Shalom (Pearl) Brand
(Taken from “No Greater Joy,” magazine Sept-Oct & Nov-Dec 2014)
Every parent trains their children. They train them to scream and pitch fits, or they train them to be sweet and obedient, but the child is trained either way. When the little ones arrive in our arms and we pull them to our breast for the first time, we are training them that we are their life source. The next time they become hungry and we are holding them close, they will begin nuzzling around looking for that sweet comfort they know will come soon. It is the most amazing thing ever that a little two-day-old will remember the smell, the taste, the comfort, and will not be satisfied with anything else. When a baby is born and a bottle is placed in her mouth she is trained that the bottle is her source of food, and that is what she needs. When my little baby was five months old, his intestines flipped, and he was in the hospital for several days, requiring an operation. He was unable to nurse. Eventually, the doctor said I could give him a bottle, but my little baby refused to drink from it. I finally convinced the doctor that he would only nurse, and sure enough, he nursed with no difficulty. He was trained to nurse.
How to Start:
1. Realize from day one that you are training your baby in everything you do! When you put a diaper on your baby and allow him to mess in it, you are training him to go in his diaper. Yes, it is the norm to place a diaper on your baby, but it is still training. Many others, myself included, have trained our babies to go in the toilet from day one, it is possible to train even if it is outside the norm. It is just a matter of deciding what you want for your little one and then following through with that training.
2. Remember, you are conditioning your infants unto obedience. Training an infant is all about conditioning them early to be obedient so when they are old enough to respond to commands, they will obey. They go where you take them, they lie where you place them, and they eat when you feed them. They are in your hands to guide and protect.
3. Make a plan as to what you want them to learn. I wanted my waking child to come when I called, to sit when I said sit, to stop whining when I told them no, and to sleep when I said “sleep.” I wanted them to stop touching when I said, “don’t touch!” to stop when I said “stop,” and to go to potty on the toilet when I said, “peepee.” I don’t like to spank. I am soft hearted, and spanking is not my favorite thing. Because I wanted obedient children, I made a decision early to condition them to obey so that I would rarely have to spank them as they got older. For all you young mothers out there like me who want your children trained to obey when they are still young, make a plan now and stick with it. That way you do not have to retrain them later, making it harder on both of you.
Steps to Obedience
I had seven main things I wanted my very young children to know. In this and the next couple of magazines I will discuss each of them.
1. Come to Mama.
2. Sit down.
4. Go to Sleep.
5. Don’t touch.
7. Go to Potty.
1 – Come to Mama.
This is one of my favorite things to train my baby to do; it brings such satisfaction to have your crawling babies come when called and to have your walking baby come running with a smile when you say “come.” By training/conditioning them to come from birth, you will eliminate all those frustrating moments when you tell your little ones to come and they run the other way, forcing you to chase them across a store like an inner city cop. It also eliminates the need, as they get older, to use a switch repeatedly on their little bottoms when they defy your command to come. It is much sweeter to hear them say, “Yes Mama,” with a smile.
Where to Start
Right after birth, when I bring my little one up to my breast for the first time, the first words I speak are, “Oh sweet little thing, come to Mama!” I continue training my new baby by teaching her how to nurse. I praise her for doing such a good job. Daddy wants to hold her, so I say, “Go to Daddy,” again conditioning her. Then when I take her back again I say, “Come to Mama.” It is simple and sweet. No one is even aware that you are training. Every time you pick her up or give her to someone, say, “Come” or “Go.” You will find that she will soon arch her back when you say, “Come to Mama,” for she will know that Mama is about to pick her up. Continue to be consistent in your words so that she is never confused. Come means “Come to Mama.” Once she is crawling you can play a game on the floor with her to help reinforce the training. Have Daddy sit on the floor on one side of the room while she plays with a toy. You sit a few feet away and, calling her by name, tell her to come to you. Daddy is there to say, “Mama said, `come to Mama'” After she has come to you then have Daddy call her. Do this often until you are sure she understands what you want. Then when she begins walking you can again play the game, reinforcing the training that started at birth.
There will most likely come a time that your little one looks at you and says, “No.” They are testing you. Repeat the command again to make sure they understand. If they show defiance or stubbornness then it is time for a small switch. A little swat on the leg should get their attention and create a positive response. They will take your word to be serious and obey.
2 – Sit Down.
There will be times that having your child sit still will be very important; like in church, in a car, or at a restaurant. Training them at home to sit still is training them to refrain from being wild in public places. This was by far the hardest thing for me to teach my first baby. If we were eating and she was ready to get out of her high chair, I thought, “Why not, we are at home,” and I would let her down to play so I could finish in peace. But, the fact of the matter is, if you do not make them learn to sit at home, they will not sit in public, making eating-out miserable for everyone. I remember thinking. “This is not even worth it–I am just going to stay home!”
The public dilemma arises from the nature of our training. We have taught them that there are no exceptions to coming when called, but by letting them get up after eating at home we have trained them that getting up at will is the norm. So our attempt to get them to stay seated in public is in defiance of our routine training at home. They are not yet old enough to understand the relative nature of a command.
Start off from birth, just like teaching them to come; every time you lay them down say, “Lie down.” If they arch their back and let out a scream to be picked up again, and you pick them up, you are training them to make their own decisions in the face of your command. I understand you want to hold your baby, to keep her close to you, but training them to thoroughly obey is critical to their welfare and to the peace of the home. If you never give in, they will never take over. This training takes courage and wisdom on Mama’s part.
Several years ago I was visiting a new mother who regularly responded to her baby’s plea to be picked up. The child’s sleep was restless; he never took an uninterrupted nap, because he expected to be held constantly. His mother loved it and thought it was so endearing to be so needed all the time. When her little one was close to a year old, Mom was still toting him around while trying to teach the other children and take care of her home. The hip hugger would let out a scream every time Mom put him down, even for a moment. This mother seemed to feed off it and think it was sweet, but I am sure Daddy was getting pretty fed up with it! I know my husband would be. The one-year-old soon became a very needy, whiny, three-year-old that no one liked. Her son is now approaching five years of age and still clings to his mother. If she had started training early she would now be finishing her chores early.
Even after they have a history of being well trained, there may come a time when you will be holding them and they will forcefully demand to get down onto the floor. It may not make any difference in your home, but next time you may be in a doctor’s office where getting down could be dangerous to their health. So train at home and relax in the doctor’s office. When you are at home and they initiate the move to get down, tell them to sit and wait. If they comply, then after a few minutes let them down with a word of praise for their sitting so well.
However, if the little fellow stubbornly demands to be released from his confines, then know that there is a royal battle, winner-take-all contest in the air for a lifetime of supremacy. It is best to avoid a contest of wills if your child is tired, so pray the battle comes when everyone is rested! When the child defies your order to stay seated, making forceful gestures to free himself, offering vocal protests, it is time to demonstrate that you are in charge and will not tolerate rebellion. Switch his leg once or twice with a light instrument while speaking calm but forceful words of command. “No, Mama said sit.” Previous training has caused him to well understand the meaning of “No,” that is if you have been consistent. We will be discussing the word “no” in a later magazine. Continue restraining him to remain in your lap while speaking words of determination. If he continues to try to free himself and slide to the floor, then switch his leg again and repeat your reprimand. This defiance won’t happen often, maybe just once or twice in a child’s life–that is if you are consistent in training.
A word of caution: If you have spanked and rebuked several times, and the child’s defiance turns to out-of-control emotional turmoil, you may feel like giving up. If you do allow the child to win, he will suffer the greatest loss of his life. From that day forward he will be a rebel and a tyrant. You must win, but there are other tools in your arsenal. Diffuse the situation with a diversion. Pick up a book or a toy and attempt to captivate his attention. Do something ridiculous, start laughing or singing, or carry on a normal conversation with another child or adult, discussing something so interesting that he stop screaming in order to listen. My dad has said, “If you can’t win, the next best thing is to be perceived to win.” Remember the contest of wills is about remaining in your lap. If you win that contest, you remain the boss and the child remains under authority. If he stops crying in order to hear the ridiculous song you make up about a rabbit and a little boy, and in doing so remains in your lap, you win, he wins, society wins, God wins, and the devil loses. Once he stops crying and becomes focused on singing, or conversation, or a toy, turn your attention back to him and talk with him about anything. When it is clear that you have won the contest of wills, put him down on the floor and speak words of praise. As my dad says, “You have made his negative behavior counterproductive and rewarded his good behavior with fellowship.”
As a side note, you do not need to spank them for crying. Do not tell them to stop crying, for you may not win that battle. All you need them to do is sit without resistance. Once they obey, the crying will stop, so do not be upset by it.
3 – No.
This command is much needed, but can never be so overused that the child never listens to it. It is used very often with another command like, “NO! Do not touch that!” “No! Sit down!” or “No, Come to Mama.” Parents become frustrated that the child is not listening, and begin repeating it more loudly and aggressively. Have you ever been in a store or church and heard the parent say “No,” and then a second later repeat it at a slightly higher pitch? This continues until the parent reaches that particular stress level that the child has come to associate with seriousness. The child is accustomed to ignoring the first few “No” commands, knowing they are only preliminary. The child is a musician and has learned to play his parents.
The key to the word “No” is to be judicious and consistent in its use. Do not use it unless it is absolutely necessary and you are committed to following through. If your child is pouring water on the floor and you want him to stop, be prepared to make him stop by applying a switch if he does not respond to the first quiet command. Otherwise, let him pour the water on the floor. It is better to have your child pour water out with you smiling at him than for you to become angry trying to get him to listen to your repeated stressful “No’s.” Learn to be consistent and your life will become one of relaxed joy.
I will not tell you that my children are perfect! They make big messes, pour water on the floor, and do not always sit still! But when I give a command, in most cases they immediately obey, even the two-year old. I do not make rules I am not prepared to enforce! I only say no when I can follow through! My friends accuse me of being too laid back and too relaxed. I see stress as a disease, and do not plan on contracting it. So, a relaxed mom I will be!
“No” is usually the first word a baby learns to say; he hears it so often that he just begins to repeat it. A few months ago when my baby was about 18 months old and learning to talk, I realized that when I said, “No” he repeated it back to me. I told my husband, “I think I have messed up and Roland does not understand the meaning of `no’ anymore. I was not consistent! So I decided to use the Russian word for “No” and be consistent with the new command and not use the “No” word anymore. So “Kneat” became my new word to make him obey. It worked like a charm; he respected the new word and knew that Mom meant business when she said “Kneat,” and I got the results I wanted. So now I have two negative words. “No” is a general word for the opposite of “Yes,” and “Kneat” is a more threatening word that censors any negative behavior and demands immediate compliance.
4 – Go to Sleep.
How can you get your children to just go to sleep? The same way you get them to do everything else: Be consistent! Every night, put them to bed the same way at the same time and never let them take over the process.
At eight o’clock every night we read the Bible, pray, give them drinks (and if they are hungry, an apple or banana while we read), then kisses, and finally lights out, and that is it. They are in bed and the day has come to an end. At times we have to remind one child or another that this rule is final, but most of the time the conditioning is never challenged. We have them play hard all day so they want to sleep.
A Funny Story
My six-year-old trained my two-year-old to go to sleep anywhere, anytime by giving him treats. She loves training dogs, and decided that training her brother was fun as well. So she got little pieces or cheese or chocolate and would give him a command like, “Sit down,” “Get up,” “Lie down,” “Say Mama,” and so on. She then told him, “Close your eyes; now go to sleep.” To her great joy, He did!
One day at church I told my mom, who was holding Roland, “Just tell him to close his eyes and go to sleep and he will obey!” She laughed, but after a few minutes of him wiggling in her lap she tried it, and instantly he fell back in her arms with his eyes closed and was soon sound asleep! She was shocked, and I have to admit I was too! The best part about it is that he still goes to sleep that way. It is like putting a baby doll down.
5 – Don’t Touch.
This training starts early. It is one of those commands that could save your child’s hand from being burnt or cut or any number of harmful things. When you are holding your baby and she reaches out to pull your plate off the table creating a huge mess, it is time to train her not to touch. Instead of push the plate beyond her reach, creating an “if you can reach it is yours” game, keep it within reach and start training. As she reaches for it, take her hand away and say, “Don’t touch.” If she reaches again, have a pencil or small switch equivalent in size and tap the back of her hand. This is not to hurt but to reinforce your words. She will pull her hand back, and depending on the child, will stop and let go, or try again. Make sure you win the authority contest and then create another opportunity later in the day to reinforce the training.
Holding a book is a good training tool; they love to reach for a book. Do this for several days until they understand and respond to the command quickly. As they get older, put things on the coffee table that you do not want them to touch and again train them to not touch by being close at hand to reinforce your command of “Don’t touch.”
6 – Stop.
This command, like “Don’t touch,” can save his life. If your child is about to step into the street, you want him to stop in his tracks when you shout “Stop!” It also goes along with “Come to Mama,” so practice the two together. You can also create a game to play with your children (when Mom says “stop!” you stop). It is okay to have fun while you train them. The more conditioning you do the less trouble you will run into later.
In all your training, remember it is not about disciplining them but about training and conditioning them to obedience so they do not require as much discipline. You will have to discipline at times when they are rebellious or disobey, but the more you train the less you will have to discipline, and as a parent that should be your goal. So start training!