Archives for February 2012

Let them play


Are you one of those families who spends more time in the car than at home? Do you value extracurricular activities so much that you and your child are rarely home? Can you see yourself getting caught up in the activity madness in a few years? There are so many activities available to young children: piano, gymnastics, soccer, karate, foreign languages, abacus math, girl/boy scouts, Kumon, private tutoring, etc. You name it; it’s out there.

Before anyone convinces you that all of these activities are crucial for a child’s academic success, let me assure you, they’re not.

There are certainly benefits to playing a sport like soccer. The child learns the art of working with others, the skill of losing graciously, etc. But before you overload your schedule with activities, please understand the value of play.

The Ezzos have an entire appendix in Growing Kids God’s Way devoted to the topic:

“Seldom do we think about the importance of imaginative play. Yet in the life of children, it is a natural thing. In fact, various forms of play are one of the strongest indicators of healthy emotional growth and a significant component of a child’s orderly development. … One of the most active forms of learning is play.”

The Ezzos and I are not alone in understanding the value of play. A recent article in The Christian Science Monitor, titled “Toddlers to tweens: relearning how to play,” thoroughly discusses the value of play.

“In recent years, child development experts, parents, and scientists have been sounding an increasingly urgent alarm about the decreasing amount of time that children – and adults, for that matter – spend playing. A combination of social forces, from a No Child Left Behind focus on test scores to the push for children to get ahead with programmed extracurricular activities, leaves less time for the roughhousing, fantasizing, and pretend worlds advocates say are crucial for development.”

The absence of play is pathology
One researcher in the article takes it a step further:

“’Play is the fundamental equation that makes us human,’ says Stuart Brown, the founder of the California-based National Institute for Play. “Its absence, in my opinion, is pathology.’”

“Brown became interested in play as a young clinical psychiatrist when he was researching, somewhat incongruously, mass murderers. Although he concluded that many factors contributed to the psychosis of his subjects, Brown noticed that a common denominator was that none had participated in standard play behavior as children…. He saw a direct correlation between play behavior and happiness, from childhood into adulthood.”

Encourage play, then leave them alone
The article notes not only the importance of allowing kids time to play but also leaving them alone while they play:

“If a teacher introduces the toy, which has a number of hidden points of interest – a mirror, a button that lights up, etc. – but tells a child about only one feature, the child is less likely to discover everything the toy can do than a child who receives the toy from a teacher who feigns ignorance. Without limiting instruction from an adult, it seems, a child is far more creative. In other words, adult hovering and instruction, from how to play soccer to how to build the best LEGO city, can be limiting.”

Self-regulation from play boosts academic success
Other researchers note the depth of play. They say play can help language development and self-control. Those of you tempted by extracurricular activities to boost your child’s academic success take note:

“Self-regulation – the buzzword here is ‘executive function,’ referring to abilities such as planning, multitasking, and reasoning – may be more indicative of future academic success than IQ, standardized tests, or other assessments.”

True learning happens when kids are actively engaged in meaningful activities. Our educational system with its focus on standardized tests has diminished children’s creativity. Realizing this, other countries have shifted their focus away from test scores. Finland, which stands at the top of international rankings, has a policy of recess after every class for grades 1-9. This is in sharp contrast to many school districts that eliminate recess so kids have more time in the classroom.

Relearning play
Finally, researchers focus on children relearning how to play. Gadgets like iPads, iPhones, video game systems and even a toy with noises and blinking lights can be a detriment to play. Take away these toys and many kids don’t know how to play.

My advice: cut out your many activities and stay home to play. If your child seems not to know how to play without a gadget in hand, take it away nonetheless. Give your son a set of colorless blocks and challenge him to build a tower. Once he does that, encourage him to create a unique building. Give your daughter a few dolls and encourage her to have a tea party. Encourage the types of play you used to engage in.

Encourage them, and then leave them alone. The more practice they get at playing by themselves, the more imaginative they will become.


Starting young


A few days ago, I got an email from a reader who wondered whether my eBook, Live in Harmony with First-Time Obedience, would be appropriate for her family even though her child was only a year old. My answer: yes! I believe it’s perfectly fine, if not preferable, to start obedience training early. Here’s why:

Training the child
When you start obedience training with a young child/toddler, you give yourself ample opportunity to establish authority over your child. There will come a day when he’s tempted to run in the opposite direction when you call his name. If you have been working on FTO and establishing authority, he will second-guess himself before he runs.

There will also come a day when you need your young child to obey. When Lucas was about 18 months old, I had a conference with William’s teacher. I wasn’t able to line up a sitter, so I brought them both with me. Other teachers occupied William, but I had to keep Lucas with me.

We had been doing blanket time at home, so I brought our usual blanket with us, gave him a basket of toys, and proceeded to talk to the teacher. He stood up one time and looked at me as if he was checking to see if it was okay. I told him to sit back down and he did. The conference was a good 20 minutes long, and he sat and played quietly the entire time. The teacher was impressed.

Training the parent
While training the young child is important, in these early years, it’s important for parents to train themselves. There are some parents who need to shore up the courage to command authority. There are some parents who stare like a deer in headlights, not knowing what to do, when their child disobeys. There are some parents who overlook disobedience because they don’t yet recognize it as disobedience. Read last week’s post on micro-rebellion for more on this.

When you start young, you prepare yourself for obedience training. Some day, your child will choose to run in the opposite direction when you call (I can almost guarantee it). If you have prepared yourself for obedience training, you will know what to do when it happens.

You will have discussed your parenting ideas with your spouse and decided ahead of time how you will treat every act of disobedience. You will make sure you and your spouse are on the same page. And you will take preventive measures, like blanket time and following a schedule, to head off disobedience before it rears its ugly head.

Do your reading now
When your child is young, take the opportunity to read parenting books and discuss them with your spouse. Read everything from Toddlerwise, Childwise and Parenting with Love & Logic to The Attachment Parenting Book.

You can take a methodical approach with your reading, deciding what your goals are and finding the resources to get you there. Or you can just get a feel for every book. When we find the book that’s for us, it will clearly resonate with us. There may be one or two pieces of advice that we don’t agree with, but on the whole we will know it’s for our family. I have done all of this reading and can tell you without a doubt that the Ezzos’ books are right for my family.

As you read, always stay one step ahead of your child. When your child is a baby, read Toddlerwise. When he’s a toddler, read Preschoolwise. When he’s a preschooler, read Childwise. That way, you can prepare yourself for what’s to come.

Parent the heart


As we raise our children, especially little ones, it’s easy to be consumed by their behavior. We decide that they get a timeout for poor table manners, or if they throw a toy, we take that toy away. But do we ever stop to think about how these behaviors might be a reflection of their hearts?

And while it’s one thing to be short-sighted and overly concerned with behavior, it’s another thing entirely to ignore the heart completely. Sadly, I see this all around me. In my area in particular, parents are overly concerned with achievement—whether it’s academic, sports, music or art. These parents shuttle their kids from one activity to the next, do flashcards for “fun” and don’t stop to think about their little ones’ hearts. Without a focus on values, these kids turn into teens and adults who feel entitled and who simply don’t know how to be kind.

The Ezzos describe it nicely:

“There is truth in the old proverb that says, ‘For a man thinks in his heart, so is he.’ Our life is the product of what is in our heart. What is in the heart of a child is the product of parents putting their moral convictions into their child’s moral warehouse,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 79).

As you think about your child’s heart, I suggest you take a methodical approach. Make a list of the qualities you want to see in your child. The Ezzos focus on several:

  • Submission to authority
  • Respect for age
  • Kindness for others
  • Respect for property (their own and others’)
  • Value for hard work
  • Respect for nature

If these values are on your list, think about how they manifest themselves in daily life.

  • Submission = Obedience to parents and teachers
  • Respect for age = Clear a path, give up a seat, pick up a dropped item
  • Kindness for others = Sharing, giving, kind words, thinking of others
  • Respect for property = Cleaning up, being organized
  • Value for hard work = Completing chores without complaint, going beyond what’s required
  • Respect for nature = Don’t litter, pick up garbage

This is a short list. There are many, many other ways our values play out in daily life.

Think about how you might teach these values. I can say that we come across every one of these values any given week. For example, I work with William to ensure he’s doing his best work when doing homework. If his handwriting is sloppy, I’ll have him practice just that.

With Lucas, we’re working on obedience and kindness for others at school.

If you have a toddler or preschooler, consider working on submission/obedience first. If you don’t have that, you won’t get very far when requiring your child to do chores to learn the value of hard work, for example. Check out my eBook to learn the daily steps to achieve first-time obedience.


The micro-rebellious child


In my next post, I will discuss parenting the heart through values-based teaching. In this one, I discuss identifying heart issues as they relate to micro-rebellion.

Micro-rebellion is a term coined by the Ezzos that describes seemingly minor disobedience that is disobedience nonetheless. Micro = small or minor. Macro = big or major.

The thing about micro-rebellion is that while the action or misbehavior might seem minor, the concern with the child’s heart is anything but. In fact, parenting a micro-rebellious child can be difficult because the child’s disobedience isn’t always obvious.

Think about it this way. Macro-rebellion is easy to spot. Say you tell your child to be careful with his plastic baseball bat, and he proceeds to whack his baby sister in the head with it. That is macro-rebellion.

Micro-rebellion isn’t so easy to spot. Say you tell your child to stay off the tile floor because you just mopped it. The child proceeds to put only his toes on the tile floor. He doesn’t run across the floor or even step onto it with one foot. Only his toes cross the threshold.

I wish there were better words to describe micro-rebellious behavior, but sneaky and manipulative come to mind.

At the beginning of this post, I mentioned that identifying micro-rebellion is a heart issue. If a parent dismisses such behaviors as nothing but minor infractions, the child learns that he can disobey as long as it’s minor disobedience. The child learns that he can disobey as long as he’s sneaky and manipulative about it.

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have a child who is blatant with his disobedience! So be on the lookout for micro-rebellion, and treat every form of disobedience (big or small) as disobedience.

Allow children to be second-best and good enough


There are some parents in this world who, in an effort to bolster the self-esteem, praise the child for being great. They give the child opportunities to do great things, and make a point to tell the children how great they are. Ensuring the child is first and best is their focus.

While I’m all for having a strong self-esteem, I don’t think our parenting should be centered on it. In fact, rather than ensuring our children are first and great, we should give them ample opportunity to be second-best and good enough.

Many of today’s sporting events aren’t scored and every child receives a trophy. Lest any child’s self-esteem be hurt by losing, these parents teach that win or lose, you’re still great.

Also think about the parents who insist on their child being first and best. They might argue with a teacher on a “B” grade even when the work doesn’t reflect “A” effort. They hire a private coach so the child can be first and best in a particular sport. Or they hire a professional tutor, not for a remedial child, but so the child can be better and smarter than his peers. The playing field is anything but level.

Imagine the attitude issues that come from being first and great:

  • Boastful pride
  • Thinking you’re better than everyone else
  • Teasing others for not being as great
  • Winning is everything, no matter how it affects others around you

Alternatively, being second-best and good enough teaches the child that:

  • A humble attitude is better than a boastful one
  • He does not walk on water
  • Second-rate effort earns second-rate grades
  • Considering others is more important than winning
  • Coping with loss is a skill to be learned

Consider how you might react when your child comes in second or is only good enough (not great). Will you complain to those in authority, or will you be honest with the child and tell him that he didn’t do his best? If he loses a T-ball game, will you run out and hire a professional coach? Or will you practice with him at home, teaching him the value of practice and hard work? Better yet, will you teach him the emotional skills that are required to cope with the loss?

With your little ones, think about ways that you can ensure the child doesn’t always win. If you’re playing a board game, don’t throw it every time. If you’re racing down the street, only let him win in his own right.

Throughout your parenting years, allow your child to lose. Yes, we always want the best for them. But being first and great isn’t always what’s best. The more you allow a child to lose, the better he’ll be able to cope with losing as an adult and the more he’ll learn the value of giving honest effort.


Top sleep tips for children

by Rachel Rowell from My Baby Sleep Guide

This list is for any age child, but it is especially made for younger children and newborns. I hope it helps!

Avoid overtiredness. I can’t mention this enough. Pay attention to your baby’s waketime, pay attention to your baby’s sleep cues and consider keeping a sleep log. Keep in mind that newborns are often up only to eat and have their diaper changed and then it is time to go back to sleep. If you keep a newborn up too long, helping her go to sleep is going to be really hard–for the both of you! Find that optimal waketime and try hard to keep with it. And keep in mind that it changes and you need to change with it or you’ll have a whole new set of problems!

Swaddle your baby. A newborn that is swaddled is more likely to sleep for longer stretches of time–for naps and during the night. She will also probably settle more easily to sleep. Now who wouldn’t want that? I really like specially made swaddle blankets. I have found that they keep most babies swaddled better and they also make sure baby is swaddled the correct way (see hip dysplasia and swaddling). There are some great ones out there that even help keep those houdinies swaddled!

Help baby distinguish night from day. Some people go all out on trying to help baby distinguish night from day. They keep things crazy loud and bright during the day–even during naps. I haven’t found it necessary to do this to such an extent. Simply keeping things light and somewhat active during baby’s waketimes during the day and quiet and dark at night is usually enough to let baby know the difference between these two times. And only change a diaper at night if you need to (they will end up sleeping in their own pee until they are potty trained so don’t worry about it–you can’t help it!). By need to I mean they won’t leak their diapers. Try night time diapers, a bigger size up diaper, cloth inserts or even a soaker cover to prevent night time leaks. In older children, don’t give them much to drink before bed.

And of course, the eat/wake/sleep cycle does wonders at helping baby distinguish day from night.

Avoid overstimulation. Newborns get overstimulated very easily. Even staring at your face can be pretty intense for them. I know they are cute, but try to contain yourself :) If you (or grandma) overdo it, you very likely will have a baby that has a hard time settling down for sleep. Older children get overstimulated too, so try to turn off the tv and stop the roughhousing at least 30 minutes before bed (how long before depends upon your child).

Avoid sleep props. Sleep props, like consistently nursing or rocking to sleep, don’t always cause problems with sleep, but more likely than not they will. So try to “start as you mean to go on” as the Baby Whisperer says. Sometimes we have to do sleep props to survive or to ensure our child gets some sleep or to extend naps and that is okay. You do what works for you and your baby and your particular situation. Starting as you mean to go on is good, but sometimes it doesn’t work out out perfectly.

Try to put your child to sleep drowsy but awake. As your child gets older you will probably be putting her to sleep more and more awake. If she starts to resist you when you try to get her drowsy before sleep, it is probably time to put her to sleep more awake.

Follow a routine/schedule. Children thrive on routines and consistency as you all know. Keep a consistent morning wake time. Follow the pdf method and the eat/wake/sleep cycle. Encourage full feedings. Try to avoid sleeping during feeds. Be consistent, but flexible.

Start a pre-sleep routine. Make the sleep routine soothing, consistent, predictable and something to look forward to. Avoid things, like the TV, that may be stimulating. Dim the lights. Read a book. Sing a special song. Give lots of snuggles. Enjoy your special time together :)

Be consistent. I have mentioned consistency more than once during this post, but it is important enough that I want to mention it again. If you want good results, you need to be (mostly) consistent. Also give things long enough time to work before you decide what does and doesn’t work. It is fine to change things up, but don’t throw ten different things at your child at once without ever giving them a good try. You’ll send her for a tail spin and you’ll have no idea what caused what and what helped or hurt.

Create a good sleep environment. Keep the temperature around 65-70 degrees Farenheit. Make sure the room is dark at night and in the early morning hours. Try to have your child sleep in his actual bed if at all possible. Avoid itchy clothing and use footed sleepers and sleeper blankets instead of blankets for young children. You might want to consider using white noise if you have a really noisy house or if your child seems to benefit from this.

Stick to an early bedtime. This one thing alone fixes so many problems! Most children do best with a bedtime around 6-8 (depending on naps, morning wake time, age and total sleep required at night). Bedtime may be earlier than usual for a while if you are adjusting to a dropped nap or other changes. It may also be super early for a while if you are trying to combat a cycle of overtiredness. Also, many babies do a bit better with a slightly later bedtime during the newborn period. This usually naturally moves earlier as they get older.

Consider tanking up with cluster feeding and the dreamfeedTanking up helps to (hopefully) extend night sleep and the dreamfeed helps to put the longest stretch of sleep right when you go to bed. And when baby starts sleeping longer, the dreamfeed will be the one and only night feed, instead of one in the middle of the night. NICE.

Feel comfortable with whatever you are doing. Don’t do something unless you are comfortable doing it, especially when it comes to sleep training. If you do, you will feel crummy doing it and you will likely not stick with it. But remember, just because something is hard to do, it doesn’t mean it is the wrong thing to do.

Watch your baby’s cues closely and expect change. The one consistency with babies is their ability to keep changing! Change with them or sleep problems will pop up.

Trial and error is the only way to figure out if something actually works! You won’t know until you try it! Waiting until you know exactly what will work (which is impossible to know) will just lead to a lot of waiting!

Realize that many newborns do not sleep well in the evening during their “witching hour”. Instead of feeling frustrated about this, use this time to get out and do something with your baby (who won’t sleep at home anyway). Use the swing or a baby carrier. Do what works to get you through this time. My youngest spent most evenings in a wrap the first few months of his life. It kept him content during this fussy time and he even fell asleep sometimes.

Learn about developmental periods that make sleep training or sleep in general tough. One of these is the Wonder Weeks. During this time your child’s mental (and often accompanying physical) changes that cause him to see the world in a whole new light–and sleep often suffers. If you know about this, you’ll have a heads up about what is going on and won’t be so flustered. There are also developmental periods mentioned in the book Bedtiming that may not work well for initiating sleep training.

Relax! Don’t obsess! Relax! Enjoy your baby. There will be sleep regressions and hiccups along the way. Remember, all babies have their off days just like we do. Don’t worry about it.

Keep the end goal in mind when things are tough and you feel like giving up. Try working on one thing at a time. Find some support (like this site!). Have some (more) patience. (Remember, your baby is only X weeks old.) Relax and don’t let that bad nap ruin your day!

Could food intolerances be to blame?


Do you ever get frustrated wondering why your child’s behaviors don’t change? Do you do your best with first-time obedience training but still have a particularly disobedient child? Does your child seem to flip a switch, being obedient one minute and then crazy, out-of-his-mind disobedient the next?

Consider whether food intolerances might be to blame. I have done quite a bit of research on this thanks to William. It started from day one, as did the colic.

William cried in pain almost 24/7 his first 6 weeks of life. We had no hope for Babywise (no sleep training for this newborn!). I remember working so hard to get him to go to sleep only for him to wake up 2 seconds after I put him down.

Out of desperation, I researched the top foods babies are allergic to and thought I would eliminate them from my diet (still nursing) one by one. I started at the top of the list with dairy and just a couple days later he was a NEW BABY! I could not believe what a difference it made. He stopped crying!

After about 3-4 days, I went out to eat and my salad came with cheese on it and our dessert had a little butter. I tried to pick around the cheese and only had a few bites of the dessert, not completely convinced that dairy was our problem. Well, the very next morning, he was back to his fussy self. So I got the confirmation I needed.

After we started solids, I noticed some new problems like eczema, so I kept a running list of all the foods we needed to avoid. The list of “bad” foods was longer than the list of “good” foods. Eventually, on the advice of the pediatrician, I added all of the foods back into his diet. He seemed to do okay, that is, until he started preschool. I quickly learned that although his digestive and eczema problems were gone, his food intolerances were affecting his behavior. The intolerances were still there; they were just manifesting themselves in different ways.

Motivated to improve the preschool situation, I researched it with gusto. My food intolerance “bible,” a book called Is This Your Child by Doris Rapp taught me so much. I learned that different manifestations of food intolerances include:

  1. Hyperactivity
  2. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde syndrome
  3. Red/hot ears
  4. Red cheeks
  5. Sleep disturbances
  6. Dark circles under the eyes
  7. Small wrinkles under the eyes
  8. Congestion, frequent clearing of the throat
  9. Wiggly legs
  10. Nonsense speech
  11. Clicking of the tongue

I even learned that blonde-haired, blue-eyed kids (like William) are susceptible to a dairy intolerance. I started seeing all of these manifestations in him all day every day.

With the help of a naturopath, we ran a specific blood test (IgG) that confirmed several food intolerances. There were a couple on the list that I never would have suspected. Today, he’s on a very specific diet that has him avoiding dairy, wheat, all gluten, soy, eggs, bananas and avocados. Soy, in particular, causes extreme hyperactivity. This is interesting because we had him on soy formula and soy milk when he was a baby and toddler. I have tried adding bananas and eggs back in, but the under-eye circles come right back.

There is a genetic link with food intolerances, and I was allergic to dairy and wheat when I was a baby. They said I outgrew it, but I contend that my symptoms just changed. I have now been off wheat for 2 years, and I’m doing my best to avoid dairy. (That one’s hard for me.)

When I talk to friends about possible intolerances in their kids, I tell them to look for the foods their kids seem to crave. Typically, when kids have intolerances, they crave the foods they shouldn’t be eating. Those foods have an opiate effect on their brains, so it’s almost like a drug in the way they crave these foods. Many picky eaters have food intolerances.

William and I are content with our diets. Do we ever wish we could eat a slice of pizza? Sure, but we both know that we’ll suffer the repercussions later. So for the foreseeable future, we will continue as we have. There are so many dairy-free, gluten-free, egg-free, soy-free alternatives out there.

In addition to improving specific symptoms, William has been so healthy. He didn’t miss a single day of school last year while his brother succumbed to virus after virus. Lucas was so very sick for months on end. Just a couple months ago, I took him off dairy. The last straw was his comment, “Mommy, my tummy doesn’t like cheese.” He’s been so healthy. All of the sickness (runny nose, cough, stomach bugs and nausea) has completely gone away!


Are French parents better?

This is the question posed in a recent Wall Street Journal article discussing a new book, Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman. In the book, the author discusses French parenting and contends that American parents are much more lenient, yet also overly focused on child discipline.

The author’s basis for the book? She lives in Paris with her (British) husband and three children:

“A few years ago, while enduring nightmarish restaurant meals with her then-18-month-old daughter on a French seaside vacation, it struck Druckerman that the French children around them were all perfectly well-behaved. Thinking further, she realized she’d seen the same on French playgrounds and in her French friends’ homes,” (Wall Street Journal, “Are French Parents Better?”)

The book’s description notes that:

“The French children Druckerman knows sleep through the night at two or three months old while those of her American friends take a year or more. French kids eat well-rounded meals that are more likely to include braised leeks than chicken nuggets. And while her American friends spend their visits resolving spats between their kids, her French friends sip coffee while the kids play,” (Bringing Up Bebe).

Sound familiar? This is exactly the type of parenting the Ezzos have been espousing for decades. But what exactly is the difference between American and French parenting?

They call it the French parenting “secret” but it’s no secret at all. It’s the ability to set clear, firm boundaries for children from their earliest days.

According to the book, French parents also avoid child-centered parenting (again an Ezzo idea):

“[T]he French have managed to be involved with their families without becoming obsessive,” Druckerman writes. “They assume that even good parents aren’t at the constant service of their children, and that there is no need to feel guilty about this. ‘For me, the evenings are for the parents,’ one Parisian mother told me. ‘My daughter can be with us if she wants, but it’s adult time,’ ” (Wall Street Journal, “Are French Parents Better?”).

I’m intrigued by the author’s contention that French parents rarely discipline their children. Their consistent modeling of patience and obedience teaches children to do the same. In fact, French parents are puzzled by the American emphasis on discipline.

Druckerman says, “Instead they stress ‘educating’ their kids, meaning not schoolwork but a holistic way of showing and telling them what is and isn’t allowed. This means infractions that require American-style punishments are rare,” (Wall Street Journal, “Are French Parents Better?”).

This reminds me of the Ezzos’ approach to non-conflict training.

This quote from the book’s description sums it up nicely:

“Of course, French parenting wouldn’t be worth talking about if it produced robotic, joyless children. In fact, French kids are just as boisterous, curious, and creative as Americans. They’re just far better behaved and more in command of themselves,” (Bringing Up Bebe).

I love it!

Do you need to change your routine?


Do you have any chronic behavior issues with your child that you just can’t seem to shake? Have you tried every discipline measure in the book? Perhaps you’ve tried to praise your way out of a bad behavior predicament.

What if there was a simpler solution? What if simply changing your routine would eliminate the problem?

On Monday, I discussed changing your routine to eliminate too much TV watching. But sometimes, we need to change our routine when we’re having behavior problems. Sometimes, we go to great lengths to come up with creative logical consequences when a simple change in our routine is all that’s needed.

It’s easy to think that a chronic behavior problem requires drastic measures. But sometimes the simplest route is the most effective.

Here are some behavior issues and simple routine fixes:

1)    Too hyped up at bedtime: Eliminate dessert and any sugar served at or after dinner.

2)    Slow-moving in the mornings: Put the child to bed earlier to ensure he gets a good amount of sleep. Or consider having breakfast before getting dressed.

3)    Won’t follow directions at naptime: Put the child down earlier or simply take him by the hand to complete your naptime routine.

4)    Says no when you ask him if he needs to go potty (even when you know he needs to): Stop asking. Just take him.

5)    Always gets into trouble when you’re working with an older child on homework: Put the younger child in roomtime.

Take a closer look at your routine to see if there are any tweaks you can to make to eliminate behavior problems.

Answer when spoken to

first-time obedience


Unfortunately, the Superbowl and this pesky little thing called work has seriously cut into my blogging time. (I’m a freelance marketing writer, so my work is feast or famine by nature. I’m in feast mode right now!)

So I’m going to leave you with an insightful quote. “Answer when spoken to” is written on my white board under our list of house rules. As the Ezzos say:

“When you speak to your child in a way that requires an answer or an action, you should expect an immediate and complete response. This principle speaks to the parents’ level of expectation. Children will rise to whatever level is expected and encouraged. Too many parents expect little and receive exactly that. We have consistently found that the requirement of first-time obedience is far less of an adjustment problem for children than it is for their parents,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 126).

Keep this in mind this week and report back. I’d love to hear from you how well this works in improving first-time obedience in your home.