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Training Starts at Birth

August 15, 2014
training starts at birth photo

Every parent trains their children. They train them to scream and pitch fits, or they train them to be sweet and obedient, but the child is trained either way. When the little ones arrive in our arms and we pull them to our breast for the first time, we are training them that we are their life source. The next time they become hungry and we are holding them close, they will begin nuzzling around looking for that sweet comfort they know will soon come. It is the most amazing thing ever that a little two-day-old will remember the smell, the taste, the comfort, and will not be satisfied with anything else. When a baby is born and a bottle is placed in her mouth she is trained that the bottle is the source of her food, and that is what she needs. When my little baby was five months old, his intestines flipped, and he was in the hospital for several days, requiring an operation. He was unable to nurse. Eventually, the doctor said that I could give him a bottle, but my little baby refused to drink from it. I finally convinced the doctor that he would only nurse, and sure enough, he nursed with no difficulty. He was trained to nurse.

How to Start:
Realize from day one that you are training your baby in everything you do! When you put a diaper on your baby and allow him to mess in it, you are training him to go in his diaper. Yes, it is the norm to place a diaper on your baby, but it is still training. Many others, myself included, have trained our babies to go in the toilet from day one, so it is possible to train even if it is outside the norm. It is just a matter of deciding what you want for your little one and then following through with that training.

Remember, you are conditioning your infants unto obedience. Training an infant is all about conditioning them early to be obedient so when they are old enough to respond to commands, they will obey. They go where you take them, they lie where you place them, and they eat when you feed them. They are in your hands to guide and protect.

Make a plan as to what you want them to learn. I wanted my walking child to come when I called, to sit when I said sit, to stop whining when I told them no, and to sleep when I said “sleep”. I wanted them to stop touching when I said “don’t touch!”, and to stop when I said “stop”, and to go potty on the toilet when I said “peepee.” I don’t like to spank. I am soft hearted, and spanking is not my favorite thing. Because I wanted obedient children, I made a decision early to condition them to obey so that I would rarely have to spank them as they got older. For all you young mothers out there like me who want your children trained to obey when they are still young, make a plan now and stick with it. That way you do not have to retrain them later, making it harder on both of you.

Steps to Obedience
I had seven main things I wanted my very young children to know. In this and the next couple of magazines I will discuss each of them.7 steps to obedience

Come to Mama!
This is one of my favorite things to train my baby to do; it brings such satisfaction to have your crawling babies come when called and to have your walking baby come running with a smile when you say “come.” By training/conditioning them to come from birth, you will eliminate all those frustrating moments when you tell your little ones to come and they run the other way, forcing you to chase them across a store like an inner city cop. It also eliminates the need, as they get older, to use a switch repeatedly on their little bottoms when they defy your command to come. It is much sweeter to hear them say, “Yes Mama,” with a smile.

Where to start
Right after birth, when I bring my little one up to my breast for the first time, the first words I speak are, “Oh, sweet little thing, come to Mama!” I continue training my new baby by teaching her how to nurse. I praise her for doing such a good job. Daddy wants to hold her, so I say, “Go to Daddy,” again conditioning her. Then when I take her back I again say, “Come to Mama.” It is simple and sweet. No one is even aware that you are training. Every time you pick her up or give her to someone, say, “Come” or “Go.” You will find that she will soon arch her back when you say “Come to Mama,” for she will know that means Mama is about to pick her up. Continue to be consistent in your words so that she is never confused. Come means “Come to Mama.” Once she is crawling you can play a game on the floor with her to help reinforce the training. Have Daddy sit on the floor on one side of the room while she plays with a toy. You sit a few feet away and, calling her by name, tell her to come to you. Daddy is there to say, “Mama said, ‘Come to Mama.’” After she has come to you then have Daddy call her. Do this often till you are sure she understands what you want. Then when she begins walking you can again play the game, reinforcing the training that started at birth.

There will most likely come a time that your little one looks at you and says, “No.” They are testing you. Repeat the command again to make sure they understand. If they show defiance or stubbornness then it is time for a small switch. A little swat on the leg should get their attention and create a positive response. They will take your word to be serious and obey.

Sit Down.
The public dilemma arises from the nature of our training. We have taught them that here are no exceptions to coming when called, but by letting them get up after eating at home we have trained them that getting up at will is the norm. So our attempt to get them to stay seated in public is in defiance of our routine training at home. They are not yet old enough to understand the relative nature of a command. Start off from birth, just like teaching them to come; every time you lay them down say, “Lie down.” If they arch their back and let out a scream to be picked back up, and you pick them up, you are training them to make their own decisions in the face of any command. I understand you want to hold your baby, to keep her close to you, but training them to thoroughly obey is critical to their welfare and to the peace of the home. If you never give in, they will never take over. This training takes courage and wisdom on Mama’s part.

Several years ago I was visiting a new mother who regularly responded to her baby’s plea to be picked up. The child’s sleep was restless; he never took an uninterrupted nap, because he expected to be held constantly. His mother loved it and thought it was so endearing to be so needed all the time. When her little one was close to a year old, Mom was still toting him around while trying to teach the other children and take care of her home. The hip hugger would let out a scream every time Mom put him down, even for a moment. This mother seemed to feed off of it and think it was sweet, but I am sure Daddy was getting pretty fed up with it! I know my husband would be. The one-year-old soon became a very needy, whiny, three-year-old that no one liked. Her son is now approaching five years of age and he still clings to his mother. If she had started training early she would now be finishing her chores early.

Even after they have a history of being well trained, there may come a time when you will be holding them and they will forcefully demand to get down onto the floor. It may not make any difference in your home, but next time you may be in a doctor’s office where getting down could be dangerous to their health. So train at home and relax in the doctor’s office. When you are at home and they initiate the move to get down, tell them to sit and wait. If they comply, then after a few minutes let them down with a word of praise for their sitting so well.

However, if the little fellow stubbornly demands to be released from his confines, then know that there is a royal battle, winner-takeall contest in the air for a lifetime of supremacy. It is best to avoid a contest of wills if your child is tired, so pray the battle comes when everyone is rested! When the child defies your order to stay seated, making forceful gestures to free himself, offering vocal protests, it is time to demonstrate that you are in charge and will not tolerate rebellion. Switch his leg once or twice with a light instrument while speaking calm but forceful words of command. “No, Mama said sit.” Previous training has caused him to well understand the meaning of “No,” that is, if you have been consistent. We will be discussing the word “no” in a later magazine. Continue constraining him to remain in your lap while speaking words of determination. If he continues to try to free himself and slide to the floor, then switch his leg again and repeat your reprimand. This defiance won’t happen often, maybe just once or twice in a child’s life—that is if you are consistent in training.

A word of caution: If you have spanked and rebuked several times and the child’s defiance turns to outof-control emotional turmoil, you may feel like giving up. If you do allow the child to win, he will suffer the greatest loss of his life. From that day forward he will be a rebel and a tyrant. You must win, but there are other tools in your arsenal. Diffuse the situation with a diversion. Pick up a book or a toy and attempt to captivate his attention. Do something ridiculous, start laughing or singing, or carry on a normal conversation with another child or adult, discussing something so interesting that he stops screaming in order to listen. My dad has said, “If you can’t win, the next best thing is to be perceived to win.” Remember the contest of wills is about remaining in your lap. If you win that contest, you remain the boss and the child remains under authority. If he stops crying in order to hear the ridiculous song you make up about a rabbit and a little boy, and in doing so remains in your lap, you win, he wins, society wins, God wins, and the devil loses.

Once he stops crying and becomes focused on singing, or conversation, or a toy, turn your attention back to him and talk with him about anything. When it is clear that you have won the contest of wills, put him down on the floor and speak words of praise. As my dad says, “You have made his negative behavior counterproductive and rewarded his good behavior with fellowship.”

As a side note, you do not need to spank them for crying. Do not tell them to stop crying, for you may not win that battle. All you need them to do is sit without resistance. Once they obey, the crying will stop, so do not be upset by it.

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24 comments on “Training Starts at Birth”

  1. I wish I had this information with my kids early on…it is much harder when they are older. I had no one to mentor me through this…thank you for sharing ways to help us.

  2. I just wanted to say thanks so much for this new series by Shalom! I, too, have always been soft-hearted and was intrigued by past things Shalom has written about her training techniques. Through reading many of your materials I feel I have a good handle on training for toddlers, but was baffled at where to start with infants. This first article has been very insightful and I look forward to the rest, as well as more by Shalom!

    Grace and peace,
    Kassondra

  3. Wonderful article and very practical! I can’t wait for the rest of the series and I wish I had known these things when I had my first child – I now have six!
    Having said that, I did want to point out that responsive parenting (nursing on demand, co-sleeping, carrying your child most of the time) does not create selfish and clingy children. There might have been other issues in your friend’s family. Many cultures around the world raise happy well adjusted people that way, it is the natural approach to them and I think that for a baby, the need to be nursed, held and touched often is a legitimate one, not an attempt to control the parents. Lastly, I find it interesting that God designed our bodies in such a way that responsive parenting allows for better child spacing as frequent nursing and carrying our babies trigger hormonal reactions that delay the return of fertility. If on demand nursing and holding of our babies was detrimental to them, God, Master of life and Creator, would not have used this method as a way to allow mothers to replenish between babies.

  4. Thank you so much for this article!!!! I was so convicted. I too have 4 children and wish I would have learned this with #1. It has been a hard road. Our youngest is 18 months. By God’s grace and lots of prayer, I will implement these ideas. I now see that if you don’t, you will pay later! Thanks again for sharing!

  5. This place again. Hey, last time i checked, we raise children, we don’t intentionally train them. “Lie down” “Sit” “Come” are commands for dogs. Also, a switch??? I think your hand does just fine.

    I suppose you will delete this since i respectfully disagree

    1. If you investigate further, you will find that physicians, attorneys, police officers, soldiers, firefighters, etc. are also intentionally trained (fortunately!). Training children (like any other training) is not the end goal, but it is a part of raising healthy well adjusted children. Adults using their hand to administer discipline are much more likely to cause injury than the use of an age appropriate switch.

      We only delete comments that are irrelevant or vulgar.

    1. Is there a follow up to this question? Perhaps, an article was written that I cant find? I too have a problem with my child sleeping through the night. She is 16 months old and she wakes up 1-2 times per night and will only nurse back to sleep.

  6. I have raised a wonderful daughter without hardly ever spanking her. She is 22 and is married with a home, a college degree, and expecting her first child. I believe in patience with children and giving them a lot of attention. I may have to repeat something but, my child did learn without “switching” her, as you say. It sounds like you start this at an age that would be considered abuse to an infant in our state. A child should be raised with love and respect and they will learn that from you.
    I have a two year old son now, 20 years after the birth of my daughter. We were blessed with him. He is totally opposite as she was and he is more of a challenge. He is almost three and he does occasionally have to have a spanking. But, as he grows he is getting easier to discipline because he is learning from love and patience. I don’t command him like he is a dog. Or I didn’t switch him when he was an infant.
    Give them time to learn and adjust without being so dominating. I love holding my son now to rock him. And if he wants me to hold him I will. He isn’t my slave to get to do my chores. I would like to see your children when they are older. Will they be meek and afraid of you. Or will they be an adult that is strong and capable of being in crowds without being shy? And afraid of the world?

    1. Your on admission of having spanked both your children is a confirmation of what is written in this article. Nothing in the article suggest making children slaves. It is a bout using age appropriate training, which is different for each child (as evidenced by your own children). Th age appropriateness should be at the discretion of those who know the children best: the parents. Shalom, the writer of the article, was raised by the very methods that she is describing in these articles. She is a confident public speaker and would not be considered shy by any measurement. Fearful is not a word that could be used to describe any of her children. Each of the older three (4 years old and up) can hold their own in conversations with adults and are delight to be around (the two younger ones are delights too, they are just not conversing a lot yet). The child training practiced in their home is resulting in joyful, confident children and a very pleasant environment.

  7. It is unbelievably rude, inappropriate, and absolutely cruel to describe your friend’s child as a “three-year-old [sic] no one liked.” Your smug air of superiority and judgment negate any of the good points I had to struggle to find in your article. Children should not be trained like dogs, and it is not your place to judge another parent’s choice in how to raise their own child.

    1. What would be absolutely cruel, would to fail to tell a friend the truth about the results of their child training. It would be disingenuous to lie about the child, and thus allow the problem to grow worse. Unless addressed, unlikeable three year old children will continue to be unlikeable as they grow older. Many react to the rejection that their behavior causes in antisocial and even violent ways. By addressing the problem(s) while still young the parents and child have a much better chance of avoiding the potential negative outcomes.

  8. I’m sure this won’t be added to the comments, but just let me say that your parents taught my poor naïve mother that it was okay to physically abuse me and it has scarred me for life. This site makes me want to vomit. I feel sorry for you, really, cause it’s all you’ve known. Abuse is abuse. You are part of a cult and it is ruining lives. STFU!!! OH, and Jesus loves u

    1. You are mistaken (on several points). Your posting has been approved. The writer’s parents in no way taught your mother, or anyone else that physical abuse is okay. NGJ Ministries has none of the characteristics of a cult. Tens (hundreds?) of thousands of lives have been positively impacted by NGJ. You are however correct that Jesus loves us (and you!).

  9. Infant Potty Training
    I am the only one in my circle of friends that has ever attempted it and they all think I am nuts! lol. I had thought of trying it with my other children because of your articles but chickened out each time (thinking that I needed to be a super genius to do it). But I was in the middle of potty training my super-strong-willed 2 year old girl while my husband was deployed (as if our family didn’t have enough going on at the time) and I was soooooo stressed trying to “train” her to go on the potty after having trained her to go in her diaper! I was a mess! So I had my 4 month old and I was thinking, “I just can’t do this potty training thing again! I will lose it.” And I was thinking that there is nothing worse than having a battle of the wills all day long about potty when a child is 2-3 years old (which is maybe my fault anyway). I would much rather just play and read with my child.

    So there I was: 4 kids, husband deployed, and contemplating infant potty training. I decided to give it a go as soon as my infant would smile in response to me (which was about 4 1/2 months). After watching tons of videos on the subject (thank you “youtube”) I determined to wipe our schedule for 2 weeks and stay home, sitting right next to him until he went pee or poo. I really didn’t expect it to work. But by the end of day 2 he was peeing when I held him over the potty and sink. He would even make a certain “fuss” that I knew meant he wanted to empty. I learned to stop what I was doing and take him when he was about to go #2 and he did it just fine. The only thing was that I trained him over a sink to start because it was easier to hold him that way (since I am tall), but when I tried to transition to the toilet, he was not too thrilled. So next time I will start where I want to end. He still wore diapers and still went in them, but he learned very quickly that the diaper was not a comfortable place to go or and that a messy diaper was not something he wanted to sit in.

    He is now 19 months: I will never forget how exciting it was the first time he ran to me fussing and very distressed about something. I couldn’t figure out why he ran to me like that. Then he started turning a little red in the face and I knew he had to go #2. He was only about 16 months or so and he was trying to tell me “take me potty right now!” I was so excited for him. Now that he is 19 months he can say “potty” and “poo poo” and he is so happy going on the potty.

    Like all training: the consistent thing catches on. The only hard part to training is training myself to be consistent! lol.

    I just want to encourage other readers that you don’t have to be “super mom” or “Mrs. Perfect” to infant potty train. There were bumps along the road when we did it. Like when he got sick for a few days, he didn’t want to sit on the potty and he didn’t like the potty when he got well again because he was cranky and not used to it after a few days break. But every baby likes chocolate, so I just sat him on the potty and popped some chocolate chips in his mouth so he would like just sitting there. And then I started giving them just when he went potty. Then I stopped giving the chocolate chips after he was used to it. I praised him a lot, smiled a lot, and we just kept it fun. I determined to have fun with it and not let it be a pride thing (trying to perfectly potty train him by a certain time so I could brag about it later). In fact, he was doing so well one day I thought I would go on an outing with undies on him and my older daughter (8) was like “mom. not a good idea.” and I was like “oh, it’s fine”. When I was in a return line at the store, I turned around and there was a puddle on the floor under the cart where he was sitting! lol. We all laughed and it was a pretty funny time. Silly momma.

    This was so long…. sorry.

  10. Thanks for addressing training infants. I’m about to have my first child and I desperately want to start off right. Please keep us in your prayers.

  11. I love reading Shalom’s articles. I’m tender-hearted myself and I don’t like to spank. I’m creating a “training plan” like we had when I was in the military. We had a plan of everything you needed to learn about your job. Its a little different with babies but, if I put a list on the fridge, it’ll remind me that I need to work with them on these things. Thank you for spelling it out step by step. I get confused and overwhelmed at times when I’m working with my little ones.