Category Archives: Mom’s Corner

I Can

I wanted to give you a real-life “I can” example since last month we discussed the differences between an “I can” and “I can’t.” Here’s the problem a young mom was facing.

My husband and I have eight children ranging from 13 down to 4 months. This most recent pregnancy was very difficult, and I spent most of the nine months in bed.  My older kids were fabulous and stepped up to fill in the gap. It was such a blessing and a joy to see the fruit of our parenting labors in such a real and tangible way.

However, my 6, 4, and 2-year-olds have acquired terrible habits, which we are having a very difficult time fixing. It feels a bit like all we’re doing right now is disciplining those three. This is having a negative impact on our relationships and the overall atmosphere of our home.

Any wisdom you might have would be so greatly appreciated. Courtney

Hi Courtney,

My encouragement to you is to stay the course with your little ones. While it feels like all you are doing is disciplining, it really isn’t. And the time you are investing in the discipline will reap rewards. You know that already from your older children.

I think one key is to eliminate expectations of what you wanted to do that you aren’t or of how your children should respond but aren’t. Simply go at your task of discipline and correction with the grit, determination, and love of the Holy Spirit’s power.

The other key is to maintain a meek and quiet spirit. Don’t let the circumstances discourage you. Discipline with gentleness but firmness and consistency, knowing that that fruit will come. Having a chart with consequences for common offenses is key. It helped me be consistent, not get angry or discouraged, and not to have to be frustrated trying to come up with the consequences.

Did you read the Mom’s Corner a few months ago about sitting on a chair? I wrote about that in Part 2 of this series, but here’s a link to Part 1 too.

Your baby is 4 months old. Those months are the months of adjusting to life with a newborn. Now that you are probably getting more sleep and your household running better, you will have the time to invest in the 2, 4, and 6-year-olds’ behavior.

I think with a focus on the younger children’s behavior, and your attitude of tackling it with resolve and joy, you will soon be seeing the changes you desire to see.

Blessings,
Teri

Within a few days, Courtney responded:

I read and re-read your e-mail several times. I spoke with my husband about your suggestions/insights last night, and he agreed with everything you said. I really needed to hear what you were saying because sometimes I get so stuck in the moment that I miss the big picture.

Today went beautifully for a few reasons. First, the younger kids and I made a rules’ poster that clearly reminded them of how to love their siblings. Then, as you mentioned, my attitude was better because I didn’t take their behaviors personally. They are children who need guidance, and I’ve been entrusted to aid them on their journey to maturity and toward Christ. My expectations were kept in check.

The final key was that I was consistent at making them sit at the table when they made a poor or unloving decision. By the end of the day, my two-year-old made a bad decision, walked over to the dining room table, sat down, and said, “Mommy, set my time.” They were hungry for the normalcy to return. There is safety in Mom and Dad being in control of the day, and they needed that to happen. I truly enjoyed my younger kids for the first time in too long. Courtney

Did you see Courtney’s “I can” attitude when presented with some simple suggestions? I loved how quickly she implemented change, and the results she experienced right away. “I can” or “I can’t”? Which one are you? Which one do you want to be?

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Please, Not Those Two

Through many years of working with moms, I now recognize two words that are dismally sad, leading down a forlorn path. As soon as they are spoken or written, I can predict the outcome.

A mom comes to me with her problems, pain, struggles, or discouragement looking for answers, solutions, and help. Often I am a stranger to her, but her desperation drives her to reach out to someone she thinks might offer hope. I listen. I ask questions. I communicate. I give suggestions. Then, sadly in response, she says, “Yes, but.”

“Yes, but” is the beginning of all the reasons why this mom can’t or won’t try the ideas I offer. It isn’t that I have all her answers, or any of them for that matter, but without trying, she doesn’t know if they might work. Even if she has tried it in the past, that doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be helpful now.

I Can or I Can’t?

There are two mindsets — “I can” and “I can’t” — that I encounter with moms. “I can” digs in and goes at it. She sets excuses aside. She doesn’t go to past failures. She makes plans and tackles it. I love watching her enthusiasm and her successes.

“I can’t” makes excuses and doesn’t try. She has many reasons why it won’t work and isn’t worth attempting. At the same time, she is yearning for change and for solutions. Where will that change come from if she doesn’t do something different? Einstein once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.”

I love working with “I can” moms, and my heart breaks when I hear “Yes, but.” It isn’t that it is easy for the “I can” mom, but she attacks her issue with gusto. She tries. She prays. She communicates if things don’t move forward. She tries again. She experiences change. Best of all she has the joy of victory, even when it is just a small problem, and especially when it is a big one.

The “I can’t” mom, stuck in the excuses mindset of “Yes, but,” continues in the quagmire of her problems — weary, worn out, and discouraged. Even though I try, I usually can’t pull her out of that kind of thinking. Each time I give an idea, there is another excuse, another “I can’t,” another “yes, but.” It appears to be a never-ending cycle.

My Desire

I want to be an “I can” mom. After all, I have the truth of “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Plus, I know Scripture tells me, “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Yet, even though I have purposed to be the “I can mom,” I sometimes think or say, “Yes, but.” I pray the Lord will quickly convict me of that attitude, and help me set aside my pride, my excuses, my self pity, and my defensiveness, and enable me to receive advice, counsel, and suggestions with determination, initiative, fortitude, and responsiveness.

Who Are You?

If you evaluated yourself, who are you? I can, or I can’t? Now, I challenge you to listen to yourself. If you ask your husband for his advice on something, do you take it or explain why you don’t think it will work? If you go to a friend for counsel, and she gives you a suggestion, do you try it? When you read an article that relates to a problem of yours, do you attempt to do what it gives as steps to solutions or discount it as impossible for you?

We each get to decide whether we will be “I can” or “I can’t.” It starts with recognizing if our propensity is to be “I can’t.” If it is, then ask God to help you say and think, “I can.” Don’t let any excuses tumble from your mouth. Then follow through. Seek God’s strength, grace, and mercy as you do it. I wonder what the outcome of that decision might be over the next few months or year. I would love to know.

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Three Crucial Steps to Fruitfully Start the Homeschool Year

How can excitement, drive, and determination so quickly deteriorate into tears, discouragement, and feeling like a failure on the first day of the homeschool year? Somehow my plans, joy, and ideals dissipated with each grumble, resistance, and dawdling leaving me a disappointed basket case by 3:00 p.m. With experience, the Lord showed me steps to turn those first-day-of-school blues into smile-filled momentum and achievement.

1. Prepare for the Year

Have your plan in place. That includes curricula for each child and their supplies such as notebooks, notebook divider tabs, pencils and pens, paper, folders, calculators, scissors—whatever they will need. Hunting for essentials when school is in session is sure to take precious minutes from study. I have many more details in this area in Managers of Their Schools.

What about your homeschool schedule? Nailed down? Printed? Available? Invest time in schedule crafting to insure productivity in education when school starts. Playing it by ear is certain to meet disaster by the end of the day. If you need any scheduling help, Managers of Their Homes is a reliable, understandable, time-tested, homeschool-mom-endorsed resource.

Do you have a homeschool chore system in place? You simply can’t do all the housework yourself. Even preschoolers can pitch in to help, and older children are actually productive. It is possible that a chore plan will make or break not just your first day of school but your whole year. House work has to be accomplished efficiently and effectively. Managers of Their Chores takes you step by step through making a customized chore system for your family using ChorePacks.

2. Prepare Your Heart

Pray. Sometime before starting school make time to pray long and specifically for school and each child. I would gather all our school books around me, working child by child through them to direct my prayers. 

One of the deadliest enemies of homeschool joy is expectations. Give your expectations to the Lord. “My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him” (Psalm 62:5). Then cultivate a heart of gratitude that finds reasons to be thankful rather than disappointed. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). 

3. Prepare Memories and Your Children

Let the the first day-of-school be memories not academics. We actually called this our pre-first-day of school. We had a special breakfast—that’s very time consuming. I put out school surprises that ended up distracting from our normal flow of morning life. We took photos of each child with their school books. But when memories were our goal, it didn’t matter how long it took or how much it distracted. 

I also met with each child so I could go over his homeschool schedule, look at his books with him, and set up any other school materials that he had. I let him know what the requirements were for each subject and how he would tackle it. That way when we dove into our homeschool schedule the next day, he was prepared to study.

I am smiling as I think about you starting school in the next few weeks. I am praying that these three crucial steps will have you smiling at the end of that pre-first-day of school and your children sharing a happy report when your husband comes home. I would love to know how it goes for you. Just reply to this e-mail.

Trusting in Jesus,

Teri

One Good Habit

Form one, just one, good habit before school starts. If you begin school after Labor Day, you still have 8 habit-forming weeks left. I looked at the twenty most read books on Amazon this week. In the first fifteen, I noticed 2 on habits.

Sometimes a good habit replaces a bad habit. Other times it stands on its own. As Christians, we experience power in positive habit formation that others lack—the power of God. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13). 

What if you prayed right now and asked God to show a habit He wanted you to develop in the next 8 weeks? What do you struggle with that would be easier with a habit to help you accomplish it? Perhaps recently, He whispered it to you, but you resisted. What if you committed right now to make that habit a priority through the rest of the summer? What would your life look like going forward if that habit was in place? We are often robbed of joy by something that might not be so hard, with God’s help, to put in place in our lives.

God wired us for habits to make our lives simpler with fewer decisions and less thought. A habit automatically moves us through an action without having to consider whether we do it or not, when we do it, or how we do it. It just happens.

The homeschool mom finds it easier to focus and work on a new habit during the summer than at New Year’s because generally she doesn’t have homeschooling responsibility during June, July, and August.

Habits that come to my mind that most of us would like to have would be:

  • Consistent bedtime and wake up time
  • Time in the Word each day
  • Daily exercise
  • Meal planning
  • Consistent meal times
  • Consistent laundry time
  • Consistent cleaning time
  • Consistent home organization and dejunking

 

Most of you know that my early mothering did not start out well. I was angry, worried, and depressed. Over the years as I began each of those habits (I listed) they had a direct positive impact on my negative emotions.

In order to implement a new habit, make a plan. Write down specific steps toward your habit. For example, “Read my Bible daily” makes a perfect good habit if it isn’t already in place. For that habit, you want to determine:

  • How long to read your Bible.
  • When to read it.
  • Where to read it.
  • What distractions to eliminate.

 

To tap into the spiritual power God gives us for doing what He calls us to do, pray. Pray throughout the day that God will enable you to form the new habit. Pray that you don’t choose the flesh over the new habit. When you fail, repent, asking the Lord’s forgiveness, and go at it again. That’s extremely simple but terribly hard all at the same time.

What habit will you tackle in the next 8 weeks? If you e-mail me and let me know, I will pray for you. Then I will e-mail you in September and ask how you did.

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Posted in: Mom's Corner

The No-Regrets Summer

I remember getting to the last week of summer break and wondering, “Where did summer go? What did I accomplish? What happened to those goals I had for all the extra time without school responsibilities?” I looked forward to many available hours over the summer before it started, but when it ended, I regretted not utilizing them to their potential.

When I was purposeful with my summer, I avoided those regrets. That means I prayed and thought about what the Lord wanted me to do with summer hours that weren’t being spent homeschooling. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way” (Psalm 37:23). With that leading, I planned my summer.

Part of my scheme involved a schedule. The schedule gave dedicated time not only to the basics of our life but also to the particular areas the Lord directed my summer to be focused on.

During the summer, I taught my children new chores. I gardened with Anna a couple of years. I played outside and inside with my children. I prepared for the new school year. I cleaned and organized. I read books to myself and others to my children.

What hangs over your head during the school year that you simply don’t have time to do? Use summer for it. Put it in your schedule so that it is being accomplished each day. Then when summer is over, you see what you have been able to do.

Through the homeschooling year, I kept a list of cleaning and organizing tasks that I wanted to complete, but for which I couldn’t afford the time. In my summer schedule, I allocated 1/2 to 1 hour a day for those jobs. I prioritized that list and started working on the first project. When my timer went off, I stopped. The next day, I picked up where I left off.

One by one, I crossed projects off my list, and each summer I managed to work through every task on the list. That gave me a huge sense of accomplishment, and all I dedicated for that part was 1/2 or 1 hour a day.

How about a productive summer for your children too? Have you considered discussing summer goals with them? Can you help them learn to be purposeful with their time? What would they like to do with summer hours? Perhaps they will learn a new skill, practice one they already know, gain more knowledge in an area of interest, or be involved in ministry. If you put time into the schedule to work on those goals, your child has a greater likelihood of achieving them.

“Purposeful, quality, directed, productive, excellent, goal-oriented” are words we like to describe summer when it is finished. Frustrating, unproductive, ho-hum, chaotic, wasted, disappointing–we prefer to avoid that kind of summer. You choose whether you float through June, July, and August or plan them. I believe that decision will dictate how you feel at the end of summer.

If you need any help with scheduling or chore planning this summer, I suggest Managers of Their Chores and Managers of Their Homes. Learn conversation skills with your children by reading Making Great Conversationalists and doing the projects. Read Sweet Journey and Sweet Relationships to grow in your walk with the Lord and your relationships with others.

Have a great, productive, no-regrets summer!

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Posted in: Mom's Corner

Great Healthy Bread

Regularly Steve and I are asked if we think parents should make their children have personal Bible time. Our simple response is, “Of course. Don’t you make your children eat healthy food?” Our goal is for our children to leave home with an ingrained habit of having daily, personal Bible time by their choice as adults. “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

We want to give them time in their schedules each day for it. We also desire to model it for them. We think we should express our joy and excitement over being in the Word, and teach them to grow spiritually through their nourishment from the Word.

When we say parents should require their children to have Bible time, they might reply, “But won’t that cause them not to like Bible reading and choose not to do it when they are adults?” Hopefully not. It hasn’t been the case with our children. Our goal in feeding our children healthy food when they are children is that they will develop a taste for the healthy food and choose it when they are making their own food decisions.

Since we know that healthy food isn’t as enticing to the taste buds as junk food, we will also be educating our children about the benefits of the healthy food versus unhealthy food. Similarly, we will be teaching our children how to have a Bible time where they are learning and growing spiritually and also sharing with them about those benefits. We will be talking to them and warning them of the pull of the flesh and how that will want to rob them of their spiritual nourishment.

In our home, we didn’t have to mandate daily Bible time. Instead we simply incorporated it into our schedule. It was what we did at the specified time. It was a positive part of our days, so much so, that our younger children were eager for the day when they could read on their own and then get up early enough for personal Bible time like Dad and Mom and their big brothers and sisters.

Fast forward, and we are delighted to see our three married children continue their habit of daily, personal Bible time. The benefits in their lives have drawn them to continue it now that they have families of their own. As a bonus, they are teaching their children (our grandchildren) to have personal, daily Bible time. It’s very exciting for us to see the power of the Word go from our lives to our children’s lives to our grandchildren’s lives.

So back to our opening question. Yes, absolutely, we think it is important to teach children to read their Bibles every day—not that it is an item on a checklist to be marked off. That benefits no one. But rather, it is our daily spiritual bread, the nourishment for our souls—helping us know and discern God’s will, filling us with the fruit of the Spirit, giving us all things that pertain to life and godliness. “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Who wouldn’t want that?

Listening: The Basis for Conversation

Recently I did standardized testing for my eight-year-old, homeschooled granddaughter. One section of the test was on listening skills. I read Abby a passage, and then she was to answer questions from it without me reading it to her again. She had to recall facts and make deductions from the information. As young as eight years old, the public educational system sees the value in being able to listen.

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19). Here we see that listening comes before speaking and actually has urgency applied to it. Communication isn’t simply being able to talk, but also listening in order to reply based on understanding. Listening often conveys value to the person who is talking, and that is of paramount importance for a Christian.

If we want our children to be excellent communicators, then we will be developing their listening skills. At the most basic level, listening involves being able to repeat what was said. A more advanced listener will understand the exact words, and the heart communication behind those words.

How can we help children learn to listen? First, it is important to have them make eye contact with you or anyone who is talking to them. Many children we interact with don’t make eye contact in a conversation and that often carries into adulthood. Eye contact helps to secure the focus needed for attentive listening, and it conveys to the speaker that he is being heard. Keep bringing your child back to looking at you when you are talking to him.

We parents set the example for our children in listening attentively with eye contact. If we are looking at our phones, computers, books, or anywhere except the child’s eyes when he is talking to us, then we are teaching him that listening can be done half-heartedly. I have regularly heard someone texting or reading e-mail say, “I am listening,” only to have it obvious a few minutes later that the person does not have the communication that was being given. He might have heard words, but he wasn’t able to process or retain them.

To help develop listening skills, we can have the child repeat back to us in their own words what they understood. This step takes time and isn’t necessary in every conversation. It is particularly important, however, in the ones where the child is responsible for the information, such as when he is given a task to do or told not to do something. I remember from raising our children how frequently I felt I was clear in my communication to them only to find out later they either didn’t hear at all or misunderstood. That result occurred because I didn’t take time to have them repeat back to me what I had said.

We can also ask our children questions about what I have shared with them in a conversation. Depending on the questions, we cause them not only to recall what they have heard but also to process it by drawing conclusions. We might even get them to consider heart attitudes that are behind the actual words.

We want our children to grow up with the ability to listen to others. In our normal, everyday life we help them toward that by how we model listening, teaching them to make eye contact when listening, having them repeat what we have said or asking them questions about it. This doesn’t have to be tedious or difficult, but it will help if you make it a focus and priority.

Last month, I shared that our resource, Making Great Conversationalists, would help in preparing your children to be effective communicators. By your response in ordering that book, we see again how needed it is. Please, if you haven’t already, order your copy. Teaching your children good communication and listening skills is vital to their success in life!

Children Who Are Advocates

Recently our city wanted to limit the number of chickens that city residents were allowed to have to 10. Our 8-year-old granddaughter, Abigail, is “chickie mama” at her house, and she keeps chickens for fresh, healthy eggs for her family.

She realized that obeying the new city ordinance, if passed, would be a hardship from two fronts. The first was not having enough chickens for the necessary eggs for a large family and the other from adding new chicks to the flock before they were ready to lay eggs. If they had five hens who needed to be replaced, they would have to get rid of them before the new chicks could lay eggs.

Abby wrote a letter to the city commission stating her concerns, why she had them, and asking the city commission not to limit the number of chickens. Then she and her dad attended the city commission meeting, and Abby presented her cause before them. The vote was close, but the commissioners went with the 15 chicken limit—a compromise they felt.

Are you preparing your children to be able to cognitively and persuasively voice their thoughts and concerns publicly in areas that are important to them? Could your 8-year-old child stand up in front of an official group of adults and give them a presentation? Most adults are fearful of speaking in front of others. Maybe you are one of them. “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe” (Proverbs 29:25).

On Friday evenings during the school year, Nathan and Melanie have their children give short presentations at their home and sometimes for Grandpa, Grandma, and the aunts and uncles. These presentations are simply telling about something they learned or did during the school week. It is giving them skills and comfort speaking in front of people.

Talking to your family isn’t the same as talking to others, though. We can also help our children be comfortable talking to people who are friends, acquaintances, or even strangers (when they are in the protection of parental supervision). We can do that by giving our children opportunities to talk to people outside the family. Often in those situations we parents do all the talking. It doesn’t mean that the children have to monopolize the conversation, but that they are included for part of it.

Children who become adults who are stellar communicators have great potential to be strong, loving, caring fathers and mothers. Consider the importance clear communication has in families, especially from parents to children and the implications when that communication is absent. Children who have learned to think and then convey those thoughts to others will be business, church, and political leaders.

Are you not only preparing your children spiritually and academically for their future but also helping them be able to be advocates for what the Lord puts on their hearts as parents, as friends, and in whatever walks of life He calls them into? Are you giving your children a passion for things that are important whether it is how many chickens they can have in their backyard or that they can homeschool their children?

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

We have a resource available to help you in this area called Making Great Conversationalists. In that book, we give you practical projects to do with your children to help them learn conversational skills. Maybe you will learn something too.

Trusting in Jesus,
Teri

Three Top Pieces of Advice for Young Moms Starting Homeschooling: Part 3

(To read Parts 1 and 2, please see this link.)

When a young mom who had four children, none of them yet school age, asked me what three things I would suggest to her for successful homeschooling, I was challenged to narrow my ideas down to three. I started by encouraging her to have a daily schedule, and then I suggested she invest in helping her children learn self-discipline. My final piece of advice was to find a structured curriculum that she could use by herself at home and stick to.

The e-mails I am receiving these days from struggling homeschooling moms are from those who are having to be away from home a day or more each week for their homeschooling. Also, in a survey of homeschooling moms who were not keeping up with what they felt were their responsibilities, the ones who were the most dissatisfied with their lives were the ones who were home the least. These moms were finding it difficult, if not impossible, to keep up with homeschooling and daily life. They were discouraged and some considered quitting homeschooling because of it.

It is quite amazing how much difference it makes when we lose time from our homeschooling and homemaking needs by being away from home. If you want to be able to keep up and avoid that discouragement, then find a curriculum that allows you to stay home and spend time each day homeschooling. If you can manage to do your school in four days a week, you will use the fifth weekday for other tasks that aren’t easy to fit into homeschooling days.

Our family has liked using Christian textbooks for homeschool even though we have heard many say that textbooks are not a good method of homeschooling. We found them to be easy to use, sound academically, and our children enjoyed them. They allowed our children to become autodidactic – self learners. One of our main goals in home educating was to raise children who would be life-long self learners. We didn’t want children who had to have their hands held to learn, or who had to have something be extremely enticing before they would learn. We have watched moms exhaust themselves trying to make their homeschooling engaging enough for their children to be willing to learn. Sometimes in this process they give up and quit.

The young homeschooling mom wants to equip herself for the long haul, knowing her homeschooling is a huge investment. She doesn’t want to choose a homeschooling method because it appeals to her emotions but because it provides a sound education and is sustainable for the 13 years she will invest for each child she homeschools. When you give so much, do you want to end up being a depressed, angry, frustrated mom? What could be better than a method that results in children who are lifelong learners? Why not make curriculum choices that will facilitate a joyful mom who is faithfully homeschooling her children with patience and contentment?

If you would like to know more about what we specifically used and did, Managers of Their Schools is a resource that details all of that.

Here are links to a few other Mom’s Corners on this topic:
Homeschooling with Textbooks
Homeschool Textbook Curricula
A Voice for Christian Homeschool Textbooks
Curricula Decisions Impact Homeschooling Success

Three Top Pieces of Advice for Young Moms Starting Homeschooling: Part 2

In this series, I am sharing the 3 suggestions I gave a mommy who was preparing for her homeschooling years and requested that information in a casual conversation we had one day. My first encouragement was to use a schedule. Even though her children are not yet school age, a schedule will help her be productive, and she will find the children’s days flow better when there is structure. The schedule is critical for homeschooling. Our newly-revised Managers of Their Homes is the perfect tool to help you in this area of time management.

The second point I made was that she should help her children learn self-discipline. We talked about this in a Mom’s Corner a few months ago. Here is the link to that article.

If a mom will be diligent to teach her young children self-discipline, she will have children whom she can instruct during their homeschooling years, knowing that they will apply themselves to their lessons. This will facilitate their education and free up her time for homeschooling other children or doing other things. She will not have to sit beside them through out their whole school day to hold their hands in order for them to learn or make sure they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. They will quickly become autodidactic—a skill that will prove valuable their whole lives.

Let’s face it. Little children generate a great deal of work, and they take a great deal of time. To invest the time to help children learn self-discipline is just one more thing on a mom’s already full plate. Having observed thousands of families through the years, I can encourage you that it is worth that time investment.

Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines self-discipline this way: the ability to make yourself do things that should be done. The implications of that are huge—treating people the way they should be treated, obedience to parents as a child, personal health, spiritual disciplines, ability to responsibly complete tasks, backbone of a great business owner, employee, or home manager. There is such a plethora of life that will be facilitated by self-discipline.

Where do you start? I think a great beginning is to give a child boundaries and help him learn to accept, be comfortable, and even enjoy those boundaries. That might be as simple as having a set time when the toys are picked up and put away by the child in order to move on to another activity. Much of our struggles as grown ups stem from our unwillingness to live within boundaries whether it is with our time, our relationships, our health, or our walk with the Lord. In our flesh, we don’t like or want boundaries, but those boundaries are filled with blessings if we will accept them. We bless our children when we can direct them in that truth. “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls” (Proverbs 25:28).

It is likely that your success in this area will be determined by your own level of self-discipline. Will you work patiently with your children? Will you invest the necessary time first to give them boundaries and then to teach them how to live with and value boundaries? Will you have a smile on your face when you find yourself dealing with the same problems over and over? Your investment today reaps dividends throughout your children’s lives. What is that worth?