Friday, September 5, 2008

The Child-Centered Home

A reader recently commented:

I've been reading your blog for some time now. I'm a stay at home mother to my 4 year old. I feel absolutely frustrated and maybe that is why now, I'm reaching out for help.

I am ashamed to admit this, but maybe someone can help me restore peace to my home.

My 4 year old runs our home. Literally. And I am at my wits end. As is my husband. I have always considered myself a gentle parent, a patient mother, who gives a lot of time and attention to my child. I believe that this is my highest calling, and I cry when I think about how I am the one who must be doing everything wrong.

My daughter throws horrible tantrums. She screams at me and my husband. She tells us she hates us. She refuses to stop talking over us when my husband and I are trying to talk with one another. She engages her father into arguments, and constantly upsets him. She wakes up in the morning and demands breakfast and cartoons. Sometimes the day begins with a tantrum. She has no respect for us. She constantly backtalks.

We have removed TV, Toys, and I have let my home go, so I can spend more time with her. You see, a therapist tried to tell me that my daughter was fine, that it was me that had to bend to her will and give her my full attention around the clock.

She's going on 5. This has to stop. I don't know what to do. I don't know what information to turn to that could help bring peace into our home. It is to a point where my husband and I cannot even enjoy our home or time together when he comes home from a 10 hour shift at work. He is a patient loving father. A good husband. But all of these stresses are starting to cause cracks in our foundation. We even find ourselves arguing now with one another when the stress is high. Our home feels divided on most days. My husband and I cannot figure out how to solve the problem. He and I have talked this out almost on a weekly basis.

I'm reaching out here for anyone to please help me. I feel like I'm at my wits end. I pray so hard for something to change, and maybe I just don't have the tools or the know -how. I just want my daughter to be respectful and the tantrums to end. I cannot even function on some days that are bad.

Please help. Anyone.
Thank you.

Dear Reader,

1. Pray to God for wisdom, change patience and tough love as you and your husband embark upon turning your home around.

2. Read Scripture about child-training and get a good book on child-training (Proverbs is great). I recommend Biblical Parenting by Don Gilchrist---read together with your husband or share with your husband the highlights of the book when he gets home from work if he doesn't have time.

3. Don't listen to that therapist. In fact, don't ever go back again! I recommend getting wise counsel from your pastor or a biblical counselor instead. 

4. Let your child know you are sorry for not training her in the past and from now on things are going to change. When she yells or talks back--let her know it is unacceptable. If she does not obey, there needs to be discipline. Train her to obey you the first time. It takes time, she won't be perfect, but it is possible. This is crucial to the peace of your home, your sanity, your marriage, and to raising her to one day obey God. If she cannot obey you she will have a hard time obeying Him.

5. Anger sounds like it is an issue here. Where is this little child learning all this anger? Is it from within the home? Friends? TV? You must teach your daughter self-control and how to use her anger for good. Outside of reading the Bible on this issue, I also highly recommend 'The Heart of Anger' by Lou Priolo.

6. As you begin learning how to properly train her---I encourage CONSISTENCY. I know this will be hard at first but absolutely essential if you want to gain any ground. If she sees there is a weak spot in the wall, she will go for it every time.

7. Be united in your parenting with your husband. Discuss how you will parent her and be on the same page, letting Dad take the lead. Be sure she does not try to divide you or manipulate you and your husband. She must see that you two are parenting as a team. If you disagree with anything, talk with your husband in private in the other room out of earshot. Also, know you will probably be responsible for the bulk of the training if you are at home with her most of the time. When your husband is home, let him take the lead in disciplining, etc.

8. Shepherd her heart. As much as we need God to shepherd ours--she needs her shepherded too. Teach her God's word and show her how it applies to real life. Love her with an unconditional love, but also with a tough love that doesn't want to see her perish because of her anger and lack of self-control.

9. Don't get discouraged. It is not too late. You can turn the tide. It will not be easy but you can do it. Children most of all need boundaries and feel secure when these exist. Provide these things and see your home do a complete turn around!

There is no need for the child to rule the home---peace CAN reign, but it takes God, hard work, time and love. Know that you and your husband are doing the right thing both for your daughter's sake and your home. While I cannot address all I'd like to on such a broad topic such as parenting in one post---I hope this little bit helps.

May the Lord bless your parenting endeavors!

If you need more reading on this topic of dealing with anger in children I recommend The Heart of Anger:

Does your children ever speak to you in angry, disrespectful tones? Christian families, especially those in which children are home for most of the day, especially episodes of frustration and anger. This new book deals with anger's root causes, offering corrective advice from a biblical perspective."This book goes beyond the external manifestations of anger and deals with the internal source - the thoughts and intents of the heart. I know of no other book that addresses this problem with such practical and applicable biblical wisdom."

You can find this book HERE.

More related Reading:

Homemaking by JR Miller

For pinning:

*Thank you for visiting--this post contains affiliate links!


Abounding Treasures said...

I really feel for this dear woman and her husband as well as their little girl. You have given them wonderful, excellent advice that with God's help things can be turned around :o)


Anonymous said...

You gave her some great advice! Would encourage her to read the books from here...
This is another great book also...
Or read this by Chautona Havig I know it is long but maybe it will help someone!
Welcome to Bootcamp!

Bootcamp is a name given to the process of retraining your family in proper relationships with each other. It is a time for Mom and Dad to learn 100% consistency in dealing with their children’s misbehavior. The children learn to respond pleasantly and immediately to direction or rebuke from their parents.

First, it is absolutely necessary to SMILE! This is mommy training as well as child training. You must speak quietly. The best tone for bootcamp is JUST below conversational tone. Make it a little more difficult to hear so they have to pay attention. It helps to make it enjoyable when you can, but the point isn't to have fun. The point is to train mom and child. If it is fun at times, that will be a blessing. I do NOT recommend that you spend this time harshly or with an attitude of anger. The purpose is to fall in love again with your children, and for them to regain lost respect. If you are going to do this with an ugly attitude, please stop here. You will fail and your children will suffer. The ideas you will read here and in the resources will SOUND very harsh. They would be if not tempered by LOTS of love, smiles, and good- natured parenting. If you are going to do this in anger and self-importance, please just forget it. I assure you that it will only make things worse. .

First read, or reread, To Train up A Child by the Pearls. .
If you prefer you can read online at
This book will get you in a training mindset and fired up! (Remember that some of their ideas SOUND harsh. Please keep my prior cautions in mind throughout this process

Then read, or reread, Child Training Tips by Reb Bradley.
This book is incredible for pointing out our blind spots. (Those areas that we DIDN'T know needed to be worked on! (Please use the same cautions previously recommended.)

Then, if you can get your hands on one, read The Parenting of Champions. (Subtitled: Raising Godly Children in an Ungodly Age) This book is out of print but I have found several copies at and . They are listed under Lukas, Lucas, and Jucas! (For some pathetic reason!) The ISBN numbers are 094349785X and 1-56121-0161

He is wonderful about catching a vision for your children and their hearts and spiritual well being. I have read no better book on this subject. I personally own 5 copies of this book, all of which are loaned out upon request and availability.

If you have the time and energy, remove EVERYTHING from your home that does not add to family harmony. Box up anything that is laying around that will distract or annoy you. Get rid of clothing that is too small and clear surfaces such as: kitchen counters, bathroom shelves/counters, bookcases, coffee tables, dining tables. Box it up, label it, and you can deal with it later. Bootcamp is easier when there aren’t things screaming at you to be done. Each child will have no more than five items with which to play. The rest get packed into the garage or some other storage area. I prefer 3 because of the number of children we have. They tend to realize how wonderful sharing is! I also like to limit the number of outfits that they may use during this time to avoid too much laundry. It is ideal if the family can remove their clothing and immediately put them into the washer for laundering while everyone sleeps. The next morning you can dress again and go again!
If you can avoid leaving the home, do it. If you can choose to miss music lessons, sports events and the like for 2 weeks, do it. Outside commitments make bootcamp VERY difficult. Please try to make this as easy on yourself as possible
Okay, the easiest way to make boot camp a success is to make sure that meals are simple. Prepare the simplest meals, cook ahead of time, or eat out. Actually, by eat out I really mean take in. I am talking more of a place like Taco Bell, Jack in the Box, Arby’s, or pizza delivery. I am NOT talking about going to sit in a restaurant! Frozen dinners work well also.), Let all but the basics of housework go, and play classical music VERY softly if you can. Lots of sleep at night is necessary. This is exhausting for the first 3 days. After the first three days it is wise to work back into your normal routines for being AT HOME. Play classical music VERY softly if you can. Lots of sleep at night is necessary. This is exhausting for the first 3 days.

My Philosophy of Child Training
You are the parent. It is your job to be the PARENT. It isn’t your job to be their friend. With my own mother, I was always VERY aware of the fact that she wasn’t trying to make me happy or fulfill some needs of hers. She was training me to be the most responsible and levelheaded that she could make me. (I don’t claim to have mastered this but I will say that it scares me to think of where I would be without her influence and hard work!) My father taught me to be respectful and submissive/obedient because of who and what I am as a person. He taught me that it doesn’t matter who and what the other person is. I train very similarly. I do want to assure you that between the ages of 15-18 my mom became my best friend. To this day I show respect and deference to my mom when it is appropriate, but we talk and interact as good friends as a general rule. I love my mother more than anyone outside my immediate family and honestly, when faced with dilemmas on child training, I try to think of what my mom would do.

Your child is THE CHILD. Don’t try to make them anything else. They are in training for a reason. They are supposed to be the trainee. This is not a difficult concept. We try so hard to find excuses not to just buckle down and do our job. Sometimes this means being “mean”. So what if the kids think we are mean! What is more important? Are we so desperate for their constant approval that we don’t have the strength of character to endure the “crying that comes for a season” in wait for the “joy that comes in the morning?”

I don’t explain my decisions. It is none of their business why I have chosen to not allow food in the den anymore. When it is a habit, I will often say something like, "Do you see how clean this room is, do you see how there are no more stains on the carpet? This is why I chose to not allow food in here any more. This makes for a happy mommy guys!" By this I mean, don’t explain yourself every time you give direction. As children get older, THEN, I slowly begin occasionally giving explanations as I see the child willing to obey even if it doesn’t seem to make sense.

I expect pleasant obedience. I don’t expect my children to jump up and down for joy if they are expected to clean the bathroom. I don’t jump up and down! I don’t expect it of them either. But, I do expect my children to be pleasant about it. No grumbling, whining, moaning, or other bad attitudes are allowed. I am not one of those mothers who LOVES diaper changing. I do however, need to model a pleasant attitude about it when I change my baby. So, when I tell my son to take out the trash, I expect to hear a pleasant if not cheerful, “Yes Ma’am.” And I expect the job done right.

I do not let children under 10 the privilege of appeal except in the case of being chastised or restricted for something they didn't do. There is no reason that they shouldn’t practice proper behavior: even if they didn’t break any rules or disobey you. Lets suppose you thought that Sally left the door open, and you were wrong. Let’s further say that you instruct Sally to “practice” properly opening and closing the door several times. It won't hurt for them to practice. They will be hurt if they learn to side step mommy, which is sad.

When reproving children, I don’t whip them with the Word. I don’t do guilt trips or “woodshed sermons”. We train and we teach the Bible as a part of every day life. We decided long ago that constantly telling children that “God doesn’t like it when you do this”, “God doesn’t like it when you do that”, or using writing and/or memorizing scripture as a “punishment”, is a fine way to teach a child to hate scripture. I would rather they hate something else. Now, we do ask that they give examples of what happened when they broke a scriptural principle. But THEY are giving it, not being browbeaten with it. Perception can be everything, and to a child who is on the witness stand, trying to convict with the Word will feel like an all out attack. I prefer to avoid that personally. I know that many people disagree with me and that is fine. But, for what it is worth, my parents never did that with me and I grew up to love the Word and strive to live up to the pattern provided in scripture cheerfully. (Generally!)
Example: Child steals candy from the cupboard or a sibling.
Scenario One: Mother catches child with candy that wasn’t asked for. Mother will remind child that God says, “Thou shalt not steal.” Then the scene goes something like this. “I have to give you swats because God said that stealing is wrong and I am supposed to train you not to do what is wrong. So, you will get swats for stealing and I want you to write the verse “Thou shalt not steal” ten times so that you will remember in the future.”
Scenario Two: Mother catches child with candy that wasn’t asked for. Mother says to child. “You have candy that isn’t yours and that you didn’t ask for. Am I right? The rule is that you must ask for food, you know the rule, you broke the rule, go to the bathroom.” Then the mother takes the child into the “throne room” administers a few slow swats. Then the child is encouraged to make restitution to the best of their ability and remember the rule in the future. Later in the week, reference will be made to the scriptures on honesty and obedience but in the course of every day life. The mother will make sure that the child has a chance to connect the idea of honesty and how what they did wasn’t honest. But the child will connect it, on their own, and it will “stick”.

I don’t allow any back talk or arguing. When I give direction, it is to be carried out pleasantly and immediately. I don’t allow dialogue even if the child is right! It is ok for me, as the mother, to be wrong. It won’t kill me to be wrong. It will create in my child a sense of self-importance if I allow them to choose when they will obey and when they will disobey. That is what it boils down to. In all the years my parents expected this of me, even when my parents were wrong, everything worked out and I felt secure. I wasn’t in charge. I didn’t have that burden to carry. I knew that it was necessary to obey and I just did it. Slowly as I got older, they handed over the reins for me to make more of my own decisions, or they offered me choices. They even gave me some pretty heavy responsibilities pretty young. But that was due to the fact that they trusted me to obey without question if necessary. It was the line upon line precept upon precept of child training.

Swatting in our home is not a time of sermonizing and long drawn out lectures. We just meet out the punishment and go from there. Child defies or breaks a rule. We take them in the “throne room”, tell them what they did wrong, get affirmation of wrong-doing, and administer swats that they are required to receive submissively, to their blessed assurance. We swat slowly with SEVERAL seconds between swats. This way it actually has time for the pain to register. Then the session is over! We don’t preach!

This one is going to sound like psycho-babble but it really does make a difference. Tell them what TO do not what not to do. Instead of saying, “Don't touch that, tell them leave that alone. With the first the last thing they hear is touch that. It also puts an idea in their head that they didn't have. Leave that alone, gives them something that doesn't have a negative thing to combat. Instead of saying, “Don't spill your drink”, say, “Be careful.” Tell them what they can do not what they can't. This is not to say that I don’t believe in saying no or being negative. That is a fact of life. But when giving directions, if you tell them what to do, instead of what not to do, you are setting them up for success. This is, of course, a general rule. Don’t make it a law or it will rule you.
I give my children chances to fail too. I set them up for failure. I put “trees of knowledge of good and evil” in their midst knowing they will likely take the challenge. But I also try hard to give them just as many chances to succeed. I like to equate it to riding a bicycle. If you never fell off of it and just began riding the first time you got on one, you would not know the danger that there is attached to it. The falling occasionally, that comes with learning to ride, gives us a healthy respect for what happens when we are careless. This is a good thing.

How to relate this to Bootcamp? STOP being afraid to be the mom. You are going to have to swat them. Make those swats hurt. It is abuse to ineffectively swat a child so that you end up swatting more and more and more.... Two or three SLOW swats (like at least 5 seconds apart) that truly sting a bit, are equal to 10 mini quick swats that do nothing but anger your child. Please don’t bother swatting through thick jeans. It is a waste of time and your child’s anger. This is exasperating to your child. Put them in light cotton shorts/pants or dresses. Even if this means their church clothes. After the first 3 days you will probably never have to give more than a swat or two per week.

I have up to 3 days of intensive training with the children never leaving my side. (Or me leaving theirs depending on the activity!) Then, I begin leaving them alone for short periods of time for the next 2 days. By day 7 we are just training for proper behavior in day-to-day life. By the end of week 2, we are just reinforcing the new training, and including training as a part of normal life if and when it comes up. (That "if" is wishful thinking, I know, but it makes me feel better!!!!!)

Here is what a sample schedule looks like.
Now, the primary things I teach during boot camp are...
Yes ma'am
Instant obedience
To ask before doing anything
The rules of boot camp are. You do everything mommy says instantly, silently and you never leave mommy's side w/o permission.
My day looks something like this
6:30- Get up and get ready and the kids up and ready for the day.
7:00- Calisthenics to the tune of Simon Says/ Mother May I stuff (I call it "Mother
May I, Says!"
7:30- Practice STOP until
8:00- I fix breakfast and they sit on the floor by the doorway with hands folded. We usually sing here
8:30- We are usually finished eating and getting ready for the day. (clear place, wash hands and face brush teeth)
9:00- They Play with me in the room and do not leave the room. I spend lots of time doing STOP and Yes, Ma'am
10:00- We change activities. I keep myself working on Stop and yes ma'am
11:00- They sit in the doorway to the kitchen while I prepare lunch. They may talk but not get up.
12:00-Eat lunch, clear place, face and hands, etc
1:00- Go to bed. They all lay on a towel on the floor in my room. They may not talk, they may not giggle, they have to lay on the towel SILENTLY and with their eyes closed.
2:00- Whom ever is awake may watch a video until they all are awake.
3:00- Wake up whomever isn't awake and let them play in my sight.
4:00- Play Stop or Yes Ma'am
4:30- Back to the doorway while I fix dinner.
5:30- Eat, clear place, stuff
6:00- They spend this time until 7:30 with daddy. I am out of here. Anywhere that the children aren't. (explanation: I am extremely claustrophobic when surrounded by people. Boot camp is so terribly draining emotionally and this is what wipes me out physically. I have to spend lots of energy fighting my overwhelming desire to scream, "GET AWAY FROM ME!!!!!!!". So by 6:00, I don't want to be near anyone for a couple of hours.)
7:30 Kids in bed. Hubby sits there until 8:00 in the doorway. Sometimes he reads to them, but usually he is quiet and watchful.
8:00 I sit in doorway and read a book if everyone isn't asleep. I tole-paint or sew until 9:30 when I go to BED. Trust me, you will need all the rest that you can give.

Usually, after the first day, I begin working on pet peeve # 1. Doesn't matter what this is, you always approach it with how it is supposed to be done, and relate it to natural situations. The order I train a new area is.
Show the positive. This is what we do. This is why we do it (occasionally I give this info to my children. This is what we do. This is why we do it. This is not up for debate. Generally I tell them what is so, and that is all. I don’t OWE them an explanation. I owe them training. If you have children who are accustomed to hearing why we blow our noses, SKIP THE WHY. If you tend to be wordy, DON’T explain why you do anything until after the fact. Since I RARELY explain anything, my children can handle being told why when it is a new process.) Let's practice for a while. (Example: putting toys away. Each child takes out 1 toy at mother’s direction. Each child plays with toy for 2 min or so. Each child puts toy away properly and gets new toy. Usually 20 minutes of this sets it in their mind.)
Recap. Number 1 is:
1. Explain new concept.
2. Practice new concept.
3. Occasionally through out the day, orchestrate a practice of new concept.
4. Throughout the week, orchestrate a practice session again.
5. Work on it at least once per week for 2-3 mos. It will become a habit.

After you master your top three pet peeves, you can begin to allow them out of your sight for SHORT periods of time. Set them up. Give them an opportunity to succeed as well as fail. See what they are made of. Take notes. "Janie has trouble obeying with a contented attitude. Joey, has trouble with more than 3 directions. Baby needs a silent count to 3 to comply. (I have one of these. If I count to three, and she has no idea that I do this, she will be on her way. She is like her father. She needs time to disconnect and reconnect. She just can't switch lines!)
A few very important pointers and reminders. Always speak in a tone JUST under conversational level. Always give your directions firmly yet kindly. Give directions not requests unless you are allowing them a choice. Your job isn't to be a pal; it is to be a mother. If you do your job right, as an adult, you will be one of their best friends. Remember, familiarity breeds contempt. Make yourself SMILE! Lot's of smiles! Make them genuine. Look into their eyes. Let them see that love that you show in your face while they are sleeping and look so cherubic. This is essential. It is also the hardest thing for me. My facial features are such that if I am not purposely smiling, I look angry. This is not intentional, but I realized that they see this angry face all day. Even though I know that I am calm, I don't look like it. Catch them doing something RIGHT! This is a motto of mine that rarely gets done but I really try. It is so easy to see where they fail. They need to hear when they succeed as well. SMILE. SMILE. SMILE.
Sing while you fix meals. Sing if you have to do house work. Sing in the car. SING. SMILE. Look into their eyes. These are important things.

Specific Training Scenarios:

Yes Ma'am Training
I start yes ma'am training by telling the kids that we are going to play a game. I tell them that the rule is no matter what I tell them to do the only acceptable answer is yes ma'am. Then I begin giving strange orders, like
Mom says "Johnny go put that book on the floor."
Johnny says (or is prompted to say) "yes ma'am" and then does it.
Mom says "Sally go eat an m and m"
Sally says "yes ma'am" and then does it.
Mom says "David go put away Johnny's book (David will generally start to argue and say that Johnny got the book out). He is reminded that the only answer is yes ma'am and the only response is to do what he is told to do.
Mom says "Suzy, go pour a glass of water on the floor"
Suzy responds correctly (or is prompted to) and does what she is told.
After a while when you know that they know what to do if they do not answer with a pleasant yes ma'am (no groaning, rolling of eyes, pouting, signing, etc are accepted) then if the response is not correct I give consequences. In out family this means swats. I know some families who have had great success by charging the children money for offenses. We play this game several times a day for several days until I know without a doubt that they know what they are to do and say (with all of our children we always forget to train at least one as they come along so this is necessary). At this point they are required to always answer correctly or face consequences.

Stop training:
Stop works in a similar fashion as yes ma'am training. We tell the children up front that when we say stop they are to put when they have in their hands on the floor and look at us instantly with no delay. We then start them doing something (playing, reading, working, etc.). As soon as I know that they are engrossed I say stop. We work on getting them to put stuff down and be quiet, etc quickly. And I repeat. As soon as I know that they can respond I expect them to and any child who does not immediately stop when told to stop is swiftly dealt with. In our home that means swats. Charging children for misbehavior in this area does not work. I would take away the item or privilege that they had when the were told to stop. This is a safety issue. There is NO room for arguing or dawdling with this. Stop has saved two of my children from being run over by cars.

Store Training:
I tell the children before we go into the store what the "rules" are. They have to stay right here, or do this or not do that. Our main rules are
1. You stay close enough to the cart that one step will let you touch it. (Example: If you have to walk more than one step to touch the cart, you are too far away.) (This doesn't count if I send you to get something on another aisle etc.)
2. You may not ask for more than one thing. (Example: "May we get the stuff for cookies?" vs, "Oh, mom, I forgot to tell you, we are out of toothpaste)
3. Keep your voice just below conversational level. Better to repeat yourself than for the whole store to hear you.
4. DO NOT TOUCH anything without prior permission.
5. Keep your ears and eyes open!
Now, when you go into the store, the kids get one warning. And so does the manager! I tell the manager that I am training my children (kids are listening) how to behave in the store and that I might have to leave quickly to take care of a problem but that I would BE BACK. So, I tell the kids that after their ONE warning, that I will remove them from the store and "deal" with the problem, and then we will go back into the store. Repeat. EVERYTIME. Trust me, it is worth the time. It is HARD but worth it!
I had one child once have an "episode" (she asked for MORE in a tone that implied she thought it was her "right" to have whatever she chose) when we were buying the stuff for her birthday cake and the like. I told the checker to void the transaction, and then I took the cart full of stuff and had the child put it all away. I told her that I would purchase what I was willing to buy myself later and she would be thankful. Trust me. She has always been thankful since!
If you do "yes ma'am training and STOP training at home, then in the store, you should have little trouble. If all else fails, then just take one at a time until they are well trained. Starting with the "worst behaved" first.
Hope this helps! Happy shopping!

I received this information from a mother who took the training principles I offer in Bootcamp and extended it to table training. It was so excellent that I requested permission to add it to the information that I send and Barbara C. graciously agreed.

I modified it and used the principles to retrain our toddlers with table manners. We were having problems with mealtime being one long session of "Stop playing with your fork.” “Put that bite in your mouth.” “No, all of it.” “Don't play with your cup.” “Keep the food on the plate." Etc.
We took away the privilege of eating on their own and made them sit with their hands on their knees while we fed them like babies. Once they were used to not fiddling with things while eating, they were allowed to pick up the fork, put a bite in their mouths, put the fork back down and then return their hands to their laps while they chewed. Then we let them have the freedom to eat on their own again. It has made such a difference in our mealtimes!

There is no way that I can possibly improve on that! I am so impressed and I will now train all of my children in proper table manners this way. I will be forever thankful to her for sharing with me!

I intend to add the following areas to the training section of Bootcamp even though to try to do all that I mention in two weeks is asking for trouble.

PEGS Training- How to train your children to responsibly use this system easily and quickly.
School Training- How you want each area of their schooling completed and submitted.
Chore Training- Step by step processes for training little children, older children, and attitudinal children. (I love that word!)
Car Training- How to get in, sit quietly, make requests, get out, clean out etc.
Church Training- How we train them to be quiet in services.
Etiquette Training- Easy ways to teach the basics of common courtesy.
NO WHINING Training- How to stop this nasty habit.
Pleasantness Training- How to obey with a pleasant attitude even when they don’t feel like it.
Soft-Cry Training- Training them to cry quietly when reproved or swatted.
FOOD Training- How to train children to eat what they are given and be thankful for it.

In Conclusion:
I would like to encourage you to make this yours. When I read what a friend of mine had chosen to do, to turn her sons around, it sounded horribly harsh. It is what was necessary for them, yes. But frankly, I didn’t need such drastic measures. This woman chose what her family needed. Please choose what your family needs and go from there. Please don’t try to change EVERY aspect of their lives at once. BASIC obedience and a respect for authority is the goal. Then add in what you need, slowly, as a part of life.

Anonymous said...

Please look into food intolerances. Strangely enough, one of the things that happens with food intolerances is extreme behavior, tantrums, uncontrollable emotions etc. That was the case with my kids, who turned out to be intolerant to gluten, which is in wheat, rye, barley and oats.

Oddly enough, the most common foods that people are intolerant to are also the most commonly eaten foods. Gluten, eggs, soy, corn are some of the most common foods that people are intolerant to. Just about anything can be an intolerance for someone. There was even a documented case at one point where a little boy became violent after eating green peas.

Most people believe that unless someone is physically ill they can't be intolerant to anything. But some people have intolerances that display themselves completely behaviorally, with no other physical effects.

Take a look at this message board -

Even though it is primarily a board about gluten intolerance, there are so many wonderful and helpful people there who can point you in the right direction to explore the possibility of a food intolerance in general. Many people on this board have multiple intolerances or various different intolerances within the same family, with one child being intolerant to soy and another to corn, with completely different reactions to the food in question.

My daughter went from being completely out of control. To the point where her preschool teacher would get "that look" across her face when my daughter came in.

After putting her gluten free, within a couple weeks she was a completely different child. She was happy, friendly and confident rather than angry, anxious and beligerant.

I know it sounds bizarre, but it's worth looking into.

(Just in case you've already had her tested for food ALLERGIES, an allergy is a completely different immune system response than an intolerance. An intolerance won't show up on allergy testing.)

Praying that with God's help your family finds some answers.

Anonymous said...

The anom poster summed up what I was going to say... Train up a child in the way he should go.... We are doing a huge disservice to our children when we do not train them.

Pilar said...

I read two books that I would recomend other, of course, than doing a personal study from the Bible on children's discipling. One is "Shephering a child's heart" by Tedd Tripp and "Raising children God's way". I think both are very important because the second talks more about disciplining the child. The first talks about the root of the problem which is the child's heart. Disciplining the child is neccessary for a change of conduct because of "fear" but if the heart is wrong when the child grows up or you can't see him, the problem will still be there. The child needs to understand too why is wrong and process that information also.
Much prayer is the most important part. You need wisdom to help your child and she needs a soft heart to take it.

Anonymous said...

I second the recommendation for Read EVERYTHING on her site!!


Mrs. Anna T said...

What wonderful advice. We aren't parents yet, but I have seen this - child-dominated households - many times, and it's truly heartbreaking. It's bad for everyone: the mother, the father, and the children themselves.

Rhonda Devine said...

Great advice, June. We highly recommend "Heart of Anger" by Lou Priolo--he is a trained biblical counselor, not a therapist. All of life's problems, including training our children have answers that are found in God's Word--"Heart of Anger" uses God's Word as it's basis.
A mom with a four year old can be thankful that she is dealing with this while her child is young. I always remind myself when one of my children has a sin issue he/she is dealing with........what will it be like when that child is 16 or 17? It really motivates me to deal with the issue NOW:)
We can't focus on making our children happy all the time(which is hard for moms), but on training up our children to be Christ-like which does lead to a joyful heart.

Anonymous said...

I am a new mom and have been reading some great books on shepherding a child's heart and teaching them about the Lord. I though that I would share them with you. The first one is called "Shepherding a Child's Heart" by Ted Tripp. It discusses the importance of dealing with the child's heart of sin and not just the outside behavior. The second book is by Ted Tripp as well and is called "Instructing a Child's Heart". I have not read this one yet as I just got it yesterday. You can find them both here:

Marqueta (Mar-kee-ta) G. said...

I agree with looking at this little girl's diet. I would get her off of any type of refined, processed foods, which can lead to behavioral problems. Especially, no sugar! No matter what the "experts" say, sugar is a horrible drug that small children's bodies cannot handle.



Anonymous said...


I'm the person who posted for help. I want to thank everyone for their time and help, especially Mrs. Fuentes.

I'm not sure that spanking is the way I could ever go. I was "swatted" or "spanked" as a child and I grew up resenting and extremely fearful of my mother. My mom and I did not speak for almost 20 years over it because it caused me so much emotional pain. A year ago we started talking again, and the first thing she said was "I was so wrong when I spanked you. Please forgive me."
It has taken alot of effort for us to have a mother/daughter relationship. I never felt like I had a mother growing up, I felt like I had a person who was just there to order me around, and hit me when I got it wrong.
So yes, I could never hit my child. Not in any way, shape, or form. I realize that this is what works for other parents, and if so, then that is their choice.
But I know how I felt toward my mom for many years over being hit and I couldn't put my own child through the same thing.

I'm also going to look into food allergens, and start doing a food journal and watch my child's reactions. It could very well be this too. I suffer alot of allergies myself.

Thank you, and again, I really appreciate you answering me!

Anonymous said...

I have been a mum for over 16 years, and have experienced the highs of absolute joy, and the depths of overwhelming despair during the process. It is familiar territory for many mothers.

I agree - in this situation it is imperative to pray for wisdom and answers. But also be pro-active and look into the resources quoted in these replies. When tantrums escalate it is difficult to keep your perspective - but keeping yourself under control when the heat is on, is essential to success. Unite with your husband, not "against" your daughter, but "for" her once you work out a plan of action.

Write down what you will do when various situations arise. Make it clear in your mind what you will say, and do. Rehearse it, if necessary. Check in a mirror for the expressions you give her. Keep a notebook throughout the day, just jot down when things happen, so you can see if there are any "triggers" to certain behaviours.

Have confidence in your decisions, and keep reading June's blog site. You won't feel so alone in the process, because I and so many others wish we could give you a hug and a smile and tell you it takes time, but with persistence you can gain control.

PS Dr Ross Campbell wrote a great book called "How to really love your child", which takes you through a process to connect to your child. And it certainly would be worthwhile eliminating different foods to rule out food intolerances etc, as there have been many studies pointing toward problems caused by certain foods.

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to this mom! Along with the good advice offered I would add one more thing - get very acquainted with Hebrews 12: 5-11. We had quite a time training our last daughter and I was beginning to despair. While reading through this passage, it finally dawned on me that "the peaceful fruit" in verse 11 comes only to those who embrace the correction. Without this work in the heart (by God's grace) we can end up producing bitterness and anger (in parent and child!). SOOOOO .... each day and evening pray for your child (and with her when you can) that God would prepare and soften her heart to receive instruction. He is the one who causes the blessing of harvest in our hearts. Then, consistently do all that He has given you to do.

Amy Hall said...

I definitely agree with you advice, Wise Woman. Also, I have noticed with our children 4-5 years is the worst. I can tolerate the "gettin-in-to-everything" of the toddler years, but the sassymouth of the 4yo (who is just learning to use their words for bad)really gets under my skin. Three of our 5 children have successfully exited that stage and I'm very pleased with their development--although they were a handful at 4yo.

Lynn said...

Many years ago - I read "Toddler Taming" by Christopher Green - I used the ideas for my toddlers and older children and never looked back.

Sarah Beth said...

Always praise good behavior. Its so easy to forget to praise a child for sitting quietly, for obeying right away, for sharing that toy. It's easy to forget them when they are out of the way, but that is exactly the moment to notice their actions with joyful words and expressions, to name the specific thing they are doing that is giving them such positive attention - "You are doing SUCH A GREAT JOB waiting for Mom!" They are then more likely to engage in that behavior in the future. Also, not making a big deal about bad behavior (they like to see that emotional reaction and feel their power from time to time), just firmly and quietly dealing out the consequence tends to efficiently deal with most attention-seeking tantrums and screaming. If they can't get to you through tantrum and shouting, they will have to find another way (that good behavior you are faithfully praising!). These are the principles I use as I work with preschoolers with tremendous behavior difficulties (special needs), and they have never failed me!

Marlaine said...

A young mother recently told me that "Have a New Kid by Friday: How To Change Your Child's Attitude, Behavior & Character in 5 Days" by Dr. Kevin Lehman was true to its title, and that by the end of the week her 4-year-old was no longer ruling the roost.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs. Fuentes,

I had hoped to find an email on your site to speak with you directly/privately. You are amazing. I've been to your website just a handful of times and navigate away in near tears.

Perhaps you could answer a question for me. If not, I understand that you're extremely busy, and in fact, this may not be appropriate to ask.

I am a 33 year old new mom (7 mo. old son) and fairly new wife. My husband and I have been together for nearly eight years and married for nearly two. I was not raised in a Christian household, nor did I embrace Christ as an adolescent or young adult. I live in a city and am surrounded by extremely liberal people (both friends and family). Not one of my friends goes to church.

About a year and a half ago, something pressed on my heart and I began listening to Christian radio. It has changed my life. I haven't been able to get enough of the teachings, the praise music, the discussions. I just bought my first bible (a women's study bible) and am striving to read it in a year.

The problem? Well, because I don't know anyone else who is a believer, I don't know what to do next. I've found many online resources for young people who have been believers their entire lives, but nothing for a woman (anyone, really) seeking to embrace Christ in her thirties. I have honestly been too timid to go to the churches in my neighborhood, because I don't know the Word.

Having a child has solidified my desire to walk with Christ. As I currently work outside the home, I pray daily for my husband and me to find a way for me to come home, and also to be blessed with more children. But mostly, I pray for my salvation, the opening of my husband's heart to Christ, and the salvation of my son.

I apologize for the length of this message, but I was encouraged when I saw this post and thought perhaps you could help.

Thank you for your encouragement and this beautiful resource for women.

Anonymous said...

Oh hon I TOTALLY understand what you are going through! My daughter at 4 was very much the same--VERY challenging and VERY stubborn. One day I had stripped every thing out of her room, had put her in time out basically all day, and even had spanked her and nothing worked. I remember the exact moment standing outside of her door and praying "God, this is it. I LITERALLY have nothing else I can do to her to make her obey. You have to change her or something because I honestly have nothing else I can do.".

Very soon after that He gave me something that worked WONDERS on her! I mean the turn-around was almost weird, it happened so quickly....

Let me ask you to do one thing right might seem odd, but try this: tap your leg like you would if you were keeping time to music at a concert. Notice how you are hitting your leg firmly enough so you can keep the beat BUT you are not hitting hard enough to hurt--you could keep that up all day without hurting either your hand or your leg, right?

Now, I know that you said that you were against swatting, but what worked for us was "dominant tapping". What I did was to put her over my knee, but instead of spanking her hard, or in anger or frustration, I just kept a calm presence and a steady "tap" on her bottom. It was just the same tap that I would use on my own leg, so I know it wasn't hurting her at all, BUT what it was doing was showing her that I was in charge--she was NOT getting off of my lap until I said so (and she had NO idea how long that was…I acted as though I had all day!), and in the meantime I just kept tapping her bottom.

Now, she had learned to steel herself against spanking, and she would react to my anger and frustration with anger and frustration. She could hold out against one, two, three spanks. BUT this constant "I have nothing to do all day but hold you over my lap and tap your bottom....." threw her for a loop. She realized that *I* was in control of her, of her body, of her movement. I was not pinning her down, I just would not let her up. I was not spanking her hard, I just was tapping her bottom. She was not allowed to get up until she sort of "wilted", stopped struggling, stopped fighting and screaming, stopped squirming, gave up her stubbornness. Then she was allowed up, the tapping stopped and we could talk about what was going on.

THIS is when the second phase of this comes in--the “review, repent, restoration” phase. My daughter would wilt, and we would talk about it (review)"Do you know why I had to punish you?" "Because I threw a temper tantrum?" "Yes, that is right. Was that a good thing to throw a temper tantrum or a bad thing?". "A bad thing" "That's right. Now what should you have done instead" "I should have obeyed". "That is right! Now I know that you want to be good, but you get very upset. We all get mad sometimes but we are NOT allowed to throw tantrums. We all have to obey rules without throwing tantrums. Every time you throw a tantrum, I will punish you because when you grow up, you cannot throw tantrums either. You must respect your father and I. I do not want to have to do this again, but I will if you throw a tantrum. Do you want me to have to do this again to you?" "No Ma'am". "Ok, then, what are you going to do instead?" "Obey you" "Good girl! I know you will because you try very hard. I know that you will do even better next time. So why don't you say you are sorry, then we can pray, and then we can go (bake cookies, finish cleaning the room, whatever). Ok?". Then the sorry's are said (repent), the child is forgiven, hugs are shared, and things get better (restoration).

We might be tempted to just go with this phase, without the punishment phase, but that would not work! We would just be rewarding their bad behavior! What we are saying is “If you disobey, I will hug you and talk to you”.

See, I think many people make the mistake of not wanting to "be mean". I have a dear friend whose children STILL run the house....and they are much older. But she never wanted to be seen as mean, so now they are very hard to control and very unkind to each other and to her. She has become their slave and is despondent about it. We had talked for years about establishing discipline, but she was one who wanted to say "Now dear....why did you do that? Let's go play with this toy instead". She wanted to distract them (which actually just teaches a child "If I act out, mom gets something fun out for me to do or look at or eat"), or reason with them when they were not being reasonable nor were at the age where they had the ability to reason.

No, what we must do as parents is to teach our children that when you disobey, the punishment is so unpleasant that it overrides the will to disobey. We do not speed our cars because the ticket is too expensive. We do not have affairs because it would break our home. We do not rob banks because we do not want to be in prison.

In NONE of those instances do we obey because we thought someone would put their arm around our shoulder and say "Now, now....why did you do that? Was that a good idea? Here, lets stop robbing the bank and look at the shiny keys instead.....". No! Now we might not be tempted to do those things, but we each have temptations that we avoid because we do not want the punishment that would come with indulging ourselves.

Your daughter has learned that indulging herself feels good and is WHOLLY without repercussions...or at least no repercussions that are uncomfortable enough for her. She wants what she wants when she wants it and there is no punishment that is enough to make her stop and say "Hmmm... last time I threw a tantrum, I did NOT like what happened next....maybe I should not throw that tantrum right now...".

Now of course most children do not REASON that well, so that is why the punishment that they get must be immediate, uncomfortable, and consistent. You use the part of the brain that DOES work REALLY WELL in a child--reward and punishment. The brain is made to learn QUICKLY not to do things that hurt or are uncomfortable.

BUT BUT BUT some parents go the opposite direction, which sounds like your mother did. Discipline is swift and sharp and painful and often, AND is administered without love or care, usually in anger or frustration. No love, no restoration. Only condemnation.

But see, while both the "nice" parents and the "mean" parents are PARTLY right, they both miss the other half of discipline. You have to have the carrot AND the stick, so to speak. You have to be strong, but you have to be loving and forgiving too.

It is just the way the Lord is with us. He DOES discipline us AND the Word is very clear that discipline is SUPPOSED to be painful! In fact the actual word for it is "scourge"!! He says that no punishment is pleasant at the time, but painful! Hebrews 12:1-13

BUT, when we relent, when we repent, when we stop struggling and start listening, then He stops the discipline, and the restoration of us to the Lord can begin. That is the EXACT SAME with our children! We CANNOT skip the painful discipline part, and we cannot skip the restoration, forgiveness, and love part. This will teach your child how to relate to the Lord as well—we cannot remain in sin and expect blessing. He will discipline us for our good and it will HURT in someway, either mentally, emotionally, or physically. BUT then when we repent, He is faithful to forgive us. We know we are loved EVEN WHEN we are being punished. We learn respect.

So after my daughter would stop struggling and just sort of "wilt", I knew that her WILL had been bent, but her spirit was not broken.

You see, you have to have both. The child will not bend his will because the parent begs or pleads or is inconsistent. The child just learns that they are in control.

And to be honest, I think THAT is where the anger is coming from on the behalf of your daughter. We ALL know when we are disobeying, and it makes us grouchy. She is 4 and she knows that her parents are not acting strong enough to protect her because they will not even control her behavior. Now, I know you have been trying! I KNOW that! But at some point, she started calling the shots. That is a weighty responsibility for a child. I mean think about it...THE ENTIRE WORLD, for her, consists only of what she eats, wears, watches, and does. So if you are letting her control the entire world, she knows that she is not strong enough to do it. She is angry and frightened and frankly out of control because she has not learned to keep herself in control. You will be blessing her by showing her that you are STRONG ENOUGH to keep her from misbehaving AND to protect her. It is like when someone we love stops us when we are spinning out of emotional control.

Now, there are some children whom you only have to look disappointed at and they will cloud up and rain. Your daughter is NOT one of them, and neither was mine. My son was. He had "power steering" when it came to discipline. My daughter needed a stronger presence out of my husband and I. Your daughter needs the same from you.

Now you might still be harboring pain from the way your mother brought you up, but it is time to put that behind you for good. Your daughter is not you, and you are not your mother. Understand that your mother erred by discipline without love, but you will be erring with love without discipline. There has to be a balance...that is not MY call, that is what the Word says repeatedly. You will not create the same resentment in your daughter as your mother did in you. It was not the spankings, it was the lack of restoration and love. I bet you were pretty sensitive in your spirit. But your daughter is VERY strong in her will, and you must control that will. With her, it sounds like she needs to know that you can control her. Again, the tapping is NOT spanking, it will not hurt. It will make her scream in anger...she might even say "ow ow ow", but you know that you are not hurting her, because you could tap your leg all day that way without pain...much less for a minute or two or three that it will take with your daughter.

Consistency is key. Period. Each infraction, each time.

No warning is also key. Your daughter does not need you to count to three, or give her warning. She is old enough to know that she is not allowed to act out. No warnings, no counting. When she disobeys, discipline her. When she repents, forgive and restore her.

No anger and no frustration from you. She cannot know that she is getting the better of you. You need to be a rock—immovable. She needs to learn that she cannot manipulate you.

Start seeing the warning signs BEFORE trouble hits. You know her hot buttons. If she starts getting grouchy, or if she starts getting rude, then stop it IMMEDIATELY, right there. Otherwise she will just continue to spin out of control. Her body will release even more adrenaline and other hormones that cause her to physiologically prepare for battle against you. If you stop her before she gets those hormones going, it will take a LOT less to bring her back under control.

As for sugar...well I have TOTALLY different feelings on that one. I admit that I am a candy person. I have had jars, bags, drawers of it around since the kids were little. In fact, they are BOTH allowed to keep candy in their rooms! You know what happens? Both of them ASK first before they eat any, neither of them eat it to excess (because it was never forbidden--NOTHING stimulates the human to want something more than telling them they cannot have it!). My kids are both thin, healthy, no cavities, and neither one of them gets hyper from sugar. They do not crave sweets AT ALL, and a lot of candy gets thrown out because they just never get around to eating it. When my friends’ kids come over, they are driven to distraction with seeing all the candy because they are restricted from eating. My kids only restrictions were generally given in positive, not negative. They were not told “No, you can only have treats on special occasions”. They were told “You can have candy AFTER you have eaten something healthy.” Or “You cannot have candy right now, it is too close to supper. But you can have some after supper.”. I wonder if some of the hyperactivity form sugar comes from either the body not being used to it, OR from the excitement of getting a rare treat. I think some children are sensitive, do not get me wrong, but I would expect that those children would be just as sensitive to juice, as it is easily digested and highly glycemic.

Be carefully, there are many other things that do not LOOK like candy that cause the same rapid rise in blood sugar. Some candy (like candy with lots of fat and protein in it) might even cause a slower rise in blood sugar than foods that seem "better" but do not have as much fat or protein. For example, snickers are much less glycemic than watermelon, brown rice and pasta, parsnips, bananas, raisins, barley, black bean soup, lentils, and broad beans.

Now, I would try to eliminate things like high fructose corn syrup, that that is another thread for another day. :)

You can do this, and I agree that age 4 seems to be SO much worse than any other age. Just remember that you have to be consistent—discipline EACH TIME an infraction happens that you have decided is unacceptable. You have to not get wrapped up in fear of being your mom. You have to pray, and you have to show both the uncomfortable side of discipline (though again, the dominant tapping is emotionally uncomfortable for the child, but not physically painful) AND the restoration and forgiveness side. Praise her whenever she obeys.

OH, here is one other trick I would use when my dd would start mouthing off or screaming--I would blow lightly in her face. Yes, it bugged her, but it also made her stop. If she started again, I blew again. She hated that enough to where she started controlling herself! Remember discipline is about teaching the child that disobedience is UNCOMFORTABLE. Many parents get into trouble when they think that discipline means to focus on the child, hold them, reason with them, talk to them, soothe them, distract them. Nope, that just REWARDS the child!!! If every time I stomped my foot, my sweetie gave me a big smooch and talked to me, I might stomp my foot more! If we are honest, sin feels REALLY good or we would not do it! So somehow we have to teach the child that sin does NOT feel good. There has to be punishment while a child is in sin, so that they learn that sin is uncomfortable. THEN they get rewarded when they repent and praised when they obey. Just like how the Lord does with us.
Sparrow from sparrowinthesnow

Joyfulsister said...

I found my way to your blog while visiting other blogs and I'm glad I did,. I'm refering this post to a friend, I think she could get some wisdom from this post. I also wanted to ask you a question if you can email me when you have time, at

Aloha Lorie

Anonymous said...

Oops, in my babbling, I did not make something clear...I did not mean that snickers are HEALTHIER than beans or fruit...not at all! lolol
I was just saying that if a child is sensitive to sugar, watch for acting out with other foods that raise the blood sugar even more quickly than, say, a snickers.

Mrs. U said...

WONDERFUL post, Mrs. Fuentes!! And I think consistency is definitely left out of most parenting these days!!

Mrs. U

Anonymous said...

Sparrow, just curious, where does "dominant tapping" come from? I've never heard of that before.

It does seem that children become angry at parents who aren't in control.

June Fuentes @ A Wise Woman Builds Her Home said...

Dear MR,

Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a comment. I would definitely pray where God would lead you to go to church. Continue listening to the radio and find a Christian bookstore in your area for books and resources on the Christian life. If you are not saved, then go to the leftside handbar of my blog and click 'how to go to heaven'.

I personally recommend Nancy Leigh Demoss--she has a radio ministry and online ministry called 'Revive Our Hearts'. Her teaching is sound and I think you might be able to listen to her online. Also books by Elizabeth George are great--I suggest 'A Woman After God's Own Heart'.

I'll be praying for you, that God would lead the right people to you and vice versa. It is amazing to hear what God is doing in your life. If you need anymore help feel free to ask...I am busy with school right now, but when I get a small window of opportunity, I'd be more than happy to help.

Many blessings...

RuthE said...

Can I suggest the book -
'Don't Make me Count to Three' by Ginger Plowman. I've read a few books on parenting but this one tops them all.
It is biblical and it is written from a mother's point of view.
There are a lot of stories some quite humorous but the points that it makes are both challenging and encouraging. The book is well structured and paced well so that by the end of the book you understand fully what it means to biblically discipline your child.

'Don't Make Me Count To Three' has helped me to parent my children better and understand how to discipline my children biblically. There is definitely more peace in our home since I read the book.

You can get it from or Amazon or Shepherd Press.
Hope this is helpful.
Thank you for your blog.
In Christ

Anonymous said...

I realize my comment is late, as this request for help was posted last week. It's too important to me, though, not to take the time to register my own opinion.

First off, somebody suggested looking at food allergies. If & when that possiblity is removed from the conversation (by thorough testing & dietary changes), you must accept the fact that you have a lot of work to do on behavior changes....& this is not just the child's, but the parents' as well.

You've said you are not in favor of spanking. Spanking does not mean beating. One swift, well-placed swat on the behind is kinder, I believe, than a mountain of lectures & attempts at reasoning with small children. Small children can, however, reason this much: "I didn't like the way it felt when Mommy spanked me for sassing her...I better not talk like that again!" I should also mention here that in our home spanking was only used for behavior & attitudes like I've mentioned above: willful disrespect, disobedience to our requests, etc., never for things like clumsiness, playtime messes, tiredness & so forth. This approach, I believe, almost ensures that you will spank very little, once the groundwork is laid & you & your husband are consistent about it. I know you have the memory of your own upbringing that haunts you, but you are not your mother. If you really cannot bring yourself to spank, then perhaps you should try using the "time out" approach, where the child is made to sit in a designated spot (preferably a lonely one!) for a specified amount of time (I've read one or two minutes per year of the child's age). She will try to leave that spot & do other things, but you must physically haul her back to it, again & again if necessary, & make her put in the amount of unbroken time. There is to be no entertainment allowed during this time. This isn't the method I used with my own children, but I know some families who've used it with success. The thing about both the spanking & time out methods is to use the principles of the natural world, which is a world of cause & effect, of pain & pleasure. This is a great asset & helper for us as parents! As long as we humans are this side of heaven we must obey the laws of this natural world, & we can use these actions & consequences to teach our children, & gradually train their minds to higher things, like being good for its own sake, & persevering in the face of difficulty.

Another effective method is withdrawl of privileges. Your little girl is soon five, I think you said, & things like going places (parties & outings) are going to be more & more important to her. These are a valuable tool of discipline! I have had to call the parents of a child having a birthday party, to which one of my daughters was invited, & actually inform them (on the day of the party!), with immense regret, that my daughter would not be coming. Hard to do?...yes! It's embarassing & inconvenient. And my little girl stormed off to her room, fretting & stewing & crying, & telling me she hated me because I was so mean. The things to be withheld may be different in each family but please, Anonymous, be willing to be hated for a short time by your child. She won't suffer irreparable harm from it. You must be strong for her.

The most generous thing you can do for society in general, & your family in particular, is to teach your daughter self-control. You will likely feel exhausted in the early days & weeks of training yourself & your child....but it is so worth it.

I wish you the best, & may God bless you with the courage to carry out this mission.


Rebekah said...

This is a wonderful post. I do want to comment however, that *sometimes* children's tantrums are not a result of poor training. Conditions such as Aspergers Syndrome and Sensory Processing Disorder can cause a child to have meltdowns regardless of how solid or consistant a person's parenting may be. IF a person is dealing with a child's behavioural issues after the parenting issues are addressed (or if the behaviour is so severe that something needs to be done to intervene so that better parenting practices CAN be put into place- then I highly suggest speaking with the child's pediatrician for reccomendations related to that child's individual case.

June Fuentes @ A Wise Woman Builds Her Home said...


Thank you for sharing that information. Yes, I agree too that there could be others reasons (medical) for acting out and parents should also keep that in mind.

Many blessings...

Rachel R. said...

I realize that this comment is WAY late, but in case anyone else is stumbling across it well later, as I am, I wanted to point out three things (with regard to the comments)...

1. PLEASE exercise grace toward parents who are struggling with their children. We have one particular child who is very, very difficult. She is almost five, and she's been a huge struggle since she was just-turned-two. She is NOT just permitted to do whatever she wants, without consequence; however, in three years we have not managed to find a single consequence that's significant enough to her to matter - she would rather just do whatever it is she wants to do, and pay the consequences, than to avoid the consequence. The most discouraging thing in the world is hearing other believers assume, because we're at our wits' end, that we just haven't bothered to train her, that she's just allowed to do whatever she wants whenever she wants. Some children are just very, very stubborn.

2. I was spanked as a child, and I adore my parents. Spanking is not the problem; the attitude and motivation behind it are. I highly recommend Grace-Based Parenting - it's quite an eye-opener as far as why the same METHOD may flourish or fail depending on the underlying views of Mom and Dad.

3. If all else fails, definitely do consider food issues. For a long time, I, myself, was wrestling with major problems - almost like bipolar. We removed gluten from my diet, and I'm myself again. The difference was/is astounding.

Anonymous said...

I feel for this person. I have 4 children and I am afraid to say that my house is child centered. This is not at all what I want for my family. In my case my husband does not support me at all In the home he feels that he does not have to do anything because he works out side of the home. I am flying solo on this in my house.I like the advice you gave to her. I will be trying to do some of what you said. I pray every day that things will change in my home. I would like to here what the turn out of this family will be.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Leman! Dr. Leman. Dr. Kevin Leman!!!! Get the books!!! He's awesome!!! Mainly bc he is NO NONSENSE!!! FUNNY!!! and RIGHT!!!!!

Anonymous said...

If love your child you will disipline her and teach her to respect authority.

Anonymous said...

One of the first books I read as a young parent was Dr Dodson's Dare to Disapline, his thought were to only punish a child for defianant behavior not childish irresponabilty, and I have followed that advice, he did advocate spankings but I think punishment could be other things, taking away a privaledge, time out, it doesn't have to be spanking I have seen parents with great kids that don't spank, but I do think it has it's place, maybe your mother was too harsh and spanked too often over things that could of been handled in other ways, but I will say this, over the 25 yrs I have worked with small children I have never seen a happy child that was allowed to run the house, it makes children extremly stressed to think taht they are in charge, hoping you find wisdom and peace though some of these great suggestion people have offered

Unknown said...

Wonderful advice. thanks for it.
Child Centered Education

Anonymous said...

Why did you write all this in a comment? Sheesh. If you needed to get that off your chest, link to your own blog.

Unknown said...

I agree with you that children need discipline (guidance). However, using fear and manipulation to force a child into obedience is not the same as discipline. Jesus had 12 disciples. Does that mean he continuously hurt them in order to make them do what he wanted? No, it means he showed them by example and taught them through his words. Spanking (one smack on the bum to correct a negative behavior) is not wrong as it doesn't really hurt the child, it just gets their attention. But it sounds as though you simply want to cause your children as much pain as possible without crossing the line into abuse. Your children did not sign up for the military. They are precious jewels whom God has entrusted to you. And God expects you to be a good steward of the amazing lives he has blessed you with. Instead of protecting those jewels, you choose to smash them into a million pieces until they are just fragments of who they were created to be. The Bible says to train up a child in the way he (or she) should go. Not the way we want them to go, but the way he has created them to be. If your child is strong-willed, it may just be that they were created for such a time as this! To stand up for Biblical principles in our increasingly corrupt world. Unless of course they are taught to keep their mouth shut and submit. How saddening, that mothers and fathers hate the children they are supposed to love. You never asked for a child that maybe has an opinion once in awhile? Or one who has his own needs and desires? Well guess what? They are only human, just like you and I. Like I said, yes, they need guidance. They should not always get their way. They should not be allowed to use violence just because they feel angry. They need to be taught how to deal with their emotions properly, and how to put someone else's needs before their own. But how would you like someone to follow you around every day and as soon as you make a wrong move, BAM! They begin hitting you. Because let's face it, no one is perfect. You may think you're pretty close to perfect, but everyone has bad days sometimes. You said you feel like saying for your kids to get away from you. Isn't that having a bad attitude? I'm sure if they ever asked politely, mom, can I please have some alone time? They would be punished for asking questions.
I want to be clear, I am not saying you're a terrible mother. I'm sure you have the best intentions for your children. I simply encourage you to take a step back and look at things from your children's perspective. Put yourself in their shoes. Why do you expect such a high level of perfection? Why not let them enjoy their childhood and you enjoy it too! Instead of them seeing you as a source of pain, let them see you as the one they can run to when they mess up, knowing they can trust you to help them, not punish them. You are pushing them away. They will always love you as their mother. But instead of using a bad day as an opportunity to cause them pain, why not use that opportunity to connect with your children. Try to make their day better, not worse. Talk to them. Encourage them and build them up.
Read the story of the prodigal son in the Bible. That is the Biblical example God gives of a parent. Full of forgiveness, love, and grace. Knowing the behavior was wrong. But fully accepting the child with open arms.
We are in this mothering journey together, I know it's not easy. We all make mistakes. There is forgiveness! May we offer our children the same, freely, as God offers his grace to us.


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