4 Moms Q&A: life saving tips and tricks of the trade for moms of many

4moms35kids 4 Moms Q&A: Potty training, talking about difficult news stories, and YES I will pull this car over right now if you dont stop.

Two questions from Missy:

how to deal with personal space issues with a 4 year old boy? — meaning that he is always touching other people or being far too close to their face when talking to them (and there is no eye sight or hearing issues).

Also, how do you deal with the “potty talk”?? – I try to be on top of it, and when we are at home with just us it is not too bad, but when he is around his friends it is all the time.

Missy, I’m putting your questions together because my answer to both is basically the same: I just talk frankly to my kids, right from the start.  When it comes to personal space, we sometimes tell them that we love them but we need a little breathing room.  We often kindly say things like,

“You need to move back a little.  It’s rude to be so close to somebody’s face.”

“You need to sit in your own seat, please.  I love you, but don’t lean on me.”

“Step back while you are talking to ___ and look at his eyes.  That’s being polite.”

If it’s done kindly and without making a scene, these corrections can take place openly with very young children.  You are not disciplining for sins; you are training your child in social customs, much like reminding a child to put his napkin in his lap at the table.  If you act very embarrassed, he might be embarrassed too (along with his victim), but if you are just offering a point of information everyone will be more comfortable.

Potty talk is similar, although I’m far less concerned about embarrassing the offender.  If he has already been instructed at home that potty talk is not appropriate, I have no hesitation about correcting him in front of his friends.  If his friends are taking part, I might even ask them if their parents approve of that sort of talk.  There’s a good chance I know their parents pretty well, and their answers are going to sound a lot like mine.

From Leigh: what immediate discipline tactics do you use for non compliance? I am running out of ideas and my kids (5 2-10) never do as they are told without severe consequences by which stage everyone is angry!!

Leigh, your question makes it sound like you are waiting until you are angry to get serious about dealing with non compliance.  If immediate consequences are too mild to get the children’s attention, then they will carry on until you cross out of their personal comfort zones.  Worse still, when you do get serious enough get their attention they will think they are only being punished because they made Mom mad.  They might logically conclude that it’s OK to disobey if they can do it without upsetting you.

This doesn’t mean you chase them around with a big stick at the first sign of disobedience, but it does mean that the line between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior needs to be crystal clear.

Just as important: kids need to understand that parents’ authority flows from God.  When I correct a little one, I nearly always come at it from that direction:

“I told you to do ____.  Did you obey me?  God tells you to obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right (Eph. 6:1).  Did you obey God?  First we need to pray for God to forgive you because you didn’t obey your parents, then you need to ask me to forgive you because you didn’t do ____.”  If there is a third party, she’ll need to ask forgiveness from them too.

Dealing with even small sins this way can help impress upon them the fact that God takes all sins seriously, and failing to obey parents is also an affront to God.

Rachel asked, What are some life savers/tips/tricks of the trade for families/Moms of several kids????

What a fun question!  I can’t wait to see tips from other moms in the comments!

Here are a few that come to mind for me:

  1. Socks are consumable.  Let go of the guilt, throw away the odd ones, and just buy more.
  2. Baths and mopping should happen on an as-needed basis.  Don’t worry; they WILL be needed.
  3. Need to leave the house early in the morning?  Let the kids sleep in clean clothes, and do their hair the night before.  You’ll need to freshen braids or ponies, but it’s much easier than fighting tangles and starting from scratch.
  4. Tuck a spare diaper or two and a small pack of wipes under the liner of the baby’s carseat.  If you ever forget or lose your diaper bag, you’ll have an emergency backup.
  5. Your phone alarm: learn it, love it, live it.  Mine goes off at noon to ask if I know what’s for dinner tonight.  It goes off at 9 AM to remind me to inspect bedrooms.  It goes off at 9:15 on Sunday morning to remind us that it’s almost time to leave for church so we’d better hurry.  It also goes off 2 hours before any appointments just in case I forgot.  I have a friend who uses hers to remind the kids to do their chores, feed and care for various pets at various times of day, etc.
  6. Kids love money.  Enlist your army at bargain wages to find lost items, swat flies, do extra chores around the house.  Be charmed by their gratitude, but beware inflation: if you pay too generously once, they’ll never again be satisfied with their former wages.
  7. Learn to handle two grocery carts.  It’s not as hard as it sounds, and the skill that will serve you well.
  8. Don’t stretch your whole family out in one pew at church.  Put half of the kids directly in front of mom and dad, with the rest on either side of you.  Now everyone is within pinching distance.  😉


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  1. Melanie E says:

    Love it!

  2. Sheila Mom to Seven says:

    Okay, Number One really struck me, because I’ve got a basket in the laundry room with all the mate-less socks in it. I cannot part with them. Sigh. Once in a while, I do have a mate show up, but there are a few socks that have been in there for literally years. My 11-year-old likes to steal one every once in a while to make a sock puppet! 🙂

  3. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    As I recall, you’ve used that diaper under the car seat when you got locked out of your van?

Don't just think it: say it!

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