he should not have done and that he had already
been trained not to do. It is more for a violation of a
known and practiced rule.
Now, that said, this is also a matter of semantics and
even I use these terms interchangebly at times. I really
don't think about it. But if I had to separate the two
and be exacting, and use each one to mean only one
thing, I'd define them as Mothergoose did.
It's all in the timing
I'm trying to do everything exactly as you say, but
it's just not working. I want to be kind to my
child but her poor behavior frustrates me to no end. I
don't want to be punishing her all the time, but I
don't know when to be merciful and when to be strict.
If you have the right perspective on parenting, you will
be able to parent well, with hardly any instructions at
all. If you are struggling, even with lots of
instructions, then you probably have adopted an wrong
underlying perspective (have some incorrect underlying
beliefs) and that is what is holding you back and
sabotaging your efforts.
You want to be the best mom on earth, but it also seems
that you have some wrong underlying beliefs that you are
firmly clinging to. You need to keep trying to identify
them and bring them out into the open and get rid of
them. You are probably not way off base, just a little
bit here and there, enough to hinder all your efforts.
It seems to me that you are kind of straddling the fence
between what you perceive as "harsh" parenting
and "lenient" parenting. What you are ending
up with is wishy-washy parenting, and your child knows
it and isn't responding well, and you are frustrated.
What I'd like to ask you to consider is that just
because a parenting method does not emphasize gentleness
and mercy and "grace", that does not mean it
is totally cruel and harsh. I think a big part of the
key to understanding how this works is to understand
that good parenting pays attention to timing.
1 To every thing there is a
season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant,
and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break
down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn,
and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather
stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to
refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and
a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep
silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and
a time of peace.
So it is in parenting. There is a time to bless and a
time to discipline. There is a time to praise and a time
to scold. There is a time to respect and a time to
command respect. There is a time to be merciful and a
time to teach the meaning of justice. Even in the
details.....there is a time to spank and a time to use a
verbal rebuke. There is a time to make a big deal out of
something that may seem minor, and there is a time to
overlook something that may seem outwardly very
important. It's all in the timing.
It is not all one way or the other. You need to ask
yourself whether your perspective is coming from secular
psychology or from scripture.
Training to sit still and be quiet in church:
Question: I just have a quick question. I was
wondering how I should train my 12 month old daughter to
sit in church and be quiet? I can get her to sit on my
lap, but I don't know how to get her to sit without
making noises. Also, when she tries to get off my lap
and I tell her to sit, she will start fussing or crying
and then I end up having to take her out in the hall and
I make her sit on my lap there. How can I train her at
home to be quiet? I don't think she knows what I mean
when I say "be quiet". Am I supposed to sit
her on my lap at home and every time she makes a noise
or jabbers, give her a swat and say shhh! Be quiet!?
What should I do?
Answer: Are you practicing at home? I use my
computer time, and meal times, and story times, to
practice having my little ones sit on my lap. (I do not
use a high chair, I have my babies sit on my lap at meal
First I aim at teaching them to sit contentedly without
struggling to get down. If they don't respond to my
"no"s and verbal instructions, then I do give
a little swat with my hand on their leg as needed to
convince them to obey. Usually they learn this very
quickly as long as I do not give in. They are soon
expected to sit contendedly on my lap for as long as I
wish. I keep the time reasonable of course.
Later I take advantage of similar opportunities outside
of my home. For example, if I am at my mother's house or
the home of a close friend who won't mind if I correct
my child, I practice there. By age 12 months you
shouldn't be having too much trouble in church if you've
already been practicing at home. It might take some time
if you are just starting this now, however.
Teaching them to be quiet is harder. I would also work
on this at home. During various times during the day, I
play with my child and get them to understand was "Shhhhhh"
mean. I usually hold my finger up to my lips at the same
time, so that they will learn that means Shhhhh and I
won't have to actually say "shhhhhh" later on.
I am usually playful with this at first, and I don't
expect them to be quiet for more than a few seconds. I
they really know what I want and how to do it, before I
expect to use this in a situation like church. I
practice during meals at home or when I am talking to
someone and don't want them to interrupt. There are lots
of opportunities if you look for them.
It helps to whisper to the child when you tell them to
"Shhhh" or "be quiet". With my older
toddlers we sometimes play the "quiet game"
(the first one to make a sound loses). That helps focus
their attention of being quiet since they often seem to
be oblivious to the noises they make. Of course you
probably can't do that with a 12 month old unless you
can think up some creative way to get the idea across.
Once your child knows well, how to sit contentedly on
your lap for as long as you wish, AND what "shhhh"
means, then I'd practice them together at home. I'd sit
the child on my lap and tell him/her "shhhhh".
Then I'd remind them with a whispered "shhhh"
and a finger held up to the lips, every time they begin
to babble, etc. Keep whispering "no, shhhhh"
and "be quiet" until they quiet down. Keep the
swats out of it as much as possible. Swatting for sounds
usually results in crying which is far worse. Keep
reminding, and only give one small swat if you sense
that they are DELIBERATELY resisting/disobeying you. If
you KNOW they are still DELIBERATELY
resisting/disobeying you, then one more firm swat on the
thigh might be required. The child will almost certainly
cry, so that's why you need to practice this at home. Do
not give in and try to pacify the child. She/he will
likely begin to struggle on your lap at that point and
you should forget the noises and correct her for the
struggling then as needed.
Remember that you are not so much correcting for the
struggling OR the noise making, but you are correcting
for DISOBEDIENCE and RESISTANCE. If she gets that
message, and changes her attitude, and submits to you,
THEN you will find that she will submit in ALL areas
including the noise making part of it. If your child has
been trained to obey, she will obey when you tell her to
be quiet. If she is disobeying in one particular area,
it really is an indication that she is not obedient in
her heart in other area, but she is just placating you.
Try to focus on developing an overall spirit of
willingness to obey. Don't focus on particular task. Use
the individual task to teach overall obedience.
I hope that is helpful. Try not to test her in church
unless you are confident she will obey you. If is better
to get up and leave with her right away then to keep
letting her get away with being noisier and noisier.
When you do take her out, make sure she does NOT enjoy
it. Don't reward her by letting her get down and walk
around or otherwise play. Make her sit on your lap and
be quiet out in the hall (or wherever is convenient). At
minimum, ask her to do something she doesn't like doing
and make sure she obeys you.
Now with most of the above, I'm assuming she is
resisting you on purpose. If she isn't, then just be
sure she understands what you want.
Playing with your children
Question: All my life I dreamed of the fun
parts of being a mom - I wanted to dance with my
children, sing silly songs, paint, do play-doh, etc. I
dreamed that my children would have fun, learn a little
along the way and we'd have a happy home. Unfortunately,
I have not done what I have wanted to do and am
wondering how to do it now.
I feel that if I were to start suddenly being
"fun", my oldest daughter (3 years old) would
look at me like I grew a second head or something. I
want desperately to find joy in playing with her and
being mommy - but at the same time being firm when
I guess I need ideas on how to do fun things with her
and still get the baby fed, the laundry done, and other
chores done. I honestly believe that behavior would be
better if I was not so stressed and more fun to be
Answer: So how do we love and enjoy our children?
Some moms are great "kid people". I am not.
I'm not good at sitting down and playing house with the
girls or playing trucks and cars with the boys. However,
I think I am good at smiling when a child comes up to me
and shows me his latest creation. I am good at picking
up a toddler who wants a hug. I am good at displaying a
slight sense of humor now and then, I am good at giving
any child who wants it, a small piece of my undivided
attention, almost anytime he wants it.
What I'm trying to say is that you don't have to set
aside a certain portion of the day for "quality
time". ALL the time you spend with your children
should be quality time. (Even if you are disciplining.)
I also do not believe that you need to be sure to spend
a certain amount of individual time with each child.
Yes, take advantage of opportunities for this when they
present themselves, but meanwhile you can certainly and
easily demonstrate love for more than one child at a
In real life, it only takes a few seconds to please a
child (or 2 or 3 children) and make them feel loved and
secure. Usually, you don't even have to seek them out
for this, they will come to you. All you have to do is
stop what you are doing and make yourself available
emotionally when they do. Smile at them, answer their
questions, give them a little bit of attention, and
then, when they have been satisfied, and if you are
busy, send them off with some pleasant direction as to
what they should do next. Or better yet, try to include
them in what YOU are doing in some small way.
Many times a day this happens at our house: I will be
working at my computer, or helping a child with his
schoolwork or cooking, etc, and my 2yo will come up to
me with some problem, need, or concern. In fact, he is
doing that right now, so I'll just relate what is
He just came up to me, and with big eyes and an excited
smile, showed me a little lego man in his hand. I
stopped typing, looked at him, smiled, hugged him, and
said, "OH WOW! WHAT'S THAT!?" He smiled and
responded with "I am stinky!" ..... LOL!
Me (still smiling): "Oh, really? Did someone send
you down here?"
Me (enthusiatically): Did you come down here all by
yourself? (I'm teaching here.)
Him (nodding excitedly): YEAH!
Me: "Oh good! Say 'Yes', not 'Yeah'." (Still
Him (smiling): "Yes!"
Me (still cheerful and smiling): "Good, that sounds
much nicer. Now lay down here, so I can change
Anyway, that might not seem like anything noteworthy as
far as playing with your child, but what I think is more
important is ENJOYING them and giving them your love and
attention and approval when they come to you all those
many little times all day long.
And by the way, when he did not lay down right away, I
had no problem switching to a more serious tone and
saying, "JEFF, lay down right now so momma can
Tomato Staking clarification
Question: I just wondered about whether the
children could be doing a quiet activity while tomato
staking? For instance having them look at books while I
am schooling an older children or having them sit at the
table in the kitchen to color while I made dinner? I am
trying to keep them with me and quiet- but from
Elizabeth's article it sounded like she has her children
sit on the couch doing nothing but concentrating on
being quiet- is it wrong to give them an activity?
Answer: Hmmm. I'd better rewrite that article!
Let me try to explain. When and if I have them all just
sit on the couch doing nothing, that is only when they
have been doing something awful and out of control
(suppose they were throwing toys at each other and
running around screaming for example). Then they might
get the couch and some cooling off time. But that's not
what most tomato staking is.
After they settle done from the initial misdeeds, then,
if I want to continue the tomato staking, I just keep
them near me. They can do ANYTHING I want to allow them
to do, ANYTHING. The point of tomato staking is to keep
them close enough so that I can catch any further
misdeeds (even the smallest ugly look on a face, for
example), IMMEDIATELY and correct it IMMEDIATELY. The
tomato staking helps me to be CONSISTENT.
YES, go ahead and let your children color or whatever,
as long as you keep watching them and correcting them
for anything YOU think is not acceptable behavior. You
don't have to correct them for every breath, but don't
overlook anything naughty or bad.
Later, as they learn to behave better, turn tomato
staking time into an opportunity to become close friends
with your child.
When they already have friends:
You said that if we kept the kids from the influence of
the friends at Sunday school and other outside
influences, they wouldn't feel bad about missing it
right? Well, I'm afraid they all ready have
"friendships" with a lot of those children.
When we go to church they will see these
"friends" off playing, going to class and
doing all the things we USED to let them do. How do I
make this easier on them?
Answer: One little thought that always
comes to my mind in this type of situation is something
that Bill Gothard said when he was encouraging parents
to get rid of their TV. When the parents asked him how
to deal with complaints from the children, he urged them
to replace the TV with THEMSELVES. I think that idea
would apply to removing friends too. Replace them with
yourselves. Become your children's best friends
In my family when I was a child, my father was not big
on the kids being separated from the parents and going
off in all directions by themselves. So, he said
"no" to a lot of extra curricular activities,
and instead we spent the evenings together at home as a
family - EVERY EVENING. In the winters we had some TV,
and we had our homework to do, but in the summers, we
would spend every evening altogether at the kitchen
table playing puzzles, and board games, and card games,
together. I also remember our mother reading to us from
lengthy books (a chapter or two a night) and I remember
my father playing chess with us, and taking us fishing,
and working with us to build our cottage. He often
played violin with me as well. I remember our mother
drilling us on our spelling, gardening with us, taking
us down to the beach in the summer, teaching us to cook,
and having us wash windows and clean house. I had only
one friend I ever saw all summer. I honestly did not
miss my winter time school friends. I had my brothers
and we became each other's best friends.
Learning to be good friends:
How will my children learn to be good friends if I do
not allow them to have "friends"?
Answer: Our children learned to be "good
friends" by being "good friends" to their
own siblings. That's even harder than being a good
friend to an outsider. One tends to be on one's best
behavior with outsiders and one tends to be on one's
worst behavior around family members. With family you
think you have "rights". With strangers you
tend to respect THEIR rights. You know your family can't
dump you, but you know that a friend can dump you
anytime the like. If you can learn to be good friends to
the people in your own family, you won't have any
trouble being good friends to those outside your family.
In other people's homes:
We have always been active in going to people's
homes for dinner and game type nights but all the kid's
are usually sent to another table in another room to eat
and then go off to toy rooms to play together. If I
understand the woodshed principles - children should be
in your sight at all times - how do I apply this at
someone else's home? I really believe this is a good
thing to do and was very reassured when I read the
"How to raise godly children" thread but I
need some more practical example of the shelter and
segregate ideas. Do you EVER let your kid's develop
friendships outside the family? Even when they are
Answer: As far as going to other people's homes,
I would encourage you to keep doing that with one
change: try to switch over to more of a FAMILY
FELLOWSHIPPING approach rather than splitting up. It
will probably be easiest to start the ball rolling by
inviting others to YOUR home and guiding the
proceedings. Try to eat together if there is room. Then
initiate activities that whole families can do together
or at least near each other rather than in separate
rooms. Try not to focus on "not allowing" this
or that, but on "wanting" and "aiming
toward" keeping the family together (because you
want to be together, not just so you can watch the
can't make your children become saved."
I hear a lot of talk about how we are trying to raise
godly children and I need some clarification. Here is my
sticking point....while I believe that we must teach our
children to behave according to Biblical principles and
standards, that we must teach them the Bible, take them
to church and give them every opportunity to accept
Christ...we cannot make them become true
believers, no matter how hard we try or what we do. They
have to choose Him themselves, and once they do, it is
then the work of the Holy Spirit to convict, sanctify
and guide them along to becoming Holy. In other words,
we can't make our children godly, only God can. Maybe
this is what you all mean, but for the longest time I
took it as that my children would not be saved, or would
be nominal Christians at best if I did not train them
perfectly, was too lenient, not lenient enough etc....
So here is my question.....what do you mean when you say
you are trying to raise godly children???
Well, when I think of "godly children", I'm
thinking mostly of children who have "godly"
character qualities that are genuine. Children who are
kind, friendly, good-hearted, not angry or bitter, not
rebellious, cooperative, humble, eager to do right,
reliable, and so on. I believe that if I train my
children in these character qualities AND give them the
knowledge of God that they need, it will be much easier
for them to make their own personal commitment to Christ
when the time comes. Ideally, they will grow up knowing
of God in many ways, and the transition from serving
parents to serving God will be a very small one. Please
note that I am looking at the heart when I talk of
godliness. I am not referring outward actions. Outward
actions are only the red flags that tell us where the
inner person needs work. Children who ACT obedient and
respectful, but don't have godly character of heart, are
not what I'd call "godly".
Has anyone had their kids react badly when the family
increases their commitments to God?
Answer: NO! But of course that is not
the same as asking whether or not a child might react
badly when a family increases their commitments to
"church". Is that what is happening? Are
you just attending one or two services a week? Or
are you active in church almost daily? Doing more
church or religious activities, is not always the same
as serving God more. As I see it, you should be
striving to serve God in ALL that you do. That includes
how you change a diaper, how you cook a meal, how you
answer your husband when he questions you, how you
discipline your child, how you teach your children
character, what values you have and how you instill them
in your children, and endlessly more than that. Now
becoming involved in more formal church activities might
help you do these other thing, but they don't always,
and sometimes they get in the way of really serving God
in all you do.
For example, if your child is new to learning really
good character and obedience, and if you are new to
being consistent, then perhaps it would be better to
stay home for awhile and work on those things (which I
believe will ultimately lead to true Godliness in you
and your children). If this is all relatively new, ANY
outside activities will likely hinder your progress,
including church activities. If your child can't sit
still at the dinner table at home, he's going to be
twice as bad sitting in church where his parents can't
correct him according to his needs. The same
applies to non-church outside activities. All outside
activities cut into the time you have at home to work on
training your children. This home time is
especially needed when you are first starting to train a
child and also anytime you are having a problem with a
When I first began to discipline differently, my oldest
was 6yo, and I also had a 4yo and a 2yo (and was
pregnant with the next one). I determined to make
training my children in godliness my TOP priority. If
there were any problems when I went to the store, I
stopped going to the store unless absolutely necessary.
If Sunday School created problems (because the kids were
not under my guidance) then I pulled them out of Sunday
School. On the other hand, my commitment to serving God increased.
First, training my children in godliness IS serving God.
Secondly, as I trained my children I also turned on my
bible tapes and did other things to teach them clearly
the connection between godliness and God. All that I
train and teach for is from God, isn't it? So I had
plenty to tell them about. That, in my opinion, made up
for any cut back in official church time and increased
my ability to train my children.