Babywise Week: An Attitude of Adventure

We’re finishing Babywise Week with a post from Claire at My Devising. Claire’s son is only 2.5 so she hasn’t quite gotten into the years when we really deal with attitude, but she has some great advice. One thing I gather from her situation is that it’s important to think about potential parenting issues before you run into them. It’s always best to have a plan, a roadmap of sorts, to guide us in our parenting and help us aim for a goal. So it’s great that Claire has had thoughts about attitude. When her son starts displaying problems with attitude, she’ll be ready to deal with it.

Here’s an example of how Claire is thinking about attitude in parenting: “I want to create little humans that look at hardships and hurt as a challenge, an adventure, and an opportunity.”

It’s so true that attitude makes all the difference. When our kids face difficulties in life, we can help prepare them by teaching them how to face them with grace. I know of some people who face hardships by pointing fingers. It’s always the other person’s fault. It takes real character to point to ourselves and see hardships as an opportunity for self improvement.

Head on over to Claire’s blog to read her post in its entirety. And if you haven’t had a chance yet, check out everyone’s posts on attitude from this week. It’s a real treasure-trove of parenting advice!

Babywise Week: Teaching Appreciation in an Entitled World

It’s Babywise Week. Today, we hear from Emily at Journey of Parenthood. This week, we’re talking about attitude, and Emily offers tips on how we can teach our kids to be appreciative in our entitled world. Entitlement seems to be running rampant in kids these days. Whether it’s from excessive (and unwarranted) praise or the “every child gets a trophy” philosophy, kids are being taught that they deserve everything their little hearts desire.

As Emily says, “Our kids are constantly made to feel so special, so perfect, and are so accustomed to the our worlds revolving around them that they no longer appreciate any of it. They expect praise. They expect rewards. They expect to have us catering to their every whim.”

Emily offers specific tips on how to ensure our kids don’t grow up to be entitled. They include:

  • Remain the parent
  • Don’t always give what they want
  • You get what you get (and you don’t get upset)
  • Let them lose
  • Praise when appropriate
  • Limit rewards
  • Don’t be fair
  • Have honest talks about reality
  • Model appreciation
  • Keep the focus above

Emily does a great job explaining what each of these means. Head on over to Emily’s blog to read her post in its entirety. And be sure to follow us all week:

BFBN Graphic

Correct for Attitude: A Tip

It can be so easy to fall into the trap of correcting our kids’ outward signs of disobedience while ignoring attitude. We often focus on their actions without paying attention to what’s going on in their little hearts. I think attitude is just as important as actions, if not more so. By the same token, we may correct our kids for the words they speak but not correct facial expressions. Attitude is attitude. Whichever way our kids reveal their attitudes to us, our job as parents is to get to their little hearts and make sure they’re in the right place.

Here’s a tip on figuring out whether to correct for attitude, especially those little facial expressions that often go by unnoticed. The next time you see your child with a not-so-happy expression on her face, picture a little comic strip thought bubble over her head and fill in the words. Imagine what she would be saying if she were talking. And if she were saying those words, would you correct her?

Here are a couple examples:

  • Expression: Eye roll
  • Thought bubble: That’s so stupid.

  • Expression: Furrowed brow and tight lips
  • Thought bubble: I’m so angry I could hurt someone.

  • Expression: Lifted chin while looking away
  • Thought bubble: I’m better than you.

You would certainly correct if your child spoke these words, right? And aren’t these words an accurate expression of the attitude you see on her face? Again, attitude is attitude. Correct if it needs correction.

Now, perhaps assigning words to her expressions isn’t entirely fair. So you might not correct as harshly as you might if she actually spoke them. Nonetheless, the point is understanding what’s going on in her heart. If this little exercise helps you get a better feel for her attitude, give it a try. Keep in mind that we cannot forget attitude when correcting our kids. Correct for actions, speech, facial expressions, and any other expression of attitude, always making sure the child’s heart is in the right place.

Babywise Week: When Family Doesn’t Support Babywise

It’s Babywise Blog Network Week again! All week, we’ll be featuring blog posts from other Babywise-friendly blogs. The schedule is as follows:

· Monday: Maureen Monfore, Childwise Chat
· Tuesday: Valerie Plowman, Chronicles of a Babywise Mom
· Wednesday: Bethany Lynch, The Graceful Mom
· Thursday: Rachel Norman, A Mother Far From Home
· Friday: Emily Parker, Journey of Parenthood

Today we hear from Emily from Journey of Parenthood. She talks about what to do when our family members don’t support Babywise scheduling. She offers some great advice as to how to handle the situation including:

  • Have your husband speak up if it’s his parents who don’t agree
  • Make accommodations like pumping a bottle to give family members time with the baby
  • Stick to your guns and don’t doubt yourself

I can sympathize with Emily’s experience. My sister had her three kids before I had my first. She and I are very different parents. She was a baby-wearing, co-sleeping mom. I read Babywise before William was born and knew that it resonated with me. He threw me for a loop though, and his colic required that I be much more of an attachment parent. As soon as the colic (and dairy) were gone, I immediately started implementing Babywise and was much happier for it.

So it took some adjusting for my family to accept my new ways. There were still times when they could offer helpful advice and take my kids off my hands when I needed a break. Even though Babywise wasn’t smooth sailing with William (nothing ever is with that child), I think they did ultimately come around to understand why I had him on a schedule.

Back to Emily’s post, she sums it up nicely with this comment:

“If you’re dealing with Babywise nay-sayers in your life keep doing what you’re doing. Remember that it’s your baby. As people offer up their own advice (which is inevitable!) let them know you appreciate it and will consider it and then do what YOU think is best. It can be hard when you don’t feel like others support your decisions as a parent, but I assure you that they will come around and will probably end up being Babywise cheerleaders themselves.”

Check out Emily’s blog to see the post in its entirety.

Don’t Forget the Good

A friend recently reminded me how important it is to speak up to our children about their good qualities. It’s our job as parents to right their wrongs and correct them when something goes awry. But when we get caught up this job of correcting our kids, we often neglect the good. If our days are spent calling out the bad, it begins to affect the self-esteem. Now, I’m not a big fan of this term. Often, permissive parents are guided by a fear of damaging the self-esteem. But that’s not to say that we should ignore it completely.

There are times in my life when I’ve been praised more than I’ve been reprimanded. In fact, I had a boss once who was always so good at praising me. Ten years later, I still remember some of the wonderful things he said about me. That praise made me feel good, and it was very motivating. It gave me a reason to please!

Let’s think this idea through more completely. Which statement do you think will motivate your child to do well?

  1. Don’t touch that. You’ll mess it up.
  2. You’re doing such a nice job keeping your hands to yourself.
  1. Stop whining. It’s only a little scrape.
  2. I know you’re upset, but you’re being so brave by not crying.
  1. Hurry up and brush your teeth. Move faster!
  2. You’re doing a such a careful job brushing your teeth.
  1. Be careful! You’re going to spill that juice!
  2. Good job being independent enough to pour your own juice. Let me show you how to clean up after yourself.

When my friend mentioned this idea to me, she suggested that our kids will start to believe in all the negative words we spout out at them. If all we say are things like “don’t touch that,” “move faster,” and “stop whining” they will start to think they are destructive, slow cry babies. If we replace those words with “nice job,” “brave,” and “independent,” those words will stick with them. They will believe they are good, brave, and independent.

My friend said to do this even when things aren’t going quite right. The example she gave was when her son got mad and yelled at his sister. My friend could still praise her son for using only his words, not his hands, and not swearing. True, he could have walked away before getting angry, but it could also have been a lot worse.

If you’re not in the habit of offering praise, think of ways to remind yourself. Perhaps set a timer so you say something good once an hour. Or put up a note in your kitchen to remind yourself. Remember to always look for the good, even in bad situations.

How’s Your Child’s Heart?


There’s a little problem that occurs when we focus on our children’s obedience (or disobedience). We forget to check the status of their hearts. And if there’s anything we want to be careful of it’s that we not raise children who are outwardly obedient but inwardly defiant.

When you see your child obediently pick up his toys, does he do it happily? Does he obey your command because he’s knows it’s right? Or does he simply obey because he’ll face a consequence if he doesn’t?

Now, I think it’s important to realize that we can’t expect happy hearts all the time from toddlers and preschoolers. The Ezzos are frequently quoted as saying, “Actions precede beliefs.” For example, we need our kids to share with friends before they understand why they should do so. But if we have sufficiently taught our children the need for happy obedience, then we can expect that the correct attitude will accompany the obedience.

I expect William, age 8, to obey with a happy heart. He doesn’t have to love whatever chore I’ve given him, but he must do it correctly and without complaint. He’s at an age where I know that he knows why I expect him to clean up his toys. I know that I’ve sufficiently taught him. In fact, just yesterday, I reminded him, “We have to take care of our things. If we don’t take care of our things, then we aren’t responsible enough to have them.”

Ultimately, we need to check our kids’ hearts because our primary goal in parenting is shaping their moral compasses. If we allow them to get by with outward obedience but don’t require a good attitude, how will we know that they won’t adopt a similar attitude with teachers, bosses, and other authority figures?

We can teach a child how to sweep and do dishes, but if we neglect to teach them why it’s important to keep a clean house, what will he do when he’s living on his own? He may view chores simply as something his parents required but that he doesn’t see the need for.

This idea extrapolates to much more important moral considerations like lying, stealing, cheating, hard work, kindness, selfishness, etc. We want to not only teach them HOW to be good people, but WHY they should be good people.

So whether they’re two or twelve, we should expect a happy heart. If in the early years, after a timeout, you go through the motions of getting an apology and seeking forgiveness yet your child remains grumpy about it all, leave him there! If in the preteen years, you see a defiant heart, take stock and figure out where you may have forgotten to explain the importance of the action you’re requiring.

If at any point you see a blip in your child’s moral radar, go back to teaching the moral lessons behind everything you expect. Use every opportunity possible to mold their little hearts. And never stop at obedience.

Milestones and Behavior

A recent shot of Lucas. If only he were always so peaceful.

There’s a new phenomenon going on in my home right now. I haven’t read about this in any parenting book, but I have heard other moms mention it. There’s something about kids hitting a certain age or particular milestone that sends their behavior completely off-kilter.

Lucas has been 5.5 for 13 days now, and I’ll tell you, it’s been 13 days of defiance, disobedience, attitude, and pretty much any other behavior problem you can think of. I couldn’t put my finger on it until I did the math and realized that he had hit his half birthday. We were doing all kinds of timeouts, logical consequences, pulling our hair out (William included), and more.

I explained this phenomenon to my husband, and he wondered why a half birthday would do it. But I’ve seen it mentioned on the Babywise message board. And it’s not that Lucas is aware of this milestone. It’s just a little change in his development that perhaps has him a little confused.

I think many parents see this phenomenon much earlier in their kids’ lives. Typically, age two and three present big challenges. But for us, with Lucas at least, two and three were a breeze. I’ve always considered it 10% luck, 20% personality, and 70% training. I started training him in the Babywise principles from day one. My blanket time success story was one of our shining moments.

As odd as this sounds, I think part of the reason Lucas was so easy was that William was so difficult. I don’t think anybody who knows William would call him easy-going or laid back. A friend recently described him as intense, and that’s him in a nutshell. He’s intense in everything he does, and he’s been like this from the minute he was born. I remember being in the hospital wondering if it was okay that I went to sleep, considering my newborn was lying in his bassinet bright eyed and bushy tailed! Sleepy newborn? What’s that? Even his entrance into this world was intense since my water broke before I had a single contraction. And then it was 11 hours of painful, intense labor. We had colic, developmental delays, you name it!

When I was pregnant with Lucas, I “told him” that he had to pay me back for all the terror that William caused. The obedient thing that he is, he listened. :) Kidding aside, I think Lucas subconsciously recognized that William was a lot to handle. And he let William do his thing. He let him direct their play. They rarely fought ever because Lucas was so appeasing. You may have noticed that I rarely discuss sibling rivalry. Plus, whenever we were out, Lucas was his brother’s watchdog. He always made sure he was coming, even if I was walking at my own pace and William was lagging behind.

When I step back and examine their behaviors, William is much easier to manage now. I’ve noticed a change in him just in the past few months. I don’t know if it’s his occupational therapy, homeschooling, maturity, or what, but something is working for him. Perhaps Lucas noticed that things were a little too quiet, so he decided to fill the void. Not only has he been testing the limits lately, but he’s stopped letting William get his way. Sadly, they fight a lot more now.

I’ve also noticed a few other changes in Lucas’ development. For one, he’s been stuttering lately. I don’t think of it as a problem, but as a developmental speed bump. My niece has struggled with stuttering over the years, and my sister noticed that it’s just one of those things that goes along with their growth. It comes and goes. I can also tell that Lucas’ brain is moving too fast for his mouth. He knows what he wants to say. It just takes a little while for it to come out.

Lucas has also shown big progress academically. Because we homeschool, I see this with my own two eyes. His reading is coming along so well, and he’s at the point now where he reads the words he sees around him. When I read to him at bed time, he’ll point out a few words he recognizes. And he was watching TV the other day, and simply said to himself “fox.” He read the network logo.

What am I to do about all of this? Recognizing the problem and its cause helps immensely. But it still doesn’t get to the root of the issue. If I weren’t a Babywise mom, I might call it a phase and wait it out. But since I know better, I’m going to train this disobedience right out of him! It means my husband and I need to buckle down and tackle it head on. Consistency is the name of the game these days. We can no longer be lax with our schedule, room time, couch time, etc. We will also be looking for logical consequences that “hurt” a little more than a timeout would, because after your sixth timeout of the day, they start to lose their effectiveness! And thank goodness he still naps!

Wish us luck!


Entitlement: Self-Sacrifice

In January, I wrote a post called “Entitlement.” It seems to have struck a nerve for some of you. The blog was pretty active that day. I can see why. Entitlement is one of those ugly characteristics that we want to avoid instilling in our children. At the same time, it’s difficult to avoid, as evidenced by an entire generation that has been labeled as entitled.

Today, we’ll discuss all that we as mothers sacrifice and how it may lead to entitlement in our children.

They say that motherhood is the ultimate in self-sacrifice. In pregnancy, we give our bodies. In the newborn phase, we give up sleep and pretty much all semblance of free time. In the toddler phase, we give up the freedom to sit and relax (as we chase them around the house), not to mention the freedom to use the bathroom alone. In the preschool phase, we don’t have to give as much physically, but then the reality sets in that we need to start preparing our kids for school. As they grow older, we give less, but we still sacrifice adult time, date nights (that don’t cost an arm and a leg in babysitter fees), and everything else that won’t see the light of day until our kids can stay home by themselves. Plus, we’re still responsible for our kids’ physical and moral development.

There’s a funny thing about self-sacrificing mothers. There are many moms who say that their children give their lives a purpose. They feel needed and they like it. These are the moms who will sacrifice everything for their children, and many of them are self-righteous about it. They give the impression that working moms or moms who have activities outside the home are not fulfilling their duties as moms. Many of them go so far as to criticize those of us who sleep train or have our children sleep in their own beds.

Despite how self-righteous they may be about it, it’s usually these self-sacrificing mothers who end up with entitled children. These kids have been given the world for their entire lives. Then they get to a certain age and start to expect that they’ll be given the world. They act entitled. Why wouldn’t they? It’s what they’ve been taught to do. Interesting how that works, isn’t it?

Realizing that this is the case, it’s important to stop every now and then and examine how our parenting methods may be creating entitled children. In what ways do we sacrifice as mothers? What areas of sacrifice can we give up? Where can we depend on our kids more? What more can we require of them as they grow up? What do we give them that they feel entitled to?

Here are some ideas to think about:

1) Insist that your crawling baby or toddler wait outside the bathroom for you. It’s okay if he fusses for a few minutes.

2) Don’t pick up your baby or toddler every time she cries. Shush her until she stops whining or crying, and only then pick her up.

3) Set aside time for your spouse every night (couch time) and insist that your child not interrupt you.

4) Find a time in the day where your child is awake but you have some alone time. Teach your child that when he sees you reading the paper and drinking coffee, he is to leave mommy alone.

5) Make sure your kids earn every privilege.

6) Track the time your kids spend on devices (computer, iPad, video games, TV), and make it clear that it’s a privilege, not a right.

7) Require chores, no matter how much homework or piano practice she has. Even from an early age, kids can start helping out around the house.

8) If your child starts acting entitled to a certain privilege, take it away. Only give it back when he seems grateful for the privilege.

Keep an eye on all that you sacrifice for your kids. Make sure that you sacrifice less and less as the child grows. Have him do more for himself as he ages and make sure he knows you don’t live your life catering to his every whim.

Is It Obedience or Controlling?


Many people outside Babywise circles hear the term “first-time obedience” and immediately (and wrongly) think that we are teaching our children to obey because we want to control them. They think we want them to act like little robots doing everything we say, simply because it’s convenient for us.

I’ll be the first to say that my life would be easier and much more convenient if my kids were robots and did every little thing I said. But I didn’t go into parenting expecting easy or convenient. Parenting is hard work! And that’s exactly as it should be.

There is nothing about obedience training that is convenient. In fact, I feel like if our first-time obedience slips, it’s more likely than not that it’s my fault, not theirs. If I forget to call their names before giving an instruction, then they will forget to obey me the first time. If I forget to get eye contact while giving an instruction, they will assume that I’m talking to somebody else. And if I don’t take the time to cultivate a loving relationship with my kids, they won’t have motivation to obey. There is SO MUCH that goes into training our kids — and ourselves — in first-time obedience. I could write a whole book about it! Oh, wait, I did! Haha.

I do not simply spout out my instructions to my kids and then discipline with a heavy hand if they refuse to comply. That, my friends, is controlling.

The line between obedience training and controlling is very fuzzy. It’s easy to slip from one to the other. You tell yourself that you have reason to believe that your kids are capable of obeying your every word. You believe in setting high standards for your kids, and so you set out to have them obey every instruction you give — without thinking whether it’s age-appropriate, developmentally appropriate, or just plain fair. This is where we set ourselves up for failure. It’s these tricky little expectations that fool us into believing that we could create robots out of our children.

And I don’t know about you, but I don’t want robots. I want children. I want my kids to be the unique individuals that they are. If that means that Lucas likes to sit in his chair with one leg hanging off the side, then so be it. If that means that William likes to chew on his sleeves, then so be it. They are not disobeying me when they do these things. Do these things sometimes bug me? Yes, absolutely. But I wouldn’t trade these quirks of theirs for a child guided by fear. I want my kids to love me and cherish our relationship. I don’t want them to fear me. If that means that I have to put up with their little quirks, that’s fine. Oh, and by the way, when they do these little things, they aren’t disobeying me.

I suppose that’s our litmus test for whether we are requiring obedience or trying to control our kids. Are we trying to train their little quirks right out of them? What is our motivation in our obedience training? If you’re like me, your main motivation in obedience training is to work on the big stuff. We want to create good, moral people, not people who sit straight in their chairs or don’t chew on sleeves. The little stuff doesn’t matter.

But maybe, on the other hand, it does matter. Because if your parenting is guided by training the little stuff, then your relationship will suffer. When you harp on their little quirks — the qualities that define who they are as people — you’re telling them that you don’t accept your children for who they are. You’re telling them that anything less than perfect is unacceptable. I find that utterly terrifying, both as a parent and as I look at it from my child’s perspective. I want my children to accept and adopt my values because they’re important, not because I’m trying to control their every move.

And you know what happens when we try to control their every move? They rebel, big time.

Think about the following quote when you ponder your reasoning behind obedience:

“Obedience teaches children to have self-control in all matters of life. Obedience moves children from extrinsic [external] motivation to intrinsic [internal] control. Eventually, a child will no longer need a fence on the outside for his own protection, because his parents have helped him a moral and ethical fence on the inside,” (Growing Kids God’s Way, p. 96).

So do your work to build that “fence” inside of them, but stop there. Accept and embrace their little quirks!

Correcting Our Faults in Children


What happens when you recognize your own failings in your children? Say you were a super picky eater as a child. What do you do when you encounter that quality in your child? Are you more sympathetic because you’ve struggled with it or do you tend to react more harshly?

A good friend recently mentioned this idea to me, and I find it so interesting. She says that one of her biggest faults is clumsiness. No matter the reason, she’s struggled with being clumsy her whole life. I wouldn’t think of clumsiness as a major fault, because it’s not one of those things that you can necessarily control. But it is definitely something she struggles with. The reason she mentioned it is that she realized that she tends to correct her kids more harshly when they act clumsy.

I can imagine why this might be the case. She has recognized it as an unbecoming fault and doesn’t want to pass it along to her children. Or maybe because she’s recognized it as a weakness in herself, there’s no doubt in her mind that clumsiness is a weakness that everyone should avoid, her children included. But she laughed at it because it’s kind of ridiculous and almost hypocritical for her to judge her kids for a quality that she hasn’t yet been able to conquer.

This also had me thinking about my family. When you look at our genetic makeup, William is 98% my husband. He looks and acts like him so much it’s creepy. You would never know the child is my offspring. But I think this is a problem in our house. I find that my husband is overly critical of William, and it just occurred to me recently that it could be because he identifies with William’s failings so much. Aside from a few SPD tendencies, I hardly identify with William at all. When I look at him, I don’t see myself. So in a way, it enables me to parent him objectively (if that’s at all possible).

I will say that if I see any faults in my children, I do tend to look at myself first. I’ve been struggling lately with William’s perfectionism. It tends to hinder our homeschooling, and it’s so pronounced that he recently said he “wanted to be perfect for the rest of his life.” Uh oh. When he said that, he may as well have been pointing a mirror right back at me. I’m a HUGE perfectionist. I like everything to be just so, and if I can’t make it perfect, I don’t try. I don’t know if you’ve noticed the horribly sized picture on my Facebook page, but it eats at me. I don’t have the software to fix it, so I’m stuck and do my best to push it out of my mind — which is more difficult than it should be. (Hey, if anybody has Photoshop and can help me, I’d so appreciate it!) And my kids don’t have baby books, it’s that bad. I’ve always wanted baby books for my kids, but I’ve tried. And I’ve tried. I just can’t make them perfect, and because it’s so important, it has to be perfect. It’s messed up, right?

I have to say, though, that I don’t overly criticize William for his perfectionism, partly because I haven’t really owned up to it being a fault (which I seriously need to do). But I will definitely say that there are certain qualities in Lucas that I criticize more than my husband does. Lucas is much more like me (not quite 98% but close). He likes his comfort foods, he likes being cautious, he likes it when life is predictable and pleasant. But sometimes, even though I’m exactly the same way sometimes, it drives me nuts! I’m much less forgiving of his faults than anyone else in my family. I don’t give in to his picky eating. I make him stop whining the minute it starts. I encourage him to try new things, and so on.

It’s really interesting because you’d think I’d be more forgiving of these faults because I can identify with them. I was a picky eater as a child. I whined all the time as a child. I was super cautious as a child. I get it. I’ve been there. But I suppose I’m more critical because I’m aware that these qualities are faults and that they will be something he’ll have to overcome later in life. That, or find a spouse who will cater to these qualities. Thanks, honey! ;)

I suppose the point of this post is that we should ask ourselves whether we are being fair to the children who possess those qualities that we deem to be faults of our own. Are we being hypocritical to be overly stern when we see these faults in our kids? Or are we simply trying to save them the heartache that we have gone through by having to manage these faults in ourselves?