I have taken graduate level courses in child psychology and behavior management. I have spent countless hours in classes, seminars and meetings about how to set rules, boundaries, and expectations and how to discipline effectively using positive reinforcements – and had a few years in the classroom using those practices that I was taught. I have read books and manuals and blogs and magazines and read and read and read and studied about how to get my students to do what I need them to do, when I need them to do it.
And my expert, degreed self had a vision of how I would teach and discipline my own kids one day (as if MY kids would ever need it). Here’s how my perfect mommy self would “handle” (for lack of a better word – where’s my thesaurus???) my kids.
1. I would always explain why I needed them to do something. “The reason I need you to be quiet right now is because Mommy needs to make a phone call and I can’t hear the person on the other line when you are also talking.”
2. I would always use positive speak (i.e. “Walk” instead of “Don’t run.”)
3. “Because I said so” would NEVER be a spoken from my mouth. Instead I would always do #1.
(Ok. You can stop laughing at me now. We are always better parents before we are actually parents, right?)
So, then I became a real parent, and you know what I learned when my first born was a toddler? “Because I said so” sometimes IS the reason I need them to stop what they are doing. Maybe because they wouldn’t understand the real reason, or maybe because I just don’t feel like giving a reason (I’m not alone here!), or maybe because there isn’t any time to explain. For example…
When my oldest son was a little over two, I took him and his baby brother to the park with some friends. Up to this point, I believe I had stuck to my ideal vision that I stated above – pretty easy to do when they are in the baby and new-toddler phases.
I was sitting on the picnic blanket nursing the baby who was still in “blob mode”(around 2 months old) and my two-year-old was running in the open field between me and the parking lot. At one point, he decided to chase some older kids who were closer to the parking lot.
Realizing I was a little tied up at the moment (bare breasts under the nursing cover), I decided to raise my voice (not yell… no, never yell) at my son to come play closer to me…
“James, come back!”
Haha, yeah, like that worked. The two-year-old ran a little farther away.
“Jaaaames! Come back over here, please!”
And to my naive astonishment, the kid didn’t even slow down. In fact, I believe he sped up!
Then, it hit me. I had always been close enough to him to be able to explain to him WHY he shouldn’t be doing something. This insta-command thing was new. He had never heard it before. So just as he was nearing the parking lot, I yelled,
“JAMES! YOU NEED TO GET OVER HERE RIGHT NOW BECAUSE YOU ARE ABOUT TO RUN INTO A PARKING LOT AND THERE ARE CARS AND YOU COULD GET HIT BY A CAR BECAUSE YOU ARE TOO SHORT AND THEY WON’T BE ABLE TO SEE YOU AND THAT WOULD HURT A LOT!”
Or something to that effect.
That moment right there, the first time my son completely ignored me. It wasn’t until I gave him that explanation of WHY he shouldn’t do something, completely changed my ideal vision of parenting. Why did he do that? Because up until that day I had explained every.little.thing to him… and don’t get me wrong! That’s how they learn best how to not just DO, but understand right versus wrong.
But in an emergency… when they truly truly need to stop what they are doing. They need to STOP. NOW. There is no time for an explanation. They need to understand that you mean business.
That’s when I invented the “code word.” I needed a shortcut to get my child to listen without question.
We went home and practiced it. FREEZE. When Mommy says that word, it does not matter what you are doing, what you WANT to be doing or what you were ABOUT to do; you are going to stop, put your hands on your head, and turn to look at me.
Now, the “put your hands on your head” part may seem a bit extreme, but trust me, when they are playing with a toy, the only way to get their undivided attention is to make sure their hands are empty.
I recently noticed my 3-year-old doing the same thing as my older son had done years before. This week, I brought back our old friend, FREEZE.
The kids have a great time playing our FREEZE game where they get to cut up and act crazy, then Mommy yells “FREEZE” and they immediately stop with their hands on their head. They also like playing Mommy’s role and telling me when to FREEZE.
With some short reminders in the car when we are about to go into the store or play at the park, the kids remember to respond immediately when I yell the code word. It’s also a great way to get both of their attention when I need them to switch activities. It gives me time to explain how we are going to transition into the next activity.
Do you have a code word? What do you use? Comment below to share!!!
HEAD’S UP, MOMMY TEACHERS! This Sunday is Grandparents Day! My kids love their grandparents so much and wanted to make them a special gift for their big day!
My 4-month old niece, Marley Kate, recently sent me a cute letter and it inspired our Grandparents Day gifts.
Since our printer is broken, I decided to hand paint ours, and leave a spot open for my niece, Abby, to stamp her foot, too. This one below is on its way to Oklahoma right now.
Then I thought it would be a great idea to make a few hand print art templates for you to purchase and download so your children can make beautiful art for their grandparents too!
In addition to a “You Are My Sunshine” template for your baby/toddler’s footprints, I have also made a “You Are o-FISH-ally My Favorite” template for a sideways hand print and an “Owl Always Love You” template for a palm hand print and thumbprints for wings.
These templates are available to download this week for just $1 for all 3! Enjoy!
Thanks for joining us on our daily devotions journey! I gotta be honest, doing this daily with our kids, our activities are hit or miss. My kids are not always cooperative, my activities are not always the most exciting, and yes, apparently looking back at the week, we completely forgot to do it on Monday! I didn’t even realize that until I started writing this post! So, hang in there! Bible study is not going to be perfect every day – some days it will be so far from it, but your children are still hearing God’s word and are seeing you set an example for daily obedience.
If you are just now following us, here is a recap:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” – John 14:27
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33
“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” – Psalm 105:4
It can be hard to “visualize” Jesus when we have never met him face to face. For kids, this can be hard for them to understand that He was born into this world like you and me yet, though he no longer walks as we do on this Earth, we can still have this amazing relationship with Him.
Ask your kids to describe Jesus and what He looks like.
Google some images of famous paintings and images of Jesus. Talk about the likenesses between them and how this is what some believe He looked like when He was here. This will help your children visualize Him when they talk to Him.
I know I like to visualize Jesus holding my hands when I pray. It helps me to feel more connected to Him. Describe to your children what it feels like to feel His presence.
Pray with them and ask them to visualize Him when they do.
Day 2: Autopilot
“Your world is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” – Psalm 119:105
Today, we made compasses – simple compasses. I drew a circle and cut out arrows for them to glue “point the way to Jesus.”
I scaffolded the activity for the different ages of my boys.
“Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.” Psalm 63:7-8
Day 3: The Light of the Son
“The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it. The glory of God is its light, and the Lamb is the city’s lamp.” – Revelation 21:23
We found a box that just so happened to have a hole big enough for the kids to peer into. “What do you see?” Well, there’s really not much to see inside of a dark box… it’s dark and empty. We saw nothing. Without Jesus in our lives, everything would be dark like the inside of the box.
I opened the box and put a flashlight inside and closed it again. We looked through the hole once more and saw the entire inside of the box! Jesus lights up our world so we can see and live and so our spirits will be filled with light.
Take this a step further if you have prep time before your devotion begins: draw or tape pictures to the inside of the box so that when you turn on the light inside your kids can see what they couldn’t see when it was dark.
“Many are asking, ‘Who can show us any good?’ Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. You have filled my heart with greater joy than when their grain and new wine abound. I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety.” – Psalm 4:6-8
Day 4: Before You Work
“Depend on the Lord in whatever you do. Then your plans will succeed.” – Proverbs 16:3
Today we made a challenge for ourselves to remember to pray before we get started in the morning. Write that challenge down and post it somewhere, maybe on the kids’ bedroom door, so that you all can see it first thing before you start your day. It is one thing to say we are going to do this, and intend on doing this, and quite another to follow through. So set an alarm on your phone if you need a daily reminder and teach the kids to come gather around so you can pray over them for the day.
“Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens; They do not sow or reap they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” Luke 12:22-26
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
Day 5: The God Who Forgives
Practice role playing forgiveness with your kids. If you have multiple children, have them role play this back and forth: one who makes a mistake and the other forgives. Pray with your children and teach them to ask for forgiveness and also to ask for help to be able to forgive others. Just as God forgives us, we need to forgive others, too.
“Where can I go to get away from your Spirit? Where can I run from you? . . . If I rise with the sun in the east, and settle int he west beyond the sea, even there you would guide me. With your right hand you would hold me.” – Psalm 139:7-10
– Genesis 16:7-14
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17
Because Sean Patrick is so into tracing right now (and because he is a perfectionist), I decided to make him a book that he could use dry-erase markers and Mr. Clean magic erasers to practice his tracing over and over again without getting frustrated about markings on his paper (courtesy of his little sister).
I printed the pages of my tracing book onto card stock and laminated them with my inexpensive laminator that I bought at WalMart.
We work on it a little each day and I encourage him to do whatever letters he would like to practice making, but I always try to make the formation fun for him. For example, when we were writing “A” I told him to slide down this slide (the left slanted line) then to slide down that slide (the right slanted line), and then to climb across the monkey bars. He said exactly what I said as he traced A the next few times. And for lowercase “a” we rode around the merry-go-round and then climbed down the ladder.
“Slide down, slide down, climb across the monkey bars”
If you don’t have a laminator and you don’t want to get it laminated you can also just print it and let your little one trace the pages individually with crayons 🙂
/c/ /c/ crawl around the /c/ /c/ curve to see the /c/ /c/ cow
CLICK HERE to purchase this Tracing Book individually from my TeachersPayTeachers Store.
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I have had many parents come to me worried that their preschool or kindergarten aged child may be dyslexic* after he or she continues to spell and write words/letters backwards, upside down, in mirror image, or mix up letters within a word.
Let me say now that this writing behavior is totally normal at this stage in your child’s pre-writing and pre-reading development and in most cases* is not indicative of a learning disability.
Let’s think about this…
We, the smarter-than-the-average-preschooler mommy teachers, see a triangle. 3 sides + 3 points = triangle no matter how you look at it.
(Technically that last one is a pyramid says my 5year old, but you get my point.)
What, then, is the letter A?
It is but a mere visual representation of a sound in a word… a symbol… or simply, a shape, not unlike our friend, the triangle. We recognize this shape no matter the direction, font, size or color. Our brains are hardwired to group these similar shapes together so we can recognize them even though they may look slightly different than the Times New Roman capital letter A.
Our kids are naturally doing the same exact thing which is why they can still find the letter A in a pile of letters, even though some of the As are upside down.
To help teach correct directionality (the direction in which we read and write in English), use your index finger to guide reading: top-bottom, left-right. This is a learned skill and will become ingrained through repetition and practice. In Leyson’s case, if he knew that he should have spelled the letters out from left to right, the word would have actually spelled JAMES instead of SEMAJ – but with a sideways S and an E for an M… babysteps.
When Leyson spelled James’ name backwards, I then modeled how to spell his own name as he said the letters out loud to me. Leaving those letters in place, I then pulled a second set of letters for his name and asked him to put them in order directly under the one I had done.
“Which letter comes first? Which comes second?” Etc.
To fix his sideways S, I lined up a few of the same letter and laid them out right side, upside down and sideways and we chose the correct letter. This taught him that it DOES matter which way a letter is written… BAM! Epiphany.
Back to his spelling of James’ name:
Me: “Now, if we spelled the name LEYSON with the L over here on the left, what is different about how you spelled JAMES?”
Leyson: “I used an upside down E as an M!”
* Dyslexia is a Developmental Reading Disorder (DRD) which is one of the most common learning disabilities. A small percentage of those with this type of DRD actually see and write letters backwards or upside down. Most often dyslexia is diagnosed within the critical beginning reader years (kindergarten – 2nd grade) if a child of normal intelligence still has difficulties with visual and/or auditory reading comprehension, spelling and phonological awareness.
If after age appropriate and developmentally appropriate reading and writing strategies have been correctly taught to your school-aged child and you find he or she is still struggling with reading, begin to log your perception of your child’s reading abilities and share it with your child’s teacher or doctor so they can determine if your child may need further evaluation.