By Malissa Custer
Those cute, chubby cheeks are adorable. Those impish smiles are distracting. Those belly laughs are intoxicating. With each new word and trick, your parental pride grows. Those are the healthy feelings of a devoted and doting parent, making it all the easier to ignore their difficult times. I’m not going to lie: we are in the danger zone with our one-year old. He has officially been de-throned and is not taking his demotion very well. A large part of my day consists of keeping his oversized will in check. Now, some kids are easier than others, but it seems, we got the deluxe version this time around. Whether you have a mild-mannered monkey or a T-Rex toddler, the will is there, manifesting itself somehow. It is not a matter of if, but when the battle will be had. I forgot what a battle it was with the older two, and realized maybe there are parents out there who would like to hear our family’s tips and tricks.
We are firm believers in the younger, the better. As soon as you are sure he understands the command given, he must listen – every time. After a number of times, she will realize she must do it every time, and it gets easier.
Do not accept disobedience. I know it is easy to ignore his bad behavior at first, but that will come back in the form of increased stubbornness.
Do not let her ignore you, as when she pretends she is missing some of those smarts you’ve seen so often and breaks eye contact, hoping you won’t follow through. Make her look at you, and make her obey. If he doesn’t, correct him immediately, and then demand the same thing again, until satisfied.
Do not, under any circumstances, let him get angry and throw a fit without consequence. If correcting a behavior causes anger, repeat correction until the child submits. Anger can manifest itself in crying, whining, screaming, kicking legs, arching back, hitting, or biting, to name a few. Keep yourself under control, and tell them NO, while correcting them, until they submit.
Practice submission in a low-pressure situation. Play with your well-rested toddler, and in that play time, make her submit over and over again. Make him give you the toy he is playing with, only to immediately return it. Command him to pick up and put away. After each task, make her give you a high five or wave at you.
Celebrate success lavishly. Positive reinforcement has to be a big part of the process.
Demand a response before giving the child what they are asking for. It may only be a grunt, but if you state, “Say please,” wait for a response.
Know their limits. If he or she is extremely tired or hungry, don’t demand much from them, avoiding the unsuccessful battle.
Teach them to be polite from the beginning. Ignoring someone is unacceptable. Do not let them be rude, or not acknowledge when someone is saying hello. I know it is embarrassing and time-consuming, but follow through.
These are just a few things that we do around here, that we’ve had success with. It pays off exponentially with age. I promise. Remember mommas, no regrets.
By Barbara Russell
Looking back, things are clearer to me than when I was experiencing them. I thought I would share some things that I learned as a young mother, that may be beneficial to you.
Don’t feel like a failure when your children act human. When my children were young, I felt like a failure whenever they misbehaved, but one day my dad said to me, “Why don’t you expect your children to be the little sinners that they are, and then deal with it?” This was very liberating to me! My children didn’t do “bad things” because I was a terrible mother, but because they are sinners! It’s how I respond to their sin that makes all the difference.
As an example, my 18-month-old son pulls on his bib and screams, so naturally I remove the bib because, “He doesn’t want to wear a bib.” WRONG! I just taught him, ”If I scream, I get what I want.”
My daughter learned to say please, so I said, “Say please to Daddy.” She turns her head and makes an “I don’t want to” sound, so I give an excuse, “Oh she’s just being shy”. WRONG! I just taught her, “If I don’t want to do something, I just act shy.” I say to my 3-year-old son, “Come to mommy.” He giggles and runs away from me. I smile and proclaim, “He’s so cute!” WRONG! I just taught him, “As long as I act cute, I can get away with anything!”
Character is instilled in children at a very young age. Whether it is good or bad, it is being learned. When babies are first born, they learn love and acceptance by the tone of our voice and by our caring for their needs, but very quickly, their sinful nature begins to surface, and the training begins.
Discipline for their benefit, and not yours. I often told my children that it would be easier for me to just let them do whatever they wanted, but in the end it would not be best for them.
Don’t let your child’s quiet attitude lead you to assume that nothing is going on in their brain. Get to the bottom of what is bothering them. Symptoms may go away, but the problem is still there!
I learned that whenever my children were constantly being naughty, that they just wanted MY attention! And they didn’t care how they got it! Although a clean house, clean laundry, and preparing meals are important duties of a mother, NOTHING is more important than gaining your child’s heart. Many things can wait, but our children grow up and our window of opportunity is over. Read to them, play with them, talk to them, listen to them, and train them.
Actions speak louder than words. We can tell our children all day long that we love them, but our actions will prove or deny it. Do we really listen to them? I’m not proficient at following a recipe, and listening to someone talking, at the same time. So I was responding with uh-huh, uh-huh, while my daughter was talking to me when suddenly she burst out, “You aren’t even listening to me, are you?!” I had to stop and confess, “You’re right, I didn’t hear a word you said. Let me finish putting this meal together, and then I will give you my full attention.”
Moms need a break! Don’t feel guilty that you aren’t super women! Most “stay at home moms” work 24/7. They don’t get to punch out at 5:00, or get weekends off, or have a 2-week vacation. It’s even harder if a mom has to work a full or part-time job. No one does “mom’s job” when she is at work. The pressures of life are very real: finances, fatigue, schooling, training. Because we are human, it is easy to get discouraged, burn out, and just simply give up! If this happens, we lose our children.
Instead, take precaution. Rest when your children are down for a nap. Go to bed soon after they do in order to get enough sleep. Analyze your weekly routine and determine what is most important and what you may need to give up.
There are seasons in life, and all the things you did as a single lady may not be feasible now that you are a mother; it’s ok to say no to those things. Make a list of all the important things that must get done, and then schedule those things throughout the week. Procrastination is a killer!
If you happen to have a husband like I did, who “kicked me out of the house” (as he put it) one night a week, then GO! Sometimes I felt guilty for leaving, and would still be relaying instructions as he was literally pushing me out the door declaring, “We will be fine!” These nights really were therapeutic for me!
And lastly, don’t live short-sighted! It is so easy to think that our hardship is going to last FOREVER! Those sleepless nights and endless diapers will come to an end! And there will come a day when you will have an ‘empty nest’. Don’t wish these precious years away! Treasure all the days and years that God gives you with your little ones!