Category Archives: discipline

Maturity in children

Have you ever received a comment from a stranger that validates your parenting? Amid the daily ups and downs I have with my kids, I occasionally get such comments. I got one just last week.

Someone told me that William, my oldest, seems particularly mature for his age. Mature. We have our struggles, especially when his SPD (sensory processing disorder) rears its ugly head. If we get basic good behavior, I call it a good day. So why did this word strike me? I can think of a slew of other characteristics that I’d rather be complimented on:

  • Well mannered
  • Confident
  • Selfless
  • Respectful
  • Smart

But the word mature is especially flattering. Mature is how I would describe the children of the parents I most respect. When a child is mature, it means to me that they have all of these qualities and more. When a child is mature, it tells me the child has been taught how to confidently navigate his way through this world.

When a child has been taught how to navigate the world, he is given the foundation that allows him to develop confidence. With that foundation, the child is free to learn and grow.

What is that foundation built upon? Obedience. Yes, everything circles back to obedience.

“Freedom is not found in autonomy, it is found in obedience.” (Shepherding a Child’s Heart, Tedd Tripp, p. 27)

I’m reminded of a story my contact mom once told me. She said she and another mom were on a hike with their kids and reached a particularly treacherous area. The path was surrounded on one side by water and on the other side by a steep drop-off. It was a dangerous spot. The other mom held her children’s hands tightly to keep them from running away and to keep them safe. She couldn’t trust them.

Meanwhile, my contact mom had taught her children to obey her word. She was able to tell them to stay near her while still letting them walk freely. Because of their characteristic obedience, these children were given the freedom to appropriately explore their world. They could be trusted to keep themselves safe, and because of this obedience, they were allowed more freedom.

So do I want my children to be happy, respectful, confident and a host of other qualities? Of course. But will I strive most for obedience and maturity? No doubt.


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Filed under discipline, first-time obedience, moral training

Potty training and discipline

by Bethany Lynch

Is there a place in potty training for discipline? That was the question my husband and I grappled with for weeks. Our son had been potty trained for a month without any accidents when he suddenly started peeing on things and almost deliberately having accidents. It forced us to completely rethink our strategy and critically evaluate his behavior. The day he promised me he did not have to pee and then looked right at me and peed on my leather ottoman was a defining moment.

What really baffled us was the almost sudden defiance and dramatic increase in accidents. It was not until after we resolved this issue that I learned that many potty-trained toddlers experience a partial or even complete regression. Some attribute this to potty training too early, but others think it is just a behavioral “milestone.” We did potty train fairly early, but our son showed all the signs of being ready and begged to go to the potty.

While we use spanking as a form of successful correction for other offenses, we decided not to use it as a means of discipline for potty accidents. We could not rule out physical causes. However, there were several signs that these accidents were deliberate and behavioral. We decided to concentrate on getting to the root of the behavioral signs: 1) peeing on furniture, 2) peeing in his pants or on the floor while directly looking at us, and 3) peeing in his pants as soon as he got off the potty. We decided not to discipline for bowel movements, particularly because of a viral infection we had just passed around. There were signs that his GI symptoms were physical and not as behavioral. We did two more sessions of bare bottomed potty training. We put him in time out immediately after peeing anywhere put the potty. He also got one toy taken away for each deliberate accident.

Within a couple of weeks, he was back to having accidents once or twice a day at most. Now it has been almost two months without any deliberate accidents. While some may have suggested that we postpone potty training, in the end, we decided to continue. After all, he had already successfully trained and was showing signs of disobedience, not immaturity.

In my opinion, discipline can be used during potty training, and it can identify areas of inconsistency. The root cause may not be easily identifiable, but I believe there are some ways to increase motivation and increase interest in potty training during times of regression. It may take multiple strategies, and it may mean postponing training for some. As with all forms of discipline, I believe it should be done consistently and without emotion. I do not think a child should ever be disciplined for an accident if you have not ruled out all physical causes, but I do think that there can be a behavioral disobedience that needs to be corrected. The key is determining whether the child is acting out of disobedience or immaturity. In our case, disobedience was certainly the cause and we corrected it accordingly.


Bethany is a wife and working mother of two young children. Married 8 years to her supportive husband, Lee, Bethany says that without Babywise her life would be impossibly chaotic. Babywise has helped her children, 2 ½ year-old Kai and 11 month-old Caitlin, become happy, healthy, well-rested and obedient. Despite her busy full-time job as a neonatal pharmacist at a fast-paced children’s hospital, Bethany loves to write about her family’s adventures on a family blog, and she has recently started a healthy-living blog called Babysteps to Organic Living.

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Use behavior as your guide

Do you ever question your parenting methods? What parent doesn’t? Do you and your spouse disagree on what methods of correction to use? Perhaps one spouse is more lenient than the other? If you find yourself questioning your methods, your spouse’s discipline approaches and even the books you read, I have a simple answer:

Use your child’s behavior as your guide.

It’s so simple. If you don’t like the way your child is behaving, change your methods! If you like the way your child is behaving, see it as an affirmation that you are doing something right.

As much as we may hate to admit, we as parents must take full responsibility for our kids’ behaviors. Children have parents because they need authority figures who will guide and direct their hearts and actions. There is that little thing called free will that affects how a child will respond to his parents. But for the most part, we have great influence over how our children act and think.

If one parent complains to the other about being too strict or too lenient, then both parents need to observe the child. Our children figure us out faster than we figure ourselves out. The lenient parent must watch the child as he responds to his directives. Does the child obey the lenient parent? The strict parent must watch the child to see if he shows any signs of exasperation.

True, it’s difficult to do this with complete objectivity. Perhaps you can turn a video camera on yourself as you interact with the child. Watch it after the heat of the moment has dissipated and when you can watch it objectively. Or bring in an objective third party (friend, grandparent, etc.) who can offer their insight about how your child responds to your parenting methods. Some of my most prized parenting advice has come from friends or relatives who make simple observations about how my methods don’t seem to be working.

Years ago, a friend was visiting and watched as I gave William a timeout in our timeout spot in the family room. She commented on how he didn’t seem to care. I had gotten so mired in getting him to stay in that spot, and actually felt quite pleased with myself that he would sit obediently, that I forgot to evaluate the timeout for its effectiveness. By that point, William had stopped caring about sitting in the timeout spot in the middle of the family room. After reading a book or two and evaluating our methods, I realized that in order for a timeout to work, it needed to be away from the family. The child needed to be isolated!

If you determine that you need to change your methods, do your research. Read the parenting books and blogs. Identify the method you think will affect your child. Work with your spouse to define your new discipline plan. Write your new plan down. Then see how it works! Give it some time before making any critical judgments. But after few weeks (depending on how chronic the behavior is), you will be able to determine the new method’s effectiveness. If that method isn’t effective, move on to the next one.

Now, I’m not suggesting you flip-flop your methods on a regular basis. After all, consistency plays a huge role in parenting. But if you have noticed that a particular tactic or thought process isn’t giving you the results you want, then by all means, change it. Don’t stick with a method that isn’t working only for the sake of consistency. Doing the wrong thing over and over will never make it right.

The next time your child misbehaves, stop and think. Evaluate your methods based on your child’s behavior and never be afraid to try something new.


Filed under discipline, parenting philosophy

Get some sleep!

Does your child get enough sleep? Do you? Many kids don’t get enough sleep, and it most certainly affects their behavior. As our kids get older, they need less sleep, and sometimes it’s easy to skip naps here and there when we want to be out having fun.

Does your child get enough sleep?

Here are some signs your child isn’t getting enough sleep:

  • He throws fits over insignificant events. Any little thing will send him over the edge.
  • His behavior is characteristically poor an hour or two before bed.
  • He wakes up in bad mood. (This is huge!)
  • He’d rather lie on the couch and watch TV than go outside to play.
  • He seems hyper before bed.
  • It takes him a long time to settle down for bed and naps.
  • It seems like he’s constantly trying to catch up on sleep.

Making sure our kids get enough sleep is one of the easiest and most important things we can do to ensure good behavior. Stay home for naps. Get him in bed early. Give him the gift of sleep. Your social life can wait a year or two.

Do you get enough sleep?

Sleep is just as important for mom and dad as it is for the child. I know first-hand how easy it is to stay up late to have some alone time while the kids are asleep. But when we don’t get enough sleep, we are much more likely to lose patience with our children. When we are well rested, we can react calmly and with authority when they misbehave. Plus, we are much more available to our kids when we have had enough sleep.

Here are some signs that you need more sleep:

  • You feel like you’re disciplining your child all day long. (Every little thing seems like a huge behavior issue.)
  • You know you should react calmly but can’t seem to manage your anger and frustration.
  • You feel like all your child does is need, need, need, want, want, want.
  • You know you should spend more time playing with your child, but you just don’t have the energy.
  • You realize you went through the day barely talking to your child.
  • All you want to do when you have a break from your child is rest.
  • You argue with your spouse about who gets to sleep in.

Now, if you’re up all night with a newborn and up all day with a toddler, you don’t have much opportunity to sleep. Just be aware of your need for sleep. Take a nap when you can and try your hardest to be more patient with your little ones.

But if your kids sleep through the night, you have no excuse. Allow yourself some “me” time, but don’t lose track of time. Go to bed and get up at a reasonable hour and you’ll all be better off.


Filed under discipline, parenting, prevention

FTO Fundamentals: Without complaint

In my last two posts, I discussed the importance of your children coming immediately and completely when you call their names. Now we’ll discuss the issue of attitude. In many ways, making sure your child’s heart is in the right place is much more important than the mechanics of them coming completely and immediately. We want them to submit to our authority without complaint and without challenge.

Challenging your authority

For effective first-time obedience, your child must respond to you without challenging your authority as a parent. There are some subtle and not-so-subtle ways that children challenge our authority:

  • They say “yes, mommy” with a smart, sarcastic tone.
  • They mimic you.
  • They say anything but “yes, mommy” such as “what?”
  • They say nothing.
  • They say “yes, mommy” so quietly you can’t hear them.
  • They say “yes, mommy” appropriately but don’t give you eye contact.

In all of these examples, the child is refusing to submit to your authority. Do not allow your child to respond in this way. Make him repeat with the appropriate response and if he still refuses, send him to his bed to sit in isolation.


There are some people in life who are more prone to complaining than others. I’ll admit that I’m one of them. But I’ll also admit that whining and complaining are done in habit. I’m starting to see it a bit more in my son. When I give an instruction or have to deny one of his many requests, I’ll often get a “but mom…” or “but why…” or “I was just…. If I don’t nip it in the bud, he’ll go on like that for several minutes.

Complaining doesn’t always mean they are challenging our authority, but it is definitely a habit we want to discourage. Even if the child doesn’t like what you have to say, they don’t have a choice in obeying. This is what first-time obedience is about. They must obey whether they want to or not.

So evaluate your child’s attitude when you strive for first-time obedience. Don’t forget that much of parenting is training our children’s hearts and that their outward attitude is the window to their hearts. If you do nothing else in your parenting, make sure your child has a submissive and obedient heart.

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Filed under discipline, first-time obedience

FTO Fundamentals: Completely

In my last post, I discussed the three fundamentals of first-time obedience training. They are immediately, completely and without challenge or complaint. The first, which I discussed before, is having your child respond to the call of his name immediately. Today, we’ll discuss the “completely” component of FTO training.

The requirements for you are the same as they are for getting immediate FTO:

1)    You call your child’s name (call him only once and say nothing more)
2)    You wait
3)    You expect him to respond with “yes, mommy” and give you eye contact

In addition to making sure your child responds immediately, you must make sure he responds completely.

To come or not to come

In the Mom’s Notes, Carla Link says that your child should come to you when you call his name but that the need for it varies by age.

“For an older child, completely means that she responds “yes mom” with a cheerful spirit, and she promptly comes to find out why I called her in the first place. We strongly suggest that you do not accept anything less from your child!” (Understanding First-Time Obedience, Mom’s Notes).

If you have a preschooler or younger, your child is likely in the room with you at all times during waking hours (except for roomtime). If not, I recommend you stay near your child more often. If you are in the same room as your child when you call his name, then getting your “yes, mommy” and eye contact are probably enough. If you need to give a lengthy instruction, then ask your child to come to you.

If your child is older (6+) or for some other reason is in another room when you call, then you might want to get into the habit of having him come to you when you call. But note that I don’t recommend you call from another room when you first begin your FTO training. Be near him when you call so you can be absolutely sure that he hears you.

Whichever route you go, whether you require him to come to you or not, make sure your child understands your requirement. If you do require that he come to you, perhaps you have him put a hand on your knee to indicate that he is responding completely.

How “completely” plays out in everyday life

As I mentioned in my previous post, if you work on FTO training regularly, its benefits will extend into your everyday life. As with getting an immediate response in your first-time obedience training, you must make sure your child responds completely.

Here are a few examples of how a child might not be responding completely:

  • You tell your child to put the book on the bookshelf, and he sets it on the table next to it.
  • You tell your child to stop the nasty attitude, and he stops talking but makes sassy faces.
  • You tell your child to stop running in the house, and he starts skipping instead.

Each of these examples is a subtle form of disobedience, but it is disobedience nonetheless. When you get incomplete obedience like this, there are usually heart issues that you need to address. You are missing that all-important attitude of submission.

How to discipline for incomplete obedience

If you are getting incomplete obedience such as in the examples above, I recommend you really focus on your FTO training. Spend a solid 4-5 days at home and make it your focus. Call your child’s name and require your “yes mommy” and eye contact 30 times a day. (No, I’m not exaggerating.)

If you are dealing with an attitude problem, do NOT accept it. Whether your child makes nasty faces at you or starts skipping instead of running, discipline him immediately. Even if your child puts the book next to the bookcase, he knows he is disobeying. In either example, I would have him sit on his bed until he shows a submissive heart. See my posts on Timeout Tips and Timeouts the Ezzo Way for more on this.

In my next post, I’ll discuss the final component of FTO which is responding without challenge or complaint.

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Filed under discipline, first-time obedience

Timeout success! (from a reader)

My friend Amanda just sent me this great testimonial after reading about timeouts the Ezzo way on my blog. Her son is 20 months old. Hopefully this will serve as inspiration for you.

I started implementing time-outs the Ezzo way and wow, big improvement! Instead of trying to goof off on time out Tobias quickly calms himself down and comes to me to tell me he’s sorry and give me a kiss! He stops himself from crying/throwing the tantrum, comes willingly, looks me in the eye, and says “shosh”, then I say “are you going to obey mama with a happy heart now?” and he says “kay” and gives me a kiss. Then he will do whatever I tell him. He doesn’t go right back to misbehaving, his obedience level goes through the roof (temporarily of course, lol!) and he’s so much happier. Heck, I’m happier because I’m not struggling to keep him in time out or listening to whining throughout the day. Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks so much for the tips on the Childwise Chat blog, they really helped me to pin down exactly what I was looking for from a time-out.


Filed under discipline