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Archive for the ‘Training’ category

Consider this thought:

One precious lesson which the mother will need to repeat again and again is that the child is not to rule; he is not the master, but her will and her wishes are to be supreme. Thus she is teaching them self-control. Give them nothing for which they cry, even if your tender heart desires ever so much to do this; for if they gain the victory once by crying they will expect to do it again. The second time the battle will be more vehement.

Child Guidance, 92

Following this bit of logic does make a difference. I have been working on my 3-year-old in this area. She has developed a habit of whining for things. I have been telling her that she must ask in a nice voice if she wants to get it. At first it made her mad, but then she realized I was serious. Now she changes her tone as soon as I remind her, and–wonder of wonders–I don’t have to remind her every time. She has started asking right the first time!

So try it! God’s principles work!

Every Thursday I want to have a guest post. It might be a post someone wrote specifically for my blog, or it might be a post that I found on another blog. Today it’s the latter. I found this post a week ago on a blog I’ve been following, and I found it very interesting.

Why nagging doesn’t work

Growing up I was homeschooled using the Charlotte Mason method. Now that I’m starting to homeschool my own children, I have explored all the different curriculum out there, and much to my Mother’s delight I’m coming back to Charlotte Mason. :-) Recently I have been pouring over the Simply Charlotte Mason website, there is way to much good information there! This is a free e-book entitled “Smooth and Easy Days” that they put out. I have copied just one chapter of it, but I would encourage you to go and download all of it and read it! You can do so here.

Why Nagging Doesn’t Work

I nag them and I nag them, but it does no good.” Most of us can testify to the truth of that statement. But I never understood why nagging doesn’t work until I started to study Charlotte’s habit-training principles. Now it makes sense. Let’s say that you’re trying to teach your child to hang up her coat when she takes it off. In order to make that action a habit, she needs to repeatedly and consciously think through the hang-up- my-coat-when-I-take-it-off neuron route. (Remember the neuron routes we talked about in chapter 6?) Now, let’s say you come into the room and trip over her coat.

The easiest thing to do is to call her into the room and say, “I’ve told you before, hang up your coat when you take it off!” She obediently picks it up and hangs it in the closet, but . . . and here’s the key . . . her brain didn’t initiate the idea, so you just reinforced the wrong neuron route.

You just reinforced the do-what-mom-says-to-do neuron route. That’s a completely different route from the one you want her to mentally travel. And that explains why once we start nagging, we find that we’re always having to nag in order to make something happen. We are reinforcing the do-what-mom-says-to- do route, which means the child will constantly wait until mom says what to do!

” ‘I’m sure I am always telling her’––to keep her drawers neat, or to hold up her head and speak nicely, or to be quick and careful about an errand, says the poor mother, with tears in her eyes; and indeed this, of ‘always telling’ him or her is a weary process for the mother; dull, because hopeless” (Vol. 2, p. 1734).

So, let’s say you just came into the room and tripped over your daughter’s coat . . . again. You call your child into the room, and you say something like this: “I promised I would help you remember.” That’s all. If she still doesn’t understand, you can pointedly look at the coat on the floor. Little hints might be needed at first. But you wait until the mental lightbulb goes off in her head and that will start those neurons traveling the hang-up-my-coat- when-I-take-it-off route. Do you see the difference? She thought of it. She made the mental effort.

Yes, it might be faster to nag. Yes, it sometimes seems easier to nag. But think of the long-term effects. You will have to continue to nag whenever you want something done.

“But, perhaps, even his mother does not know how unutterably dreary is this ‘always telling,’ which produces nothing, to the child. . . . As for any impression on his character, any habit really formed, all this labour is without result” (Vol. 2, p. 174).

Nagging doesn’t work. Stop nagging and start forming habits.

I really liked that. But I thought, “What if the child is young and totally clueless?” That can happen sometimes, you know. So I thought if they don’t get it, that you could always do something like this: Tell them to put their coat back on, then remind them what they are supposed to do when they take it off, and have them do it. You could practice two or three times in a row, just to reinforce it. This could really help, I think, and you can make it fun for the kids, so that by the end of the third time they are laughing, which would help deepen the impression.

So tell me about how this helps you, or share your own ideas!


Here is something to ponder:

Well may the mother inquire with deep anxiety, as she looks upon the children given to her care, What is the great aim and object of their education? Is it to fit them for life and its duties, to qualify them to take an honorable position in the world, to do good, to benefit their fellow-beings, to gain eventually the reward of the righteous? If so, then the first lesson to be taught them is self-control; for no undisciplined, headstrong person can hope for success in this world or reward in the next.

Child Guidance, 91

Wow! The very first lesson. She gets more specific in the next paragraph:

The little ones, before they are a year old, hear and understand what is spoken in reference to themselves, and know to what extent they are to be indulged. Mothers, you should train your children to yield to your wishes. This point must be gained if you would hold the control over your children, and preserve your dignity as a mother. Your children quickly learn just what you expect of them, they know when their will conquers yours, and will make the most of their victory.  It is the veriest cruelty to allow wrong habits to be developed, to give the law into the hands of the child and let him rule.


I know this is true. A child who is in control is an unhappy child. A happy child is one that has surrendered to his parents. I have seen it in my children. I know.

Lord, grant me the wisdom to know how to train my children for You. Give me endurance to outlast them whenever their will crosses mine. Give me strength to be happy and joyful with them when they are obedient. Help me to take time to spend with them and bind them to my heart. Guide me as I teach them self-control–and please help me to model it in my own life. Amen.

This will be my first post in the parenting section. Not that I have it divided up just yet. That will come. And just for the record, I don’t consider myself an expert on parenting. I think I did before I had kids. I learned very fast how much I don’t know. And each child I have teaches me more of what I thought I knew but don’t. So this section is NOT for me to give parenting advice, but rather to share my experiences in parenting, good and bad, for what it’s worth. Maybe someone else will learn something. Maybe someone will have advice to give me. Either way, it’s all good.

First off, I must state that I am a very strong believer in the methods laid out in the book Raising Godly Tomatoes. This book is very biblically based and when I read Child Guidance, I remember things I read in RGT, and vice versa. I highly recommend that everyone read it. The basic tenants are these: Keep your children with you. Don’t let them go further than you can trust them. This is so you can deal with attitudes and heart issues easily. When a child challenges you to a battle, outlast and win. In between battles, enjoy your children, involve them in what you are doing as much as possible, and teach them the ways of the Lord.

That’s the book in a nutshell. So today is about a major outlasting session (two, actually) that I had with my 15-month-old son Emmanuel.

I had recently begun to get tough with Manny, because he was getting older and I had decided I had delayed training him long enough. He had been learning pretty well. He was coming to me when called most of the time—and when he didn’t, it usually only took a few minutes to convince him to come cheerfully. He was learning to give things to Mommy, and in general was a happier baby now that he realized who was the boss.

But there was one area that I had never really worked with. That was when he would get something in his hand that I didn’t want him to have, and I would ask for it, and he would refuse. Each time that had come up lately, it was never convenient to outlast. Either it was bedtime, or we had to go somewhere, or something on the stove was about to burn. . . you get the picture.

Well, today he got into the drawers in the bathroom again (I really need to remember to shut the door—we’re moving in a few weeks, so no reason to put locks on the doors) and got out a pen-shaped eyebrow trimmer (which, btw, had no battery because I never use it). Daddy decided it wasn’t a good idea, because the lid came off easily and it looked like it could make a nasty scratch if he fell wrong with it. So I asked for it. He refused, defiantly.

I started outlasting. After a while, I got on the RGT forum and posted this:

I’ve been at it for about half an hour and took a break to let him calm down and for me to write this. It goes like this:

Me: Give it to me.
Him: Stiffen and jerk hand away. *Swat*
Me: Give it to me.
Him: Do nothing. *Swat*
Me: Give it to me.
Him: Kick legs. *Swat*

Etc. Now, I don’t swat EVERY time, but I’m trying to convey that he shouldn’t get to enjoy not giving it to Mommy. I know he knows what “Give it to me” means. He does it all the time–even helps me empty the dishwasher by handing me spoons and forks one by one. He’ll be playing with a toy and I’ll put my hand out and say “Give it to me,” and he’ll hand it over. But sometimes–ironically it’s usually something I really don’t want him to have–he’ll get the prisoner-of-war attitude that “I don’t care what she does to me, I’m not going to give it” and simply won’t comply. He also tried coming to me for comfort while I was asking for it, and I wouldn’t let him until he complied. Once he surrenders, I’ll cuddle him, but not while he’s in defiance. Am I doing the right thing? Any advice?

A mom encouraged me to just outlast, saying, “You can do this. Just win! Don’t give up” and such. That was helpful, believe it or not. Sometimes it seems like toddlers are going to hold out forever, and let me tell you, 10 minutes or 20 minutes or whatever can really feel like forever in the moment!

Not long after I wrote that post, I wrote this one:

Now he has decided he doesn’t want it. He threw it. I gave it back and asked him to *give* it to me, not just throw it. He took it and threw it again. Did it several times. I swatted each time. Now he wants nothing to do with it. Won’t take it at all–just pushes it away. I know I haven’t won, but how can I outlast if he won’t take it? Any ideas?

One lady suggested trying something else. But by that time I already had. Here is what I wrote:

I’ve also tried other things, because he now wants nothing to do with trimmer. A toilet paper roll, an old printer cartridge… he’ll play with it a minute, then I ask for it. He throws it. Won’t take it back.

Well, I took a break, didn’t let him hold anything but made him sit quietly on my lap for a bit, from time to time trying again with other things, since he decided he didn’t want anything to do with the trimmer. He sat quietly for a while, then tried to play with my hair. I told him no and enforced that. Then I tried again with the toilet paper roll. He took it, all happy. I asked for it, he gave it. I gave it back and repeated a few times, then gave him the trimmer. He took it. I asked for it back. He gave it to me cheerfully. Then I gave it back and asked for it back. He complied cheerfully.


After that, he was quite cheerful. I let him down to play a bit. Then he ndered down the hall and wouldn’t come when I called him. Uh oh. Here we go again. I described the experience on the same thread in the forum:

He kind of bounced defiantly (he was kneeling), challenging me to make him. I grabbed my paddle and stepped up to the challenge. I refused to let him sit or lay down (he’s been walking for a month and a half and prefers walking to crawling, and laying down is kind of like a mini tantrum for him, whether or not he kicks, so I decided he must stand up). Outlasted every time he would sit or lay down. Swatted occasionally. He finally came. Then daddy, who had been taking a nap earlier and was listening through the closed door, came out. Now, Manny is definitely a Daddy’s boy, so instead of coming to me again (I was in reinforce mode, putting him back at start and calling him again), he went to Daddy, as if to be rescued. Daddy helped me with some more outlasting, and finally left, because it seemed that his presence was making things take longer. Not sure why. He obeys Daddy pretty well most of the time (Daddy cracked down and got strict recently also). So finally I got him to come to me several times, but he was crying each time. I would hold him a moment, while he laid his head on my shoulder, then carry him back down to the end of the hall and try again. I couldn’t get back to the other end before he’d be tearfully following me. I decided after 3 or 4 of these that he was really truly tired (he doesn’t take a second nap every day, and it was already almost 5:00), so I laid him down for a nap. I think I’ll try the coming-to-mommy thing again once he wakes up. Just thought I’d check and see if I did the right thing. I mean, I know ultimately I want him to obey cheerfully, but maybe he was too tired to obey cheerfully, and I should accept his repeated obedience for now and continue when he’s fresher?

When I checked back later, I found that I had a comment from the author of the book. Whoo hoo! Here’s what she said:

Overall, you are doing very well. You are both learning so as long as you can see that he has given his will over to you, I wouldn’t be too concerned about details that don’t change that. If you see any rebellion or resistant, then yes, you must keep going. But I’d probably overlook some sniffing and sobbing from weariness.

Now even that can be corrected, but right now just make sure he feels he has submitted himself to you.

Looking back, I remember that he was tired, but not defiant. I’m so glad.

Later I came up with the same issue again. This time I incorporated what is known as the hand on/off the mouth to stop crying. Basically, you hold your hand over the child’s mouth when they cry out and release so they can breathe in (very briefly). Continue until they stop crying. Believe it or not, it works. I wish I had tried it sooner. (Note: The link to this is in the forum, which you cannot access unless you are a member of the forum, which is why I didn’t post one.)

So that was my afternoon. Oh, I took advantage of his nap to take one myself! Yay!