This week is another 4 Moms Q&A session! Here are some of the questions I received this time. If you have a question you would like to see answered in an upcoming session, keep an eye on the Life in a Shoe facebook page. I usually ask for questions on Tuesday or Wednesday before the Q&A post.
How do you keep you teen children in church?
Our respectful, obedient teens only leave to take the little ones on bathroom trips, but duct tape is good for the stubborn ones. It is reasonably inexpensive if you use it conservatively, and it’s easy to keep a roll in your purse or diaper bag. Just make sure it doesn’t leave adhesive on the pews/chairs.
In all seriousness, we make sure our older children understand the importance of regular worship. Skipping church isn’t an option, so keeping them in church just isn’t an issue. If one began to drag her feet about attending church, we would look for and address underlying issues, because those decisions don’t happen in a vacuum.
What were the biggest changes you found in raising girls and boys?
Noise and activity levels come to mind immediately. My girls are anything but tame, but the day our boy started walking was the day he started running laps around the house – and 5 years later he hasn’t stopped. We have worked hard to teach him manners so he’s not wild and crazy…just crazy. His energy level is on a whole different spectrum than the girls, and he needs direction to burn that energy in a non-destructive way that doesn’t make others want to attack him with a roll of duct tape.
Another difference that I have found is in how our boys deal with altercations, discipline and correction. With girls, there are often hurt feelings and emotions to deal with after any sort of unpleasant encounter, whether it is a disagreement with a sibling or a correction from a parent. In contrast, I have found that our boys are generally willing to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, apologize and/or accept apologies, and move on with their day. They tend to accept correction and instruction in a very matter-of-fact way, with no hard feelings and lots of good discussion.
What tips do you have for gently shepherding a child’s heart when they are still babies? My daughter (my first) is 7 1/2 months, and I can already tell she wants something when its in your hand, and she gets defiant if she doesn’t get her way (in other situations, too). Right now I’m calmly saying the word “please” before something is handed to her, to try to teach her to associate the word with asking for it. Do you have other ideas?
I love this question, and I think it’s great that you are already thinking in these terms! Too many parents assume that babies can’t understand these things so they allow them (i.e. train them) to be demanding little tyrants – and then the rules abruptly change when parents decide they are old enough. This just isn’t kind to the baby. They can begin to learn good manners and a sweet disposition from the very start, and you’ll find that you have a much more pleasant toddler than the Terrible Two-year-old that some people think is inevitable.
To answer your question, your baby is old enough to start learning sign language, if you are interested in taking that route. The sign for please is a very common one to start with – just a pat on the chest with one hand. I would also suggest that you make sure she have a good attitude before you hand over the desired object. If she is being angry or impatient because you didn’t hand it over quickly enough, just move it to where she can’t reach it and tell her in a firm voice, “No. You be nice. Don’t be mad. Do you want it, please?” As soon as she relaxes, give it to her. At first, this may mean waiting a minute or two until she has begun to lose interest, but babies are smart and she’ll catch on quickly at her age.
This idea can be expanded to other areas as well. Just try to spot a bad or demanding attitude wherever it shows itself and deal gently but firmly, as it sounds like you are already doing. Consistency will pay off, and I think you are on your way to having a very sweet little girl!
Tips for keeping littles (7 months, and two 22 month olds) quiet in church.
I’d love ideas on simple weddings when you have a large family. My oldest is 20 and my youngest is 2 months and I have 5 in between.
We’re new to the world of wedding planning, since this is our first! I’ll be happy to share more about it afterward if it goes well. If not, well, you can learn what not to do. We’re definitely keeping it low-stress and not worrying about too many unnecessary details. We are keeping it mostly traditional but relatively informal. My oldest is so not a details person, and I have decided that if certain things about her wedding are not important to her, then they’re not important to me either. It’s very freeing!
What do you do with an overly-emotional little boy who cries at *everything*? His siblings don’t do this, and I’m at a loss as to how to handle it. I don’t coddle or encourage, but brushing it off / ignoring it hasn’t seemed to work either. Help!
While we as moms want to be gentle and understanding, we do not want our children to be ruled by their emotions. Proverbs 25:28 says, A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.
My basic response with either gender has been to admonish them to self control. With a very little one, I would simply correct him in a firm voice: “No, that’s not a reason to cry. You hush.” With a 7yo, I would explain to them that falling into tears without a very good reason is very much like having a tantrum of sadness instead of anger. It’s sin, and they need to work hard to control themselves just like they would if they had a bad temper.
It might also be helpful if you can determine why he does this: is he high-strung? Prone to self-pity? Easily frustrated? Using tears to deal with anger? There may be an underlying cause that you can identify and address to help him overcome this tendency. If you can get to the root of his tears, you may be able to give him some useful tools to deal with the problem. If he’s high strung, he can learn to go to his room for some quiet time if he’s feeling stressed. If he is prone to self-pity, he needs to learn that this is another form of selfishness. Get the idea?
See what the other moms say:
Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:
- September 13 – Handling different standards between you and your husband (homeschooling, dress, etc.)