Dear Michael and Debi Pearl,I am a young mom with four small children (ages 5 and under.) I am still learning so much as I have been a selfish mom and wife in the past.

I am trusting God to perfect that which He has started in my life and I know that He is able.
Will you please help me with a few questions?
What to do with a four-year-old and a two-year-old who continually suck their thumbs while also sticking one finger up their noses (boys! I’m afraid they’ll damage something, and I have tried so much…) Please help!

Thumb sucking and other forms of infantile stimulation are not character issues, and therefore not an object of great concern, unless such habits hang on long enough to be a social problem or unless they are used as a form of emotional retreat. When children express their moodiness or rebellion by lapsing into this or other forms of self-stimulation, it needs to be addressed. Pull his hand away and say, “Take your hand away from your mouth.” The repetition of pulling the hand away and giving a simple, non-irritated response will help curb and maybe break the habit. However, anytime you see a child respond to command or rebuke (such as: eat your spinach) by retreating to thumb sucking, give a swat to the hand and follow through completely to get immediate obedience to the original command. This emotional retreat will cause more problems than buckteeth.

Please give me a description of the switch or rod of which you so often speak. I wish you could send me one so I could see it.

The rod we speak of is a plumbing supply line that can be bought at any hardware store or large department store. It is a slim, flexible, plastic tubing that supplies water to sinks, and toilets. Ask for “¼ inch supply line.” They cost less than one dollar. I always give myself one swat before I swat the child to remind myself how much force to exert. It stings the skin without bruising or damaging tissue. It’s a real attention-getter. Michael demonstrates its use in our new Seminar videos.

My 8-year-old daughter tells me everything. My husband heard her telling about some things that happened at church and he said it sounded like gossip. How can I encourage her to tell it without her engaging in gossip?

Many mothers establish emotionally intense bonds with their children by encouraging “telling all.” The “all” the child learns to tell is how bad everyone else’s children are and how he alone choose righteousness. Tiny details, such as the other child’s expression or attitude are discussed as well as “why do you think they…?” It is amazing how fast a small child can become subtle in knowing when to leave out or add a word, a phase, an expression, an emotion, or an opinion, thus changing the whole color of what really happened. Once this habit is established it is very hard for mother to see the deception that is so apparent to others. By your eagerness to hear the tale and respond you are encouraging the child into being an “accuser of the brethren.” This also causes all other siblings to avoid and dislike the “tattle tail.” A house full of “tattle tails” causes extreme mistrust between them.

On the other hand, you want your children to feel free to talk to you, to seek out your counsel and enjoy sharing with you. When children feel comfortable that you are just, they will seek an open relationship that is wholesome and profitable, and not one based on the faults of others. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8. Encourage a good report, something that extols his brother and sister.

Michael adds his two cents:

The key to encouraging a wholesome attitude in your daughter lies in your response. Never develop a “them and us” attitude. Don’t lead your daughter to feel superior to others. You should be sad when you hear of the failure of others. Discuss with your daughter ways to help the bad situations. Never allow your daughter to feel a closeness to you by tattling on others. If she emotionally profits from running others down, she will keep doing it even to the point of lying.

Finally, make sure that you do not talk about the faults of others. Never enjoy the tale that is told. Teach your daughter to minister to others, not to feel superior to them. You do this by example.