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!