Blanket Time

Journey of ParenthoodCan you really make a two-year-old sit on a blanket for more than ten seconds? How about a 12-month-old? Yes! As with everything that we’ve learned so far, it’s all about training. In fact, you can teach your two-year-old to sit quietly on a blanket, playing with a few toys for 20-30 minutes. The benefits are too many to count. In fact, blanket time is my favorite independent play activity. Not only does it give us a chance to teach our toddlers how to play quietly on their own in a defined space, but it also teaches them huge self-control and obedience. Plus, you can take it with you!

Yesterday, I wrote a “how to” blog post on Journey of Parenthood, our newest member of the Babywise Blog Network. Check out the post to find out all you need to know about starting blanket time, and how to work up to a significant length of time. Read through to the end to find out about my big blanket time success story!

Best of Childwise Chat: Achieving first-time obedience

I’m taking time off from blogging for the holidays, so this week I’ll be sharing the best of Childwise Chat. These are the most popular posts of all time. Enjoy and have a fantastic Christmas!

Originally posted April 16, 2009

In my last post, I described what first-time obedience looks like. Now we’ll get into the details of how you can help your child obey the first time. It’s not easy but so worth it!

Lay the groundwork. It’s all about your tone.
Before you start requiring first-time obedience, you need to ensure your own attitude is in the right place. For those of you unsure of your ability to command authority, reach down within yourself and find your courage. Do not fear your child. Do not let him make the choices for the family. If you have read one or two of the Ezzo books, you are no stranger to the idea that the marriage takes priority in the family. Your child is a welcome member of the family but is not the center of it. Let that attitude carry you through your daily interactions with your child.

Some of you may have a strong handle on your authority but might take it too far. Don’t expect that he will disobey or he will. Don’t think that having authority over your child means that he’ll comply with unreasonable expectations when he’s tired and hungry. Don’t equate authority with anger and power. We want wise parenting, not power parenting.

If you have found the right attitude, you are likely at a place where you want to set your child up to succeed but will maintain a matter-of-fact tone if he doesn’t. When your child disobeys, you don’t accept it or get angry. You say to him, “Oops, I see you’ve made the wrong choice. Too bad. Here is what your consequence will be.”

Be consistent!

One of the most important things you need to require of yourself is consistency. If you want first-time obedience from your child, you must be 100% consistent. If you slip, he will too. But if you require it, he will meet your expectation. Your child will only rise to the expectation you set for him. Set the bar high but keep in mind you need to do the work to help him get there.

Get your “yes, mommy” and eye contact
I cannot stress enough how important it is to have your child respond to the call of his name with a “yes, mommy” and eye contact. Before you give any task, especially one that he won’t want to do, you need to get his attention and know that he is listening. Maintaining eye contact while you give the instruction is key. Refer back to these posts for more.

Don’t repeat yourself
One sure-fire way to not get first-time obedience is to repeat yourself. How can he achieve first-time obedience if you’ve already given your instruction 5 times? Give him your instruction clearly and while maintaining eye contact and you have no excuse to repeat yourself. You know he has heard you loud and clear.

So what do you do if your child doesn’t respond after you’ve given your one instruction? Wait. Don’t wait 20 minutes, but do give him a chance to comply. If he still doesn’t respond, don’t say another word. Simply take him by the hand and physically help him complete the task. If you’ve asked him to put his Legos away and he ignores you, take his hand and bring him over to the Legos. Then take his hands in your own and start picking them up together. Be sure to do this with a very calm demeanor or he will strongly resist you.

After you have completed the task together, explain to him that you had to help him this time and that next time, you want him to obey you the first time you ask him to do something. After you have given it a few days of helping him obey you, move on to expecting him to obey you on his own. If he chooses not to, then you move on to your consequence.

Decide ahead of time what your consequences will be
Spend some time with your spouse thinking through your child’s most troublesome behaviors. Then decide on a logical or natural consequence for each of those behaviors. Write them down and post them in the kitchen so you can refer to them often. Perhaps picking up his toys is where he struggles the most. You might decide to take those toys away for a day. Let the punishment fit the crime, and make sure your consequences are ones that you can follow through on, even at your own weakest moments.

The key here is that you plan ahead so that when you’re faced with disobedience, you’re not scrambling to come up with a consequence. You want to respond swiftly, especially as you’re just beginning. Refer to my post on intentional parenting for more.

Do non-conflict training
Whether he’s 2 or 12, take the time to explain to him your new standard of obedience. He needs to know that you are changing the rules of the game and that you will be giving consequences the first time he disobeys. Clearly explain to him that you expect him to respond to your instructions the first time you give them. Be specific. Tell him that if he runs away from you at the park, you will go home the first time. Tell him that if he speaks to you with disrespect just one time, he will lose his TV privileges. Remind him often, several times a day every day.

Follow through
This is where you make or break the deal. You can do all of the work I describe above, but if you don’t follow through when your child disobeys the first time, all of your work will be for nothing. Not only will it have been a waste of time, but now your child won’t believe you when you say you will require first-time obedience. If your child disobeys just one time, issue the consequence, no questions asked. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Don’t repeat yourself. Don’t threaten. Don’t get angry. Keep a calm demeanor and follow through.

Now, don’t kick yourself if you slip once or twice. You are both acquiring a new skill, but do make it a priority. Even set aside a few days when you can stay home and work on it.

Set your child up for success
You want your child to achieve first-time obedience, right? So set him up to succeed. Don’t start your work on first-time obedience by asking your 4-year-old to mow the lawn. Take baby steps. Start by giving him a task you know he’ll do willingly. If he does it the first time, praise him! Expect that he will succeed. Make it so that he wants to give you first-time obedience. Then once he is doing well with simple tasks, move on to more difficult ones.

Be fair
You cannot expect your child to give you first-time obedience if you haven’t done all your work first. You can’t issue a consequence the first time if you haven’t told him what you expect. For all he knows, you’ll repeat yourself 20 times like you usually do. And consider context. Don’t start expecting first-time obedience when your fuse is short and your child is tired and hungry.

Require a happy heart

I started this post by asking you to work on your own attitude, and I’ll end by saying you need to ensure your child has the right attitude as well. A big component of first-time obedience is doing it with an attitude of submission. You might want to spend a week or two working on the mechanics of first-time obedience before you move on to changing his attitude. But once you are ready to do so, explain to him at a time of non-conflict, what you expect of him. Then if he gives you first-time obedience but sulks off after complying or whines about doing the task, start requiring him to respond with a happy heart. One of the best ways to do so is requiring him to do the task over with a better attitude. If he needs a few minutes in isolation to find his happy heart, let him go to his room and then come back to you when he’s ready to comply with a better attitude.

This was a long post full of weighty ideas. Refer back to it often. Good luck!

Holiday eBook Sale!

For the holidays, I’m offering my eBook, Live in Harmony with First-Time Obedience, for just $7.99! That’s 20% off the regular price. If you’ve been thinking about buying it, now’s the time! The eBook contains 112 pages of detailed, step-by-step instructions for any parent looking to train a child in first-time obedience.

It’s the perfect opportunity to brush up on your first-time obedience training skills before the holidays. Or buy the eBook for a friend or family member!

Gary Ezzo himself endorses the eBook. Here’s what he said:

“One of the most important parenting tasks is helping children learn to obey. This eBook offers practical advice for parents in the throes of obedience training and is high on my recommended reading list.”

Here’s the table of contents:

  • Introduction: My Story and Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1: What Is First-Time Obedience?
  • Chapter 2: Ezzo Fundamentals: First Things First
  • Chapter 3: Preparing for First-Time Obedience Training
  • Chapter 4: Training Your Child in First-Time Obedience
  • Chapter 5: FTO Bootcamp
  • Chapter 6: Correction and Troubleshooting
  • Chapter 7: Special Circumstances
  • Conclusion: Obedience Is Just the Beginning
  • Appendices: Forms and Checklists

Still unsure about making the purchase? Download a sample to review the book before you buy. And remember, it’s now backed by a 100% guarantee.

The sale price is good starting today, December 19 through January 4, my wedding anniversary. :)

Happy holidays!

Teach Reasoning


A few days ago, I came across a debate about first-time obedience on BabyCenter. Among the naysayers, there was this prevailing idea that a child who is characterized by first-time obedience is a robot who doesn’t know how to think for himself. The contention was that if you teach a child to obey, he will obey anyone and everyone, even adults who have questionable motives.

My response was that even though I teach my children to obey, I also teach them to think for themselves. My children are not robots.

The Ezzos tell us to teach our children the moral reasons behind the things we require of our children. We teach them things like:

  • You behave in a restaurant not just because it’s less annoying, but because you need to think of the other people around you. You cannot ruin their meals.
  • You share your toys with your friends because if you were your friend, you would want to play with the toys, too. (Basic first principle stuff.)

This is why I love the Ezzo parenting ideals so much. They don’t tell us to have our kids obey at all costs and forget everything else. Obedience is super important, but we also need kids who think for themselves enough to think of others.

As you navigate this parenting journey, be sure to give your kids ample opportunity to think for themselves. Reasoning is a skill that needs to be learned. I’ll give you an example:

Recently, when William was doing his schoolwork, he wanted me to help him read the passage he was assigned. It seemed daunting to him, but I told him I wanted him to read it. He proceeded to whine and complain. I told him I wouldn’t listen to his whining, but that if he stood up next to me and came up with an alternative (spoken in a respectful voice), I’d be happy to listen. I wanted him to see that I was a reasonable parent who would listen to a reasonable alternative. His suggestion was that I would read the first half and he would read the second.

I’m happy to note that this turned his attitude around immediately. Now, I still had to refuse because I was working and couldn’t take the time away. He was fine with this. I didn’t get any additional attitude issues, and he walked away and completed the work quickly and without complaint. He appreciated that I listened, but he still had to obey. And he knew that in no point in the process was there an alternative to simply not do the work.

So in addition to allowing our children to make use of the moral teaching we’ve done, it’s important that they know we listen. They need to know that we don’t require them to obey simply because it’s convenient for us. They need to be able to walk themselves through that thought process in the same way we do when we give an instruction.

At the end of the day, however, obedience is still required.

Note: Don’t allow your child to reason with you until he is characterized by obedience. If you start this too soon, he’ll use it as a negotiation tactic with everything you ask, and will use it as an excuse not to obey.

Don’t Forget Attitude

When training a child in first-time obedience, external compliance is great, but it’s not our ultimate goal. We must teach our children to have a submissive attitude as well as obedient behavior. The following is an excerpt from my eBook, Live in Harmony with First-Time Obedience.


Compliance with a yielding, submissive heart is our ultimate goal. If your child complies with your instruction but sulks off afterward, make him do it over. Discipline for attitude just as much as you would for behavior problems. Ezzo explains the importance behind training the child’s heart.

“Disciplining–heart training–is best accomplished by parenting from the first principle. Values-based discipline urges children to treat other people the way they want to be treated. Neither child-centered nor authoritarian parenting styles emphasize personal responsibility, inner growth, self-control, and other virtues the way first principle parenting does. We have found that if parents shape their child’s heart and character, they will not have to concentrate as much on reshaping the child’s outward behavior,” (On Becoming Childwise, p. 115).

As you go about your day, decide whether your child’s actions are coming from a heart of submission. For first-time obedience to be effective, the child must respond without challenging parental authority. There are some subtle and not-so-subtle ways that a child will challenge authority:

  • She says “yes, mommy” with a smart, sarcastic tone.
  • She mimics her parents.
  • He says anything but “yes, mommy” such as “what?”
  • He says nothing
  • She says “yes, mommy” so quietly you can’t hear her.

In all of these examples, the child is refusing to submit to authority. Do not allow such responses. Have him repeat with the appropriate response and if he still refuses, send him to his bed to sit in isolation.


Holiday Behavior Problems?


How was Thanksgiving? Did your children handle the day with grace and gratitude? Or did you uncover new behavior problems amidst the holiday hubbub? It’s not unusual, particularly when we spend the holiday with many friends and family members, for our kids to act uncharacteristically.

There are several issues that contribute to this problem. As much as we may attempt to keep life consistent, big holidays often disrupt the routine, causing sleep and meal disruptions. The kids may get more sugar than usual. They may go to bed later than usual. They may sleep less soundly if they’re not in their own beds. (My kids sleep on the floor at Grandma’s house.) They might get too much attention from family members. Our usual parenting tactics may get disrupted, either on our own accord (being lax), or comments from others may undermine our efforts.

No matter the specific cause, we are left to deal with children who are not themselves. Whether they are showing behavior problems or attitude issues, our kids are behaving uncharacteristically. This can confuse the most well-meaning parent. What do we do with this child we don’t recognize? And how do we deal with behavior problems we’ve never encountered before?

The most important idea to remember is that you will have to put effort into retraining your child. Whether the child has picked up bad behavior habits from others or has created some of his own, commit to retraining those bad behaviors right out of him. If your lives were only disrupted for a day or two, you might only require that much retraining time. If you were out of town for a week or longer, the behavior problems will be more deeply ingrained, and you’ll likely need more time for retraining.

Now, you may also be thinking ahead to Christmas. If your family is like mine, the time spent with friends and family over Christmas is similar to Thanksgiving, only on a larger scale. Again, you may need to retrain your child. But if you’d like to prevent behavior problems from occurring during Christmas festivities, rather than retrain after the fact, you’ll need to address your child’s specific needs. For example, if your child is an introvert and there are 20 people in your house, you may give the child an extra room time session to help him gather the energy to face all the people.

A few considerations to prevent holiday behavior problems include:

  • Keep meals as consistent as possible, even if that means feeding the child before or after the main family meal. Set alerts on your phone for meals, snacks and nap times.
  • Keep bed and nap times as consistent as possible. It can be difficult to get children to bed at their normal bedtimes when so many others stay up hours later, but sleep is the top consideration when facing behavior and attitude problems.
  • Limit sugar. Allow the child a Christmas cookie or two, but not much more.
  • Limit food dyes.
  • Do your best not to relax too much during the holidays. Take turns with your spouse and do all you can to stay consistent and follow through on your word.
  • Limit the child’s freedoms. If he’s not allowed to wander the house at home, he shouldn’t be allowed to do so at Grandma’s.
  • Consider the child’s personality. If he’s an introvert, give him some quiet, alone time.
  • Consider the child’s love language. If he thrives on words of encouragement from you and you spend all day talking to adult relatives, he may act up.

If, despite your best efforts, your child shows behavior problems, act on them before they escalate. Deal with whining before it escalates into a tantrum. Deal with grumpiness before it turns into a fight with a family member. Keep your eye on your child, and quietly and politely excuse yourselves if you need to discipline him. Then commit to retraining him when you get home.

Happy holidays! :)

How High (or Low) Are Your Standards?


Where do you set the bar when it comes to your children and their behavior? How well did your kids fare during Thanksgiving dinner? Were you proud of them or did you walk away vowing to make some changes?

Deciding where to set the bar is an important exercise for any parent to undergo. Deciding on an intellectual (not gut) level what attitudes and behaviors are acceptable is the first step in parenting. You might even go so far as to write down acceptable behaviors and any future goals you have in mind for your child.

If you decide that you want your child to express gratitude to friends through acts of service, you might get him started on household chores when he’s 2. By the time he’s 8, he’ll then freely offer to unload the dishwasher when he sees that you’ve had a hard day.

By the same token, maybe you just want your kid to be a kid. You’re fine if he spends every free minute simply playing.

Personally, I probably stand between these two extremes. I have a friend who mentioned to me that her child offered to unload the dishwasher at a friend’s house. I was amazed. But then I’m also conflicted because I place a very high premium on imaginative play and think it’s so important to my kids’ developing minds and intellect. So while I do have my children do chores, I also let them play quite a bit.

This post is inspired by a recent comment I received from a stranger. Or rather, I should say that my children received this comment. It was Veterans Day, and my veteran and I took the kids out to a fairly upscale restaurant. There were other families there who were taking advantage of the partially free meal, and I won’t say I didn’t notice their kids’ behavior or the huge presence of mobile devices. At one table near us, there were two boys about Lucas’ age (5) and they each had their own iPad. As soon as they lost interest in the iPad, their behavior spun out of control, clearly unacceptable for this kind of restaurant.

Whenever we eat out, I explain to my boys that there are many other people in the restaurant who are paying good money for their meal, and they do not have the freedom of ruining that meal for those people. They must respect this fact every time we go out. Apparently, this has hit home because as a group of older people walked out of the restaurant, one of them leaned over our table and commended my children on their good behavior.

Of course, this puts a smile on my face. But my thoughts at the time bring me back to the point of this post. As this woman complimented their behavior, I felt some relief and pride, but I was also rolling my eyes a little. The fact of the matter is, at the exact moment that she complimented their behavior, we were frustrated with their manners. We didn’t see well-behaved kids. We saw kids who were eating green beans with their hands.

I realize that it’s important to step back a minute and realize that yes, they were sitting still, yes, they were sitting quietly, and yes, they were eating their vegetables without complaint. But at the same time, I cannot let go of the relatively high standards I have for my kids. I can recognize their good behavior and compliment them on it, but that doesn’t mean I should lower my expectations. If anything, their good behavior tells me that my methods are working!

So if you have high standards for your child, it’s a good idea to step back sometimes and appreciate their behavior. If you have relatively low standards, you’ll either be comfortable with the behavior you get while in public or you might even vow to raise the bar just a bit. Wherever you stand, be sure you have chosen where to set the bar. Don’t fall into an accidental parenting trap and just let the bar lie where it may.

Babywise Week: Is Obedience Ever an Option?


It’s Babywise Blog Network Week again! 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: Bethany Lynch, The Graceful Mom
· Thursday: Hank Osborne, Daddy Life
· Friday: Surprise guest blogger


One of the many ways we parents get into trouble with our children is by making obedience an option. Of course, we  never set out to make obedience an option, but unfortunately, it happens. It’s important to recognize the ways that we may communicate to our children that they have a choice when it comes to obedience. Then after recognizing those ways, we are better equipped to spot them as they pop up in our daily lives.

So how exactly do parents convey that obedience is an option? There are many ways.

Not giving instructions with authority

How do you sound when you give instructions to your child? Do you ever sound like you might as well put a question mark on the end of your instruction? Do you sound like this: “Johnny, it’s time to get dressed.” Or like this: “Johnny, we need to leave the house soon, and we all need to be dressed and ready to go, so go get dressed. Okay?”

There are two things wrong with this example. First, don’t feel compelled to give your child an explanation as to why you’re requiring him to obey an instruction. Knowledge is power, and he may turn that information back on you in an attempt to get out of obeying. He may argue that getting dressed doesn’t take much time, so he doesn’t really need to obey you right then. Simply telling a child to get dressed leaves no option for disobedience.

The second problem with the above example is that big fat “okay?” at the end. Don’t ask your child to obey. Don’t ask him if he agrees with you. Don’t ask him anything. Simply direct him and do it with authority. If you can’t quite get a grasp on your firm mommy (or daddy) voice, work on it and do it now. If you want an obedient child, you don’t have the luxury of being your child’s friend — at least not yet. You are his parent, and parents stand in a position of authority over their children. So dig deep and get a grasp on your authority.

Front-loading consequences

Another way parents make obedience an option is by front-loading consequences. By this I mean that we tell our children what their consequence will be if they disobey. Hopefully, whatever consequence we threaten will be one they won’t like, but we never can know for sure. By front-loading consequences, we give our children a choice. They can either obey, or they can choose the consequence which as been laid out neatly for them. They can weigh the odds. And they may in fact decide that they’d rather run around at bed time and miss story time than obey.


How many times do you repeat yourself when giving your child an instruction? It can be so easy to repeat ourselves when our children don’t immediately obey. We may think they didn’t hear us or we may think that if we repeat ourselves with a more stern voice, they’ll be more likely to obey. Let me tell you that the opposite is true. When we repeat ourselves, we are training our children that they don’t have to listen or obey the first time. We are teaching them that we don’t really mean what we said the first time. Teach your child that you mean what you say. Don’t utter a word unless you are ready to follow through on that word. Train your child to obey your word among all else.


Similar to front-loading consequences, threatening our children with consequences does not get them to obey. When our children learn that we don’t mean what we say, they learn that our threats are meaningless. Now, it’s one thing to warn a child of an impending consequence and another thing altogether to threaten one and never follow through.

“The mother who first coaxes, then threatens, then bargains, then pretends to punish, and finally punishes a little is only making a bad situation worse…. Lack of moral fortitude and resolution in the parents undermines obedience,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 124).

Parenting from the hip

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to have a plan when teaching children to obey. Parenting from the hip only gets us into trouble. We must recognize our own fallibility. When we’re tired, hungry, or just plain grumpy, we cannot parent with a firmer hand. By the same token, if we’re in a good mood, we cannot let bad behavior slide simply because we don’t want to ruin the mood. Obedience cannot be subject to our mood or whim. If it is, our children will gauge our mood when deciding how important it is to obey. Children love to push the boundaries to see how flexible they are. If your boundaries are flexible based on your mood, your children will quickly figure it out.

Not only is this ineffective in teaching obedience, but it’s simply unfair to the child. Our children shouldn’t have to suffer the wrath of our mood. They should know what to expect; and they should expect that we will follow through every time. Have a plan and be consistent.


Many of us know that bribes don’t help. But when we’re in the heat of the moment, thinly veiled bribes often escape our lips. We may not say, “Be good in the store and you’ll get a lollipop.” But we may say something like, “I expect you to be a good boy in the store today. You can do that, right? Good, then when we’re done, we might be able to get some special treats.” No matter how you phrase it, a bribe is a bribe.

Scare tactics are just as bad. “If you’re not good in the store today, the police will come and get you!” Or, “We’re leaving… We’ll see you later. I hope the store leaves the lights on for you tonight.” The fundamental problem with bribes and scare tactics is that we are teaching our children that we don’t mean what we say. We only expect them to be obedient to gain a reward (or avoid a scary situation). We are not expecting our children to obey simply because we expect them to.


When we give our children an instruction, there should be no doubt that we expect them to obey the instruction exactly as we give it. When we tell a child to clean up his room right away, he should do so right away. He should not be allowed to negotiate with us by telling us he’ll do it in 5 minutes. When we tell a child it’s nap time, he should not be allowed to tell us he’s not tired. When we agree to a dessert of one cookie, he should not be allowed to convince us that he deserves three cookies.

“When parents become characterized by continually accepting a negotiated compromise, they undermine their attempts to bring their child to first-time obedience. If all is negotiable, then no instruction is absolute. When we negotiate in the heat of battle, there is no true surrender,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 125).

Have no doubt: obedience requires submission.

If you ever wonder whether you’re undermining your authority and training your children not to obey, ask yourself whether you are training your child to obey your word. Whether you lack resolve and don’t follow through on your word or allow your child to negotiate with your instructions, take a minute to realize that the fundamental idea is that the child isn’t being taught to obey your word.

Remember this: “When you speak to your child in a way that requires an answer or action, you should expect an immediate and complete response,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 125).

Your children are capable of complete obedience. All you need to do is pave the way for them to get there, removing any obstacles that may give them the idea that obedience is an option.


This was a weighty post with a lot to think about. I can’t not end this post without mentioning my eBook. While I’ve given you ways to spot a lack of obedience, I haven’t really told you how to train our children to obey. This is where my eBook comes in. I’ve written several other blog posts on first-time obedience, but if you are looking for a detailed, day-by-day instruction manual on first-time obedience, check out my eBook. Endorsed by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo, Live in Harmony With First-Time Obedience: How to Use Love, Authority and Consistency to Teach Your Child to Obey the First Time, Every Time offers 112 pages of a detailed, step-by-step approach to creating an environment of peace, obedience and contentment in your home. Click on the above link to purchase and download it instantly, or download a sample to learn more. 

Hands on the car!


If you’re a parent, you know the struggle that often happens when getting our kids out of or into the car. Busy streets, crowded parking lots, bags of groceries, babies to hold, it all adds up to create a potentially dangerous situation.

Learn this simple phrase: “Hands on the car!”

When you approach the car, particularly when you can’t get the child in the car right away, teach him to put his hand on the car and wait. This allows you time to gather up the baby, groceries, or whatever without wondering where the child has wandered off to and what danger he might be in.

There are some parents who have the child hold onto mom’s pocket. This can present a challenge when mom needs to move back and forth between a shopping cart and the car. Or say the child runs ahead from the house to the driveway. Being trained to put his hand on the car will keep him from running into the street.

Another option is to settle the child by having him put his hands in his own pockets. This again, doesn’t keep the child from moving out into the street or parking lot.

Or you might sometimes have the child hold onto the shopping cart. This could work, but it could also turn into mayhem if the child is tempted to move the cart or jump on it (and tip it).

So teach the child to always put his hands on the car and wait. And check out this site. They sell magnets to put on the car to indicate where on the car the child is to put his hand. Brilliant!

Use a visual timer

Source: Amazon

It’s a simple idea, but timers can have great power in getting our children to move through their activities at a reasonable pace. But I have learned that I can’t just use any old timer. I have to use a visual timer.

There have been many times when I’ve said, “You have 10 minutes to clean up your toys,” and then I set the microwave timer. The problem with this is that they really have no idea how long 10 minutes is or when the timer might go off. They tend to dawdle and I feel compelled to remind them that the timer is ticking. I’ve been known to shout out, “5 minutes left!” But again, how long is 5 minutes? It’s only when that timer goes off that they start to rush through the job.

So here’s a fix. Get a visual timer. I have a timer that counts down the minutes. This is particularly useful for William (age 8) since he can read the minutes and knows the difference between 20 minutes and 2 minutes. This sometimes works for Lucas (age 5), or I’ll use it when they’re doing an activity together. Another visual timer is an hourglass. Fine one in your game closet and test it to see how many minutes it counts.

I’ve also discovered that our oven timer is better than our microwave timer. It isn’t necessarily visual, but it gives a warning beep one minute before time is up.  There are even some timers out there that change colors as time elapses. The timer in the picture above has this feature and is only $13 on Amazon. I’m tempted to get it for myself!