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.
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.
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.