Thursday, July 8, 2010

Testing 1, 2, 3

Is this a test?! Something to remember about a child that likes to test you, push your buttons, throws gauntlets at you, well that they like to test you, push your buttons, and throw gauntlets at you! And I have one of these types of children in my house!

Just tonight, again with the getting out of bed, throwing toys, turning on the light and turning off the sound machine...and then taking off all her clothes...all to get a reaction out of me. And what did I do? Nothing! I stayed cool, calm and collected. I did take things up a notch and told her (in a cool, calm, collected way) that I won't be opening her door until she picks up all the toys, gets dress, turns the sound on and lights off. And again, she did it right away. The one thing I have learned with testers like this, is that it WILL get worse before it gets better! I promise you that and I have personally experienced the "worse" before the "better". Also it is very, very important to stay consistent and don't forget about being cool, calm and collected!

I think it was in the book "The Well Behaved Child" by John Rosemond (I read so many books that I have a hard time keeping them all straight...) but he actually says not only does it get worse before it gets better. But he says that once things are better for a few days, watch out because your little tester is going to re-test you to see if you pass. And you better pass or you'll be at square one before you even know it! And if you're like me, I rather be moving forward with things than falling backwards!

So watch out if you have a little tester at home and make sure you are passing those tests by staying cool, calm and collected and yes, consistent! The little testers have a way of knowing when you are tired and had an exhausting day and that the last thing you want to be doing is passing their little tests. But the more tests you pass, the less tests you'll have -- in other words, your child will stop testing you because they aren't getting any reactions out of you and what fun is it to test someone who is consistently cool, calm and collected?

Do you have a little tester at home, too? What has seem to work or not work when it comes to passing their tests?

Cool, Calm and Collected

I don't know what the temperature has been like in your area over the past few days, but over here it's been very hot and humid! And honestly I don't do well when its too hot or too humid. All I like to do is laze around, taking things slow and try to be very intentional about what I do. In other words, with the temperatures being so hot, the last thing I want to do is to feel even hotter. I like to try to stay cool, calm and collected!

This made me think about my children and when they do things that make me feel hot...when my blood starts to boil and I can feel the sweat dripping down my face. Okay, maybe its not that bad, but they really do know how to push my buttons sometimes! But there is hope for all of us when it comes to getting hot and bothered by our children's behavior.

A few months back I did a mini teleseminar with Susan from The Confident Mom. (Check out her website at She lead a great series through the book "ScreamFree Parenting" written by Hal Runkel. Basically the whole premise of this book is controlling your own emotions so you can better parent your child. Plus the book provides lots of great tools to help you be that better parent. And with Susan's teleseminar you even get personal Q&A time after each presentation. It was a great month of study and I highly recommend signing up for her class.

My most favorite chapter in the ScreamFree Parenting book was "Resistance is Futile; Practice Judo Parenting". The section on "refusing to pick up the gauntlet" was just wonderful and was much needed information for me. My daughter is a big gauntlet thrower or button pusher or pushing the boundaries. Call it what you like, but these things really make me hot and frustrated! But now I really stop and think and try practicing being calm, cool and collected.

Take the other night for example. My daughter, after specifically being told to be quiet for bed or the door will be shut, decided to push her boundaries and continued to playfully scream and be loud. So I followed through with what I said I was going to do (have I mentioned before the importance of doing what you say you will do? Um, sounds like another post...) and I shut her bedroom door. No sooner was the door shut that she got out of bed (she repeats her bedtime rules before bed, and the first one is "stay in your bed") and she tried to open the door. I know that this is her natural tendency so being prepared (have I mentioned the importance of having a plan...okay, I'll post about that later too!) I was standing on the other side of the door holding onto the door knob so she couldn't open the door. So now comes more gauntlets. She starts screaming. I continue to hold the door shut and I just stay cool, calm and collected. She then turns her bedroom light on and turns her white noise machine off. I stay cool, calm and collected. Then she starts throwing her toys off the table. I continue holding the door shut and continued to stay cool, calm and collected even though inside of me I was wanting to throw open the door and start yelling at her for her behavior and for not throwing toys and to get back into bed - but then who's being the one out of control and now being the child?! So, I stayed cool, calm and collective...Finally, she calmed done and it was quite. I calmly opened the door and in my most cool and calm voice, I said to her "Anna, pick up those off the floor." And guess what, she did it right away. She did it because I was being cool, calm and collected. If I came in there like some crazy lady yelling and screaming out orders, she most likely wouldn't have listened to me. I mean seriously, would you do what a crazy lady was yelling and screaming at you to do? Then I calmly told her to turn her white noise machine back on and turn her bedroom light off. Right away she did it. And then finally I calmly told her to climb back into bed and pull her covers back on (this is another HUGE gauntlet we have worked on and occasionally she likes to test where we stand...) and to stay there until her blue star goes off (see previous post on our "magic blue star").

In the end, I didn't get hot and my blood didn't boil because I choose to stay cool, calm and collected. I felt good about myself that I remained the one in control. One of my favorite saying from the ScreamFree Parenting book was "if you're not under control, then you cannot be in charge". In other words, you need to be cool, calm and collected to be in charge! So remember that next time your blood starts to boil and you feel the sweat dripping from your forehead - just take a deep breath and repeat "I am cool, calm and collected" then follow through with being that cool and calm and collected mom our children truly need! If I can do it, you can do it too!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Training Time Tuesday: coming when name is called

Hi Everyone -- I'm starting a new bi-weekly series called "Training Time Tuesday" where every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month, I'll feature a quick and easy training time tool you can practice with your children during non-conflict times. In other words, take some time during the day when everyone is in a great mood (even for you mom!) and practice some of these tools with your children. You'll be amazed at the results you will see!

Do your kids run the other way when you call their names? When it's time to leave the playground do you have to call your child's name over and over and over again? Well, practice this great tool and soon you'll be having your child coming to you every time you call their name!

Coming when mommy or daddy call you

Training Time:
Take some time each day or even throughout the day, say 5-10 minutes, practicing this great tool. First start off by telling your children that when Mommy or Daddy call your name, they need to come to where you are at, right away. Stress to your children that you will only call their name one time and that they are to come to you. Make sure that you in fact only call their name one time! Also, make sure when calling their name, you are actually close enough (or loud enough) that they in fact can hear you. After you have explained the expectations, then it's time for training time! Tell your children it's time to practice - or in our house, we actually call it training time! Have your children go to different areas of the house. You stay in a different area then where they are at. Then call your child's name, once, and wait for them to come to you. Praise them for obeying your instructions. Do this several times over and over again. Make it fun and exciting and show lots of enthusiasm. Also have your children go into different areas of the house and call their names again for them to come to you. After a couple of weeks of doing this, you will notice a difference when you are out that your children will come to you when you call their names!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Shrek the Donkey vs Mary & the Donkey

"Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." (Deuteronomy 6:7)

What does this verse mean to you? To me it means that in every opportunity I have, I should be talking about and showing my children who God is and His unconditional love for us. All the time!

Now this may seem like a HUGE task - but really it just takes a change of mindset to start focusing on and sharing/talking about all the wonderful things that show God and his love for us. For example, if your child excitedly points out the beautiful big moon - remind them who made the moon and how much Jesus loves us. If you find a tiny ant in the backyard, talk about how even the smallest of animals Jesus loves and watches over. There are just so many different ways to always bringing back the attention of God's love for us.

One recent example that really made me stop and think was the other day when we were visiting the zoo. We were waiting to take our train ride and across the train tracks was an animal exhibit for the donkeys. I proceeded to bring attention to the donkeys and started to retell the story of Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus. And how Mary rode a donkey into Bethlehem just like that donkey here in the zoo. No sooner did the words leave my mouth did I hear another mother say to her children, "hey kids, there's a donkey like in the movie Shrek." Just a different mindset...

I challenge you to find ways to change your mindset in order to bring attention to the things of God and not things of this world. We have been told to do so in the Bible - "when we sit at home and when we walk along the road, when we lie down and when we get up" we are to be teaching our children about God. And if this is a challenge for you to do, remember all of our wisdom comes from God. Pray and ask Him to show you the ways to teach your children about His love.

What are some of the ways you spend teaching your children about God and His love for all of His children?

Friday, July 2, 2010

What is TV teaching your kids?

Owen and Anna you need to stop doing that right now. "Oh Man!" (Dora the Explorer)
You need to give me that toy. "Swiper no swiping" (Dora the Explorer)
It's time to go now. "But, mom - can we, can we, can we, please stay." (Dinosaur Train)
You need to get some self control. "I'm so angry. I'm so mad." (Ni Hao Kai Lan)
Use your words. I don't understand what you are needing. "Cup, Cup, Cup" (Max & Ruby)

Have you ever stopped and noticed the behavior of your kids and just perhaps the things they are saying or the things they are doing have come from TV shows you let them watch? The above are some recent examples I have heard in my house from my kids which are basically direct quotes from cartoon shows - mind you, I thought harmless shows - they have been watching.

These responses I've gotten from my kids are not the correct way I want them responding to me or reacting in given situations. Yet, some how the TV shows have taken over my training. So what is a mom to do? Well, my solution has been two fold. First, in some cases, we have all together stopped watching some of these shows. I work hard enough instilling positive behavior into my children that I don't need a 30 minute show teaching them negative behavior.

The second solution is to actually sit down and watch the shows with your children and talk about the behavior you are watching together and perhaps what would be the better way to respond or act. Just yesterday, Owen and I were watching an episode of Chuggington, where the one character flat out lies about the wash station being broken. And the show had no moral consequences for his lie. It was just all fun and games trying to find the train. When they realized he lied, there was nothing said about it at all. So now, when I saw that part I made a big deal about how he lied and we aren't to lie. And now when Owen watches that same episode, he comments on how the train was being bad because he lied.

Also, my kids know what type of shows I allow them to watch. Owen knows that he can only watch Y shows and when he sees Y7 or G, he actually tells me it he isn't to watch it. It's important to teach your children what is acceptable TV for them to watch and why certain shows are off limits. (Makes me think about what potentially inappropriate shows I watch and how they impact my life? hmmm....)

We have to be very careful with what shows we allow our children to watch. Sometimes we think the shows are harmless and fun. But children at this age can't tell the difference between a cartoon and real life. To them, the cartoon is real life. So if a show is teaching your children different responses or behaviors then you want your children demonstrating in their real lives, you may want to think again on what you allow them to watch.

I came across this great little article awhile back with more tips on some great questions to discuss with your kids when it comes to shows they are watching: "When a character is advised to follow her heart, use the opportunity to ask questions such as: why would [the character's name] want to do that? What if [the character] feels like she should [give a good option]? What if [the character] feels like she should [give a bad option]? How will this character know what to do? What might happen if this character prays first, then asks mommy or daddy? Walk your child through the ways the character could honor God and her parents and learn to do what is right (Philippians 1:9-11)."

I do think also, it is so important that you know what your children are watching and that you actually sit down, preferable beforehand to view any new shows. Making sure that they are teaching your children the things you want them to be demonstrating in the lives. Remember our children are little sponges and they are soaking up EVERYTHING they see and hear. I know I've let my kids watch things and have just heard what was going on, but once I actually sat down to watched it, I decided it wasn't something they were going to watch anymore. And remember, you are the parent and so you have the power to decide what they do or don't watch!

Have you come across shows/videos that you particular like for your kids to watch?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

To Share or Not To Share?

So recently we were at a playgroup and a lesson in sharing and well maybe to some, not some much sharing unfolded before my eyes...

Owen found a toy that he had just started to play with. No sooner did he start playing with said toy, another boy came over and tried to snatch the toy away from Owen. The mother of the boy came over and told her son to use his words and not to snatch toys away from other people. So the boy asked Owen if he could play with the toy. And Owen said "no, not yet." Well, the boy was upset and started to cry. Then the mom says, "Owen just doesn't want to share right now" and told her son to find something different to play with.

This really got me thinking. Does sharing really mean that my son needs to give up a toy he just got to play with to some other child who is wanting it right away? Is that really what sharing is all about? Why was I feeling like my son was doing something wrong by not giving up the toy. Why did I feel he was being the "bad" child because he wasn't ready to share the toy with the other boy. A toy that he had just found and just started to play with.

In our house, I really try to teach my kids to ask "may I play with that when you are done" vs snatching toys from each other or insisting they give the toy up to the other person regardless if they were done playing with it or not. To me that is what sharing is. Sharing doesn't mean that you have to give something to someone right away. Sharing to me means that you take turns - you share something...

The wonderful thing about this approach is you are teaching two very important lessons in one. First you are teaching the importance of sharing things with others. The other thing you are teaching is the importance of being patient and having self control while you wait for your turn.

So, if your child is wanting to play with something that someone else has - teach them the importance of asking for a turn and what it means to be patient. Don't focus on the behavior of the other child as not wanting to share, because that's not really what sharing is about. Also, those types of comments are really just said to make the other person feel guilty and honestly I feel should never be said to another person's child. And just in case you are curious, when Owen was done playing with the toy, he did seek out the other boy (with a little help from me) and gave him the toy and told him he could have a turn. Now, that is what I consider sharing!

What are your thoughts on sharing? How do you handle similar situations in your home or at playgroups?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I'M BACK --- Three Simple Steps Is All That You Need...

Yes -- I'm back!!! At least for now, that is! I've had a few friends ask about my blog and said they missed reading things, so I figured now that I have some more time on my hands, I'll go back to blogging about my adventures of teaching my children moral excellence. This blog does truly help me stay accountable to the job of training my children in the way they should go!

So the lesson for the day was being JOYFUL vs being ANGRY. I love the book "Parenting With Scripture: A Topical Guide for Teachable Moments" by Kara Dubin. She lists all different types of behaviors and then shares Bible verses related to that behavior. The book also provides some questions and activities for teachable moments, but I feel are a bit advanced for my 2 1/2 yr old and my 4 yr old. So I come up with my own. Tonight, we used the Bible verse from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, which says "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Owen loves the show "Special Agent Oso" so tonight I made him "Special Agent Owen" and his special alert mission was to locate those faces who were angry and those faces who were joyful. I had gone through one of my magazines and cut out some pictures of angry people and joyful people and glued one to each side of some stock cards. So each card had one angry person on one side and a joyful person on the other side.

We reviewed the Bible verse and talked about what it meant. And I then asked him if he wanted to be joyful or angry. And how does Jesus want us to be. Then I gave him the 4 stock cards and asked him to find all the angry people. We talked about their angry faces and how that makes them feel and how it makes those around them feel. Then I had him flip over the cards to the joyful people and we did the same thing - talked about their faces and how it made them feel and those around them feel.

Then in true Special Agent Oso fashion, we had our "three simple steps" - which were:
Step One: be joyful always (I added the ASL sign as we talked through the steps)
Step Two: pray always
Step Three: give thanks always

And within 20 minutes of our short lesson tonight, Owen started to get upset about something and I asked him, "do you want to be joyful or angry" and he quickly turned his attitude around and said "joyful". Hopefully lesson learned! Ah, the joys of non-conflict training! Even Anna (my 2 1/2 yr old) had a great time going through the lesson with me afterwards!

What areas are you working on? Do you need some creative ideas on how to install a particular teachable moment?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

If at first you don't succeed...

try, try, again. And if you still don't succeed, come up with a new plan!

I personally feel that some parents give up too quickly on training their children. "Oh, that just seems like too much work", or "I don't want to hear her crying/whining so I'll just keep giving her what she wants", or "it's just a phase, I'm sure they'll outgrow it soon"...I think it's important to come up with a plan on how you want to go about solving certain behavior your children are demonstrating and then actually stick with it for at least 2 weeks to see if any changes occur. (remember to be only working on 3 or 4 things at a time, though...) I say at least 2 weeks since depending on your child's temperament change can take awhile for one to get adjusted to. Remember, too, that it does take 21 days to form a new habit and isn't that what you are trying to do with your children in some cases, form new habits?

So what happens after the 2 weeks and you aren't seeing any difference or worse, the behavior has actually gone in the opposite way you were wanting it to go. My first suggestion is to really pray about things to see maybe your approach is wrong or that maybe you should be focusing on it in a completely different way. Second, talk to a close friend that shares the same parenting philosophy as you do. Sometimes when you are in the middle of the issue, you are so close to the problem that you may actually be missing something completely obvious. Third, don't be legalistic or stubborn and say "well this is what I started out to do and under no circumstances am I going change my plans". And finally, think about what you're actually trying to accomplish. Maybe you are being unrealistic in what you are wanting to accomplish. Or maybe you are thinking something needs to be a certain way when maybe it really doesn't.

This all leads up to my story with Anna and wanting her to be quiet/no talking/no singing at night time. It was becoming a big battle between us. In a previous post I commented how we were now going to swat when we had told Anna to be quiet for bedtime. We planned to stop giving her warning after warning after warning, that first time it would be a swat. I knew she knew what it meant to be quiet and still and she knew the expectations of me wanting her to be quiet. But for at least two weeks, things were not getting better. It got to the point that she would actually start talking right as I was walking out of her room. So she would get her swat (which honestly, I don't like swatting before naptime/bedtime...). Then like 30 seconds later she would start talking again. I didn't want to swat her every time she talked, but we did tell her not to talk so since she was disobeying there had to be some consequence. So we then decided to close her door until she had self control and a happy heart, then we would open it. But again, as soon as the door was open, she would start talking or singing. What was I to do? Our evenings were getting so stressful...then I talked to a friend about it and she said "why does she have to be quiet? maybe it's okay for her to talk quietly or sing quietly to herself?" Then I remember something I heard from Carla Link that some kids actually need that down time before falling asleep. They need to sing to themselves or talk to themselves, it's their way of relaxing. Ah the light bulb went off!

So for the last couple of days now, we have allowed Anna to talk quietly or sing quietly to herself to help her relax and fall asleep. And I have to say, bedtime has been more enjoyable for us all! So, if at first your don't succeed, try, try again. If you still aren't succeeding...come up with a new plan!

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Logical consequences are respectful, relevant, and realistic.

Respect is conveyed through words and nonverbal gestures.
* Use a normal tone of voice. Avoid sarcasm
* Speak directly and quietly to the student. Whenever possible, avoid calling across a room or raising your voice.
* Focus on the deed and not on the doer. Convey the message that it is the behavior you object to, not the student.
* Be clear and firm and don't negotiate.

"You need to leave the circle now," gives a precise direction. "You were talking and jabbing your pencil, etc. etc. etc" gives too much information, and opens the teacher up to argument: "I was not…He was too.."

A consequence needs to be logically related to the students' actions.
* It helps children see a cause and effect. (For example, when you talk, your work doesn't get done.)
* It references the rules. ("What do our rules say about name-calling?")
* It focuses on the specific problems created when rules are broken. ("When you tell me you're going to the bathroom and instead you fool around in the hall, what happens to our trust?")
* It focuses on individual responsibility and accountability for helping preserve a safe learning community. (A student ignores the signal for quiet and keeps on talking with a neighbor. The teacher points out that the signal is a way to make sure everyone can receive directions quickly. It keeps everyone safe. Thus this student needs to see that his or her behavior is not responsible. The teacher implements a short time-out period for the student to recover controls and observe the limits. Later, the teacher perhaps will arrange a practice time so the student can return to the group and show by hid or her actions the "signal" procedures.)

A consequence should be something the teacher and student can follow through on.
* There is a reasonable follow-through action expected by the student. (A student who is not looking where he or she is going spills paint all over the floor. The student will help clean it up, but is not expected to mop the entire class, the hall, and the lunchroom as well.)
* There is a clear time frame that is appropriate to the developmental age of the student and the behaviors of the student. (A two-minute time out might or might not give a student time to recover controls. If the student returns to the group before he or she has truly regulated the behavior or while he or she is still pouting and angry, it is likely the misbehaviors will quickly resume.)
* Time frame makes sense -- it is not too long and thus harsh, or too short and thus ineffective. (A student sent on an errand gets caught playing with the water fountain in the hall. The student loses the privileges of running errands for a few days or the rest of the week -- depending on the behavior, prior experience, and so on -- but not for a month or forever!) Remember, children need on-going opportunities to learn from their mistakes, develop their self-controls, and regain trust.
* The teacher is prepared to follow-through and implement. (Told that homework that isn't handed in has to be made up after school or before school begins, teachers need to check the homework and reinforce expectations, as well as be realistic about their own time availability and parent communication. No empty threats!)

In sum, logical consequences applied with respect, relevancy, and realistic guidelines help children understand the consequences of their own choices and, hopefully, help them learn from their mistakes.

This was taken from -- a resource for teachers in the classroom.

Go to your room...(that includes you mom!)

I typically put a show on for the kids while I go upstairs to take my shower. I leave the bathroom door open so for the most part I can hear what is going on while I shower. Yesterday, I came downstairs after my shower to see and hear the kids quickly running out of the kitchen, jumping on the sofa, and quietly giggling. I knew they were up to something. As I came around the corner, their little checks were filled with something. I asked Owen what was in his mouth and before he could answer, Anna said in a giddy excited voice "chocolate!" While in my shower the kids had moved one of the dining room chairs into the kitchen and helped themselves to the Hershey Kisses that were sitting on the kitchen counter (they did manage to grab some grapes as well!). Anyway, needless to say, I was a bit frustrated since they know when I'm taking my shower they are suppose to be either playing nicely or watching their show. They aren't to be in Mommy's kitchen without first asking me. So what was I to do? I took a deep breath and told Owen in a calm and controlled voice to go to his room. (Back to my previous post, we need to show our kids self control and even though I wanted to yell and scream that yet once again they've managed to do something I've told them not to do...we need to be the example. Also, remind me to tell you the analogy about the traffic cop if you haven't already heard it!) Anyway, Owen went straight to his room without complaining or whining and sat on his red stool by the door waiting for me to come talk to him. Anna went to her room as well. So what was I going to do? In my opinion the best consequence was a logical consequence so I went into Owen's room and we talked about why Mommy sent him to his room. I told him that because he did something that he shouldn't have done - pushing the dining room chair into the kitchen to get chocolates off the counter - that he would not be getting any treats today (I'll write more about this later when I talk about picky eaters and why this was a logical consequence...). To me this was the best logical consequence that I could think of that was tied to what just happened. Here are some thoughts to consider when it comes to logical consequences:
* A logical consequence is a way for a parent to "redirect a child's thinking and behavior, which is logically associated with the offense" (GKGW).
* To help you remember, there are three R's to logical consequences: Respectful, Relevant, and Realistic. See my next post on more details from a website I found regarding the three R's of logical consequences.
* You don't have to tell your child right away what the logical consequence is, but it should be determined while the child is sitting in a reflective time out. In other words, if you need time to think of an appropriate logical consequence, it's okay to tell your child to go sit in his room (this is not play time!) while you determine what the logical consequence will be (yes, you can go to your room too to think about it and pray for guidance!) This allowed me some time to cool down and to think clearly and then I was able to calmly go talk to Owen about his choices he had made and the consequences for those choices.
* Once you lay out a logical consequence, by all means, make sure you follow through with it! If not, then your kids will quickly realize that you don't mean what you say. Don't give in no matter how much whining and complaining and begging your child tries on you to get back whatever logical consequence you are enforcing. In those situations it's best to have your child go sit on his/her bed (or wherever your time out area is) until they are ready to have a happy heart - in other words that they are ready to stop complaining, whining or begging you.

How have you seen logical consequences work in your home? Do you have some issues that have come up that you need help determining logical consequence for? Maybe we'd be able to help!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Be an example

I have a BIG pet peeve...I get so frustrated when I see parents do things that I know they really wouldn't want their kids doing. For example, I occasionally teach Cradle Roll Sabbath School and I can't tell you how many parents I see (and hear!) talking away during the program. And then when the kids go back to the tables for their lesson study, parents stand around the tables talking. And they aren't just whispering, they are talking loud enough to be very disruptive. I find this to be quite disrespectful. It's disrespectful to the teachers that are volunteering their time to teach their children and I find it disrespectful to the children that are there trying to listen to the program. I'm pretty sure as soon as these kids go into Church, parents are telling them to be quiet, to not talk and to whisper, and to sit why do parents find it's okay to be disruptive during their kids program? Be an example and show your children how you are respectful. Show your children how you can sit and be quiet and still. Show your children how you can have self control and hold off conversations until later or at least with a whisper.

This even carries over into the home. The other day my husband made a PB&J sandwich for himself to eat after getting the kids their PB&J sandwiches and putting their sandwiches on a plate. When he sat down to eat his sandwich, he plopped his sandwich right on the table, no plate. I really didn't have a huge issue with it, but what I did have an issue with was if Owen or Anna would have plopped their sandwich on the table, we would have told them that food stays on their plates. So why would we do something different?

I try to watch the things I do and say and try to ask myself before doing things if I would be okay with Owen and Anna doing the same thing. Yes, I understand there are things that as a parent I will be able to do and my children not, but when it comes to morals it doesn't matter if you're a parent or a child, the morals should be the same. So be an example and show and demonstrate to your children the morals you are trying to teach them. You can't expect them to be respectful if you can't show respect, you can't expect them to be kind if you can't show kindness, you can't expect them to have self control if you can't show self control...get the point -- be an example! Your kids look to you more than you may realize!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Please and Thank You

Ah, those two magic words..."please" and "thank you". Have you ever stopped and listened to yourself instruct your children to do something. "Owen, could you please take your dishes to the sink." "Anna, please pick up your toys". Sounds all nice and pleasant, doesn't it? But really listen to what you are saying - these aren't instructions or commands, these are requests. When you add a please to do this or please to do that, you have now turned your instructions into a request where you're giving your child the freedom to say no to your instructions...and then begins the power struggles. When instructing children, especially children who are still learning first time obedience, don't use please or thank you when giving instructions.

But wait, you say - I want my child to grow up being polite saying please and thank you...there are so many other opportunities to practice please and thank yous in your family. When eating dinner, say "please pass the rolls". When playing tea party with your kids, say "please may I have some more tea...thank you". You will see that your children will pick up on your words and will use please and thank yous too.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Get your self some control

So this week's theme is all about self control...we had Owen's 4th birthday party yesterday and I was so hoping he would take a nap before his party but he never fell asleep. He just laid quiet and still on his bed for 45 minutes without falling asleep -- man, if I even lay down for 5 minutes, I'm out!!! Anyway, this resulted in a couple of melt downs at the birthday party. After the party was over, Mark and I were talking it over to try to figure out what set Owen off. One time it was because he was playing with a pirate ship and one of his guest started to take it away from him (need to work more on the concept of sharing). The other two times were when Mark went over to do something for Owen, Owen had a melt down. We were talking that maybe preparing and talking Owen through what Mark was going to do vs just doing it may have prevented those two melt downs or at least minimized them some. And the other one, we couldn't remember. But all in all, to me a melt down or temper tantrum or whatever you call it is a result of not having self control and so this is the reason for this week's theme.

During this morning's training time we talked about some of the things that happened yesterday at the birthday party and we talked about our behavior needing to show self control. I was really having a hard time explaining what self control is and what it is not without getting too lecturery (is that even a word?!) Anyway, I still have some work to do on ways to get the concept of self control across to Owen and Anna besides all they know is to fold their hands to get self control when Mommy tells them to. I was trying to tell Owen that if he needs to get some self control instead of yelling and throwing a fit, he could maybe go into his room to calm down a bit before joining his friends again. I'm not sure how to really practice this and I don't want training time to be just lecture time....

After training time, we went over to the Christian Bookstore (you know, they opened a new one right off Grape Road where Don Pablo's use to be) with my 25% off coupon and picked up the video series "Character Builders". We got the set for $45. This series has 8 DVDs with 2 different character building vitrues per DVD. Owen and I just watched the one on self control.

I always love it when we watch shows like this or read stories about character traits we are learning about how Owen all of sudden perks up and comments on it. Like during this show he said "oh, mom, it's self control!". The show was about how the bear was on his way to a birthday party and stopped along the way to eat the dessert he was to bring to the party. He didn't show self control in waiting to enjoy the treats at the party. The show also sings a song about the virtue being taught. Have the say the tunes are catchy but the singing is a bit annoying, even though Owen seemed to really like it! So yes, the song was all about how self needs to have control. Overall I think this will be a good series to have for our moral training. I still want to come up with some better ways to teach what self control is and what we can do if we feel we don't have self control.

How do you teach self control in your home? How do you personally demonstrate self control?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Input, Output"

"what comes in must come out..." This was a song I remember as a kid. I don't remember who sang it, but it has to do with what we put into our bodies and mind is what would come out and how we need to be ever so selective with what we choose to put into our bodies and mind. And since my children are too young to make those choices for themselves, it is up to me to decide for them and to teach them how to make good choices on what to put into their bodies and minds.

Lately Owen has been saying to me after I tell him to do something "but please, please, mom, can we, can we, please, please please!" Now first of all this is not the correct response my children are to have when I instruct them to do something. I expect a "yes mommy" and that is something that we do practice during our training time and for the most part the kids will say "yes mommy" during the day. But just recently, Owen has been saying the "but please, please, mom, can we, can we, please, please, please!" and I just couldn't figure out where it was coming from. Then as I was watching one of Owen's favorite shows with him, the PBS show "Dinosaur Train" I hear Tiny (one of the 'kid' dinosaurs) say to his mom after mom said it was time to go "but please, please, mom, can we, can we, please, please, please!" and the mom says "okay, yes you can". OUCH! This show is teaching my son things that go against what I'm trying to teach him and the show is winning!

Here are some tips/suggestions I've thought about when it comes to media influences on our children and what you can do about it:
* First, always watch the show with your kid or even by yourself the first time to make sure the show is in fact reflecting the behavior and family virtues you are wanting your children to emulate. There are several shows that I will not let my kids watch. Basically if the show has behavior I don't want my kids to have (whining, disrespect to authority, talking back to parents, challenging parents instructions, not being kind to others...) then it's a show I don't want them watching.
* It's okay to say "no, we aren't watching that show anymore". And if your child is over 3 yrs of age, you need to explain the moral reason why you are saying we aren't to watch this show anymore. You are wanting to teach your children how to make the right choices for themselves on what shows are okay to watch and what shows aren't - this is why you explain the moral reason why.
* We tend to either watch DVD's that we have approved okay to watch or any shows on TV we tape with our DVR so I can fast forward through the commercials. Another at times very negative influence on our children. So try to minimize as best you can commercials your children see.
* Find other activities to do then watch TV. Yes, I know there are times that a show is good to have the kids sit down and watch and yes we do have a daily schedule of a show to watch. But I do find myself when tired or just not wanting to find things for my kids to do, it's just so easy to turn on the TV for them.
* Check out websites like which help give Christian reviews on current movies, TV shows and music. Needless to say, they don't have any PBS shows listed.
* Always be on the look out for books, videos, stories...that strengthen your moral training not break it down. It's hard enough to train your children to be moral, we don't need to be giving them negative influences that will work against our efforts. For those in the area, I love Bargain Bookstore, actually there is a online store too at, but they have lots of Christian based books at great prices. Just today I found the whole series on "A Children's Books About..." interrupting, being greedy, stealing, fighting, complaining...there were over 16 different topics and they were $1.99 each, but they were having a sale by 10 and get 10% off your total order.

I alway love when we do training time and then later one while we are reading a story or watching a show, Owen says "oh, mom just like in training time". It helps me see that he is actually getting it! As he gets older, I am hoping he will be able to realize that certain shows do and act ways that the Cook's don't act and that he is able to not fall to their influences and be strong in what we have trained him to be!

Do you have any further ideas or suggestions on how you control the media influences on your children? Are there any particular shows or books you like for your kids?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Ask Auntie Anne: How to Raise a Moral Child

So I have this great little 5 series of books called "Let's Ask Auntie Anne" from the Ezzo's. Each book has a specific topic and is told in story format. The one I read today was "How to Raise a Moral Child". Here are some great points made in the story:

* Moral virtue training applies to all your children, however the way you teach moral virtues to each of your children may be different. Being honest, kind, patient, obedient, the constant just the way you teach it may be variable depending on your child's temperament. For example, teaching one child what it means to be honest should mean the same to you other child, just maybe the way you go about teaching it could be different. The meaning of being honest doesn't change depending on who your are (at least it shouldn't!).

* In order to instill moral virtues in your child's heart, you first have to have them in your own heart. This goes back to one of my favorite sayings from Chip Ingram "More is caught than taught!". You can talk and teach and train all you want about each of the virtues until you are blue in the face, but if they don't see those same virtues in you they won't bother demonstrating them in their own lives.

* When it comes to toddlers (this wasn't covered in this particular book but in other of Ezzo's material) actions proceed beliefs. You will not have the heart of your toddler but you can start teaching them the actions of what kindness looks like, what obeying looks like, what being thankful looks like...getting to the heart of your child comes during the training years, starting around the age of 5 or 6.

* To truly instill moral virtues into your child, you really need to give the moral reason why we do things (yes, we need to believe the moral reasons why too!). This should start around the age of 3yrs old. When giving the moral reason why we are kind to others, for example, will help your child see in different circumstances the importance of being kind vs just seeing in the one scenario you say "you need to be kind" and nothing more.

This is what happened this afternoon with a boy that was throwing snow balls over our fence at my kids. First he wasn't even on his property, second he was throwing snow balls over our fence at kids younger than him, and thirdly when I said something to him about it, he just ran off. If his parents would have trained him properly in moral virtues explaining the reasons why we don't go on other people's property, why we are kind to others and not wanting to hurt people, and how to respect authority, that kid most likely wouldn't have been doing any of the things he did today. Yes, I admit it, it's hard work and it's much easier just to leave the TV on all day or hope that some teacher at school teaches my kids these things. But God has given us the instructions to train our children. We have a responsibility.

* Lastly when it come to moral training, we need to focus more on the behavior we are wanting to see from our children and not so much focusing on the behavior we don't want our children having. It made me think about potty training and how when training your child you praise and praise and praise how your child goes in the potty and you're excited and you tell daddy about as soon as he gets home and so on. You don't focus on the accidents that happened during the day or the number of clean ups you had. No, you focused on the behavior you were wanting your child to demonstrate - going in the potty. Just like moral training, we need to focus more on the behavior we either see our children actually doing or when we are teaching and training them it should be the positives - we are kind, we are honest, we are respectful...don't focus on the vice (we are never unkind, we should never lie, we should never be disrespectful).

This last point also made me think when it comes to training the behavior we want, we actually need to show them and demonstrate what each virtue means...I'll post more on that later. I have some ideas for our kindness week and trying to make our training times be more focused on the behavior I'm wanting to see in my kinds and not focused on the behavior I don't want to see...

Any Questions?

This week's theme...

Since we were sick last week and didn't do training all but of 2 days, I've decided to continue with the Kindness theme.

Today we did our training time we reviewed some skills we had been practicing that needed some more work on. We practiced our quiet and still time and talked about the importance of obeying mommy and daddy. Since we will be leaving on a cruise in 4 weeks and my parents are coming up to watch the kids while we are gone, I asked the kids today if Grammy was a parent or a child. Owen really had to think that one over and then said sheepishly "child". (I've noticed with him when playing educational games or doing worksheets that I know he knows the answer to he'll purposely answer it incorrectly...this is something I'm trying to work on without making a big deal about since in school wrong answers whether as a joke or not will get you bad grades.) Anyway, so we talked about how Grammy and Pop-Pop are parents and that Owen and Anna need to also obey Grammy and Pop-Pop.

We went through some other pages in my "Cook Family Virtue" scrapbook and talked about what the Cook's are and what the Cook's aren't. The Cook's don't lie. We tell the truth. The Cook's obey authority. The Cook's are kind to everybody...

We ended training time with a quick game of "Truth or Lie" and "Kind or Unkind". For the "Kind or Unkind" I would give the kids a scenario, for example "Owen, if your friend Seth was over playing with your blocks and he had made a big, huge tower. And if Owen came over and knocked Seth's tower over, would that be kind or unkind?" Owen answered "unkind". Then I asked what would have been the kind thing to do instead? We talked about maybe asking Seth if Owen could play with the blocks too. Or maybe Owen ask Seth if he could have a turn playing with the blocks when Seth was done. Or even maybe Owen just find a different toy to play with.

Anyway, it was nice to have training time again and the kids really do enjoy sitting there as we go through the "Cook Family Virtues" scrapbook learning about what the Bible has to say about how we are to behavior and to practice and talk about the right things to do.

What kinds of things are you working on with your kids this week?

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Is Blue Star Off?

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile...we've been recovering from a "lovely" stomach bug over here...I think the end is in sight, though!

One of the struggles we faced last year was since our kids go to bed early (in bed by 7pm!) they also get up early (typically around 6:30am!) and sometimes a little bit earlier! There was a time when my kids were getting up at 5:30 and I don't know about you, but that's just too early for me! So how do you teach your toddler who can't read or tell time yet when it's time to get out of bed? Here are several options I've come across along with our homemade solution - which actually works!!!

* Get a analog clock -- one with hands -- and paint on it (or tape it or mark it in some way) that shows when the big hand hits the painted part, then it's time to get up in the morning. The thing I didn't like about this option was what happens if your kid wakes up and the room is still dark and they can't even see the numbers on the clock...

* Tell your kids they can't get up until the sun is up. What I didn't like about this option is the sun comes up at different times during the year and it just seems difficult to be consistent with getting up in the morning if you are relying on the sun. Also, I use darkening curtains in my kids rooms to help with making their room dark for nap times and for summer nights when they go to bed when the sun is still up. This would make it difficult for them to know if the sun is up if they are never able really able to see if the sun is up because of their darkening curtains.

* You can train your children not to come out of their beds until you come and get them. The thing I have with this option is how are you to know your children are up waiting for you to come get them...typically they are to call for you first. I don't want my kids calling for me throughout the night letting me know they are ready to get up...

* You can purchase this somewhat expensive nightlight called the Good Nite Lite ( The thing I didn't like about this timer was it's expensive and that it has to be plugged into a wall outlet, like a night light. Well, my son sleeps on a bunk bed so he can't see any of his wall outlets. And my daughter, well we've intentional placed bookshelves or storage units in front of most of her outlets to keep curious fingers away from the plugs.

* So after all of this our solution was this - we purchased an IKEA Star Night Light that actually hangs on your wall (perfect for my bunk bed son!) It cost $9.99 plus the cost of a night light light bulb, which I think was around $2 for a pack of 2 -- we found blue night light bulbs at Target. Then I purchased a light timer, you know the ones you typically use around Christmas time (you can get them any time of the year though) that you program to turn on your lights at a certain time and off at a certain time. I think this costs us around $10. So I programed their star lights to come on at 6:45pm signaling it is time to get into bed and I programed them to go off at 6:20am letting them know that they can get out of bed.

It's been great. The kids have a great visual clue on when it's time to get up in the morning...if "blue stars off" (as my kids would say) then it's okay to get out of bed. If not, they wait their until it is!

So how do you train your kids to stay in bed until 6:20 (or whatever time you are wanting them to stay in bed)? First, be realistic about your expectations. Make sure you aren't making them stay in bed longer than they really need to be in bed for. In other words if your kids are going to bed at 7pm don't expect them to stay in their bed until 9am! Also, work on small increments of time. Whatever time your kid is getting up, set the timer to turn the light off for 5 minutes past the time they typically get up and keep doing that over time until your kid is staying in their bed until the time you are wanting them to.

How do you keep your kids from getting up too early?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

To Market To Market...

Or actually in our case this morning it was off to Gymboree to use up our Gymbucks! I have to say, I was honestly dreading taking the kids with me to the mall today. I just wanted to have a peaceful time looking around and not feeling rushed because they were having issues behaving while in the store...yes we have problems with that! While listening to "Training Toddlers" the other night I was encouraged to hear Carla talk about her times she would just have to shop after her husband was home because she didn't want to be shopping with her kids because of their behavior issues. The other encouraging thing for me was that no matter how well behaved your child is or has been, there comes a point where every toddler and preschooler have certain behaviors they demonstrate -- it's just part of growing up. Even with those points, we aren't to excuse our children's behavior. Instead we are to work with them to overcome their issues they may be facing. And one great place to start is with training times.

There are many opportunities for training your kids ways of right behavior and the most effective is during times of non-conflict. I have seen first hand the huge improvements in my kids behavior by just having non-conflict training time with them each day as we go over the behaviors and issues I see that need improvement on. One of them specifically is how do we act at the mall while Mommy is shopping and since I was running late we had a short talk before we got in the car and then while driving down to the mall I quizzed them on what were the expectations.

We discussed that mommy was bringing the stroller and both of them were to be sitting in the stroller. We would not be walking or asking to get out of the stroller. I have a side by side stroller and so we talked about where our hands were to be at all times while sitting next to each other in the stroller (on their laps or their side of the seat). We talked about how we act while in the store (we obey mommy right away, we won't be running or screaming or being loud). I really just stressed the staying in the stroller, keeping our hands to our self (Anna is a hitter!) and obeying mommy right away.

So we get out of the car and both kids climb into the stroller, just like we discussed. We go to one store to make a return and then headed over to Gymboree. Now if you've been to Gymboree they do have a little sitting area with TV shows and so I parked the stroller over there and did tell Owen he could get out and sit on one of the chairs if he would like to. And he did. But I did tell him he needed to stay there. Anna stayed in the stroller mainly because there were no other open seats for her.

All in all, I have to say, I was very impressed with my kids! They did great! Both sat there and watched the shows. I heard no crying or fussing from them. I spent 35 minutes shopping. And when I went to get Owen and Anna, they both got into their stroller no questions asked.

Then because of their behaving so good, I did reward them with Owen wanting to watch the man work on the train and we got some pretzels to share. Which brings up the difference between a bribe and a reward. A bribe is if I would have said before going into the store "Now, Owen and Anna if you do what mommy told you to do and behave nicely while I shop, then afterwards we'll get a treat to share". That's a bribe and that is not how you form good behavior since you are putting the child in charge and if they don't like what you are offering them, then well they're not going to do what you asked them to do. However, a reward is something the child wasn't aware would happen and is unexpected.

Anyway, I do want to have some additional training time on outings and appropriate behavior we need to be I'll be posting more about that later.

Was curious how you handle outings? One thing I have never done was if my kids misbehave just leaving my grocery cart of food and taking them home. Have you ever done it and what has been your experience? To me I have the issue of by me leaving the store to take my kids home that they are winning since I'm sure they rather be home then at the store. What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sign up for the RSS feeds...

FYI: if you want to keep up with the posts and comments made here, then make sure to sign up for the RSS feeds...see icons on right hand side that say "Subscribe to Moral Training..." If you need any help doing this, let me know and I'll try to walk you through it. It's great to sign up for the RSS feeds so you don't always have to check the website since all the new posts and comments will go directly to your email inbox.

Why follow my own blog?

I was thinking of when I write what I'm writing on this blog that I don't want to be coming across like I'm the expert in raising my kids...I'm figuring this all out too as I go along. My kids are not perfect. I'm not perfect. That's why I'd love to hear comments, suggestions and ideas from you! So when I'm writing "you should do this" or "you should do that" I'm referring to me as well...and so I guess that's why I'm a follower of my own blog!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Power of Isolation

I just finished listening to the Mom's Notes presentation "Toddler Training". I really loved this presentation because with toddlers there is so much power with the tool of isolation. And what is so great with isolation is it removes ALL power struggles between your toddler and you - and let's face it, toddlers are all about power struggles! And personally, I love how isolation is leaving me the one in control of the situation, not my toddler!

So your toddler hits her older brother. Instead of standing there explaining over and over the moral reason why we don't hit, you just pick up your toddler, say "No hitting" and take her to her bed to sit until the timer goes off (10-15 minutes). When the timer goes off then go and get your child and move to the next activity.

If you toddler throws a temper tantrum, pick her up, take her to her bed and tell her you will come back once she has a happy heart. You need to be close by (not so close that she knows you are there...temper tantrums need an audience to be effective!) and the moment she calms down go into her room and say "oh, I see you have a happy heart now" and take your toddler out of her room.

If your toddler starts throwing food at dinner time. Give a verbal warning. If they continue, then take them to their bed for isolation. When they return to the table and if they continue their behavior, their meal is over and they need to sit on their bed until the rest of the family is finished eating. What would you be teaching your child if instead of having them sit on their bed until dinner was over that you instead allowed them to run around and play? You're teaching them that if I throw food at the dinner table, evidential mom will let me down to play! -- as the Ezzo's say "you are always teaching your children something". In other words if you tell your child to pick up their clothes and instead you go behind them picking them up for them, you've just taught them that mom will do it if they don't...

Toddlerhood is a tricky time when it comes to discipline. Staying focused on one behavior at time that you want improvement on will help you not feel overwhelmed. Also, the use of chastisement should only be for direct defiance and lack of first time obedience. Other than that, natural or logical consequences are the appropriate methods for correction. And at this age a very logical consequence is isolation -- losing the freedom to be around others. Remember to be directive in your training (see my prior post) and don't underestimate the importance of couch time (I'll write about that soon) and structuring your day!

Oh, and if your toddler is getting off their bed when you put them there for isolation, then you will need to use a crib or play pen since they have demonstrated they can not handle the freedom of staying on their bed. And don't worry about using their place of sleep for isolation -- I had this concern too. Your kids will not associate their crib or bed as a bad place to go when it is time for bed. Think about your tone and actions when you are putting them on the bed for isolation vs in the bed for bed time - they know the difference.

Training Time, Schedules, and Kindness

We just finished our training time for today on Kindness. This brings up a point I wanted to make about scheduling your day...don't be legalistic about your schedule or you may have a really hard time sticking to it and/or be so frustrated about it. For example, this morning when I typically do training time, I had actually dropped the kids off at the sitters while I was at our Moms' Group Meeting. I don't let our schedule rule over our day. If something comes up, we do it and either try to do training time later during the day or there are some days it just gets skipped...and that's no big deal. The important thing is to make sure you have a schedule and you do stick to it the majority of the time...there are so many benefits for you and especially for your kids when you have a schedule. And if you're one of those that have a hard time sticking to one, just start doing the same things in the same order a couple of weeks and then all of a sudden your kids will remind you "Oh, after breakfast mom, we need to do our training time!".

So this week's moral training theme is on kindness. Today we read a the book "God, I need to talk to you about hurting others". Both my kids were so into this book. I changed some of the wording (yes moms, you can do that to fit what you are trying to teach) to really drive home the point of kindness and unkindness. Our memory verse for the week is "Be kind to EVERYONE!" and the kids LOVE shouting the EVERYONE part. We played "Kind or Unkind" and I really stressed some of the unkind things I see Owen do when his friends are over to play. We talked about the "Golden Rule" and how we need to make sure the way we treat other people is how we would want them to treat us. We really love the Toddler Virtues Book and they have "Kitty Shows Kindness" and both kids liked telling me what the Kitty was doing that was kind. We ended training time with watching the DVD Auto B Good on kindness called "Bully Bully". It really helped drive the point of being kind to others, even if they aren't being kind to us.

I know that seems like a lot to cover with an almost 4 yr old and a 2 yr old, but I honestly think outside of the DVD it was around 15 minutes reading the stories and playing the "Kind or Unkind" game.

Hope you are getting some ideas on how to teach your kids about kindness. Oh, I typically save the Uncle Aurther Bedtime Stories for, well bedtime (go figure, huh!). It's a nice close to the day and I like how usually we start our morning with training time and our moral virtue for the week lessons then right before bed we revisit what we learned in the morning with stories.

How are some ways you are teaching your kids about being kind to everyone?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Importance of Training Times

So I'm laying in bed going through all the things in my head so I can finally fall asleep and my blog post on spanking popped back into my head. I wanted to share one HUGE benefit of training times, specifically when it comes to spanking your child. I firmly believe you should not spank a child for something they did not understand prior to the spanking what was expected of them in the first place. For example, you should not spank for calling your child's name if they did not come to you right away if you did not know for sure that your child knew what you expected of them. That's whats great about training time. You go over the things and behaviors you are wanting from your child. You practice them, make games and learning out of them, you talk about them and you actually SEE your child's comprehension of what you are trying to teach them. So when it does come to the disobedience and you weren't sure if they truly knew they were suppose to come to you when you called their name, or that they know what it means to be quiet and not talk anymore, or when mommy says stop they've seen them do all these things over and over in training so you know they know and therefore if they choose not to follow your instructions/commands you can spank without worrying, "oh, did they really understand what I was asking of them? Was I being to harsh to spank them for that?"

Be Kind To Each Other

So this week is all about the moral of being kind. Here are some things that I plan to cover with the kids this week as we learn the importance of being kind.

Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories:
Kindness -
vol 1 God's Hands pg 140
vol 2 A Cry in the Night pg 53
vol 2 One Good Turn pg 125
vol 3 Mysterious Rider pg 101
vol 4 The Tears of Jesus pg 29
vol 5 The Lighthouse Children pg 45
Golden Rule -
vol 1 Those Gooseberries pg 135
vol 2 Attacked by Bandits pg 120

First Virtues for Toddlers: Kitty Shows Kindness

Hermie and Friends DVD: To Share or Nut to Share
Auto B Good DVD vol 4 on Kindness

When we did our lessons on Truthfulness we played a game called "Truth or Lie" and I would pick things around the house and say a truth or lie about them and the kids had to tell me if what I was saying was a truth or a lie. They really liked the game and so I'm going to do the same thing for kindness. So I'll pick pictures or say things or do things and the kids will have to tell me if it was kind or unkind. Here are some ideas to get you started on your own version of "Kind or Unkind":
* If mommy were to pull the doggy's tail, would that be kind or unkind?
* If Anna grabbed a toy away from Owen that he was playing with, would that be kind or unkind?
* If Owen crashed into toys his friends were playing with, would that be kind or unkind?
* If Owen were to not share his toys with others, would that be kind or unkind?
* If Anna splashes water out of the bathtub, would that be kind or unkind?
* If Owen cleared his dishes off the table when he was finished eating, would that be kind or unkind?
* If Anna saw her friend wanted to play with her doll and she shared her doll with her friend, would that be kind or unkind?

To take it a step further, ask you kids and talk with them about why each of the things you say is either kind or unkind. And for the unkind things, ask what could we do so it was a kind thing to do. For ideas at home, think about the things your kids do during the day that are either kind or unkind and use those as your examples for your game of "Kind or Unkind". And remember training time should be fun - so have fun with it!

How are you teaching your kids about kindness at home?

Swats and Spanks

Yes, we spank our kids! Before I really got into the GKGW and Moms' Notes material I really felt I was spanking for almost every wrong behavior my kids were doing. I was was frustrated and they were frustrated and really no positive changes were coming from all the swats. Then I re-listened to "First Time Obedience" form Moms' Notes and had a major "ah ha" moment! Carla Link (Mom's Notes author) even said it herself, "parents tend to spank their kids way too much and for the wrong things".

In our home we now only spank for first time obedience offenses. In other words, I tell the kids to do something and if they directly disobey my instructions, they'll get a swat for disobeying (well, I first send them to their room and they can sit on their bed until they are ready to obey my instructions, then they get a swat for not obeying me first time after they followed through on my instructions). I tell Anna to stay on her bed and she directly disobeys me and gets off her bed - she gets a swat. I call Owen's name and he directly disobeys my instructions of coming when his name is called and takes of the other way, he'll get a swat...I've got plenty of examples I could share...If you want to have first time obedience with your kids and the act of submission that is required of your children, then you need to consider swatting your kids if you are having trouble with them not obeying you first time.

So it made me think the other day how my kids do a pretty good job obeying me while at home but when we are out in public or around other people in our house or theirs, their level of obedience drops! Why? I figured it was because in those situations they know (yes, our kids are that smart!) that mom won't give me a swat here because other people are I got smart too! So, now when my kids are openly disobedient when we are in public, I say "I'm sorry you made the choice not to obey mommy first time. When we get home you will get a swat". And the most important thing of all is - when you say you are going to give your kid a swat when you get home then by all means when you get home, make sure to give your child their swat.

Are you feeling that your spankings or swats or whatever your family chooses to call them are not working? That you are not seeing improved behavior in your children because of them or that they are not taking your spankings seriously - maybe it's because you are not swatting hard enough. Yes, a spanking should sting and be the Ezzo's say, without pain your chastisements will be ineffective. (They aren't only referring to physical pain...) And remember that if your child still wears a diaper, they do have some extra padding there so make sure you are considering that when you do give your swat.

So since we only spank for disobedience what do we do for other behavior that needs correction. A wonderful tool called "Logical Consequences". This has made a huge difference in our family and has eliminated a lot of frustration, especially for Mark and me. I'll talk more about logical consequences another time.

As a side note: Moms and Dads, we should never spank our children when we are they are out of control. Make sure you are calm, not frustrated, angry, upset, whatever negative feeling you may have before you ever give a swat. Also, your child needs to be in self control. They shouldn't be screaming, kicking, rolling around on the floor, have a tantrum...they need to be calm and accept their swat. If your child is not in self control, you leave them in their room on their bed until they have self control (no matter how long it takes!) and then once self control you then give the swat. And when giving a swat, you should really only need to do one or two swats. We always end in prayer asking Jesus to help us be more obedient and to help us make the right choices.

How are you managing your child's behavior in public? What things do you do when your kids misbehave and spanking is not an option?

** Remember to pick the top 4 things that drive you nuts about your kid's behavior and just focus on those so you don't get overwhelmed. And if you don't have first time obedience, then you really should only be swatting for disobedience. And the thing I have to remember is to stay/be consistent. We just instituted a "no tolerance policy" at our house (of course context is considered!!!) where for example, we say to the kids that there is to be no talking or making noise when they are in bed for the night and now we swat right away for talking. We don't wait a few minutes hoping it quiets down. Yes it's inconvenient for us right now, but I'm hoping in a few days when it's time for bed, and kids are in their beds they will be quiet. (this is an issue we are having specifically with Anna right now...and in your home you maybe okay with talking/singing quietly in their beds, which is just fine. Just at our house, when my kids are in bed, I want them to be quiet.)

Sunday, January 10, 2010


This week's moral training topic will be on kindness, specially around the verse found in Matthew 7:12 "In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets."

Lately Owen has been having a hard time with this concept -- mainly because we haven't really had any non-conflict training on it. He'll get frustrated that someone takes a toy from him or crashes a tower he has just built but he has no issues taking something from someone else or crashing into their toys. It has made having friends over to play a bit embarrassing since he seems to make it his mission to crash into whatever they are playing with or taking the toy away from them.

So come back tomorrow to see how our morning training went on "Kindness". In the meanwhile, why not share some ideas on how you teach kindness in your home!

As a side note, I came across this site that looks like it has some good articles!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Am I that mom?!

So I was standing in line at the grocery store checkout. In front of me was a mom with her two girls, also waiting to checkout. One girl was maybe 4 and the other maybe around 2. Well, the 2 yr old started to whine, so the mom puts her in the grocery cart and says "which pack of gum do you want". The 2 yr old picks out a pack. The mom then says "Okay, but we can't open it and eat it until we pay for it."The 2 yr old kept pointing at the gum and mom said 2 more times "no, we aren't having any gum until we pay for it first". The 2 yr old wasn't really whining or throwing any fits so I'm not sure what was going through the moms head, but again the 2 yr old points at the gum and asks to have some. The mom then proceeded to open the pack of gum for her daughter which hadn't been paid for yet, and gave her a piece of the gum and she herself took a piece. Then the 4 yr old asks for a piece of gum and I couldn't believe what came out of the mom's mouth. "no, we haven't paid for the gum yet. You'll need to wait to have a piece." To which the daughter said "that's not fair!". Which then the mom corrected her for her attitude towards her for saying it wasn't fair. All the while I was thinking "really, it wasn't fair that you and the 2 yr old who you repeatably told her no gum until it was paid for were enjoying a why couldn't your 4 yr old?"

Then I stopped and thought about the times I may have said something and then caved for one reason or another. Its is so important that if we are expecting to teach our children correct behavior that we, as the Ezzo's would say, "go as we mean to go!". In other words if in fact you don't want your children to have gum at any time at a store (or any item for that matter) before it is paid for, then by all means be consistent with your message. You can't say one thing and then do another. Kids are smart! They know next time mom says "no you can't have this until it is paid for" that last time you caved, so they know they can get you to cave again. It is so much easier to stand your ground up front then to fight battles that you failed to stay consistent on before.

I was thinking through my day at some of the things I don't stand my ground on. The biggest one right now is when Owen is to have quiet time in his room. Just today I told him 3 different times that he needed to quiet down since Anna was sleeping and if I had to come in to tell him again (which I said on the second time) he would need to lay in his bed with no books and with his hands folded since he was demonstrating to me that he couldn't read quietly while in his room. Yet, when I went in for another verbal warning, I didn't follow through with what I had told him previously! So of course, this will be an ongoing battle we will have every day until I stand my ground and "mean what I say and say what I mean."

Do you catch yourself saying things throughout the day to your kids that you are not standing your ground on? Who's in charge anyway?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I'm sorry...for what?

One thing I'm really after my kids on is when they say sorry, I don't let them get away with just saying "I'm sorry". Then need to say "I'm sorry" and then say what they are actually sorry for. For example, if Owen hits Anna, I expect him to say "I'm sorry Anna for hitting you" (well, I actually rather have him not to be hitting in the first place, but let's have some realistic expectations here).

It's important that you teach your kids not to just say they are sorry but to actually acknowledge what they are sorry for. By doing so, it creates ownership to their actions. Not only is this a good lesson for kids to learn, parents, husbands, wives, friends...should do the same!

To get your kids to start saying what they are sorry for, just prompt them after they say sorry by reminding them "what are you sorry for?" or I just now say "for what" and they know what I mean. It's also good for them to acknowledge what they are sorry for so it starts to help them realize what is appropriate and inappropriate behavior and also to put words to their actions. Sometimes Owen will say "what am I sorry for" and we'll talk through what he did to determine what he needs to be saying sorry for. Even Anna, who's 2, will say what she is sorry for!

** After today's training time we tried to watch "Flo the Lyin' Fly" only to realize the DVD was we just practiced what a lie and a truth were.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Structured Room Time

I finally did it!!! I finally organized all my kids toys into bins and buckets so when its room time, I can pull out a bin/bucket and say, "here play with this" and walk out. If any of you have been to our house, you know that we LOVE Ikea furniture. Over Christmas break we headed over to Chicago and picked up these very cute shelves for Anna's room. They are great since the bins are low enough that she can pull them out herself. And the bins come in different sizes to accommodate all your different sized toys. Also, she loves having the top area to play on -- it's at her perfect height.

If you recall in a previous post I mentioned how I was having a hard time with Anna staying in her room for room time...she was thinking it was punishment and would say "all done crying...". Having specific toys for her to play with has really helped her out. She actually ends up staying in her room after the timer goes off. Here are some other things I've found regarding room time to be helpful:

* use a timer (if I haven't already mentioned this...)
* be consistent and have room time everyday so it just becomes another activity you do during the day -- we even do it on the weekends!
* I've found myself at times when frustrated with the kids to tell them to go to their rooms to play. I want to be careful that I choose my words wisely and perhaps tell them to go to just go into their rooms. I don't want them confusing room time with punishment or that I tell them room time when I'm frustrated with their behavior (hope that made sense!)
* if not having structured play time, have your kids toys in places that are easy for them to reach so they aren't calling for you every 5 minutes to get a new toy for them to play with.
* set ground rules and expectations around room time.

Anyway, I can't tell you how nice and peaceful room time is in our home! Both kids go into their rooms and play for 45 minutes. Today I started to run out of things that needed to be done on the main floor of the house! ;-)

How has room time been beneficial in your home?

The Slippery Slope

During our training time this morning we watched the DVD Auto B Good's story on truthfulness called "The Slippery Slope". In this story, Maria was told not to go for another train on the off road course because of all the rain it would cause a mudslide. Maria didn't obey the Professor's instructions and went on the course again. While up there, a mudslide went down the mountain almost crashing into EJ and Izzy. However, Maria was able to save EJ and Izzy in time by knocking them out of the way of the mudslide. All the cars didn't realize Maria was the one who caused the mudslide and were congratulating her and praising her for saving EJ and Izzy. Finally Maria confesses the truth that she was the one who caused the mudslide.

We learned with this show that sometimes it takes a lot of courage to tell the truth, especially when those around us think something different happened. But by telling the truth we gain respect from those around us.

Truthfulness: Saying what you know to be true

** I realize the series we have must be the first series since I'm not able to locate it at this time on the website. I purchased my set from LES. Both my kids love these shows and I love the moral characteristics they help teach my kids!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Larryboy and the Fib From Outer Space

This week's moral characteristic is all about Truthfulness. Today after we had our training time, we all watched the DVD "Larryboy and the Fib From Outer Space". I took notes on the show and after the DVD these are the things we talked about:

* What did Jr. Asparagus lie about? (breaking of his dad's plate)
* Is there a difference between a little lie and a big lie?
* What happens when we tell a lie? (someone else gets in trouble, we can't be trusted, our friends get mad at us, we don't feel good about ourselves, we end up telling more and more lies to cover up...)
* Who all did Jr. Asparagus blame for breaking the plate? (his friend Laura, Lenny, Space Aliens).
* Do you think his friends were happy or sad when Jr. Asparagus said they broke the plate?
* How do we stop a lie? (by telling the truth, by admitting we told a lie, by saying we're sorry for lying and asking for forgiveness to the person/people we lied too)
* Just like the Fib monster in the show got bigger and bigger and scarier and scarier, so do our lies when we keep telling more lies. (Owen actually didn't like how scary the Fib monster was -- he kept covering his eye!)
* What did we learn today? (God always wants us to tell the truth and the only way to be free from our lies is to tell the truth. The Bible says "The truth will set you free". John 8:32)

I hope you have found some great talking points to discuss with your kids. Owen wasn't really able to answer the questions too well but we still talked them over. And right after our training time on Truthfulness he took something I had just cleaned up and put away. I asked him what was in his hands and I could see he was processing what he should say...and instead of saying nothing (like he has been doing) he opened his hands and showed me. I told him that was good he told the truth!

** As a follow up to yesterday's post, the Character Builders series is not available on netflix. They showed the DVD on their website but when I added it to our queue it didn't have an available date. So I think I may just order them. I've found several great prices online for the set.

Monday, January 4, 2010

more on being truthful

So I spent today looking around the house on other ways to teach my kids about being truthful and here are some things I came across. I plan to use these during our week on being truthful.

* Hermie & Friends DVD "The Lyin' Fly"
* Auto B Good DVD (this is a great series on character building!) vol 4 "Truthfulness"
* Veggie Tales DVD "The Fib From Outer Space"
* Uncle Arther Bedtime Stories:
on Honesty - Peggy's Extra Present (vol 1 pg 109), Honest Tommy (vol 3 pg 189), Alan's "Sandwich" (vol 5 pg 129). on Truthfulness - Daddy's Birthday Present (vol 3 pg 117).
* Small Children's book called "God, I need to talk to you about Lying" by Susan K. Leigh
* Mentioned previously were the "First Vitrues for Toddlers" books "Piglet Tells the Truth".
* I found this website that has a Bible lesson study and worksheet on lying:
* One other thing I just found is the DVD series called "Character Builders". They have a program on truthfulness. I noticed I can get this through netflix, so I'm going to do that so we can check out the series.

As I come up with more ideas, I'll let you know, but just wanted to get you started on a resources you may have at home too. Most of the things I mentioned above I've gotten either at Library and Education store or or

Do you have any other resources you have for teaching your kids about truthfulness?


For this week's moral character we'll be focusing on truthfulness. I picked this one to focus on first since Owen has just began to lie. I wanted to start teaching him words that go with his actions since when I tell him to tell me the truth and not to lie I'm not sure if he truly understands what I'm saying. Which brings me to this week's lesson. How do you teach a kid what it means to lie and to tell the truth without using the words truth and lying? Here is what we did today for our training time...hope you find some helpful tips to use in your training and please share your ideas too!

* I created a new page for our "Cook Family Virtue" scrapbook titled "Truthfulness". I wrote out a few Bible verses on what God says about lying and about telling the truth. Check out the photo to see what I wrote down. I went through this with the kids. I've also gotten Owen's Church Bible out and we are looking up the verses in his Bible so he can see that it's not just on mommy's scrapbook, but in fact coming from the Bible.

* To help explain the idea of telling the truth and lying I picked a few objects around the house and told a "lie" about them. For example, our rocking chair which is orange. I said to Owen and Anna "if mommy said this chair was purple, would that be the truth or would that be a lie?" Anna kept telling me "no, mommy it's not purple it's orange!" Find some other things that you could easily demonstrate a lie vs a truth. You could even make some flash cards and have the kids say truth or lie about things you say about the cards.

* I have a book that I enjoy reading with the kids called "First Virtues for Toddlers" by Dr. Mary Manz Simon. She has a story about truthfulness called "Piglet Tells the Truth". Whats great about this book is that they also "share what the Bible has to say" regarding the particular virtue of the story. You can purchase individual stories from or if you have access to LES you can get the 12 story in one book there for around $10. This collection is nice since it also includes parent notes in the back to give you further ideas on how to teach the different virtues to your kids.

* Another idea is to find ways throughout the day that your child is being truthful and focus on being truthful (remember, that's the behavior you are wanting, so show your kids ways you see them being truthful throughout the day...of course you still need to have consequences for the lying).

* It's important to stress why we tell the truth -- not only because the Bible tells us to, but because it builds trust. And we want to be able to trust each other and our friends so we need to always tell the truth so people will trust us.

Hope that helps get you started on some ideas. I'll post more later this week as I try to develop the concept of being truthful further.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Be directive in your instructions...especially with toddlers

Have I mentioned my daughter is a drama queen? One minute it's "yucky blankets" as she kicks them off and the next minute (actually second!) she is crying because she wants the blankets on. I have several examples of this that occur throughout our day, but I will spare you the details...I really think she is really trying to control me, and sad to say, I have fallen for it too many times.

One thing I learned while watching the Toddler Transition DVD and listening to the Mom's Notes presentation on First Time Obedience, is that with toddlers you need to be directive in your instructions. That means instead of saying "Anna, do you want your covers on or off?" you just say "Anna, mommy is putting your covers on" and don't even give her an option.

This has now become an issue of first time obedience and Anna has quickly learned that when mommy says "Anna, I'm putting your covers on" or put them on her saying "leave your covers on" (remember my prior post on Don't Kick The Pink Elephant? -- notice I said 'leave your covers on' vs 'don't kick your covers off'...) and she kicks them off, she has disobeyed my instructions and consequences follow.

Do you notice you are giving your toddler too much freedom and making them wise in their own eyes by not being directive in your instructions with them? I've noticed it in my own home and now that I've been focusing on being more directive with her a lot of our power struggles are going away.

Friday, January 1, 2010

2010 -- Moral Training Goals

Here are my plans for moral training in 2010...I plan to keep up with my scheduled training times with the kids each day during the week and continue to work on first time obedience (right away, all the way, with a happy heart -- in that order). Then I wanted to focus more on a specific moral behavior for each week that we would go over together. For my readers, I will post every Sunday night a new moral characteristic and share with you what I plan to teach my kids. Then during the week I'll share with you how things are going, other ideas to expand the teaching and anything else we may be working on. So make sure you check back here each Monday morning (and during the week!) for our new moral characteristic we'll be covering. Please also share you tips and ideas too on how you are teaching your kids these characteristics during each week's post.

Here is the start of my list (take from GKGW workbook for session 1):
* kindness
* patience
* self control
* gentleness
* humility
* endurance
* obedience
* respect
* honesty
* integrity

See you all Monday!