31 days of training my kids: Hope, quite literally

imageWhen we were expecting our first daughter, it didn’t take us long to settle on the name “Hope.” Her name has several layers of meaning for us. One in particular has just happened this past year.

There will be days where I feel like I’m constantly working with the younger girls to just obey.

How hard can this be? Your life (and mine) would be so much easier! I really am doing what’s best for you!

Sometimes in the middle of these days I’ll mindlessly ask Hope to go do something. “Take your shoes to the room, bring me a diaper, go brush your teeth, whatever.”

And she does it. And then I think, “Maybe, when they’re five, they’ll just do it, too.”

Though she’s certainly not perfect, Hope for the most part obeys with a good attitude. Sophia even does most of the time. I have to stop and realize that they are two to three years further along in this process than Gracie and Mckayla.

There really is hope!

This wouldn’t have occurred to me at all until my third or fourth child. (This is one of the blessings of having so many close together!) I can see in living color the different stages of learning obedience. I can remember when I thought we would never get Sophia straightened out with certain issues; and now that we’re re-living many of those with Mckayla, it doesn’t feel quite as hopeless.

I guess my point is, tonight, if you only have one or two small children and feel like you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel… it’s there! It might take a few more years to see it, but faithfulness to God’s Word will bring fruit!

If you feel like you got a late start and are just now beginning to work with older children, persevere!

The goal is not to make your life more comfortable. Four and five year olds have their own unique challenges- that we’re just beginning to learn. But the goal is for your child to bend that oh-so-destructive will to their parent’ authority, and eventually to God’s.

My sweet little Hopey brings me joy and peace in so many ways.

Here’s to “Hope”-ing the others follow along.

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: laughter

for the families 013My husband is a master at making our girls laugh! I love watching them together.

Something that happened on our trip last week reminded of how important it is for laughter to be part of the training/disciplining/parenting equation.

The girls were really good; but Mckayla went through a few times where she was rather indignant and whiny about what she wanted. At one point, Paul turned around to sternly correct her. She got the picture and everything settled down. A few seconds later, I heard her giggle. I looked at Paul and realized that he was making silly faces at her. She laughed and he laughed and after a couple minutes it was done.

But it stuck in my mind. I have to remember to do that more. 

31 days of training my kids: less blog, more mommy

IMG_2379As I thought about writing for thirty-one days in a row, I was so excited about all the stuff I could write. Funny things the girls say, episodes of training, good ideas from others, books I love…

But as October 1 approached, I began to be burdened that this not be primarily a blog project. This is what I need to concentrate and re-concentrate on!

I’ve watched myself write less and less and do more and more. Though not great for the blog, it’s been great for me. I’m falling into bed exhausted at night from full days of caring for my family.

Busy days have been training days, too, even though it’s more of the work-as-you-go flavor.

More than anything, my awareness of the girls is growing; as is my desire and burden to love and teach them in a way that will glorify Christ.

So I guess what I want to say tonight is, thanks so much for reading and following along as I’ve worked my way through this thing.

Less blog and more mommy is a pretty good less is more.

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: intro

Why is it so hard to do simple, important things… every day?

I’ve taken on a challenge to blog about one topic for thirty-one days. While I would love to research and write about diy projects, design, poetry, etc… I have a major responsibility in my life right now, and it’s only going to last for a few short years.

imageI have four girls, five and under, and our life can get a little crazy.

Training your children isn’t about turning out perfect little angels, it’s about survival. And joy. Every minute I give to training my girls yields hours of fun, laughter, exploration and growth.

So why do I find it so hard to do consistently?

Contrasting the above-mentioned fun and laughter are the bad attitudes, impatience and frustration that come from mom checking out for a few days.

Training (especially for the purposes of this series) is not equivalent to discipline. But rather, it is the creative and pre-emptive guidance of a parent. “Here, let me show you what I expect, and let’s think of fun ways to practice.”

I want to write about training my kids because that’s one of the most important things I need to be doing every day. And it’s also the hardest… to just do.

I plan to write about things I have done in the past, and things I need to do right now. There will be “favorite” days where I will share resources that I love, and in-the-moment struggles as I evaluate, “What did I actually do today?”

I dearly love my kids and love being a mom. I don’t want to waste these years by wishing them away, and I also don’t want to look back and say, “Well, at least we had fun.” There’s got to be a balance.

Here’s my effort to journal the training that goes on in our house for one month. Want to follow along?

imageCheck back every day in October to keep up with the fun!

Coming tomorrow: 31 days of training my kids: definitions, goals, plans

A great big thanks to the Nester for all the fun and inspiration.

If you’re new here, thank you so much for coming! I’d love for you to look around; start at the About page and you can find favorite posts from there. If you like what you see like the blog on facebook and follow by email so you won’t miss a thing!