Archives for March 2012

The interrupt rule

Does your child constantly interrupt you? Are you frustrated or embarrassed by your child’s behavior when he interrupts? Do you know what to do about it?

Whether the child speaks out of turn, tugs on your pant leg or goes so far as to yank your arm to tear you away from your conversation, an interrupting child is never a joy.

The Ezzos implore us to teach our children how to interrupt.

“There is a better way. Teach your child how to interrupt your conversation politely. This is another practical way of showing respect to others,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 99).

There is a simple technique to teach children how to politely get your attention.

“When your child needs to interrupt, teach him to place a hand on your side, shoulder, or arm and then wait the few moments it will take for you to acknowledge him,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 99).

Be sure to take the time to acknowledge the child, or his polite interruption will become a rude one.

“When your child puts his hand on your side, take your hand and place it on his, gently squeezing it. This lets him know that you know he is there,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 99).

Understand that teaching the interrupt rule has many more effects than teaching a child to be polite. Some benefits include:

  • It becomes a means for the child to give honor to others while at the same time communicating his need to the parent.
  • The child learns to trust that the parent will meet his needs in an orderly way.
  • It helps the child to grow in the discipline of patience.
  • It reinforces the positive side of the child’s conscience. Confirmation comes from within the heart of the child as well as from without.
  • It communicates to the third party involved the standards of respect and honor by which you as a family are living. (On Becoming Childwise, p. 100).

What more could we want? Take the time to teach this simple technique to your child.

What I’m Reading: “Bringing Up Bebe,” The American Question

Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman is a fascinating book. I offered a summary here, but after starting the book, I couldn’t put it down! It’s a great read.

Today, I’ll discuss the author’s take on American parents’ tendency to push their children through milestones. Here’s an excerpt:

“In the 1960s, the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget came to America to share his theories on the stages of children’s development. After each talk, someone in the audience typically asked him what he began calling The American Question. It was: How can we speed these stages up?

Piaget’s answer was: Why would you want to do that? He didn’t think that pushing kids to acquire skills ahead of schedule was either possible or desirable. He believed that children reach these milestones at their own speeds, driven by their own motors.

The American Question sums up an essential difference between French and American parents. We Americans assign ourselves the job of pushing, stimulating, and carrying our kids from one developmental stage to the next. The better we are at parenting, we think, the faster our kids will develop….

French parents just don’t seem so anxious for their kids to get head starts. They don’t push them to read, swim, or do math ahead of schedule. They aren’t trying to prod them into becoming prodigies,” (Bringing Up Bebe, p. 80).

I wholeheartedly agree with Piaget and French parents here. Kids need to take their own time to reach developmental milestones. And things can get tricky when a parent interferes with that natural progression.

The first year, babies are learning how to eat, sleep, move and babble. At age two, toddlers are beginning to understand their place in the world and assert some independence. At age three, most children still do parallel play, and much of their play is imaginative. At age four, the imaginative play still guides them, and it does so as they become more social. At age five, kids start school and begin the job of learning.

Parental interference can take many forms. Some parents encourage their babies to walk early by holding them up or allowing baby to hold the parents’ fingers while “walking.” This could potentially rob the child of the bi-lateral integration that happens with the crisscross movement involved in crawling.

Some parents attempt to speed up the learning process by teaching abstract academics (math or reading) to a three-year-old. When a child is taught that the world has abstract rights and wrongs, imaginative play takes a back seat. This could rob the child of creativity or even the ability to think critically.

Some parents sign their children up for activity after activity. When a four-year-old child spends more time in the car than on the playground, he doesn’t learn crucial social skills that happen at this age.

When it comes to my own kids, I think that I have allowed this natural progression. I have talked about William’s academic abilities, but he sets that pace, not me. At age two, he started taking an interest in learning his letters, but as soon as he hit age three and started playing imaginatively, that interest in letters came to a screeching halt. At age 7, school is his job, and our only extracurricular activities are piano and occupational therapy. Otherwise, he plays.

For Lucas, I follow his lead. It is only recently (almost 4.5 years old) that he’s shown interest in academics. The Leapfrog Letter Factory video is his favorite. At the same time, he plays very imaginatively with his brother and with friends at school. Learning social skills is definitely his focus, and the job of learning is starting to emerge. He has one extracurricular activity, a “sports sampler” class. We don’t do it because I expect him to become some sports prodigy. We do it because he loves it.

How naturally do your kids hit their milestones? Do you let your child set the pace or do you try to speed things up a bit?

Are you the parent you want to be?


As I discussed in my last post, there are many times I want to be a permissive parent, but I know that realistically, I can’t be. I take comfort in what the Ezzos have taught me and aside from a few minor tweaks I could make, I know that I am the parent I want to be.

How about you? Are you the parent you want to be? Do you enjoy your children? Do other people enjoy your children?

I think it’s important to take a step back and reflect on our parenting every now and then. Understand the characteristics of permissiveness vs. legalism. Think about both the big picture and your day-to-day lives.

Ask yourself about your children:

  • Do they seem happy and content or argumentative and stressed out?
  • Are they learning everything you’d like them to learn?
  • Are they responsible and independent, or do they rely on you too much?
  • Do they respect your authority or consistently talk back and defy you?
  • When you think of your children 5-10 years from now, do you like what you see?

Ask yourself about yourself:

  • Do you enjoy being around your children?
  • Do you take every opportunity to be away from them (or turn on the TV)?
  • Are you happy and content around them, or are you a stressed-out yeller?
  • Do other people think you’re too strict or too permissive?
  • Do you take the time to teach them what you want them to learn?
  • Do you do so happily and lovingly, or do you do nothing but lecture, guilt and nag?
  • Are you able to command respect, or do you avoid taking a position of authority?
  • Do you put in the work it takes to train your children? Do you realize that it takes work?
  • Do you blame your child for his misdeeds, or do you look to yourself first?
  • Do you have a plan for what to do when things go sideways?
  • Are you able to balance discipline with love, encouragement and fun?

These are just a few questions you can ask yourself. If you don’t like the answers, do what it takes to become the parent you want to be. Parenting starts with parents. So if you don’t like what you see, you have the power to change.

Do it now before it’s too late. As trite as this sounds, our children grow up too fast. It would be sad to look back 10 years from now and realize that you didn’t enjoy 80% of those years. Vow to yourself that you will enjoy your children and become the parent it takes to get yourselves there. I can’t think of anything more important. So do whatever it takes.

Why I want to be a permissive parent


I’m in a bit of a reflective mood at the moment and have been thinking about what my life would be like if I were a permissive parent. Sometimes I ask myself, wouldn’t life be so much easier if I were permissive?

I could be much more lax. I could let my children do as they please. I could let them live in the moment guided by nothing but pure happiness. I could completely forget about obedience.

And as sad as this sounds, I also wonder if I would love and enjoy my kids more if I were permissive. I wouldn’t be worried about discipline, timeouts, etc. Oddly enough, I think of my cat. He was born in my mom’s closet and passed away in September at age 19. He was my first baby. The love was completely unconditional, and I never had to worry about behavior issues. I rarely had a negative thought when it came to my beloved cat.

So why can’t I be that way with my children? Honestly, it sounds very appealing. But I know that it’s just not realistic. Unlike my cat, my children can talk. And they can be loud, argue with each other, and speak disrespectfully. And unlike my cat who rarely left the house, my children need to learn how to live in our big wide world. They need to learn to happily coexist with friends, teachers, coaches, babysitters, etc. They need to grow up to become educated, respectable, successful adults.

I don’t want to be the only one who likes them.

I also think that I couldn’t really be a permissive parent. Those little misbehaviors would bother me. I can’t imagine that I could learn to let them go. Even if I could turn back the clock and never read an Ezzo book, I would know what bad behavior looks like. And I would have to be honest with myself about why I’m attracted to permissiveness. The word “lazy” comes to mind. :)

And while allowing my children to do whatever they wanted seems like it would make them happy, I know in my heart that it’s not in their best interests. Children crave boundaries. They need and want structure. They misbehave partly because they want us to correct them. Though it’s completely subconscious, through their behavior, they ask us to set limits.

So where does this leave me? I fully believe the parent I am today is the parent I was meant to be. I appreciate the Ezzos because without them, I would lean toward permissiveness and wouldn’t know what to do when faced with behaviors that I couldn’t let go. I think of parents on Supernanny who flip-flop between permissiveness and yelling/threatening. I would be one of them. Thanks to the Ezzos, I can take comfort in my instincts about how I want my children to believe and behave and have a plan to get them there.

I think there are some things I can learn from permissive parents (and my cat), like fully loving my children in every moment, no matter how poor their behavior. But now that I think about it, this is something the Ezzos teach us to do. And not only do they tell us to love and encourage our children, they give us a plan to do so effectively (love languages).

Have you ever considered being more permissive in your parenting? Have you ever been a permissive parent?


Parenting: It’s all about attitude


Your attitude as a parent is what defines the type of parent you are. Attitude is also one of the key components of any child trained in first-time obedience. It’s important to understand that both the parent’s and child’s attitudes must be in the right place.

Before working on first-time obedience training, mom and dad must work on their own attitudes. Establishing authority and requiring respect must form the basis of all parenting.

“Teaching children to respect and honor their parents is basic to teaching them how to show respect for others. It starts with the parents,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 92).

There are three important parenting attitude types to consider:

  • Threatening, repeating parent
  • Permissive parent
  • Authoritarian parent

The threatening, repeating parent
Beware of the threatening, repeating parent syndrome. This represents the antithesis of first-time obedience. As you can imagine, threatening and repeating parents do everything but require a high standard of obedience. The threatening, repeating parent yells at the child to get his attention, repeats himself at every turn and spouts empty threats. These parents flip-flop between letting behaviors go and yelling when they get to be too much.

The permissive parent
Permissive parents are guided by laziness and fear. They tend to let their children do as they please because they are fearful of damaging the child’s self-esteem, fearful of the child’s inability to obey, fearful of losing their child’s friendship, fearful of imposing boundaries, fearful of being as strict as their own parents were. Many permissive parenting households are run very democratically with the child’s opinions being weighted just as highly as the parents’ (if not more so). In permissive parenting circles, the word “obey” is considered a four-letter word.

The authoritarian parent
Authoritarian parents are guided by the principles, “Do a I say, not as I do,” “Because I said so,” and “Children are to be seen and not heard.” Authority and obedience are the name of the game. There’s nothing wrong with authority and obedience, but the authoritarian parent takes it to the extreme and refuses to understand that love and encouragement are just as important. Legalism, not balance, guide the authoritarian parent. These parents stick to the letter of the law no matter what. The child’s needs and desires aren’t considered. These parents also fail to realize that you cannot treat a teenager like a toddler. The relationship falls apart (if it was ever there to begin with), and the teenager rebels and wants nothing to do with his parents.

Find the balance
If you follow the Ezzos’ teachings, you will command respect like the authoritarian parent, but you will also choose your battles like the permissive parent. You will have the strength to warn your children of discipline, but you won’t spout empty threats like the threatening, repeating parent. Like the permissive parent, you will consider your relationship and self-esteem, but you won’t let fear guide your parenting. Like the authoritarian parent, you will teach your children to respect your word, but you will also be fair when your child respectfully disagrees.

All this week, I’ll discuss this idea a bit more so you can make sure you are finding the right balance in your parenting attitude.

Babywise tips for working parents

Source: Photo Credit van city 197

It’s Babywise Blog Network Week! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

· Monday: Valerie Plowman, Chronicles of a Babywise Mom 
· Tuesday: Maureen Monfore, 
Childwise Chat 
· Wednesday: Hank Osborne, 
Daddy Life
· Thursday: Rachel Rowell, 
My Baby Sleep Guide
· Friday: Bethany Lynch, 
The Graceful Mom

Help us promote solidarity within the Babywise/Ezzo community by subscribing to these blogs.

by Bethany Lynch from The Graceful Mom

I read Babywise while pregnant with my first child. It just jived with our natural parenting philosophy and gave us structure for how to start. I think that is what I love most about Babywise…the ”start as you mean to go on” mentality. We parent very similarly to this day as we did over 4 years ago. We do not change our tactics after they sleep through the night, or walk, or start preschool.

What I was unprepared for was losing much of the structure when I returned to work. I was heartbroken at the thought of daycare changing everything I had worked on the previous 3 months. It took a lot of trial and error and a few tears to figure out how to keep our parenting goals and philosophies when we were not always physically there.

While our goals may not match everyone’s goals, I think there are quite a few things that are applicable to many working moms and dads. Here are my favorite aspects of Babywise that make a huge difference in our satisfaction and ability to be very involved while we are at work:

  • Find a mutual caregiver. If daycare is not working, find something else. If your family member refuses to work with you, consider daycare. For us, a nanny was the best solution. We still evaluate it every 6 months or so. Being happy with our caregiver was probably one of the biggest factors in my peace and happiness while away at work.
  • Use a log just like daycare even if your mom or best friend is watching your children. Sometimes just knowing if they ate or slept is extremely helpful. Down the road, you can use it to look for structure, potty training, time outs, funny stories.
  • Don’t be afraid of structure when you are home. For awhile, I thought that I needed to be fun and carefree on my days off or the weekends. My kids really do like predictability, and they need to know the rules and reasons are still the same.
  • Don’t be afraid of flexibility. Yes, I know I just mentioned structure. I also tend to be overbearing or overstructured as a working mom at times. Recently I decided to start waking my son up 40 min early when my work schedule changed. It was much more important to cuddle with him and start his day early than to deal with the attitude from missing me.
  • Take your children on dates. I think this is important if you stay at home or work outside the home, but I think it is crucial for working parents to provide that extra special attention. I have even taken personal days specifically for taking a child on a special date. My kids need one-on-one time on a regular basis. We often run errands with one child, and not for ease but for special time. Make sure that dates are dates, and not errands, though.
  • Aim to stay on the same page as your spouse, especially with obedience and discipline. My husband backs me up 100% as a mother and validates almost all of my parenting decisions. We regularly take time to discuss discipline strategy, sleep needs, education, childcare. While this tip is not unique to being a working mom, I am absolutely certain that I would not be the mother that I am without the support of my husband.
  • Find unique ways to implement structured activities like room time and couch time. We still make a point for our children to observe us in conversation without interruption each evening. It may be while we fix supper, while we sit in the backyard, or while the kids finish eating those last 3 bites. Roomtime comes and goes. I wish I could do it every day but it depends on our nanny and how often I have errands on my days off. As they get older, it gets easier, and I try to do it even for 15-30 minutes most days. Some of my favorite moments have been listening to them play together nicely and use their imagination by themselves.
  • Give your children (and yourself) the gift of sleep. I work with so many parents that feel guilty about missed time and let their kids stay up late every single night. We have certainly made exceptions, but consistently teaching our children to sleep well has been one of the best things we did. Bedtime is usually without exception. We also started sleep training from birth. Our kids slept through the night around 4 months of age, for the most part, and I could not imagine working full-time more than a couple of weeks without a full night’s sleep.
  • Don’t over-commit your family time. As a working mom, I feel like I need to have the same attention to detail and opportunities as moms that work in the home. Soccer, classroom volunteer, playgroups. Sometimes it just isn’t possible, and the most important thing is that our family gets enough time together even if that means cutting out other obligations.
  • Don’t wish for what isn’t. I love the structure and parent-directed emphasis of Babywise. I love the results of sleep training. I hate that I am not here all day to implement my dream routine. I hate that I feel like I have to compromise with caregivers. I hate that I often wonder “what if.” The best tip I could ever give another working mom (or dad) is to value what you have. Value what you can do, the values you can instill, the time you can structure…and those sweet grubby hands.

Bethany Lynch is a full-time mother of two young children, a son and daughter. She also works as a full-time NICU pharmacist. Frustrated with the lack of resources for Christian working moms, she decided to start her own inspirational blog. She is very passionate about encouraging other mothers balancing work and family. 

It’s time to take the guilt out of sleep training

It’s Babywise Blog Network Week! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is
 as follows:

·     Monday: Valerie Plowman, Chronicles of a Babywise Mom 
·     Tuesday: Maureen Monfore, 
Childwise Chat 
·     Wednesday: Hank Osborne, 
Daddy Life
·     Thursday: Rachel Rowell, 
My Baby Sleep Guide
·     Friday: Bethany Lynch, 
The Graceful Mom 

Help us promote solidarity within the Babywise/Ezzo community by subscribing to these blogs.
By Rachel Rowell from

Sleep training gets a bad rap. You don’t have to talk to too many moms or look on the internet for too long to get this message. If you want your child to sleep well (especially for reasons that don’t involve your child’s welfare), people start to point fingers and call names.

“What a bad, selfish person!”

“What an uncaring parent!”

“How dare they not put everything, their health, marriage and well-being included, before their child’s every need and happiness.”

“What a bad, selfish parent!”

Maybe you don’t even need someone to tell you this before the guilt sets in. As parents, we give physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to our children all day, every day. We sacrifice like crazy. But what about us? What about our marriage? What about our family as a whole?

Can nurturing ever be taken to the extreme?

I think it can. There is a balance in all things. And we have our own personal limits to consider. There is a time when we turn from a great mommy to a mommy martyr. And it seems the subject of sleep is often one of these times.

We need sleep to survive, and most of us need a fair amount of it to take us from a mindless zombie to a functioning human. We shouldn’t feel guilty because we want some of it. We need it just like our children need it. It isn’t a desire, it is a need. Sleep is food for the brain and body.

Inadequate sleep has many costs to us, our family and others. If you aren’t getting enough sleep you’re more vulnerable to depression, your marriage can suffer, your temper and emotional stability suffer, your health suffers and your children suffer. “A sleep-deprived family is an unhappy, unhealthy one.” (Bedtiming 4) For more on this see adults and sleep and children and sleep.

We need to balance our needs with the needs of our family. We are no use to anyone when we are too tired to think or control our emotions or function in any ability beyond eat, step, sit. If you don’t nurture yourself, you won’t have any energy left to nurture your family.

A baby’s sleep must work for the entire family. Everyone’s needs should be considered. You are a family, after all.

Maybe this will mean you will continue doing what you are doing. Everything is peachy. Maybe this will mean your sleep training will only involve the encouragement of good sleep habits. Maybe this will mean you will do some kind of further sleep training (my thoughts on some of that). Personal capabilities and limits vary just as situations vary. We need to do what is best for us, our baby and our family.

So drop the guilt and get some sleep!

Dads are parents too

New Daddy

It’s Babywise Blog Network Week! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

·     Monday: Valerie Plowman, Chronicles of a Babywise Mom 
·     Tuesday: Maureen Monfore, 
Childwise Chat 
·     Wednesday: Hank Osborne, 
Daddy Life
·     Thursday: Rachel Rowell, 
My Baby Sleep Guide
·     Friday: Bethany Lynch, 
The Graceful Mom 

Help us promote solidarity within the Babywise/Ezzo community by subscribing to these blogs.


By Hank Osborne from

There is no greater calling for a man than that of being a husband and then a father. Dad has a responsibility to love, protect, and provide for the family. The Daddy Life podcast and blog was created to help dads fulfill those responsibilities and more. The choices a dad makes directly affect the future of the family, the community, the nation, and the world. Our society often portrays parenting to be a spectator sport for dads. This is unfortunate and yet is too often an accurate description. Some kids grow up with their dads not even being fans of parenting at all given the overwhelming evidence available as listed in The Father Factor. It doesn’t have to be this way and it shouldn’t. Parenting works best as a team sport rather than as a solo sport or a tag-team sport.

If you read enough material authored by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo you will learn very fast that they put a premium on the husband-wife relationship. Mr. Ezzo goes as far as to say that you will only be as good of a parent as you are a spouse. I agree with this and encourage you to work to keep your marriage strong. This will be a great live demonstration for your children while also keeping you and your spouse tuned in to each other during this parenting journey and for when your children are grown.

There are some other things that dads in particular need to be intentional about that will help him maintain his role as a key player in parenting. The following are four out of the eight items that Gary Ezzo calls The Father’s Mandate:

1. A father must give his children the freedom to fail. Your children need the freedom to fail–in front of dad. So many adults are haunted by the fact that they feel like they could never live up to their dad’s expectations. Achievement and relationships are areas that every person will experience failure. Dad’s job is to help them find the good in those failures so their kids can learn and move on.

2. A father must be the encourager of the family. We’re not just talking about encouraging words but a spirit of encouragement. Dads can leave little notes for the kids in their lunch boxes telling them you love and are thinking about them. Dads can write a letter each year on their child’s birthday telling them how much the child means to them. How many of us wish we had just one single letter like this from our dads? Ladies, remind your husbands about this one!

3. A father must guard his tongue and his tone and learn to measure his response against the excitement on their faces. Mr. Ezzo does such a great job explaining this one. In Daddy Life podcast episode 17 I included a clip of him telling a story about how he learned the importance of this mandate in his own home. It had to do with the 1980s and his wife and daughters getting “perms” for the first time. I promise, you will laugh out loud at this one. Dads and moms need think before they speak. Keep in mind that your kids might be trying to be helpful. They might be following instructions given by the other parent. Try to understand the context of the situation before responding too quickly.

4. A father must routinely embrace his children. This sounds so simple, but it can be difficult, particularly for some dads who are not the hugging type. Mom’s hugs most often provide a feeling of comfort and love. Dad’s hugs deliver feelings of security and safety. Dads of girls need to be sure they do not change how they treat their daughters in this area when their bodies begin to mature. Don’t be afraid of your girls just because their bodies are changing. Continue to show them love in the same way, otherwise you might be setting them up to look for that safety and security in someone else’s arms. I recently had a guest (Stacy Ratliff) on the Daddy Life podcast. He is the father of three teen girls and he reemphasized this one during the interview.

So those are some of the macro-level things for dads and even moms to work on. I want to wrap this post up with a short scenario and some tips to help dads remain a team player in the parenting journey on a day-to-day basis.

These are the ways I’ve learned over the years to help me become more of a team player.

Do your Couch Time! – Yes it IS that important.

If dad has a job situation that allows for occasional calls from mom, then show an interest and give your wife the freedom to call when she needs input from you. This is a way to engage in the game of life with your wife and children when needed. Occasionally things have happened that prompted my wife to call me at work during the day to ask my opinion on how to respond. It might have been a behavior issue, a feeding/nursing problem, or even a health issue that she wanted a different perspective on before taking action. It makes me feel valuable when she truly wants my input in a problem area. My wife is in the trenches solo from the time she gets up until I get home in the evening. She has found herself in situations where she couldn’t see the forest because of the trees. My wife knows that she can call me. Dads should be willing to take these calls.

We have learned from the Ezzos to be thinking parents, and to do this effectively as a team we need to agree to a game plan. That means we need to regularly communicate so that neither of us are making important decisions in a vacuum and we are both working off of the same game plan. Call your wife on the way home from work. This helps you to know what your wife is working on with each of your kids and what the issues of the day might be. Mom sometimes needs to alter the game plan a little to work on a specific behavior issue and dad can undo all the ground that has been gained in that area by giving different consequences (or none at all) when he comes home. Know what the issues are, what encouragement or discipline is being used, and be ready to reinforce it when you get home.

Choose what you listen to on the way home carefully. It should be something that would help you transition out of your workday. Also be ready to turn your work off so to speak. This may require a few minutes at home to change clothes and regroup before fully engaging with your wife and the kids. Let your wife know what you need when you come through the door at the end of the day.

Be fully involved. Pick a single sport game to watch during the weekend and then turn off the TV. If you like to watch a sport with your kid(s) then record it and watch it with your child later when you can fast forward through the commercials. If you are anything like me you don’t want your little ones watching commercials for Hardees’s, Victoria Secret, or GoDaddy just to name a few.

Take a child with you when running errands. My oldest is beginning to realize that riding along to the big box store is not always the most fun for him, but the younger ones don’t care what you are doing with them as long as you are together. My oldest is getting to a point where he wants to have input into what we do when we spend time one-on-one.

Take care of all of the kids solo. Let your wife go out for a day or even a weekend. You will not do things perfect and the house might be a wreck by the time the weekend is over, but give your wife a break. Walk a day in her shoes. You will get a whole new appreciation for the job she performs while you are off “killing it and dragging it home”. You will gain a whole new level of respect from your wife by even attempting this one. Call in a grandparent for reinforcements if necessary, but at least give it a try once in a while.

Dads are parents and they should act like it. Be weird. Be different. Be more than just a biological father to your children. Be a Daddy.

Take baby steps to get first-time obedience


It’s Babywise Blog Network Week! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

·     Monday: Valerie Plowman, Chronicles of a Babywise Mom 
·     Tuesday: Maureen Monfore, Childwise Chat 
·     Wednesday: Hank Osborne, Daddy Life
·     Thursday: Rachel Rowell, My Baby Sleep Guide
·     Friday: Bethany Lynch, The Graceful Mom 

Help us promote solidarity within the Babywise/Ezzo community by subscribing to these blogs.


If you’ve read my blog at all, it’s likely you understand the value of training a child in first-time obedience (FTO). First-time obedience is a phrase commonly heard in Ezzo parenting circles. It means that a child obeys his parents’ instructions the first time, no questions asked.

Training a child in first-time obedience isn’t easy. But the payoff is huge in creating an atmosphere of peace and harmony in the home. Putting in the effort to train a child is so worth it.

Any parent ready to start the journey of FTO training must understand that it is a journey. It’s a process. You will not achieve complete FTO in a day (or even 10).

I have read some parenting books and websites and walked away with the feeling that I need to do it all, and I need to do it all right now! I come away feeling like I’m doing everything “wrong” and that I have so much ground to cover if we are to get it all done.

These experts bring out the worst legalistic parent in me. I get started trying to apply their advice, and after a couple of days, I end up frustrated and exhausted. My kids are exacerbated. Nobody is happy, and I end up hating the parent I’ve become.

I make this point because I don’t want to be one of those “experts” who drives you to the brink of insanity. When you read my blog, and if you read my eBook, Live in Harmony with First-Time Obedience, please take note when I suggest that you take baby steps in your FTO training.

The bad news is that there is no quick fix. The good news is that you won’t frustrate yourself or exacerbate your child. You have a long-term roadmap to teach your child to be obedient, submissive and respectful.

In my eBook, I outline the many steps required to achieve first-time obedience. I also include a “FTO Bootcamp” that walks you through the various phases of FTO training, day by day. It is written in a way to help you realize that you don’t need to do it all right now. I try to emphasize that if a certain FTO training phase takes 3 months instead of 3 days, then so be it. Take the time you need to work through the steps.

It’s better to take several months to complete the journey than to try it, frustrate yourself, exacerbate your child, give up, and then feel lost when your child disobeys and you have no plan to address the disobedience.

By the same token, allow your child to take baby steps when complying with your FTO requests. Don’t start your FTO training by requiring the child to do some monumental task. Don’t begin when he’s sick, tired or hungry. And only work on one aspect of FTO training at a time.

Equate it to teaching a child to swim. First-time obedience is a skill just like swimming. You don’t throw your child into the deep end, expect him to swim, and then discipline him when he sinks. You teach him by first having him blow bubbles in the water. Then you teach him how to go under water. You teach him how to float on his back. And you teach him how to do the various strokes to swim.

All of these baby steps are required. It’s not until you have taken each baby step one at a time that you can expect that the skill will be perfected. And as you can imagine, teaching a child to swim takes time and practice. Allow yourself time and practice when training your child in FTO.

If your critical Aunt Edna is coming to visit and you are worried about your child’s behavior, don’t expect that you can get all of your FTO work done in a few days. You will only frustrate yourself and exacerbate your child. Allow enough time to complete the whole process. Take as many baby steps as you need.

All of the tips, steps and phases outlined in my eBook are designed to prevent you from biting off more than you can chew in your first-time obedience training. You want to appropriately train the child, but you want to do so lovingly, fairly and peacefully. Only then will you have success with your training and achieve true harmony in your home.


Some like it hot (sleep, that is)

It’s Babywise Blog Network Week! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

·     Monday: Valerie Plowman, Chronicles of a Babywise Mom 
·     Tuesday: Maureen Monfore, 
Childwise Chat 
·     Wednesday: Hank Osborne, 
Daddy Life
·     Thursday: Rachel Rowell, 
My Baby Sleep Guide
·     Friday: Bethany Lynch, 
The Graceful Mom 

Help us promote solidarity within the Babywise/Ezzo community by subscribing to these blogs.

by Valerie Plowman,

My children amuse me. I know everyone is amused by their own children. Children are like most people–incredibly quirky. My children are no different, and I find quirks both fascinating and amusing.

Brayden does not mind being cold. He is bewildered when his friends want to go inside after playing in the snow for two hours. Even as a pre-toddler, he did not want to wear a coat out in the brisk fall weather. He just doesn’t mind it.

Kaitlyn does not like to be cold. Unless incredible fun is happening, she is done in the snow after 30 minutes. She especially does not like to have wind blowing on her. Spring is not a fun time due to the wind issues.

McKenna is like Brayden–she does not mind the cold. She will play outside in the snow forever. Brayden is lucky to have her.

That isn’t the quirky part. Here comes the quirky part.

Brayden (6 years old) does not like to be cold when he sleeps. He currently sleeps in a sweatshirt, flannel pajama bottoms, and socks. He wears a child-sized snuggie that his grandmother gave him for Christmas. Then he has his sheet, a comforter, a heavy afaghan, his baby quilt I made him, two fleece blankets, and a couple small cotton blankets thrown on top. His room is kept at 70 degrees. Not kidding.

Kaitlyn (4 years old) loves to be cold when she sleeps. She has the coldest bedroom in the house. She currently sleeps in a flimsy nightgown meant for warm summer nights and hates to sleep in socks. She sleeps with a sheet, comforter, and a couple of fleece blankets because I think she must be freezing, not because she wants them.

McKenna (2 years old) also does not like to be cold when she sleeps. She sleeps in warm pajamas and socks. She has the warmest bedroom in the house. She has more blankets than I can count and she knows if I try to remove some. And she knows which ones I have removed. If she wakes from a nap and had bare arms (because she took off her cardigan because she was “too hot” during playtime), she wakes up crying.

See? They are quirky.

I share these quirks to illustrate that some children like to be warm when they sleep and others like to be on the cooler side. ALSO, it takes some observation to know what they each like–it isn’t always what you might assume.

How do you know?
I know this is an annoying answer for some people, but for me, I just knew. I could tell Brayden liked to sleep warmer as a baby. When Kaitlyn came along, I quickly figured out she liked to be cooler (and I got many lectures from certain relatives about her lack of socks–she hated socks as a four week old and still hates socks as a four year old and I feel so vindicated as a mother!).

The best advice I can give you is to pay attention. You need to notice patterns. You might need to take notes to see these patterns, or you might be able to track it in your head. What did your child wear to sleep in? What blankets, if any, were involved? What was the temperature in the room?

And with that information, how did your child sleep that night?

What temperature is best?
It seems most sleep experts agree somewhere between 65-70 degrees is best (though some go as low as 60 and high as 75). That really is a wide range, though. 60 feels very differently than 75. How do you tell what is best for your individual child? Once again, this is where the power of observation comes into play. You have your range to work with, now experiment and see what works best.

Why is temperature so important?

“Experts agree the temperature of your sleeping area and how comfortable you feel in it affect how well and how long you snooze. Why? ‘When you go to sleep, your set point for body temperature — the temperature your brain is trying to achieve — goes down,’ says H. Craig Heller, PhD, professor of biology at Stanford University, who wrote a chapter on temperature and sleep for a medical textbook. ‘Think of it as the internal thermostat.’ If it’s too cold, as in Roy’s case, or too hot, the body struggles to achieve this set point.

That mild drop in body temperature induces sleep. Generally, Heller says, ‘if you are in a cooler [rather than too-warm] room, it is easier for that to happen.’ But if the room becomes uncomfortably hot or cold, you are more likely to wake up, says Ralph Downey III, PhD, chief of sleep medicine at Loma Linda University…” (source)

Finding the perfect temperature gets tricky with the more people you add to the family.

I recommend you figure out what the lowest temperature needs to be. So in our family, my husband and Kaitlyn like to sleep in a cooler environment. So the thermostat is set to a cooler temperature for those two. Even in the winter, my husband sleeps with only a sheet and a light blanket. No socks.

Then the rest of us warm sleepers adjust our environment as needed. We all wear warmer PJs and all wear socks in the winter. We all have our layers of blankets. The children have space heaters in their rooms that have a thermostat.

So in your quest for good sleep in your family, do not underestimate the importance of temperature, pajamas, and blankets. It is a vital element in getting peaceful, continuous sleep. What is perfect for you will not automatically be perfect for anyone else in the home. Work to figure out the ideal for each person and figure out how to achieve that in your home. You will all be sleeping better if you do!