We do well compared to guppies.
The human brain thrives on habit, grows larger on a diet of routine. The memory inside a human brain is frighteningly complex and magnificently comforting, at the same time.
Our children can reap what God intended from good habits, if, by the time our babies are crawling, they’ve had the pleasure of our instilling good habits into them.
They test us all the time. Why?
TO BE SURE. To make positively sure this boundary will hold and self is safe.
For instance, we know that because of the inherent danger, we should keep them out of the cooking area, so we train them to stay out. Eventually they learn such comfort, but sometimes this is the first clash of wills between the darling babe and the soft mom. It can seem like war, if Mom doesn’t know how to make it happen:
- In the beginning, you must teach the child what “hot” means. Use a hot light bulb and tell him “NO—HOT!” Act like you’re preventing him, but let him touch it briefly. Ask if he wants to repeat. If you see unwillingness, it’s a sign the child knows what you mean. If he cries, keep telling him it’s hot.
- Anger and yelling do not help. They hinder. Anger has a place, but not in teaching. Yelling is for long distance, loud environments, or extreme emergencies.
- Consistent firmness is the key. If you do not have time to be consistent, use a playpen or highchair to confine the child, or enlist a helper. “No” must mean “no”. If you are too lazy to be consistent, think about burn scars on your baby. That should help.
- You must not cave in to crying. Crying sometimes is good, but crying to get one’s way is bad. Do not teach the child it is good by rewarding him with his own way.
- Draw the line where you want, and make it stick. In our kitchen, one cabinet was permissible, but the rest of the kitchen was off limits, during cooking. At crawling age, a child can grasp this.
We know we don’t want picky eaters and do want well-balanced diets for our children, so we train them to eat. This can be another war, a bigger one, again avoidable, if Mom knows what to do.
- Be sure you do not serve food your husband will not eat when he is present. Save it for when he is gone. Be sure he understands this is a time of training, both in obedience and in habit, and you need his backing.
- Make a new rule that every person will take at least a bite of every food on the table and eat it all gone, no exceptions.
- Anyone who complains about one bite, gets two bites.
- All food must be gone, not just pushed around, before getting any seconds or any dessert.
All their lives, my children will be careful around off-limit things and unafraid of green things on the plate. It will be good.