31 days of training my kids: practicing self-control

The general idea of practicing self-control, just it's individually. They were so thrilled about posing for this picture. = )
The general idea of practicing self-control, just it’s individually. They were so thrilled about posing for this picture. = )

Here’s a great little trick we learned from Steve and Megan Scheibner of Character Health.

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Put two chairs facing each other. The child sits in one and the parent sits in the other. Use a timer (I use my phone) and set the timer for one minute.

Each person must sit there with their hands folded and their mouth closed until the alarm goes off.

Seem simple?

It is!

But it teaches the all-important skill of sitting still!

We actually start out at thirty seconds. When I felt that the girls were ready, we’d bump it up to a minute, then a minute and a half, two minutes, and three minutes.

Three minutes is the goal! (according to the Scheibner’s)

All in all, when I do this with all four kids, it takes about ten to fifteen minutes. Every now and then we let everyone go twice, but most of the time everyone just does it once. Of course, the older girls get longer times and the youngest is still working on thirty seconds.

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Now here is where I have to confess.

I’m terrible at doing this!! 

Which is so frustrating, because it helps the general welfare so much!

I don’t do it every day, but I should. Some weeks I don’t do it at all. But when I do, I’m always very, very happy.

I think it communicates a few things to your kids.

1. Daddy and Mommy are helping you learn how we expect you to behave.

2.You can sit still!

3. Self-control is a vital skill in life that you will need from now until the day you die.

Here are a few situations where having this “skill” can really save you:

1. Before meal time. “Okay kids, everybody at the table. Fold your hands and practice self-control until we’re ready to pray.”

2. When a child is having trouble stopping their crying. “We’re going to fold our hands and close our mouths until you are done.”

3. When the wiggles come during church or any other need-to-be-quiet-at function.

4. When a child is getting so wound up that they’re about to get in trouble. “Let’s sit down for a minute and practice self-control before you hurt yourself or someone or something else.”

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For awhile, I did a lot better at this, but it just seems that days are so busy now that it’s hard to fit in.

But that’s ridiculous.

Doing it definitely saves time in just about every other area.

Isn’t that the goal with training? To let your kids know what you expect and help them practice so it will be second nature as they go throughout their days?

For the record, my girls LOVE this. Like every other training game we do. = / C’mon, Mom, get with it!

And now, I’m officially convicted. We are doing this when Mckayla wakes up! Isn’t that the point of this series anyway?

My ideal would be to do this twice a day, four or five days a week.

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Do you have anything like this that works for you? Any ideas on making it a regular part of the day?

31 days of training my kids: always a tradeoff

Which one is the culprit?
Which one is the culprit?

I walked down the hallway after the many-eth time of putting a little girl back in bed. I saw things that needed to be put away, jobs I thought surely would have been done by now.

Why haven’t I gotten to that… I began to think; and then I realized… this is what I’ve been doing!

All week.

And suddenly, I didn’t seem to mind the mess as much.

One of my little sweeties has just given me a run for my money this week. The piles and laundry and cluttered counters that I meant to take care of mean that I actually concentrated on a bigger problem that was happening.

Thankfully, I can also remember when this happened with another one of our little darlings, and guess what? We got through it! The house even returned to normal. How comforting!

There’s always a tradeoff when something like this comes up.  I’m choosing to believe that something more permanent than the status of my house is being accomplished.

(and if nothing else, someone is now sweetly sleeping) = )

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I’m giving away Fit to Burst, by Rachel Jankovic. Check it out here!

31 days of training my kids: let’s get specific

imageAll right, enough hullabaloo. We’ve had two crazy busy weeks in a row, a trip to Pennsylvania and back, and another full week staring us in the face.

I can’t just float on and expect productive teaching and training to happen around here.

Life probably won’t slow down any time soon.

Here is what we will be working on this week.

*Putting stuff away. We’ve worked on it before, but it’s definitely time for a refresher -probably for mom and kids.

*Looking at someone in the eye when they talk to you.

and two more constants…

*Obeying with a good attitude

*Being happy and thankful in all circumstances (this is especially with the older ones -and me!)

We already had a great opportunity to work on that last one at breakfast this morning. Who knew being given a smaller piece of banana than someone else could be so heartbreaking?

What are you working on this week?

31 days of training my kids: favorite books

Today, I picked four of my favorite parenting books to share with you. Nothing fancy, just a few thoughts and an amazon link.

Shepherding a Child’s Heart. I read this before Hope was born, but I really need to read it again as I am now in that stage of life. It is one of the best books on this topic. (not just my opinion)

imageLoving the Little Years. Short, humorous, encouraging and convicting… it’s by a mom of little’s for moms with little’s. Highly recommend!

imageDon’t Make Me Count To Three. A friend recently lent this to me; I had never heard of it. It’s excellent! At first, I wasn’t too crazy about the writing style, but was definitely won over by the Biblical truths and practical helps. I just finished this last week, and it’s a must add to my collection.

imageFeminine Appeal. This is one of my favorite books for women. It does have chapters specific to motherhood, but also describes how the godly characteristics outlined in Titus 2 will adorn the gospel when practiced in a Christian woman’s life. We all want to be good moms, but underneath we first have to be in a right relationship with our Creator. I found this book to be helpful to all of my life, not just in parenting. Though I certainly remember many of the things it said about that!

imageHope you enjoy! What are your favorite Mommy books?

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I keep forgetting to tell you that my sister is doing the 31 days challenge! Check out her super fun series, On-the-go Pianist!

31 days of training my kids: over and over

Thanks to my sweet friend Liz who takes such fun pictures of the girls!
Thanks to my sweet friend Liz who takes such fun pictures of the girls!

When my sweet little Hopey was learning to talk I remember how curious it was to me that she would say words over and over. Being my first, it didn’t bother me at all; I just found it so interesting. (Clearly I had not spent much time with babies)

At some point it occurred to me that that was how she learned. That was how she mastered her words and concepts. I’m pretty sure she didn’t think, “That word ‘cracker’ is hard one; I better say it over and over so I don’t forget!” But even at a young age, the idea that practice makes permanent is built into our bodies.

When we practice something over and over, we will eventually be able to do it without thinking.

This is the beauty and the hardship of training children. We can teach them to obey even as very small children, but it takes a fair amount of effort.

Over and over.

Thankfully, we’re given plenty of opportunities. (even without “Here, let me show you what I expect and let’s think of a fun way to practice” times)

Kids have to eat… over and over.

Brothers and sisters have to play together… over and over.

Toys have to be cleaned up… over and over. (even if it is a few days in between on occasion) = )

Seat belts have to be buckled… over and over. Oh what a happy day in our house when the oldest two could do this without complaining or getting frustrated!

Wants have to be put aside… over and over.

Mommy has an opportunity to practice patience… over and over.

Mommy has an opportunity to model confession… over and over.

We go back to the gospel after being all out of sorts… over and over.

It can be so frustrating when kids slip back into habits or attitudes that we thought had been taken care of. But it’s always worth it to keep talking, keep teaching, keep disciplining, keep modeling… over and over.

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The grand and glorious things we’ve been working on this week have been no more than sitting in your chair correctly at the table and obeying with a good attitude. This is not the first week we’ve worked on these things, nor will it be the last.

What have you been working on this week?

31 days of training my kids: walking with Mommy

We didn’t really have any trouble with this concept until our fourth little girl came along.

But apparently what is textbook for one -or three- is rocket science for another.

Our Mckayla has a fierce independent streak (rivaled only by her mother’s = /) and training her has proved to be a whole new ballgame. (but that’s a whole other post)

The point of this one is short: we have been working with Mckayla off and on about holding Mommy’s hand while we walk around.

Today we went to Target and purposely bypassed the carts so she could have a chance to practice walking around and holding my hand. For once we weren’t in a ridiculous hurry. (which by the way, can be a great enemy to training my kids)

And good news… she did really great! By now, I know her well enough to know that this means absolutely nothing for tomorrow. But for today, I’m thankful for a small step of victory and an opportunity to help her taken.

I realize it has only been three or four days, but writing this stuff is really helping me to pay better attention at working on things with the girls (and me). I pray that we’ll finish these 31 days better than we started. It’s so easy to do great at the beginning.

And just for fun to “keep it real” this is what Mckayla wore two days ago as her mother did not have any clean pants for her. We did change to go out, but it was only to a non-sleepwear, non-matching flowered skirt. Oh yeah!

I should also mention that she was ecstatic to be wearing "ginny" mouse!
I should also mention that she was ecstatic to be wearing “ginny” mouse!

31 days of training my kids: “Come. Come cow!”

Pictures 1 166I began training my sweet little Hopey quite literally in a cow pasture. We lived in a small trailer in the middle of wide open fields, mostly inhabited by cows.

As soon as Hope was able to walk, I took her outside, stood her up about five feet away from me and called her to “Come.”

At first she just looked at me funny. Have you ever tried explaining a simple concept to an eighteen month old? She eventually understood, and being the sweet, compliant child she is, came every time.

But still we would go outside almost every day and practice. And practice and practice.

This was my first little girl and I didn’t want anything to happen to her. I wanted to know that she would come right to Mommy when I called. Eventually, I would stand much farther away; let her play by herself for awhile and then call when she wasn’t really paying attention; and put her on the other side of the van and call when she couldn’t see me.

It might sound a little ridiculous, but at the time it was really no trouble. She thought it was just a game.

I will say that practicing like this has been harder for me with the more children we’ve had. However, looking back, I really wish that I had done as much with the others as I did with Hope. There was still training, but I know there wasn’t as much.

(By the way, we practiced this same thing with the girls tonight after dinner. That and self-control was about the extent of today, but at least we did something!) = )

Back to Hopey, I’ll never forget when we were outside one day getting ready to get in the car; she looked right across the street at our cow companions and called, “Come. Come, cow.”

There’s nothing like seeing yourself mimicked by a toddler.