Posted by: mamaamy | March 13, 2008

Training Obedience

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Hello again ladies!

It’s been a while since I’ve talked with most of you – we just got over the plague here at our house and I am so glad to be feeling better. I told someone that I never want to be able to use the word “violent” when describing how sick I am again! E and R got it one after the other, but on a much smaller scale. So, not much sleep has been gotten around here lately and I really love my sleep. I wished I could have called all of you for advice last night around midnight! We decided to try to train E not to get up all night to have mama milk. The first 2 days were o.k. and then she got sick so she got it one night and then R was sick so she got it another night. So, last night was her 2 days on/ 2 days off night. She woke up at midnight crying and didn’t stop until around 4:30 a.m. She hadn’t had a nap yesterday because I had to get tires for our car and that ran into the afternoon. She had been getting into trouble for yelling and acting out for things she wanted all day yesterday and I was REALLY tired when we went to bed. All that to say, my nerves were already frazzled about whether all this training is really necessary for my sweet little baby….well then the crying and yelling begin and I’m trying to quite her, then R is trying. We’ve been telling her for a long time now to cry quietly and will pinch or thump her on her leg until she does. Well, when she does what you ask after a couple of pinches or thumps and goes back to being happy or goes to sleep you feel successful and like that this training is a good thing and you’re not being too hard on her. Well, when you’ve been pinching and thumping all day, you feel like a horrible mother and like you are expecting too much out of your sweet little baby!

I’m sure most men are like this (from what I’ve observed), but when the baby is crying they get annoyed and us women feel sorry for our baby and want to meet their need. Last night, I knew her need, but we had already held out for over an hour and a half. R said we didn’t need to turn back now. He was not being mean or using more force than usual, but I could just tell he was annoyed and that annoyed me. I felt like my head was going to explode from all the thoughts running through my head! Thoughts like maybe we should just give in because I don’t want her to be miserable, or what if we’re being too hard on her, or remembering times when I couldn’t stop crying and my parents not caring and that really hurt me, or how I don’t want to be a bad mom…and I eventually got sent to the other bedroom by R after I broke down crying. I ended up on the porch for a while because I needed to try to clear my head. Every time I heard her cry it made me cry and then all the thoughts…Uhhh. I was praying that God would help me know what to and, of course, He did. I had to remember what I know to be true when I’m not hormonally going crazy from no sleep for a week and to stick to that and not try to change the plan in my current state. R was sane and had slept all day from getting over his illness so I just trusted him against EVERY bone in my body and I am glad I did this morning as he woke me up with a kiss and I saw that my little angel was happily sleeping. He also let me know that E would cry and then look over at me and cry again. She is learning how to work her mama. I also remembered out on the porch that when we train E to do things it’s to get to what’s in her heart and not how important the thing we are asking her to do is. Like if I have to get on to her for playing with the magazines on the table…if I try to justify letting her I just have to think “what’s the big deal, they’re just magazines and it doesn’t really matter if they get destroyed” – this is true, but if she knows she’s not supposed to touch them and does, I am not helping her at all by letting her and am developing bigger problems for down the road.

I now understand how moms would come into a conference with me at school and would not accept that their child really did do something wrong and didn’t want them to get punished. It is so easy to see that consistency is great in parenting and can keep everyone sane and that if you are not that everyone suffers, but when you’re the one in the middle of it…it’s hard to see sometimes because your heart is involved. Anyway, I know all of you have felt the way I am right now so I just thought I’d share. I enjoy having other mothers to talk to about stuff that only you can fully understand!

I have also noticed that E whines and cries with me way more than with anybody else. I would like to change this and would welcome all suggestions. I am the one with the least experience here so I appreciate having some experienced mama’s to come to!

T, I have been meaning to write you, but just haven’t sat down to do it, but we enjoyed having S up. Hope you guys are doing well.

R, I hope you are doing well – she’s 3 and 1/2 centimeters dilated already! Let me know if there is something I can do to help!

I’ve gotta go teach a lesson in 10 minutes and I’m a mess! Sorry my emails are always so epic in size and have a great day!

Love you guys,

J

Hello J,

I hope all has improved since we last spoke. I just wanted to encourage you to keep up the hard work. Reading your last email made me sorry that you are having a tough season in the training, but it also was so good to see your determination. When you said, “I just have to think what’s the big deal, they’re just magazines and it doesn’t really matter if they get destroyed” – this is true, but if she knows she’s not supposed to touch them and does, I am not helping her at all by letting her and am developing bigger problems for down the road.” I was encouraged because you have understanding that most people either refuse to believe or don’t understand. This is the TRUTH. You are after what is in her heart–obedience (which will bring joy) or rebellion (which will bring sadness not only for her, but all of you.) This is a bigger battle that just of the wills. It is an eternal work that will make the life of your “sweet little baby” a blessing to herself and to all who know her including her children and her spouse. Maturity is being able to abstract time. If we only look at our children now as a baby and cannot foresee that their selfish desires will grow with them unless we train them to right behavior and attitudes, then we are short-sighted and immature. You are seeing beyond the moment. This is maturity. The hard part is walking out this belief. It is not fun, but very soon, you’ll be able to say, “Now you can use your self control, or I can control you, you can use your self-discipline or I can discipline you.” and she will have understanding of this. And she will begin to walk in this on her own. This is the ultimate goal. There is a season, though, that you must act on her behalf. You must help her be disciplined. You must intercede for her and teach to do this for herself so that when your new baby comes and they are beginning to relate to each other, E will help you with the new sweet little baby by teaching her what is good and right. This is the season of breaking the ground and sowing the seeds. It is hard labor but it will bring a harvest of blessing for those who do not give up.

The other thing that I want to mention is that you are not your parents. You are the perfect mother for E. It is not a coincidence that you have been our friends for all this time before you had children and learned these things. God knew this and planned all this. He has a purpose for E in this world and she can and will succeed in the calling if you continue to love her enough to train out her selfishness and give her the joy and peace of living in obedience to your word now, and God’s word when she is older. You must love her enough to help her become all that God has planned for her or she will grow up living for herself and her own desires. This is critical for her life and God has given you and R the charge. Stay tough and true and you will be encouraged soon by the results.

Let me know how things progress. Our prayers are with you.

Mama Amy

PS. If E is whinier with you than with others it is likely because the whines are working with you more that with others. This is a hard word, I know. What it takes to change the situation is the awareness that this is the case and a determination to make the change. When I can see something like this is going on with one of my kids, I try to think in terms of one week of specific training. I think that if I will pay attention to this issue for one week–letting go of all other distractions, then it will be taken care of for a lifetime. (usually) I then eliminate distractions, (running around, phone calls, emails, tv or movies, etc.) and I have my switch handy (in my back pocket) and I try for 100% consistency for a time. I don’t pick them up unless they ask properly; I don’t give baba unless it is asked for properly, etc. The child does NOT get what she wants if it is whined for. I also spend time tying strings with the child during this week. Spend time reading to her when I have suggested it, or if she has asked for it properly, etc. The quality time is so valuable that it really makes a child want to obey out of love for you. It just helps the whole situation. You are your baby’s best friend and right now E doesn’t understand that you have anything else to do but play with her. When you do have to do something else, talk to her while you are doing it, include her if you can, and if not then start now to tell her that she must be patient and wait. If she cries…”cry quietly” if she continues, train her, if she gets out of control, she can sit by herself in another room until she can be quiet and smile. This is what I have done with Moriah, and she dislikes sitting by herself so much that she will straighten up really quickly and soon she is playing happily. Consistency is the real key. And unselfishness on your part to forgo the things you want to do for the sake of the child knowing that your time will come when she is trained properly. If you tried to hold on to your desires now, it will only mean that your time will be infringed upon by a disruptive and bratty girl later. It is worth letting go for a short time so that in the long run you will all live in the joy and peace that obedience brings. I know I keep repeating this, but right now I am reaping the fruit of the labor and have such a blessed life. It is worth it!!! Love you.

Well, life is much better now and I thank all of you who wrote with good advice. Thank you! For two nights in a row now, E has slept until the usual midnight hour and then awakened to find her daddy sleeping next to her. He then calmly pats and shooshes her back to sleep within minutes – I am sooooo happy. What a great feeling to be rested in the morning!

R and A have both pointed out that the whining is probably being positively reinforced somehow and R is helping me to kind of identify how because sometimes it’s through doing something that I don’t even realize I’m doing. Life is too short for me to get my feelings hurt over suggestions that are just going to make our life better so I am thankful for R and others who help me along the way. I am also really trying to make sure that I am aware of how much time I am actually spending with E. My house is a constant mess, but I need to focus on her needs and worry about the stupid laundry later. Maybe with my added sleep at night I can actually do it during her nap time. She loves “helping” out with housework so I will focus on doing that more together. We do some right now and then I’ll try to get a lot done on my own and it still looks as if I have had a one year old cleaning 🙂

I have already seen a positive change in things since being more absolute in what I’m expecting from E and myself. I had decided a month or so ago that she needed to ask for things and not just wave her arms or whatever. Then the second-guessing comes in and the short term convenience of just knowing what she wants and giving it to her. I’m amazed at how resolute we can be with our decisions when they are made out of a desperate situation that serves as a reminder to stick with it. It’d be nice if I could just stick with a decision without all the drama! Anyway, thanks again to you guys.

Your much happier mama,

J

p.s. Oh, I wanted to let you know that your motherly advice is being taken by another family at church. K and K are really great people and hilarious too. Anyway, they have a 7 month old and she was sharing some things that they have been working on. Her daughter’s name is M.

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