Because we focused on relationships as our children were growing up (and encouraged other parents to do the same) many people assumed that meant we allowed our children to do whatever they wanted. Someone once even called one of our neighbors and asked, “So, just how out of control are their children, anyway?!” It is difficult for some people to wrap their minds around the idea of training as a main discipline method.
Child Training Is Instruction, Interference, Consequences, and Modeling/Correcting
Training is constant instruction, interference with immature and inappropriate behavior, consequences of some sort, and modeling or requiring a correction of that behavior, with constant attention to the relationship all the while.
Babies need to be held, guided, and distracted. When my little ones would put their fingers in the wall sockets, I would pick them up and say, “No, no! Danger! This will hurt you!!” And take them away and be strong with the Danger word so that they understood it was not something to be played with. I read an article recently that said if you respond to babies under 2 within 10-15 seconds, they learn what you are telling them and are much more likely to obey. If you just yell or say something across the room, they do not get the message. In other words, babies respond to immediacy and personal training, interaction.
Often, just distraction—taking them away from what they thought they wanted and showing them something else. “No more cookies! Now let’s walk to the window and see if there are any dogs outside.”
Now to older children as they grow. An extrovert needs time to talk and talk and to be active; and they should not be punished for being loud or active or talkative. It is a part of their glory. We as parents need to learn how to channel and train that exuberance down a path of fruitfulness.
An introvert needs time alone or time alone with you, and they should not feel shame for feeling shy or fearful but should know they are precious as they are, with you leading them to grow in relationship to other people.
A little wiggly boy needs to be understood as one who God gave testosterone so that he could protect his family some day. A young teen girl needs grace with her hormones and patience when she emotionally spills her feelings or anger and frustration all over people— (so do boys, by the way) and so on.
Loving, serving, encouraging, and requiring honor in relationships was always the foundation for all child training in our lives, seeing that, like the Holy Spirit in my own life, I was coming alongside my children, helping them, encouraging them in the path of righteousness in their own lives as one of my primary roles as a mom.
"No, not that way, but this way,” we said over and over and over again; gently, lovingly, firmly, consistently. Always be ready to praise for good choices and say, "You are growing so strong inside, and I see you making such wise choices."
Remember you are will training, Will training is what we see in Deuteronomy 30:15-20--"See that I have set before you: life and prosperity or death and adversity, so choose yourselves today, what you will do."
“I hope you will obey mama. It is your choice, if you choose to obey ______, then you will find blessing for your good choice. But if you choose to disobey, you are choosing these consequences, (sitting with mama while the others play, or having to clean up all the toys in the play room as a practice for being responsible, etc. (whatever the parent decides is equal to the issue.
Child Training is Not Controlling
We do not want to control our children because we are bigger and louder and can create havoc in their souls with our anger. Instead, we want to train them and motivate them, to help them understand early on that they have the capacity to decide how to behave. If they respond to our wills and desires, with our encouragement, then they will be blessed. If they do not respond, then they are choosing to be disciplined in some way--they have a choice to make. This way, we honor their own ability to choose to be wise, and we train them that choices have consequences.
I cannot make you strong--only you can decide how strong and how excellent you want to become. But I believe God has created you to be a wise or strong or valiant (fill in the blank) person, and I can't wait to see His plan for you. So, I am hoping that you will choose to obey mommy, so that you can be blessed and happy."
Children who are controlled by anger or spanking may learn to obey when their parents are present, but they will rebel when their parents are not.
Children who learn to use self-discipline and develop a sense of their own worth and strength and understand how to take ownership for their lives, will obey and be strong because they desire to build their own character.
There is always more to be said on this topic, but these are some starters for building a plan and following it. I spoke these things even to my toddlers and babies when I was carrying them around my home, and talked and talked to all of my children about truth, God, love, and our ways, all day long. Now they all joke about the mantras they remember me saying over and over again.
Here are the books we’ve created which we hope will be helpful in your own child training efforts!