4 Moms Q&A:

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.

 Maybe you’ll enjoy these posts from a few years ago about how we train our babies and little ones to be 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.)

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  1. Love this series and I am thankful on the tips for dealing with a demanding little one. Our daughter just had our first grandchild and we are at this stage so I am always thankful for good guidance to pass on to her. Those babies are so much smarter than we think they are 🙂

  2. Hi there,

    I don’t use Facebook so I thought I’d ask a question here in hopes that you may consider it for your next Q&A post.

    In this year’s presidential race, how do you think about the possibility of voting for Romney given that as a Mormon he is not a Christian?


  3. I know what Meghan V. says about boys and energy. I have four 8 and under and since homeschool only takes about 2 1/2 structured hours each day, I am always looking for ways to have them help. However, how come unending energy always stops when mommy says, “I need a little boy!” I thought about that just today, in that I felt sorry for my boys when the thought came to me about trying to squeeze that into a school building for 6-8 hours…it actually made me glad to be homeschooling!!

  4. My 7 year old is on the autism spectrum, but I think our method of dealing with his high strung emotions would work with any child.

    When he starts getting hysterical we ask him what he is supposed to say when a bad thing happens. We came up with the simple phrase “oh well”. When we first established it we talked about why he needed to let things go ect. But now the phrase itself is enough for him to take back control of his emotions.

    We also ask him if he is exaggerating, and tell him to rephrase what he’s saying without making it bigger than it is.

    So for example if he is crying because a toy broke and saying “I’ll never have a toy to play with again!” We get himto calm down and say “oh well” and then say what a broken toy really means i.e. “It makes me sad that I won’t be able to play with that toy anymore.”

    Then he apologizes for losing control and getting hysterical, and we move on.

  5. My oldest is only 3yo, right now, so I’m obviously no expert. The first thought that came to mind about the weepy 7yo was that he might be tired. I’ve been dealing with my 3yo being defiant about sleep for a good long while, and finding a method that works with him has been more than a little challenging.

    I finally found a way to make sure he got to sleep at a decent hour, and it’s made an enormous difference in his behavior! I can now tell the difference between his misbehavior when he just has too much pent up energy and when he’s exhausted. Frustration and tears at trifles sounds awfully familiar from when he needs a nap.

    Don’t know if that’s helpful to anyone, but I thought I’d give my two cents. 🙂

  6. Wow! I love this: “tantrum of sadness instead of anger”. That is an excellent way of putting it.
    How/what do you give your son(s) to do burn energy without it always being play? I have 3 boys (4, 2, and 6wks). I don’t want them to play all day but if I put them to work I have to be training them how to do it. With a 6wk old that isn’t always possible. Any suggestions? BTW we do have a little “schooling” time where I teach the oldest to read…but that doesn’t take the energy away. 😀

  7. Understanding temperament may help with the weepy little boy. I think there are a very few who truly do feel everything so very deeply. They still need to be taught self-control, but very patiently, seriously, but not sternly. In my experience some of that comes with age & maturity as well. (I love the Myers-Briggs temperament types, myself. Has made a world of difference in understanding my husband and son! Hopefully it will help with my weepy little girl as well). 🙂

  8. Thanks for these ideas. I love reading your posts. I’ll remember to put some duct tape in my purse today:)

  9. We used sign language with our babies/toddlers. It’s funny when they reaallllly want something, they’ll use both hands to rub their chest. When they are saying please just to get what they want in a fit, it’s one quick slap, then their hand out. Personality kicks in very early.

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