Tag Archives: Child Training

What to Do?

In recent Mom’s Corners, we addressed dealing with negative behavior in children. We started with our mindset in those situations and then moved to being proactive in prevention. Now we arrive at the nitty-gritty of actual consequences, which is what the original question asked. 

“I would love to see some posts about how to handle things like siblings fighting, whining, talking back, etc. I just need some fresh inspiration for practical consequences on how to handle these kinds of things.” Dana

The goal of a consequence is to get a child’s attention so he will consider a new behavior to be a better choice over the previous behavior. This lines up with Scripture and how God disciplines us as His children. “Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:11). 

In our experience, as mentioned previously, it is less about the actual consequence and more about the consistency with which it is used. Plus each child is an individual so a consequence that works great with one child might have no effect on another child. Choosing consequences can be difficult.  

Consequence Criteria

Here are some criteria you might want to consider when evaluating consequences.

  1. Can you live with it? Be careful of consequences that are complicated, take record keeping, or will cause you or a child’s sibling not to be able to do something you should do or want to do. 
  2. Does it de-escalate? It might be that simply given a break from the situation will mean the discipline problem goes away. 
  3. Is it appropriate? You want to find consequences that are age appropriate, and you are looking for consequences that don’t under or over correct the child.
  4. Is it effective? Children are different, and what will get one child’s attention means nothing to another.

Look for something that fits the criteria and works. Remember it is about providing the child incentive to change his behavior. 

Our Personal Go-To Consequences

Here were four of our favorite consequences:

  1. Chair sitting for a designated amount of time. This consequence was one we could live with—no problems while the child was on the chair. It de-escalated the problem by separating quarreling children or ending whining, and it was appropriate for younger children, when we were at home. It was quite effective because our children loved to be active so taking that freedom away for a short time got their attention. Our chair sitting rules were:
    1. Sit up on chair.
    2. No talking.
    3. No playing.
  2. Play alone for a designated length of time. This consequence fit all the criteria, but we reserved it for younger children.
  3. Extra chores. This fits the criteria, but if the child is too young to do chores, it would not be appropriate. Since meal clean up was a daily assigned chore in our home, we would often let children off of meal cleanup who didn’t have consequences and give the clean up to those who did have extra-chore consequences. That rewarded the obedient children and disciplined the disobedient children.
  4. Early bedtime. We could only live with this consequence if we made sure there was buffer time in our evening so a child could go to bed early. It was more effective for older children who understood that they were going to bed early than it was for younger children who weren’t yet time savvy. 

The End Result

Remember when you give a child a consequence, you are doing it with the goal of helping him grow into a mature, godly adult with characteristics that will make him/her a good husband/wife, father/mother, employee or business owner, and also be enjoyable to live with. “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). That makes it worth the time and investment you put into finding consequences that work and using them consistently.

Here is another article with more practical consequence information. 

Trusting in Jesus,

Power in Discipling Children​

In November, we began a series responding to a mom with several children dealing with the stressful issues of sibling fighting, whining, and talking back. She wanted some fresh inspiration on practical consequences. The starting place is in our hearts, and that was November’s theme. If you haven’t read that article, here’s the link.

Before we move into discussing specific consequences, let’s consider some other proactive possibilities for tackling these problems that are quite common to any family with children. Scripture tells us: “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Drawing our children’s hearts to Scripture and how it affects their daily lives is part of bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. 

Teaching Time

Take advantage of individual and family time when you can discuss these problems. These times will be emotionally neutral. They won’t be in the heat of the offense, but simply in your normal, daily life. No one is unhappy or upset during the discussion, and no one is in trouble. However, you are prepared with specific instances of problems to bring out, review, and talk through. With the emotion out of the picture, you are likely to have some productive teaching discussions. Remember the Short and Sweet article last year? 

I encourage you not to move into a long lecture but to focus on a set of questions designed to help your children move to correct thinking, and then hopefully actions, about biblical behavior. Jesus often used questions in His teaching, causing His listeners to go deeper in their thoughts and motives. Questions draw your children into the conversation, help them think through what happened, how it affected them and others, why they did what they did, and what options might have been better in the situation.

When these discussions are family discussions, everyone can help with the answers and everyone benefits from the discipleship they afford. Sometimes, though, you will have the opportunity to have a discussion one-on-one, or maybe it is of the nature that you wouldn’t want discussed with the whole family. Remember, though, it is vital that this discussion be held at a neutral time.


When you have one of these discussions and rehearse what happened, what are some questions you can use? How about ones like these?  

Was this behavior kind?
Were the words kind?
How does the recipient of what was said or done feel?
Is this how you would like to be treated?
Is this how you see Daddy and Mommy acting?
Is this how Jesus would want you to act?

Then you can ask the children if they can think of any Scripture that would apply to the situation. 

Finally, you could ask what other ways there would have been to go through the situation in a positive way. Let your children come up with the good thoughts, words, and actions that would be appropriate. If your children are little, you might have them act out the right scenario as practice for the future. 

What are some good times for these discussions? How about meal times, family Bible time, or when you are working together in the kitchen or another project? 

Another helpful idea is to memorize Scripture with your children that applies to the common problems they are struggling with. That gives you and them biblically right thoughts to have at the moment of conflict. Plus it helps the children with Scripture that applies when that question is asked in the family discussions.

Could you be proactive with your children and their negative behaviors by using non-stressful moments to discuss their problems? Might you use Scripture to direct their thoughts and actions to godliness? My parenting-children days are over, and in hindsight, I wish I’d more often had wrong behavior discussions during the neutral moments, used questions, and helped the children apply Scripture. While that did happen, it wasn’t as much as I would have liked it to. I can’t redo those days, but I can encourage you.

3 Key Steps to DeStressing Life with Children

“I would love to see some posts about how to handle things like siblings fighting, whining, talking back, etc. I have found your materials the most helpful of all the parenting/homeschool resources I’ve used (and that’s been quite a bit!). I just need some fresh inspiration for practical consequences on how to handle these kinds of things. When the squabbles and such multiply across several children, it becomes rather stressful!” Dana

Dana’s children are 16, 14, 12, 8, 6, and 4. Dealing consistently with the negative behavior of children is stressful, wearying, and even discouraging. The results, though, make the investment worth the effort.

At the root of feeling stressed over those situations are our own expectations and perhaps even some self-pity. We want to deal with a problem and have it be solved forever. We hope to correct for wrong behavior and have it never reappear. We desire to have sweet, cheerful, cooperative, obedient, loving children. Those are our expectations. When that doesn’t happen, we feel discouraged, and the self-pity rolls in.

Accepting that bringing children to maturity is a process and then letting go of those unrealistic expectations, frees us to do our jobs as moms. That means breaking up the same squabbles, dealing with whining, and correcting for talking back—day after day after day. I think, though, you will find that if you do that, next year when you re-evaluate, you will see progress in your children.

The second basic tenet is that consistency is key. The actual consequence is less important than its consistent application. When you sometimes correct and other times don’t, the children learn to do something and hope it is a “no correction” moment for you. “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul” (Proverbs 29:17).

Finally, our attitude is foundational. When our children’s behavior causes us to be impatient, frustrated, sarcastic, or angry, we undermine anything we want to achieve through correction. We are behaving like the child who is to be corrected. “The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning” (Proverbs 16:21).

I remember when Steve helped me learn to correct our children unemotionally and without discouragement. He suggested I think of what a policeman would do making a traffic stop. He said, “What if that policeman has pulled a motorist over for the third time in one day for the same offense? Will he get angry with the motorist? Will he feel like a failure as a policeman? Will he cry about it? Of course not. He will just write another ticket.” Steve encouraged me to metaphorically write my children tickets by unemotionally giving them consequences.

When you get your heart and thoughts in tune with child raising being a long-term investment with high-stake outcomes, it makes it easier to face your daily battles. If you are willing to tackle them without giving up, it is quite possible that in just a short time you will see significant improvement in your children. At the least, when your heart is set, you approach each day with confidence and peace that you are doing what God has called you to do. Then you proceed, asking Him for His strength and grace for each moment of your day and interaction with your children.

Short and Sweet

Recently, our young adult children talked about growing up in our home, and how we managed problems and issues. They were positive about it, praising Steve and me as parents, especially now that they observe other families from an adult perspective. However, in that conversation, I heard two words that caught my attention and made me cringe. They were “Mom’s lectures.” They weren’t speaking negatively about my lectures per se, but the word “lecture” doesn’t have as appealing a ring to it as say, “talks,” or “sharing,” or even “instruction.”

The Lecture

I don’t think my children came up with the term “lecture” because of the content of my talks but because of the length of them. A lecture to them was something that seemed to go on and on. Looking back, I wish I had kept the messages for my children short and sweet. “The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning” (Proverbs 16:21).

As I pondered lectures versus their alternatives, I thought about how I want Steve to present something negative to me. I prefer that he express it kindly, stating the facts, and moving on. If he spent a long time going over every little aspect of it and repeating each part a couple of times, I might think, “Okay. Enough. I’ve got it. I understand.”

Could it be that way for children? For younger children, they don’t have the maturity to understand a full explanation anyway. Older children have that maturity, but would likely prefer the truth spoken in love but briefly.

The Response

Since this realization hit me, I have shared it with several moms who have little children. They acknowledge doing a fair amount of talking to their children to try to keep them on the right path. Often during these lectures, the children have blank or bored looks or argue with Mom.

From those typical negative childish responses to lectures, I wonder if there isn’t a greater possibility, too, that Mom will have negative attitudes and emotions toward her child. “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19). Whereas we want to display gentleness and love with a quiet voice and spirit, we might be frustrated, irritated, and even angry with a child who isn’t grabbing hold of our words with agreement and a positive spirit.

What To Do

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver” (Proverbs 25:11). Could it be that we would do better to briefly explain to a child what he did wrong, why it was wrong, and the consequence? Briefly. Sweetly. Over and done in just a minute or less, and then move on with life. 

I am not saying that there won’t be times for longer discipleship discussions with our children based on the Word. I am, however, doubting whether those are most productive when a child has done something he shouldn’t or not done something he should. Heart to heart talks might be better received when not in the midst of a possible consequence and when the emotions on both sides are neutral or positive.

Listen to Yourself

If you did something foolish or wrong and someone talked to you about it the way you talk to your child, would you like it? Is your child old enough to comprehend the depth of explanation you give for his bad behavior? If he is old enough, does he emotionally engage with you positively through your discussion with him? If the answers to those questions are “no,” then you might want to consider changing your method to “short and sweet.”

To or Not To?

Our “modern” and “enlightened” world promotes gluttony and self-indulgence of every sort. Yet, I have never met a person who was enslaved in self-indulgence and devoid of self-control who was happy. One cannot be enslaved and walk in the Spirit.

Isn’t it amazing that most people still respect self-discipline? May we not follow the world on its self-destructive path.

“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Corinthians 6:12)


Do They Do It?

In this series we are addressing strategies for parents to tackle persistent problem areas in their children’s lives. Often moms experience discouragement and frustration over their children’s negative behavior. That can be especially true for homeschooling moms because they are with their children 24/7. Despite Mom’s best efforts, the children may be out-of-control or have attitudes that she knows are not God-honoring.

Last month we noted the starting point for success—asking for God’s wisdom and help and not letting the situation worry and trouble us. Then we prayerfully came up with a plan. The background of this plan is in the last Mom’s Corner. Let’s take it up where we left off with the third point.

#3: You and your husband should determine consequences for whatever the children are doing that is keeping them from accomplishing what they should do in the morning. A very logical reward in this case would simply be the play time that would open up before breakfast if they completed their scheduled tasks quickly, thoroughly, and efficiently.

Consequences for Children and Chores

Consequences and rewards motivate us as adults, and they motivate children as well. A logical consequence for not getting to the breakfast table on time would be to lose free time when it is planned, while the reward is extra free time.

#4: The schedule continues even if children haven’t done what they are supposed to do. Free time is impacted to catch up. For example, if they aren’t dressed, they stay in PJs until they have free time. Then they get dressed and sit on a chair for ten minutes as a consequence for not getting dressed when they were supposed to get dressed. If they didn’t make their bed, follow the same pattern. Have them make their beds during free time. Then take an additional specified amount of their free time to have to sit on a chair as a discipline for not making the bed at the instructed time.

With this part of the plan, the mom doesn’t have to be stressed when the children don’t do what they are supposed to do. Daily life continues, the job will eventually be done, and there are consequences in place to help motivate the children to do better the next day.

I happen to know this plan worked because I received this information in an e-mail from the mom:

“Progress has been made this week. My husband and I have been working with the children regarding their morning chores. They are now being completed around 7 AM. This works out great for ME because my husband is still home to check them out before he leaves for work, and I can finish up breakfast. School is starting on time too.”

One week wasn’t a very long time for the parents to rearrange their normal activities in order to focus on the problem and then address it.

Here are some examples of child behavior issues that another mom knew she wanted to address.

“Brother was running after Sister in the house, and she was screaming because she didn’t want him to chase her.

“Brother and Sister left the dining room table and ran into the living room to get something before the other one did, and Sister screamed after Brother lightly touched her on his way running past her.

“I sent Brother and Sister back to clean up Sister’s room, where they had both been playing. Sister came out screaming, with Brother chasing her.

“Brother had a small Lego piece in his mouth, chewing on it (which we’ve told him many times not to do), and I told him to take it out of his mouth. He took it out and threw it up in the air, and it landed halfway across the room. (We’ve also told him many times not to throw things around in the house … he’ll just pick up pieces of anything he finds and throw it across the room.)”

I expect you can relate to the things that were happening in this home. While the children’s behavior was discouraging to the mom, her biggest discouragement was her responses to the children. She was becoming angry with them and raising her voice at them.

Here is part of the plan I helped her toward taken from the email I wrote her.

With all the examples you sent, you can deal with the problems—and they are problems—in a calm, gentle manner. I would encourage you to try ‘chair sitting’ as your go-to consequence for the children.

In case 1, you go to Brother and tell him that there is no running in the house. Then you put him on a dining room chair for 10 minutes. That is not only an easy, consistent consequence, but it gives you 10 minutes with no discipline necessary. Since Sister was running, too, and screaming, you could put her on the chair for five minutes. You would probably be benefited by a ‘no running in the house’ rule.

In Example 2, you would want to put both children on chairs for a designated amount of time, managed by setting a timer, and remind them that they weren’t being kind to each other.

Example 3, you still want to have them do the cleanup, but you can also sit them on chairs for some of their playtime—even if it is the next day.

Example 4, put Brother on the chair—for chewing on the Lego and for throwing it.

Utilize chair sitting time. It is a simple consequence that you can use consistently. It is your friend in being a gentle, responsive mother.

Chore Plans Help

With a plan in mind, this mom was ready to tackle the problems her children were having each day. She didn’t have to yell at them because she had an easy consequence she could use to help them learn to do what they should do and refrain from what they shouldn’t do.

Here is a little of what this mom experienced as she began implementing her plan.

“Numerous times since then, when Brother has done something wrong and I have not gotten angry with him, but gave the consequence gently, he has come to me later and apologized and asked for my forgiveness, and I could tell he was genuine. I so want to be a good example to our children, and to model a Christ-like attitude.”

That is a win-win outcome. The child is learning appropriate behavior, he is choosing to be sorry for the problem he caused, and Mom has the godly responses she desires. “He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding” (Proverbs 15:32). “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

Do you want change for your children? It starts with prayer, lets go of worry, makes a plan, and then implements the plan. I challenge you to focus on any problem you are having with a child using this method and see what the results are like two weeks later. “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).

The Difficult Child – Part 1

“I just stopped school to come in here to write you. I don’t know what to do, and I am at this awful place with one of my children that a mom definitely doesn’t want to be. I have five boys ranging in age from nine months to nine years. Four of my children are sweet, obedient, in love with the Lord, wanting to sing praises to Him, and wanting to please my husband and me. Then there is my six year old. He is the most difficult child, and I don’t know what to do with him. I have had him memorize Scriptures on obedience. He has more Scriptures memorized than I do—he is really smart. But he is a huge handful. He has no control over his emotions and will strike out at anyone who crosses him.

“Recently he has started back talking me. I’ll tell him to do something, and that is followed by whines and reasons why he doesn’t want to obey. My other kids would NEVER do this. At first I was shocked and talked to him about his attitude and his need to obey me. Then I tried consequences and talked more. He isn’t responding. I love him so much and don’t want to be around him—all at the same time. Am I a terrible mom?”
In Christ,
A struggling mom

This mom’s problem is typical in many homes regarding at least one of their children. Regularly I read or hear a description of a child like this from someone. Immediately, I think of one of our children. When this child introduces himself at our music session, he says, “Hello, my name is John. I am nineteen, and I play the banjo. I wasn’t what you would call a model child growing up. As a matter of fact, because of how difficult I was, I think my mom was able to write that book, Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit. I expect if I had been put into a public school, they would have labeled me with a learning disability. However, the reality was that I was simply lazy.”

John has now graduated from our homeschool, and the message I want to share with this mom, and others like her, is a message of hope and encouragement. Today John isn’t what he was when he was a little boy. He is a winsome, young man whom every one seems to love. He invested his out-of-school time for two years building our house with his brother and dad— a project he and his brother volunteered to do. He learned to study as a result of his homeschooling years and has been tackling some difficult after-graduation study assignments of his own choosing as he prepares for a vocation in construction and also to obtain his commercial driver’s license.

I have graduated five children from homeschool, but John was the first to say to me, “Mom, for my graduation I want to take you out to eat at the nicest restaurant you can think of to go to.” He then spent the evening telling me of his gratitude for my investment in his homeschooling. John read and approved these articles because his heart is to help other families who might be facing some of the same issues that our family faced with John.

I am delighted that I can share such good news about this son with you. As John was growing up, every year we saw improvement in his attitudes and behavior. At nine, he wasn’t like he was at six. At twelve, he had made great progress from when he was nine. It got better for him day by day. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). Perhaps what we did with John and where he is today will be an encouragement to you and give you some ideas for your situation.

John caused Steve and me to pray more. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). There is something about increased need that drives us to a greater frequency and fervency of prayer. We knew that we were dependent on the Lord’s working in this child’s life for his growth and maturity both emotional and spiritual.

Steve and I found that we had to encourage ourselves greatly about our difficult child. We knew the importance of loving and accepting him, but his behavior caused us to sometimes have negative feelings toward him. He could be unkind to his siblings, plus he regularly had bad attitudes toward us. As Steve and I talked about and prayed for John, we would remind each other of what this son needed and what the Lord would have us do. Seeing that we were both struggling helped us realize that our feelings were normal even though they weren’t ones we wanted to allow to fester. “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).

We discovered we needed to deal with John very quietly and in a matter of fact manner. “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). Because of the ongoing nature of the problems, it was extremely easy to have an irritated tone in our voices almost before the first word was out. We knew that anger, impatience, and frustration were not the vehicles to loving our son and helping him. Therefore, his behavior was our training ground as well—a training ground for our own growth in self-control.

In families, it is common to have a child who struggles more with his behavior than the other children. Steve and I know how easy it is for parents to become discouraged over this child. However, we also have seen the Lord work through the years of our child’s life, achieving incredible changes that have been almost unbelievable considering his early childhood behavior. What we did with and for John were things that were valuable for all our children. Therefore, we know that our parenting improved because of John. May we encourage those of you with a difficult child to continue doing what you need to do. Love this child abundantly even when he is not loveable. Look for ways to help him grow and mature. Pray for this child, knowing that the Lord is as interested in him overcoming wrong behavior as you are. Next month we will continue with more of what we did in parenting John and what we learned.

Where Is the Fruit of Child Training?

Let me share with you a story from a mom with a burdened heart.

I LOVE my son so much. He is the oldest of 4 boys. We constantly get compliments about what a sweet boy he is or what a BIG heart he has. But, as his mother I feel like a failure. He completely lacks self-discipline, diligence, and independence.

If I sit and do school WITH him he does a GREAT job and does it fairly quickly. BUT if I send him to his room to work independently he will either 1) take all day because he just sits there and daydreams OR 2) he rushes through it and does a really sloppy job.

We have spent YEARS training this child. My husband has literally taken him into the kitchen and cleaned WITH him step by step, showing him how to do it SEVERAL times. He has done a good job when he knows a reward awaits him (not perfect, but good), but for the most part he tries to get by with as little as possible.

If I don’t sit on him and make him brush his teeth or take a shower, he won’t. If I tell him his hair needs to be combed, he will go grab a hat.

He started crying tonight when I corrected him for doing a poor job. He said he feels like there is nothing he does well. Truthfully, I can’t think of anything he does well or that I am proud of as far as skill goes. He has a GREAT heart, but well meaning intentions will get him NOWHERE! Concerned Mom

What Concerned Mom is sharing about her son is something we commonly hear from moms. Often the mom is talking about a child that is seven years old or older. Perhaps this becomes an issue at this age because we begin to have some expectations of seeing the results of our child training by this time.

Our first step, when dealing with any difficult situation, and especially those concerning our children, is to pray. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). We pray for the Lord to work in and through the needs in our children’s lives. We also ask what God’s purposes are in the struggles. How does He want us to address them? What direction and solutions does He have? What Scripture applies?

Children take time to mature. “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). What if Concerned Mom thinks back to her son at age five? I expect he has made some progress in these difficult areas since then, maybe even significant progress. Now, what if she remembers back to when he was nine? Again, he will have made progress—perhaps not as much as she would like, but progress.

What we want to focus on is the spiritual and character growth that is taking place in our children rather than the distance they have left to go. This perspective will help our hearts be encouraged and grateful to the Lord for what He has been doing in our children’s lives rather than discouraged over what still should be accomplished. “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Concerned Mom’s son is a “sweet boy with a big heart.” A heart for the Lord and others is one of the major goals most Christian parents have for their children. Being thankful for the spiritual qualities she sees in her son will give Concerned Mom a starting point for giving her son positive feedback.

I would encourage Concerned Mom to continue working with her son in the areas where she sees her son should improve. Scripture admonishes us that we are to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). This is a long-term project the Lord has given us. Concerned Mom hasn’t failed but rather the Lord is making her aware of continued needs in her son’s life. This isn’t to discourage her but to give her direction in where to concentrate her efforts. Her commitment to helping her son is very important. From what she has shared, Concerned Mom is on the right track in teaching her son by showing him what to do, giving him responsibility, and then having consequences if he doesn’t follow through.

I would encourage Concerned Mom to find ways to help her son learn the steps to thoroughness for what he needs to do. She can make up checklists for him since she sees that he requires step-by-step direction to accomplish a task. Giving her son a scheduled time for particular jobs with deadlines and consequences may be useful. In addition, it is important to be consistent on a daily basis for an extended period of time. It is common to give up on what we are trying to do before it has time to work.

Concerned Mom could let her son take all day to do his schoolwork, without emotional anxiety over it. He likely won’t continue to take all day, and if he does, then she doesn’t need be concerned about it. It was his choice. When he tires of spending all day doing school, he will work harder to stick with it and get it done earlier.

When Concerned Mom’s son doesn’t do something well, she can simply send him back to do it again. Remember that a mom should do all of this with a meek and quiet spirit rather than with anger or resignation. Eventually, the son will decide to do a better job in the first place. I believe a key is being unemotional in dealing with all of this. Simply be matter of fact.

Another key ingredient in this process is keeping our children’s hearts, the subject of our book, Keeping Our Children’s Hearts. In this case, I would suggest that Concerned Mom make it a priority to work with her son on some of his chores on a regular basis. She and her husband can spend time with him doing the tasks that are difficult. She can reinforce details of the job. Working together is a part of building relationships. While they work, Concerned Mom can talk to her son about his problems—not strictly when the crisis is flaring but at other times as well.

Concerned Mom will be able to encourage her son that keeping these issues before him to be worked on is a positive step. What about using his failures to help him see his dependence on Jesus Christ and need to rely on Him? “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). These parents can explain to their son that his reactions to failure and correction show pride in his life. “. . . God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble” (James 4:6).

Looking at verses in Proverbs that have to do with a son receiving correction would be a good study to do with a twelve-year-old boy. “A wise son heareth his father’s instruction: but a scorner heareth not rebuke” (Proverbs 13:1). Keeping the relationships strong, with lots of loving communication, hugs, back patting, and enjoyable time together, is vitally important.

At age twelve, this boy’s family still has several prime years to work with their son. I think Concerned Mom should be encouraged. What she is doing will produce results. Her priority is to stay prayerful, loving, and consistent. She wants to find things for which she can praise her son. It might not seem like there are any, but if she thinks about it and looks for them, they will be there—starting with him being sweet and having a big heart. She wants to make sure that praise comes out loud and clear.

I believe most homeschooling moms have areas in their children’s lives where they know growth is needed. May this be our theme verse as we face and tackle these necessary issues. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). The fruit comes from years of praying, loving, teaching, consistency, and investing in the lives of our children.

The Retraining Parade

Tonight we had a parade through the Maxwell house! Usually the children delight in parades, but for this one, they were uncharacteristically warm and subdued. One child had on her heavy winter coat, sweatshirt, stocking cap, and an extra pair of shoes over her hands—all in addition to her normal clothing. Another child sported her sweatshirt, bike-riding dress—over her play dress—with shoes dangling on her shoulder. The other three of our younger children had donned varying degrees of similar costumes. They were all busily marching around the house. Soon each one returned to Mom eagerly asking her to come see what they had just accomplished. You might ask, what exactly is going on at the Maxwell house?

We were reaping! Unfortunately, Mom has become slack in giving consequences to the children for leaving their things out. Steve has regularly encouraged me to have the children wear or carry whatever of their personal property is not properly put away. His suggestion originally came because I brought him the ongoing problem we have in our home of sloppiness. My efforts toward positive training of the children in orderliness were not being fruitful.

I have done some mental calculations of what it would be like at the Maxwells’ if we didn’t stay on top of picking up. There are ten of us living in this home. If we were each to leave out ten items a day, which wouldn’t be terribly hard, we would have one hundred things lying around at the end of the day. After a week, a whopping seven hundred pieces of Maxwell personal property would be strewn across the house.

I truly believe in the importance of training our children to put their things away properly. I am certain that their spouses will thank Steve and me if we are successful, and they will be disappointed if we aren’t. My children report to us that they really prefer to live in a neat home. This information generally comes after they have visited in a cluttered or messy home. Putting each item where it belongs is a valuable time saver. How many hours have been lost looking for a child’s missing shoe? “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” (Proverbs 6:6).

Our home is also a testimony—of Christ, homeschooling, and, in our case, large families. We regularly have non-Christians stop by our home unexpectedly. Tonight it was the British Army officer for whom Steve is doing some work. Last week it was our policeman neighbor from across the street. Sometimes it is the retired bank president for whom Sarah gathers the mail and papers when he and his wife are away. I am convinced that if the house looks more than simply “lived in,” the testimony of each area it represents, such as homeschooling, is tarnished.

Having the children wear what they have left out has been a most effective way of getting them to pick up their clothing. However, if Mom is not consistent with consequences, the children manage to lose the good habit they have acquired! “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul” (Proverbs 29:17). Tonight we were having a retraining session. The children were wearing clothing items they had left out while they searched the house for other things that belonged to them. They were now eager to put their belongings away. Then they were happy to come ask Mom for an inspection. This was because the removal of each extra piece of clothing was dependent on Mom not finding any more of their things out.

Despite all the benefits I know there are to be gained from teaching my children to put their personal items away when they are done with them, I still struggle with being consistent. When I am consistent, they succeed! When I am inconsistent, they fail!

So, if you pop in at the Maxwell house and observe five children wearing very odd outfits while busily rushing here and there, you will know what is happening. May I encourage you in whatever area you need to be more consistent with your children. It is not too late. It is not too much work, and it is certainly well worth the effort!

Expect Children to Be Children

Very regularly, through responses to Mom’s Corners and Titus2.com message board posts, I read of moms who are discouraged by character struggles in their young children. They wonder whether a child with a particular problem at age 4, 6, or 10 will still have it as an adult. They ask why their child doesn’t have a repentant heart, is selfish, or still bickers with his siblings, even when the parents have been consistent in disciplining. They feel they are somehow missing their child’s heart issues.

This topic is dear to me because I expect it is something that most, if not all, moms struggle with. I have had these same feelings, and asked these same questions. However, after twenty-three years of mothering, I now have the perspective of viewing both my three adult and five younger children. I can look back and evaluate the spiritual maturing process of the older children’s hearts.

I have finally come to realize a profound truth–we must expect children to be children (1 Corinthians 13:11)! They simply do not yet have hearts that can respond to the Lord with the same maturity that adults do. The growth will come, but it is a process of the Lord that continues throughout childhood.

My expectation for an encounter with one of my children was often this: I would sit with him and explain his sin, he would be filled with remorse, confess, repent, and then go off to “sin no more.” This is a mature biblical response that might sometimes be found in my dealings with a child. The more common occurrence, though, was as follows: I would sit with him and explain his sin, he would be filled with excuses and justification, and he would respond negatively. Then he might do the same wrong thing, which he had just been disciplined for, the very next hour (or even minute)! However, the older the children became, the more they were able to see their sin and deal with it properly. This spiritual maturity grew in relation to their advancing age and has been even greater upon their adulthood!

The feeling I get from some of the rather optimistic Christian child-training materials is that if you follow the “plan” your child will very soon be “perfect.” They often don’t stress, or completely leave out, the fact that it also takes time, consistency in disciplining, and prayer. In the meantime, moms are discouraged because they faithfully follow the “plan” for a month, a year, or even more, but they still don’t have a child who acts and responds as an adult. While years seems like a terribly long time to be heading toward the goal, it is a slow, step-by-step process.

God calls us to our responsibilities as mothers, such as loving our children (Titus 2:4), praying for and with them (Philippians 4:6), teaching them (Deuteronomy 6:7), training them (Proverbs 22:6), correcting them (Proverbs 29:17), and disciplining them (Proverbs 19:18). Let’s not forget, though, that He is the One Who works in hearts and also the One Who designed the growth and maturity process of a child. I believe getting at a child’s heart issues is a constant, daily process; we must continue (over and over) to repeat God’s truth to our children in a sweet and winsome way–year after year after year! When two children are fighting over a toy, both are at fault. Scripture must be shared that applies (Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another . . .”), and discipline administered if necessary. When a child is grumbling, there is Scripture that relates, such as Philippians 2:14, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings.” Knowing that God’s results in the hearts of our children will likely come in a slow, gradual way can help us, as moms, to be encouraged rather than discouraged throughout the process.

Moms in the midst of child rearing have to remind themselves frequently of Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Another verse that has greatly ministered to me through my years of mothering is 2 Corinthians 4:1, “Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not.” Keeping up with all the “heart issues” of our children can cause us to feel like we are growing weary and faint! After all, there may be several of “them” and only one of us! Years of consistency in loving, praying, teaching, training, correcting, and disciplining children can seem like a very long time! However, remember 2 Corinthians 12:9, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

For me, while waiting to “reap in due season” in a child’s life, the bottom line between a positive attitude and discouragement is my own heart. How am I viewing the situations my children present to me? Am I accepting them as opportunities to teach my children? Do I resent them as intrusions on my time? Am I discouraged because they show me what I perceive to be failures in my children? Am I more concerned about their behavior or their heart? Do I want them to act and respond as an adult would because it makes my life easier and more pleasant?

Be encouraged, Sisters! Take heart! I expect you are likely doing what you should be doing to deal with your children’s hearts. Keep it up! Discouragement comes because we are immersed in the daily happenings. Instead, we have to focus on the Lord and the end goal, not the day-to-day behaviors. We can’t expect our children to be adults before they actually are. Find the benefit and joy in our time with them as we teach, train, correct, and discipline, rather than being defeated by an apparent lack of results. Perhaps there are results–great results–for the age of the child you are working with, but the wrong expectation is robbing you of seeing those results.

I have the advantage of looking at my older children and seeing that where they are now has been a process that has occurred over years and years. As the children have been growing and maturing, Steve and I have been praying, teaching, training, correcting, and disciplining, and the Lord has been working. My two oldest sons, whose childhood bickering would drive me to tears, are now, as adults, best friends! My little kindergartner–the one who held the sixth grader’s papers out the school bus window (and got his ankle broken)–is now a godly, responsible man. Steve and I rejoice as we watch our older children in their adult years, but it has been a long, sometimes grueling, yet truly joyful and very rewarding journey!